Top Ten Reasons to Join the Eat Healthy Challenge

The first Eat Healthy Challenge, in 2012, runs from January 4th -31st. If you have not participated in the past, go to Eat Healthy Challenge for details. You can join in anytime during January.

Top Ten Reason to Join the Eat Healthy Challenge this January, 2012:

  1. The holidays are over (need I say more?)
  2. Start off 2012 with a healthier focus.
  3. Lose a few pounds.
  4. Gain a few insights … like the power of nutrition to help us feel better, stronger and saner.
  5. Improve digestion.
  6. Increase energy and acuity.
  7. Rev up your metabolism … boost immunity during flu season.
  8. Discover new healthy foods (you’re going to supplement non-friendly challenge favorites with new favorites).
  9. Break bad habits and reduce cravings.
  10. It’s January, 2012. Can you think of a better time to get on the Eat Healthy Challenge bandwagon?

Take the Eat Healthy Challenge and be transformed. Join the Healthy Junkie community via blog or facebook and comment about how the challenge is going for you.

Happy New Year, Healthy Junkies! May 2012, keep us all travelling forward on the journey to healthy.

Transform Resolutions into Real Life Changes

With just over three weeks, until the first of the New Year, ideas for my 2012 potential resolutions are beginning to percolate. What am I going to let go of this New Year? What limiting belief pattern or non-productive habit am I willing to leave behind? I’ve had many resolutions over the years. The challenge is figuring out how to succeed. I see early January as an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to commit to something that will improve my life. It’s a chance to take stock of the past year and determine any gaps between where I am –or who I am—and what I intend in the coming year.

You can view my article, “New Beginnings for a New Year: Transform Resolutions into Lifestyle Changes,” in Napa Valley Life Magazine, Dec/Jan, 2011. I wrote the article with the intention to help us win! There are tips and strategies to help keep us on track, commit thoroughly to our goals and make 2012, the year to follow-through on what really matters to us.

As for my resolutions list, the ones I want to commit most to include:

  • Participate in the Eat Healthy Challenge, from January 4th-31st and eliminate all six elements.
  • Spend at least 15 minutes in the morning and at night meditating (total of at least 30 minutes per day).
  • Go to yoga at least one time every week.

I hope you’ll all consider joining me for the next Eat Healthy Challenge. There’s no better time to embark on this challenge than January.

Sweet Potato Soup

I made this delicious soup last night. It would be great to add to the menu for American Thanksgiving or as a heart-warming fall soup. I’m so thankful to celebrate two Thanksgivings every year—Canadian and now American. I believe Thanksgiving is one of those holidays best celebrated every day of the year … without the indulgences.  

Happy Thanksgiving, Healthy Junkies! May we all find plenty to be grateful for today and every day!  

Sweet Potato Soup

Serves 8-10 (bowls)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbps butter (or olive oil)
  • 2 large onions (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery (chopped)
  • 10 carrots (chopped)
  • 3 lbs sweet potatoes (chopped)
  • 8 cups vegetable (or chicken) stock – or less depending on desired consistency
  • Pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and pepper
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Cook onions, celery and carrots for 5 minutes in butter
  2. Add sweet potatoes and vegetable stock and bring to a boil.
  3. Decrease heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are soft.
  4. Add spices.
  5. Blend using a food processor or blender.
  6. Mix olive oil and sea salt (to taste) into pumpkin seeds
  7. Roast pumpkin seeds in toaster oven or oven at 450 F
  8. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top of soup in each individual bowl when ready to serve.

Scale Obsessed

When I was twenty, the day after Halloween—after gorging myself on candy—I told my family and friends something like, “That’s it! I’m going on a diet and I’m going to be 120 pounds again if it kills me.” For awhile, I weighed my food, counted every calorie and told restaurant servers I was allergic to oil and egg yolks.  

What I had failed to remember was I hadn’t weighed in at 120 pounds since before my growth spurt, before I was a teenager. Why did I think 120 pounds was my ideal weight?

I weigh 147 pounds! Wow, did I just write that out loud? Yes, I did. That’s right! I’ll spell it out for everyone to hear … I weigh one-hundred and forty-seven pounds (at the moment)! I suppose I could weigh less. I’m guessing many women at a height of 5.8½ inches weigh less than me. Who cares? I’m fine with it! Like for real, fine with it. I used to obsess about my figure but just don’t anyone. I’m well within my targeted healthy weight and best of all … I’m healthy.   

Many of us are obsessed with the scale. We’re consumed and miserable about our weight. We continue on with the same unhealthy lifestyles and somehow expect the dial to change. We attempt diet after diet, digging ourselves deeper into the quicksand of the diet conundrum.

With ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­75% of Americans overweight or obese, and 61% of the Canadian population at an unhealthy weight, North American bodies are hungering more than ever for nutrition. How is it possible with the prevalence of the scale and the relentless surge of new diets, we’ve become fatter than ever?   

I don’t know about you, but I find counting calories and weighing food depressing. Of course portion control is necessary. But what’s more important is the type of food we’re choosing to ingest: No need to control portions of vegetables. For almost all of us, once we start eating for health—only vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean meats—our bodies come into balance. Our bodies find a healthy weight. It’s what our bodies want to do. It’s what our bodies are programmed to do.

I no longer worry about my weight (well almost never) because I eat well and exercise regularly. I’ve noticed the only time I complain about my weight and figure is when I stop putting the energy and effort into my health. I no longer look to the scale for answers. I look within for answers. I may never be model-skinny-like, but I sure am healthy-like.

Inspired Beverage – The Green Smoothie

Photo by Ashley Teplin

I love smoothies–especially green smoothies made from a combination of green vegetables and fruits. They give me energy—make me want to do backflips or break out in a dance routine to “Footloose”.

