Quick and Easy Roasted Veggie and Hummus Wrap

I came home hungry today with no patience for a complicated lunch preparation.  The wrap I made was so easy, and this was the best lunch I have had in weeks!  I had leftover roasted veggies – always a good idea – and the homemade hummus was leftover from the weekend.

The wraps I found are new at my grocery store.  They are high  in fiber and protein and made with sprouted wheat instead of flour.  As long as you tolerate wheat, this is a great choice since it is less processed than flour products.

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Ingredients:

Sprouted wheat tortilla (or other kind)

Hummus (homemade is easy; try the Barefoot Contessa’s super quick and delicious hummus recipe)

Roasted veggies (I used mushrooms, fennel, red onion, eggplant, and carrots)

Avocado slices

Just wrap and eat!  

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Don’t let nutrition information paralyze you!

“Paralzyed by information.”  This is a term a client used today.  I thought it was a brilliant way of describing what so many people are feeling in these times of information overload.  The definition of paralysis is “a loss or impairment of voluntary movement in a body part, caused by injury or disease of the nerves, brain, or spinal cord.”

What my client meant was similar.  She felt a loss or impairment of voluntary movement, but in this case it was behavioral movement toward health improvements.  As long as we are looking at definitions, lets consider the slangy abbreviation “TMI.”  When a person has too much information, it tends to muddy up the head space, leading to an inability to move forward with any kind of certainty or hope for improvement.

Information is great.  I love research.  I love technology.  Still, without a reliable system for weeding through it all to come up with what is truly valuable for an individual, it is just plain HARD to make sense of it.  Vastly different philosophies about how to eat all present information that seems factual.  Long lists of references make them all seem legit.

I try to be very honest about what I believe to be accurate and what seems less conclusive.  The unfortunate truth is that there is simply no style of eating with completely conclusive evidence that it is THE WAY for everyone.  Personally, I don’t think there ever will be one best way for everyone.

The positive side of that is . . .

You get to decide for yourself!  For those of you who hate any uncertainty, this is disappointing.  You would really like to have a black and white, 100% proven method to (at least try to) follow.  Eating is just not like that.

That is good news for those of you who want complete freedom of choice.  Ultimately this is the best way for all of us – choice.  We are much more likely to do something we feel we have chosen.

So what do we do with all of that information?  How do we choose what is best for us?

Sort through it, test it if it seems like a good idea.  See what happens FOR YOU.  It’s not a double-blind placebo study, but it is really the gold standard for your best health.  Studies are valuable, very valuable, but nutrition studies are only pieces of information to consider along with what you notice about your own body’s reaction to different eating styles.

A carefully considered, mindful assessment of information is the best cure for information paralysis.  Trusting personal observations and instincts will always lead to more certainty and forward movement toward better health – without all the worry!

Roasted Vegetable and Avocado Lettuce Wraps

IMG_0510Hunger grabbed me around 3pm today – not unusual.  When I’m home on the weekend, that is when I tend to drift into the kitchen and start searching for just the right snack that can hold me over until dinner.

Today I used some leftover roasted vegetables (mushrooms, eggplant, carrots and red pepper) and a couple of slices of avocado to fill butter lettuce leaves.  After a light splash with good quality balsamic vinegar, I rolled them up and enjoyed a delicious, albeit messy snack.

There’s no shame in procrastinating! OWN it for better eating.

I can see myself doing it.  I’m procrastinating again!  I have a work project I had intended to work on today, but I keep getting up from my desk.  “Just a little snack . . . a couple of nuts . . . then back to work.”

Who am I fooling?!  I’m just not going to finish this project right now, so I may as well do something else.  I am a disciplined person.  I like setting deadlines for myself, planning out my work, keeping on target.  So why would I advocate just quitting for now?

The simple answer is that I AM quitting right now.  I can either embrace it, OWN it, lose the guilt, and do something else (productive or just plain recreational), OR I can keep pretending I’m working on my project and keep drifting into the kitchen for that little “something” to give the illusion of taking a needed break.

I’m not hungry!  I don’t need to eat, so why do I do this, as so many of us do?  I think it is because eating in small little spurts like that is “really not much of a break” and “It’s not like I’m sprawled out on the couch watching soap operas or anything!”  In short, I am justifying.

When I hear myself doing this, I laugh.  It really is ridiculous, don’t you agree?  We are the masters of fooling ourselves, especially when it comes to eating.

