Tag Archives: healthy

Keeping Things Clean and Simple

I wanted to explain my hiatus from this blog for the last few months. I have taken on a new job as Chef of a local catering company.  We mainly work on a daily quota of corporate lunches, but we also have a retail space in Black Mountain, NC.  The shop makes salads and sandwiches for lunch, but also features take-home dinners, soups, casseroles, and other treats made from scratch.  We will soon be expanding our reach with these offerings, so stay tuned. You can check it out at here.

I am still offering my Personal Chef and clean eating services, so feel free to contact me with inquiries and questions. On to the blog…

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It’s difficult these days not to get overwhelmed by all of the information out there.  If you are reading this blog you are probably aware that I practice and preach clean eating.  I know that staying healthy involves daily exercise, and eating smallish portions of real food.  Make your food at home from scratch, and try and stay away from too much fat, cheese, alcohol, and sugar.  Simple, right?

I have been sucked into some of the latest health trends. I recently tried The Whole 30, and had good results. I felt okay on the diet, but I really felt like the “no grains” approach was not ideal for me.    As I often do, I got completely sucked in and obsessed.  Now I am asking myself, “Are grains really that bad?”  “Can I get the complex carbs I need without grains?”

I had also previously spent several weeks on the Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates.  This approach is all about healing the gut, and replenishing the ecology of microbes in the gut through diet, suppliments, and eating fermented vegetables.  I was telling a friend of mine about how I was really into the diet (this friend also happens to be a health coach), and she said, “Yes, it’s great, but isn’t the program designed to help people that are sick?”  “Yes,” I thought, and I asked myself, “am I sick?”  The answer was, “no.”

I asked myself, “On which diet did I feel the best?”  I knew the answer.  I felt the best simply staying on a clean eating diet as well as daily exercise and meditation. Which is EXACTLY what I specialize in, and provide for my clients (with great success) on my 21 Day Program.

I’ve realized it’s time to get back to basics. Follow a plan that doesn’t eliminate food groups, is practical, and is simply common sense. Below is an article written by Paige Johnson of LearnFit.org, where she outlines “6 Essential Lifestyle Habits to Increase Longevity.”  Reading this article made me realize that I needed to relax and go Back to Basics. Enjoy!

6 Essential Lifestyle Habits to Increase Longevity

If you want to live a long, healthy life, taking care of your body must be a lifelong priority. While there’s no single, magic bullet that guarantees you’ll live to reach 100, a combination of healthy lifestyle choices throughout your life will help your body build its immune defenses and maintain your youthful appearance and energy for many years to come. It’s never too late to start making healthy choices.

  1. Consume a balanced diet.

You’ve probably read about dozens of fad diets touting the benefits of cutting out one dietary source or another from carbohydrates to fats, sugars, or whatever the current trends indicate is the culprit behind weight gain and obesity.

Unless you’re on a specific diet due to a health condition such as diabetes or high cholesterol, tried-and-true is usually the best option when it comes to nutrition. A healthy, balanced diet includes fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts and grains, and healthy dairy choices.

  1. Keep your brain and body engaged.

Remaining active later in life has been linked to lower mortality rates. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid retirement altogether, consider part-time employment, volunteer work, or even continuing your education in mid-life and beyond to keep both your body and your mind strong.

  1. Exercise regularly.

In addition to maintaining hobbies, volunteering, or maintaining part-time employment throughout life, regular physical activity is essential for a long, healthy life. In fact, one study finds that regular, moderate exercise can lower brain age by as much as 10 years in some older adults – evidence that it truly never is too late to start making positive changes for your health and well-being.

  1. Get enough sleep.

Today’s hectic lifestyles make it ever-more challenging to get adequate, quality sleep, yet getting enough rest is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Sleep deprivation leads to fatigue, lack of focus, mood swings, and other ill effects.