Most of the time, I use a similar base of ingredients; banana, blueberries, broccoli, green peas, kale, almond butter and water. Next, I add whatever else calls to me; apple, plum, pear, spinach, chia seeds … I sometimes switch the almond butter for hemp or pea protein powder. Now and again I change up the kale for wheat grass powder. With all the tossing of this and that into the blender, sometimes the smoothie goes south and I have to work to bring it back into the realm of palatable.

Like last week, during a photo shoot for Mutineer Magazine. I’m being featured in a spread named, “Inspired Beverage Voices-Napa Valley”. My green smoothie is the rising, non-alcoholic, star beverage. On November 6th, I’ll be attending the Mutineer Red Carpet Party, without my blender in hand. While trying to impress the Publisher and Editor, Alan Kropf, I was once again clearly reminded of the art of green smoothie making and the pressure to tweak recipes.

Photo by Ashley Teplin

Why was my smoothie so thick? Of course I had used more kale than usual to impress my new smoothie converts. I ran out of blueberries and had to substitute raspberries. I added a plum and voila … my smoothie tasted okay, but not yet yummy. It needed help to rise to the stature of smoothie masterpiece. I added another banana (after all it was a smoothie for three people), one scoop of “GreenSuperFood with Goji and Acai by Amazing Grass” and poured in more water. Pure healthy, smooth, deliciousness!

Sometimes our beverages just need a little more inspiration to shine and be the best they can be. What inspired ingredients do you have up your sleeves, Healthy Junkies?

Another Eat Healthy Challenge Bites the Dust

This is my fourth Eat Healthy Challenge and I’m not ready for it to be over. How can today mark the 28th day, the end, when I feel like we’re just getting started? On the other hand, it’s hard to believe I’ve spent 112 days, more than 30% of my time out of this last year on this Challenge. Having spent this much time completely clean—without hydrogenated / processed foods, sugar, white flour, caffeine, dairy and alcohol—how do I feel you ask? Amazing! I feel healthier than ever. I feel grounded and stable, energetic and full of life, clear-minded and sharp, strong and sure … and thin. That’s right—I feel thin.

Another thing I’ve noticed is these Challenges get easier with experience. I spent the first three withdrawing from caffeine for the first two weeks. It seems I’m a slow leaner. I knew I was committed to putting myself through these Challenges every three months for 28 days, but would rush right back to my coffee routine the day after each Challenge ended. Big mistake! Sure enough, three months later, I was in another bout of coffee withdrawal torture. After the May Challenge, I decided to limit my intake to one dreamy soy latte per week. Of course, the one crept up to about three per week by the beginning of this current challenge, but I stuck to the “ultimate why bother”; a one-shot, decaf, soy latte and didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms. Instead, I experienced the positive side effects from the Eat Healthy Challenge immediately.

Also this time around, I didn’t encounter my usual cheese envy. Friends would eat their camembert and aged cheddar and I wasn’t at all disturbed. Everything in my system is flowing magically and I’m feeling trimmer than ever. I attribute this, in part, to the lack of cheese in my current routine. I’m going to try to limit the cheese from now on … however, we do have reservations at a restaurant that serves fresh-pulled, warm mozzarella this Thursday. I said limit, not eliminate.

As for my third regular indulgence—wine and beer—I’m beginning to see the absolute benefit in us taking time off from each other. Sometimes in taking long vacations from those we love, we begin to see their true colors. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a heavy drinker and I’m certainly not a lush. But truth be told, I feel better—less bloated, clear-headed, not stuffed up, digestively more fit and all around lighter—when I’m not hanging out with Mr. and Mrs. Alcohol. This being said, please promise you won’t judge me if you see me flirting with them in the near future. What I’m learning is I actually like socializing without them. They’re going to be invited out less often from now on.     

Congratulations to all you Healthy Junkies who participated (on all levels and for any length of time). Remember, if my schedule doesn’t suit you and you want to begin this Challenge at a different moment, great! Use the facebook page or blog if you need encouragement or just want to comment and feel connected.

The next Eat Healthy Challenge begins January 3rd, 2011.

Processed Food

What is processed food? This question has come up more than a few times over the past couple of weeks. Processed Food (along with Hydrogenated Oils) is the number one item everyone is asked to eliminate on the Eat Healthy Challenge.   

“Does this include all packaged foods?” my friend Mark asked frowning. “Do my brown rice crackers and veggie burgers fall into the processed foods category? I sure hope not, because I can’t make it without them.”   

A distinction is in order. Some foods, like Mark’s tasty brown rice crackers and particular brand of veggie burgers, are healthy commercially prepared, convenience foods. The evidence is in the ingredients. In order to understand the difference between a healthy packaged food and a processed food, we must read labels.  

What we want to avoid are food products that have been chemically treated or stripped of nutrients. Examples of chemicals added to foods are; aspartame, MSG, nitrites, nitrates, colors (e.g. red dye #40, blue #2, green #3), BHA, acetasulfame potassium, artificial flavor, added sulfites and so on.

Examples of foods that have been altered include; white sugar, white flour, white rice, and salt (use sea salt). These foods have been stripped of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, vitamins and minerals must be stolen from the body to metabolize them effectively. A food is whole when it has all its parts. White flour and white rice are not whole foods given the fiber—bran and germ—has been removed.

“So I can eat my store-bought hummus and canned soups?” Mark asked again without waiting for me to answer. “I realize in a perfect world, it would be better for me to make all my own food from scratch, but I just don’t have the time. I cook way more often while on the Eat Healthy Challenge, but there’s no way I’m going to bake my own bread or make my own pasta noodles.”

“That’s great,” I said. “Buy whole grain bread and use whole wheat, kamut or brown rice noodles. Just read labels and make sure the ingredients in your packaged products are whole foods without added chemicals.”

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