I can usually spot this pattern quickly, now that I recognize it for what it is.  This has taken lots and LOTS of practice.  I now find that admitting to what I’m doing is the beginning of the way out of the habit.  Then I can decide if it is realistic to expect myself to buckle down and do my project now, or lose the guilt and do something else.

Sometimes just stepping away, even when a deadline is looming, allows my head to clear.  Then, magically, creative thoughts start flowing and I’m engrossed in my endeavor – and loving it!

To be able to say, “Yes, I am procrastinating, and while I’m at it, I intend to do an incredible job of it!” eliminates the guilt surrounding it.   A psychologist friend recently told me that guilt is an emotion that has absolutely no positive side to it.  I believe it usually just drives procrastinators into deeper pits of paralysis, which leads many of us to munch on food we don’t really need or want.

How many unnecessary calories do you think you consume while procrastinating?  Hundreds?  Thousands?  It’s hard to really know, because procrastination is often so mindless.

My phone app (In the Moment – Mindful Eating) addresses this issue, so it may help the procrastinator in you to be more self-compassionate during these times.  Here is a screen shot that gives a glimpse.

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Ahhh, now I feel better.  This post is a perfect example of productive procrastination.  Now I think I can go back to work on my project – refreshed.

Eat More Vegetables: A Diabetic’s Perspective

This came to me in an e-mail from a particularly creative, artistic client.  In the past she kept a journal where she illustrated her food journal with the food she ate – in color!  It was worthy of framing.  Blood sugar is a concern for her, so if this is something you watch, here are some convincing tips:

I put vegetables at the top of the list of foods we should eat–even over protein, which is crucial to our diets–because let’s face it: NO one (except perhaps for those living in certain areas in the world where people can’t get much of anything but plant based food) eats enough veggies!

Vegetables are carbohydrates–however, the calories and carb grams are so low (in most vegetables) that they barely count. What they do have are: lots of nutrients, high water content, fiber, antioxidants, and beautiful colors. You just CAN’T eat too many! Well, maybe eating ten heads of iceberg lettuce in one sitting could send your glucose numbers up but–is that really practical or even desirable?

We’ve all seen those plate-up diagrams given to us by our doctors and dieticians: 1/4 carb, 1/4 protein, 1/2 vegetable–representing the standard balanced meal. The idea is to make vegetables the most dominant part of the meal.

Here’s the simplest way to add more veggies to our diet: cut up raw veggies–carrots, celery, peppers, anything else you like–and keep them in the fridge for instant snacks or ready for cooking. Why is it so hard to do that? Because it takes FIVE minutes longer to prepare them than to open a box of crackers!! Excuse me, I better go practice what I preach…be right back, chop chop!

There is nothing as beautiful on a table as a large assortment of crudités accompanied by dips or sauces, perhaps a nice olive mix. I guarantee you–because I have done this many times and it works–that if it is out on the table (and especially if there is nothing else), people WILL eat it. I mix raw ones with partially cooked: I blanche green beans, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and other firmer ones. Belgian endive and the small leaves of hearts of Romaine lettuce make wonderful dippers, or little canapés. I think of veggies as “crackers” Sure, I’ll put a few crackers of chips or bread slices out, but I try to eat mostly the veggies and alternate them with some starches.

A good lo-fat dip or two is great with these. I combine whatever I have around; a mix of some or all: lo-fat sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, yogurt, with various additions like garlic, onion, seasonings, herbs. A great light dip is Tzaziki–Greek yogurt, minced or diced cucumbers, a little lemon, garlic and lo-fat sour cream. Yum! Great with pita bread. (I didn’t say NO bread….!)

Guacamole and hummus are great dips too, adding more plant based food with a bonus of some protein and slower glucose-rising carbs; I can make a meal of this!

Frozen veggies are one of the greatest inventions of the 20th Century! They are about as nutritionally good as fresh ones; they can be cooked in a flash, they are pre-cleaned and pre-cut; great in a veggie emergency, when you haven’t had time to shop and the fridge is empty. Steer clear of brands with added salt and sauces.

Roasted vegetables are fabulous! Even ones I don’t care for raw–such as cauliflower–turn into something completely different when tossed with a little olive oil and roasted; they become tender, nutty, almost sweet.

Veggies can become a main dish. How about:

Meat or grain stuffed eggplant or peppers?
Cooked spaghetti squash makes a good bed of “pasta” for sauces, cheese and meats.
If you combine some cooked, pureed cauliflower with mashed potatoes, you cut way
down on carbs and callories, get better nutrition, and no one will know the difference!
(But add some sliced green onions, maybe, and real butter….)