If you have trouble falling asleep at night, there are beverages that help promote sleep. Add a sleep-promoting beverage to your evening routine and start getting the rest your body needs.

  1. Commit to happiness.

Choosing happiness isn’t always as simple as deciding what to eat for lunch, but you can employ strategies that will contribute to a more content, satisfied life. Set realistic goals for your personal and professional life and continuously strive towards them, cultivate your ability to evaluate situations objectively, and practice controlled breathing and other techniques to help you better manage your emotions. There are many ways to cultivate a happier lifestyle; experiment to find what works for you.

  1. Cut the stress.

Stress is one of the biggest contributors to obesity as well as anxiety, depression, and even heart attack and stroke. Take intentional actions to reduce the amount of stress in your daily life such as meditation, taking up hobbies that you enjoy, surrounding yourself with positive people, and being mindful about what you’re saying “yes” to. That means turning down offers and invitations that you’re not passionate about and declining to spend time around negative, toxic people who tend to bring you down.

Living a longer, healthier life is achievable when you commit to developing healthy lifestyle habits and maintaining a positive outlook on life. Learning how to look at situations and circumstances, turning down invitations that don’t feed your soul, and finding ways to cope with stressful situations are just a few of the secrets that can contribute to longevity. Coupled with a commitment to a healthy diet and regular exercise as well as ample rest for your body each night, it’s a recipe for a long, fulfilling life.

Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast and avid cyclist. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.

Image via Pixabay by PublicDomainPictures

 

 

Matcha Balls

 

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As many of you know, I am running an ultra marathon in a couple of weeks.  It was convenient timing that I was researching a recipe using matcha around the same time I was to run my longest training run, 27 miles. When running that many miles at once, you have to eat.  You have to eat a lot of food while you are running.  It’s one of the hardest adjustments I had to make when I started running longer distances.  I have tried eating the energy “goo”  packs, which just left me feeling kind of sick, and might or might not have led to some post-run gastro-internal issues. I perform much better when I make my own, real food.

After reading about the “clean” form of caffeine matcha contained, I knew it would be a perfect addition to some mid-long-run snacks. I decided to make some matcha energy balls with whatever I could throw together to make it stick together into a ball.  I used oats, almond butter, honey, goji berries, vanilla, and of course, matcha.

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I mixed the ingredients together, and packed them into a small 1-ounce scoop.  I placed them on a sheet pan, and in the refrigerator.  They came together perfectly, and tasted great!  On the run they were a bit burly.  The next time I make them, I will either soak the oats, or grind them up in the food processor.  Burliness aside, they were magic balls of “zenergy,”  which really made a difference in boosting our energy throughout the run.

Click here for the recipe.

Gotch Your Matcha?

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I am a coffee drinker, but I love tea.  Especially green tea.  Green tea is a great appetite suppressant, and I often drink it when I am trying to make it to my next meal or snack. I had heard of matcha, and I knew it was a type of green tea, but I had never really tried it.  As someone who spends a lot of time reading food blogs, I had noticed that matcha has been quite trendy lately in cooking, and I have even saved several recipes to try.

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I have recently taken on a blogging assignment: to sample and write about some ceremonial grade matcha from Matcha Zen.  I received the cutest little package in the mail.  It was a little cardboard tube with a bag inside full of emerald green matcha from Matcha Zen.  Matcha Zen tea is some of the finest matcha you can buy.  It comes from a region of Japan historically known for cultivating quality matcha. It’s also USDA certified organic.  The matcha at Matcha Zen is not the only “green”  that their into.  They support ethical, and sustainable practices when it comes to sourcing, cultivating, packaging, and marketing this special tea.

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Tea Ceremony

Tea is serious business in Japan.  According to the website, Japanese Tea Ceremony, the tea ceremony has several names, “Chanoyo,”  meaning literally, “hot water for tea,”  or “Sado”  and “Chado,”  which both mean “the way of tea.”  I could go on for days about the history, aesthetics, and essence of the tea ceremony.  It has been going on for over 900 years in Japan, and even before that in China.  People have dedicated their whole lives to studying it.  I am not a scholar of tea, but I am a lover of most everything that involves food and drink. The website describes the tea ceremony as  “…a choreographic ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea, called Matcha, together with traditional Japanese sweets to balance with the bitter taste of the tea. Preparing tea in this ceremony means pouring all one’s attention into the predefined movements. The whole process is not about drinking tea, but is about aesthetics, preparing a bowl of tea from one’s heart. The host of the ceremony always considers the guests with every movement and gesture. Even the placement of the tea utensils is considered from the guests view point (angle), especially the main guests called the Shokyaku.”

I love it!  I am always trying to be more “in the moment,” and I love the idea of being fully engrossed in the intricacies of where to place utensils, etc. Also, how touching is it to prepare a cup of tea for a friend “from your heart.”  This captures the essence of what I love about cooking.  Cooking for someone, especially someone you love, the goal or intention is to please. satisfy, or nourish them. Ask anyone what their favorite meal is, and most likely, it will be something that was prepared growing up by their momma.  How come that food tasted so good?  Because it was prepared with thoughtful intention and love.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a quality green tea that is dried and crushed into a fine powder. The tea leaf is known as tencha. The tea bushes are shade-grown to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows the growth of the plants. This stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids, resulting in a dark-green tea leaf. The bright green powder is beautiful brewed into teas, and cooked into food.

Health Benefits of Matcha

Wow!  This stuff is really good for you. The website, Organic Facts, states that matcha is full of nutrients. “It is source of vitamin A, vitamin B-complex, vitamin C, Vitamin E, vitamin K and trace minerals.  Matcha is rich in components with super antioxidant activity including polyphenols, catechins and chlorophyll. Presence of amino acids such as L-theanine and theophylline in the matcha tea makes it a multi nutrient-packed drink.”  These nutrients lead to a number of health benefits. Organic Facts list these health benefits as boosting immune system health, reducing inflammation, and helping to prevent cancer. It also helps with detoxification, cardiovascular health, and boosts metabolism.  Matcha has the equivalent amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. The caffeine in matcha, however is a different for than is in regular coffee. This form caffeine is known as theophylline, and releases amounts of energy in a steady stream. Kaitlin of The Garden Grazer blog describes the caffeine high you get from matcha as “zenery.”  According to Kaitlin, “zenergy”  is the feeling of being energized, yet calm and focused.

A Cup of Matcha

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I decided it was time to make myself a cup of matcha.  I  found a simple description on  how to make it from Bon Appetit’s website.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a bamboo whisk, but I did have a small stainless steel whisk that was the perfect size, as well as a small strainer. Even though I didn’t know the proper procedure for a tea ceremony, I did have a very pretty china tea cup that my mom had given me.  I hardly use it, so I thought it was appropriate for the occasion.

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 Bon Appetit stated that you should push the matcha through a strainer into a bowl to sift it so there are no lumps.  You pour in the hot water and whisk the tea until it becomes frothy.  I added a bit of stevia to the tea powder before I whisked in the water.

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 I loved the beautiful deep emerald green color that looked especially pretty with my fancy teacup.  The first sip was a bit bitter, but the more sips I had, the more I loved it.  The stevia helped to balance out the bitter flavor, which left an earthy, umami-type flavor.  I also loved the swirls the powdered tea left when I got toward the bottom of the cup.  I couldn’t help but think of tasseography, or the practice of reading the symbolism in tea leaves to predict the future.  I know there’s a pretty fantastic future to be predicted in the swirly pictures of my cup of Matcha Zen.

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The Recipes

I found endless food blogs with posts about cooking with matcha.  Here are some links to some of my favorites.  Stay tuned for a food recipe using Matcha Zen in the day or two!