Eating vegetables is just plain good for us: they keep us hydrated, are great for our “plumbing”, good for the skin, maintain and improve our immune systems, clean our teeth; did I miss something? They are also great for painting still lifes!

Too much? Too little? Ahhh . . . that’s just right!

Goldilocks knew what was "just right."

Goldilocks knew what was “just right.”

Oh, the beauty of balance!  Yes, you can get too much of a good thing.  A new study claims that people who run a lot – not moderately – tend to have similar risks of dying as those who do not run at all.

A little running – say 3 to 4 miles a few times a week – has health benefits.  Run too much and it loses its health benefits.  Of course there are individual differences as with any human studies, but logic always seems to come back to balanced living for better health.  Ultramarathoners: you would definitely not be considered moderate.  Isn’t 26.2 miles enough of a challenge?

Balance is not an easy concept to define with precision, but it is still a good basic guiding principle for healthy living.  Believe it or not, we all “know” where the point of balance is for our unique bodies.  The problem is that not many of us trust that we know.

Let’s face it.  We are addicted to information, and there is plenty of it out there:  the TV, magazines, newspapers, friends and acquaintances, and  the internet.  All of these sources are external input.  What about the internal indicators we might get if we tuned in more often to that channel instead!

With increasing information about what to eat, when to eat, and why to eat – not to mention the many versions of advice and “proof” – our diet-crazy culture has lured us away from the true messages of our wants and needs.

Too much?  Feel sick, stuffed?  It could be a response to thinking you need less than you do, failing at that craziness, and “blowing it.”  Or, it could be the result of not taking true care of emotional needs.  Emotions need balance too.

Too little?  Feeling starved, weak, deprived?  Your true balanced self would tell you it’s crazy not to eat!  External messages that imply (or come right out and tell you) it should be enough are not in your best interests either.  And what about all those ads that show what fun you will have if you eat all those tempting gooey treats?  Just more confusion.

Tune back in to your needs!  It will likely feel uncomfortable at first.  “Who me?” you ask,  “I’m the expert on balance?”  Yes, you are!   Here are a few tips:

1.  Feeling sick to your stomach = too much

2.  Irritable, hungry, worried about eating too much = too little

3.  Enjoyment of a balance of healthy AND delicious food in the quantity needed for a vital life and a mind that is not overly-fixated on the next meal = perfect balance

It’s really that simple.

Time Out! Change scenes. Shake it up!!

Ahhhhh!

Ahhhhh!

I am noticing my breathing again.  Sounds in our beachfront room appear seemingly out of nowhere:  waves, birds, wind, voices floating in and out.

I am on vacation, and I feel like I’m checking back in with the world.  In my everyday life, habits and schedules seem to rule, and time just clicks by.  November, December, January . . . February already!

I have my tools for taking time out on a daily basis, but it is so hard to keep nagging thoughts from interfering!  At home, I sit and take a deep breath, and the washing machine stops suddenly, reminding me to switch the laundry.  I begin to read a magazine, and my phone lets me know another e-mail just arrived.  And then I remember I really should check my voicemail messages.

I’m not saying that relaxation at home is impossible.  It is necessary, because I spend a lot of time there.  Still it amazes me how much easier and more deeply I relax on vacation.  The change of scenery is key:  fewer work reminders and less compulsion to stay busy.

It makes sense that when I have trouble unwinding at home, I find it much easier to do so when I leave the house (or work).  A change of surroundings really helps!  I can consciously focus on the new things around me.  A walk outside is the best, because I really enjoy focusing on the natural environment.

Unfortunately, this is not the best time of year for me to enjoy walking outside – it’s cold in Wisconsin!  That’s OK though.  A trip to the grocery store or the mall works too.

You can use a change of scenery to help break momentum when eating starts to spin out of control.  If this is a frequent challenge, try just stopping and leaving your space.  I realize this isn’t always possible, but if it is, it can be a powerful tool.  Leaving creates a valuable delay, and new surroundings break the momentum.

Once a binging habit starts to play out, eating becomes mindless.  What is really needed is a jolt back to present time, a break in the pattern of the habit.  This is precisely why a change of scenery helps.  Habits play out effortlessly in familiar situations.

Shake it up – get out – and see what happens.  It may not work every time, but at least it will put you back in the driver’s seat of your decisions. This is one of the many tools that can help with in-the -moment eating challenges.

In the Moment – Mindful Eating, the phone app I created to help my clients and others bring more mindfulness to eating, is now upgraded (version 1.1.5) and works on all iPhones that are 4s and newer.  An Android version is available as well.