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Chocolate Matcha Butter Cups from Keepin it Kind

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Healthy Matcha Green Tea Coconut Fudge from Desserts with Benefits

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Matcha Mochi Yogurt Pops from My Name is Yeh

More Than a Trainer – Kim Rhodes Boose

 

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When I set out to do a series of posts on what inspires me in the area of health and wellness, I knew I would be doing a key post about Kim Rhodes Boose.  Kim is the Queen of group fitness at the Asheville Racquet Club. She is my fitness guru, as well as the fitness guru of dozens, if not hundreds, of people in the area. Kim is the ass kicking fitness trainer, crazy partying partner in crime, nagging mom, sympathetic shoulder to cry on, no bullshit drill sergeant, soon to be third time grandma – all in one package.

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When I arrived here in Asheville, I thought I was pretty fit.  I’ve been an athlete most of my life, and have always enjoyed a good ass kicking workout. I ran, and ran, and ran, and ran.  I did a couple of strength-cardio type programs including The Firm and Tapout, but I mostly ran.  I met a new friend through my children’s school, who invited me to go running.  She and a group of other girls ran from the Racquet Club.  After running with them a time or two, I found myself inside the club, taking classes.

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At first, the move to Asheville was a big adjustment.  I had to be the emotional rock for my kids adjusting to a new school, and my husband adjusting to a very sharp learning curve at work.  We were living in a small apartment, and all of our things were pieced together in storage lockers across Western North Carolina and Upper East Tennessee.  I admit, some days I didn’t want to get up.  If I could only drag my butt to Kim’s class, I left feeling like a new woman.

It was like going to a party every day.  Her spin classes were mesmerizing with disco balls flashing in each corner of the room, coupled with a well thought out soundtrack that would never disappoint.  Whether the theme was country, pop, Katy Perry, classic rock, Eighties Wrap, Bon Jovi, or “blonde bombshell,” each song was timed to a cadence which felt like a choreographed Beyoncé dance sequence on a bike. Her strength classes were full of jokes, laughter, and an equally strategic party blueprint.  I would surprisingly wake up the next morning with a thigh and butt burn making it hard to climb stairs.

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Kim also welcomed me into the group as if I was an old friend.  She celebrated my strengths as well as my quirks.  When she found out that I was a chef, and that I would be cooking for many of her clients, she celebrated me as if I was a James Beard award winner.  She told everyone to buy into my services, before she had even tasted any of my food.

Kim Boose has taken my fitness to another plane. She’s prompted me to focus on my core strength, leaving me a well-oiled machine, rather than a tall question mark who runs up mountains. While training for my fourth marathon two years ago, she taught me the importance of being truly total body fit.  In previous marathons and endurance runs, I had thought that the important training was in the miles slogged on the ground.  I enjoyed that challenge of the long events, but the last couple had left me physically sick – with vomiting, or major G.I. issues for several days.  The recovery from the events would be rugged as well.  Several days of not feeling like doing much at all.

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This time was different, however.  I had hitched my car to the full steam locomotive called Kim Rhodes Boose.  Instead of running 6-7 days, I ran three days.  Two mid-distance runs, and one long run.  The other days I would attend Kim’s spinning, weight, and cardio classes.  I also tried to fit in some yoga – at least twice a week.  Kim confronted me a few days before the marathon, and asked me how I felt. I told her I was apprehensive about getting sick again.  Kim’s reaction was that she would hear none of that bullshit!  It was going to be different this time.  I was truly fit, and I was going to crush that marathon. I walked away ready to run.

Sure enough.  Kim was right.  I did crush that marathon with a personal best time of well under four hours. The recovery was much better as well.  I was back in class, spinning away to the beat in a couple of days.

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Kim has helped me take fitness to a new and different level.  She has taught me that exercise should not be a chore – it should be a party every day.  She is an expert in several different types of exercise training who has years of experience and a wealth of knowledge.  Her classes are always different from the last, and they are always fun.  I have never seen signs of burn-out in her, or for that matter, even a bad day.  She is so much more than a fitness trainer.  She empowers us, by celebrating us, and reminding us to always love ourselves.  She remembers everyone’s birthday, and dedicates a spin class to them; again with a well-planned, appropriate soundtrack for that person. She shares lessons not only of fitness, but of life.  She teaches us the most important life lessons – to celebrate each moment, take nothing for granted, and to…”stand up straight, hold your head up, shoulders back, tummy in!” …just like my Momma always told me.

To find out more about Kim’s personal and group training services, go to the Asheville Racquet Club’s website

Mental Health and Meditation

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I could not do a series on what inspires me in health and wellness without addressing meditation. A few years ago, we had recently moved from Vermont to a little town outside of Lake Placid, NY. Everything was going well.  Kirk had a good new job that he enjoyed, we found a great house to rent that was right in front of the school.  The kids had friends to play with, we had great neighbors, and we were fitting right into this wonderful little community.

The only problem was that we were having trouble selling our house in Vermont.  Paying rent and a mortgage was a lot.  We decided to rent the house, which resulted in even bigger headaches, causing me to never ever want to be a property manager.  Among other things, it was really difficult being two hours away.

I had this great life.  I had a great marriage, and great kids. I loved my work, and we lived in this idyllic little town with amazing mountains and great friends.  The house in Vermont, however, was causing me unbelievable stress.  I had heard of the book, The Secret.  I remembered seeing it on Oprah years earlier.  One day Kirk said to me,  “I know it’s a little hokey, but I’ve been watching this movie on Netflix.”  It was The Secret.  I watched it, and watched it again.

I was mesmerized by all of the experts in the movie. They seemed so knowledgeable, and so happy.  The movie is about the Law of Attraction.  The main idea that I took away from it is that you should train your mind to focus on what you want, and not what you don’t want. What you focus on grows.  So, if you don’t want more bills, don’t think about them.  Think about what you want and you will attract more of it.

I started looking up the people in the movie, and looking for their books and  teachings.  I have learned so much from these amazing teachers.  My favorites are Jack Canfield, Joe Vitale, LIsa NIchols, and Michael Beckwith.

They all contribute different ideas and methods, but here’s my little summary of what they all teach:

1. Try and stay as positive as possible.  Look at bad things that happen to you as life lessons that you will emerge from stronger.  Try and avoid negativity.  Distance yourself from negative people, and stop watching the news – it’s very negative.

2. Set goals.  Think hard about what you want in life.  Get clear on this.  Write it down.  The more detailed the better.  Do you want to make more money?  Write down exactly how much.  Do you want to travel to Paris?  When? What are you going to do there?

3.  Tap into source energy.  Source energy comes from the universe, or creator.  This can pertain to whatever deity or Deity moves you spiritually.  You might be thinking how to do this?  The best way is to get quiet and go inside yourself.  The best way to practice doing this is to meditate.

My Mom has been meditating since I was in High School.  She explained it to me, and I tried to do it, but it was really hard.  The thought of it haunted me for years.  It was always in the back of my mind.  “I should try and eat healthier…I should exercise more…I really should start to meditate.”

What exactly is meditation?  The best definition I could find comes from good ole Webster’s Dictionary – to engage in mental exercise (as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.  I like to think of it as exercise for your mind.  You basically try and focus your mind on one thing.  Your breath is the “anchor.”  Pay attention to you breath.  What does an inhale feel like?…going into your nose?…your throat?…your chest…?…your belly?  What does an exhale feel like?…going out your nose?…your throat?…your chest…? your belly…?  There are some other things that you can try and focus on, like sounds in the room or sensations in your body.  You can recite a passage or a mantra mentally, and focus on the words.  The goal is to truly be in the moment.  To try and have your mind focus on the present, and not what you have to pick up at the grocery store later. If your mind does wander (and it will), just release the thought and come back to the breath, or the sounds, or the sensations, or the passage. Don’t get frustrated if it is difficult at first. It is a meditation practice.

I started meditating consistently a couple of years ago, and it has changed my life.  My level of stress has gone way down.  My husband and family have noticed the positive change.  It’s also helped me to focus much better on my work, my exercise, and to sleep better.  Overall, it has taught me to live in the moment. and to be more aware of my surroundings.

HOW TO GET STARTED?

The best way to get started is just that, start.  Pick a time and a place where you will not be disturbed.  I wake up at 4:45 in the morning so I have my meditation time.  I recommend starting with some guided meditations.  One of my favorite websites, Fragrant Heart, has a little mini-course you can sign up for (it’s free!).  You get an email every day for five days, lengthening the time each day you meditate.  Elizabeth Blaikie’s sweet voice guides you through, bringing you back when you need it.  Another great website that goes a bit deeper with a meditation course, is Quiet Lotus.  The site offers a five week course, with each week following a theme, also free.

Some other great programs that are not free are Oprah and Depak’s Meditation CD’s.  There’s several themes that you can choose from.  They offer a daily lesson, and then you meditate with a mantra.  It’s hard to go wrong with Oprah and Depak.  Lastly, I want to mention Holosync, by Bill Harris (also from The Secret).  Bill has been meditating so long he is a bona fide zen monk. He has also done extensive research on how the brain works.  His audio program has cues and tones that are supposed to take you deeper than you just meditating on your own.

Now that I have been meditating for a couple of years consistently, it’s become like brushing my teeth.  If I don’t do it, my day doesn’t feel quite right. It’s sometimes difficult to get it in every single day.  Sundays are hard. I need one day to sleep in, but sometimes I can sneak away and find  a bit of alone time later in the day. Even if you can get in five minutes, it’s well worth it.  Overall, if you are a spiritual person or not, I highly recommend meditation.

A book that I’ve read recently, which really explains all of the above in a funny, easy to read, easy to digest book is You are a Badass by Jen Sincero.  I recommend getting the audio book, and listening to it more than once.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

As promised, here is my recipe for Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Chicken.  The recipe is fairly easy, but there are several steps. It’s delicious, and less than 300 calories/serving.

Clean the fat from the chicken thighs.

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Season chicken with spice mix.

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Roast chicken thighs for about 15 minutes at 375 degrees,

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Add salsa and water, and stir to combine.  Cover with parchment paper and foil.  Turn oven down to 325 degrees, and braise chicken for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven, allow to cool, and shred with a fork.

 

Cut spaghetti squash in half, remove seeds, place in the oven, with the chicken, and roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

 

Allow squash to cool, remove the threads from the shell, and add to the pan with the shredded chicken.

Add shredded kale, cottage cheese, and stir to combine.

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Return casserole to oven, and cook until the top is browned, about 20 minutes.

See full recipe here.

Goodbye Summer

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Ratatouille Salmon

This time of year is bittersweet.  It’s my favorite time… Cool nights. Warm days.  Awe inspiring tomatoes.  Melons!  Sweet Corn.  Squash…and the pool is still open.  What more can a girl ask for?

It has been a busy summer for me and my personal chef business, Chef Katie, LLC.  Lots of clients, catering, and clean eating programs have kept me running.  I have managed to squeeze in some summer fun with my family.

I began catering for retreats at the beautiful Bend of Ivy Lodge in Marshall, NC this summer. The retreats can be a lot of work, but it is totally worth it.  I love the work, and I love spending days on the gorgeous property.  I also had the honor of catering the wedding of the owners of the property.  I recruited the help of my husband, Kirk Fiore.  We love working together, and I am so proud to watch him work.  I have enjoyed watching his skills develop over the years as a cook, organizer, and manager, and I can safely say that he is the best chef I know.

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They have goats!

They have goats!

Words to live by.

Words to live by.

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Wedding Table

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Wedding Setting

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This summer I  have also been researching the Body Ecology Diet for a client, and have been inspired.  The main premise is to combat Candida, aid digestion in the gut, and restore our inner ecosystem.  My extensive research has led me to learn about case studies of the diet. The program has aided symptoms of Candida as well as chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, early aging,  hormone imbalance, and auto-immune disorders.  It has even cured ADHD and Autism in some children!

The diet eliminates sugar and adds in probiotics through kefir, probiotic suppliments, and fermented vegetables. Donna Gates, the creator and author of the “Body Ecology Diet” has devised seven principles of “eating and healing,”  that include balancing certain foods that are expansive versus contractive and acidic versus alkaline.  I like her approach to “Uniqueness,”  where she states that everyone is different, and everyone is constantly changing.  No one diet is right for everyone, and a different diet will benefit you at different stages of your development with different nutritional needs. I am also eager to embrace her philosophy for food combining, keeping starchy, carbohydrate-rich foods separate from protein-rich foods.  This makes sense to me for easier digestion.

Another principle that I think everyone should learn to live by is the “80/20 Principle.”  I am a big believer in portioning and measuring your food.  If you can learn to embrace the 80/20 Principle, this would make it easier for you to train your body to do this naturally.  Donna states the “rules”  of the 80/20 Principle in her book, “The Body Ecology Diet,” in Chapter 2…

“RULE NUMBER ONE: Eat until your stomach is 80% full, leaving 20% available for digesting. RULE NUMBER TWO:  80% of the food on your plate should be land and/or ocean vegetables. The remaining 20% can be protein or grains and starchy vegetables.”

I tried the diet for a couple of weeks.  I felt great and lost a lot of weight.  I wanted to stay on the diet longer, but life got in the way.  It was a bit difficult, developing new meals.  Donna suggests that you only stick to certain grains, millet, quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat.  The absence of rice was tough for me, but I love quinoa.  The amaranth, millet, and buckwheat, I am still experimenting with.  I home to come up with some tasty and palatable recipes soon.  Millet just brings back bad childhood memories of ultra-healthy, yet very uncool lunches my mom packed for me.  One of them being millet and almond butter sandwiches.  This was in the 80’s, and believe me when I tell you that almond butter has come a looong way.

I loved experimenting with the fermented vegetables.  I’ve made several concoctions of fermented carrots, beets, sauerkraut, kimchee, and hot sauce.  Some were not successful, and some were delicious.  Stay tuned for some tasty recipes to come!  I am working on developing a 21 Day Plan which includes principles from Donna and Body Ecology, including food combining, 80/20, and fermented vegetables.

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Fun with Fermented Vegetables

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One last idea that I really believe in that I found Donna and other authors of similar “gut-healthy” diets tried to drive home, is that restoring health is not just about what you eat.  The personal care, cosmetic, and household products that we use several times every day contain toxins that mess with our body systems, causing issues, and sometimes, disease.  Refer to my previous post, “It’s Not All in the Food”  for more information.  Also, please contact me if you need assistance with cleaning up your products.

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I LOVE my work.  I am honored to be helping people eat delicious food that fits into their needs, and I love helping people to lose weight. I love learning from my clients.  I love learning about new diets such as Body Ecology and GAPS.  I look forward to learning more in the future.  Our connection to food and eating is necessary for life, but capable of healing and changing us, and so full of emotions and memories.

Cheers to summer!  I love you so, and will miss you dearly.  I hope your summer was as satisfying as mine. Here’s to starting a new season, and a new chapter!  Speaking of a new chapter, how do you like my new logo and website!  Many thanks to the talented team at Peppermint Media!

Kale Tacos with Sour Slaw, and Apple Salsa

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Today is National Kale Day.  Kale has come a long way. Who would have thunk it?  Remember when it was just a mere garnish for Shoney’s and Pizza Hut salad bars?  Who knew that it was easy to grow and extremely bountiful?  Who knew that it carried super powers that would make you feel fabulous about your body and soul after eating it?  Who knew that it was even edible?

Even in the early days of kale’s coming out, I had trouble selling it.  In the early 2000’s, the farm for our restaurant, Sugar Snap, was cranking out kale at an epic pace.  I was putting out kale chips, kale fillings for burittos and frittatas, tons of garlic sauteed kale, red wine braised kale, and the ever popular cheesy kale bake.  Kale was (and still is) a rock star of locally-grown crops in Vermont.  I thought it was a Vermont thing.

 Upon moving to North Carolina, I realized that the “Kale Kraze”  was universal, and it had hit hard.  My biggest seller at Chef Katie’s Cafe was the Kale and Sweet Potato Salad.  I was processing a case a day.  There are places where the most popular sandwiches have kale pesto as the main ingredient. Even at our local pizza joint, Marco’s, the “Kale Pizza Special” has been on the board since we moved to Asheville. I admit – it’s what I order every time – and its delicious.  Let’s face it people – you can’t take kale down, King Kale cannot be beaten.  Just face it, celebrate and embrace kale!

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These Kale Tacos are gluten free, low calorie, ultra tasty, quite healthy, and easy to make.  You can use any protein you like.  I like to take chicken or turkey legs and braise them with green salsa and Mexican spices.  You can also use the Mexican chicken from my previous post, Mexican Chicken Dinner Salad.    Blanched kale is the base of the taco, taking the place of a tortilla.  I top the kale “tortilla” and braised chicken with fresh sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno.  The slaw and the apple salsa give the tacos a nice crunch.  Cheese is optional.

Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and ground cumin into a saucepan.  Bring to a simmer.

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Thinly slice cabbages and add to a bowl.

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Pour hot liquid over cabbage, mix well with tongs, and cover with a plate.

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Place diced apples in a bowl.  Add chopped onion, cilantro, pepper, and salt.  Mix well.  Squeeze  the orange and lime into the mixture, discarding any seeds.  Mix well.  Meanwhile, bring a bot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare a bowl of ice water.  Dip the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately add to ice water.  Remove leaves, gently wring out extra water, separate leaves, and drain on a clean kitchen towel.

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Build tacos:  Lay kale leaves down.  Top with hot chicken or turkey, sour slaw, apple salsa, and then jalapeno.  Enjoy!

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Kale Tacos with Sour Slaw and Apple Salsa

Makes About Eight Tacos

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked protein of choice (braised chicken or turkey, sliced seasoned chicken breast)

1 bunch lacinato kale

1/4 head red cabbage

1/4 head green cabbage

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

2 tbsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt

2 tsp ground cumin

2 fresh apples (Gala or Macintosh), peeled and diced small

1 fresh orange

1/2 fresh lime

1/4 cup finely chopped sweet yellow onion

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp Diamond Krystal Kosher Salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 cup pickled jalapeno

Procedure:

1.  Make slaw:  Place vinegars, 2 tbsp kosher salt, and cumin in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a simmer.  Finely slice cabbages with a knife.  Add cabbages to a bowl and pour hot vinegar liquid over the top.  Toss the mixture well with tongs, and cover with a plate.  Set aside.

2.  Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.  Prepare a bowl of water with ice cubes.  Carefully and quickly drop the kale leaves in the boiling water, and immediately remove with tongs, and dunk into the ice water.   Wring the kale leaves out without ripping them.  Separate the leaves and drain on a clean kitchen towel.  Set aside.

3.  Place diced apples in a bowl.  Add sweet onion, cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and mix well.  Squeeze the orange and lime over the salsa, removing any seeds.  Toss well.

4.  Gently heat chicken, turkey, or other protein.

5.  Build tacos. Lay kale leaves flat on a plate.  Top with chicken, turkey, or other proten.  Top with sour slaw, apple salsa, and pickled jalapeno.