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Start Small & Repeat

I love our mantra, Make a Difference Every Day. I love wearing my MG tee shirt that reminds me to set this daily intention and helps me share the message with everyone around me. And yet, sometimes, I fall into the trap of measuring the difference on the wrong scale. While some days it’s huge — something you plan for, commit to, and do (like organizing a full day of service in your community; helping build a Habitat house, etc.); the rest of the days, it’s not.
 
“We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily difference we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
— Marion Wright Edelman
 
And that’s what makes this mindset…and our actions that support it, every day…so magical.

Peach BBQ Baked Beans

Serves 8

6 slices thick cut bacon, chopped

4 cans, 1 ea: cannellini, black, kidney, pinto

3 ripe peaches, chopped

1½c bbq sauce

½c maple syrup

½c bourbon or apple cider

1/4c balsamic vinegar

2T grainy dijon

1t ea chili powder, smoked paprika, ginger

to taste s&p

chopped fresh basil

 

1. In dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp, 5 mins

2. Add other ingredients, stir well

3. Bake on 350°F for 45 mins

4. Garnish with fresh basil

Fitness Trackers – Love it or Leave it?

I have been a devoted Fitbit wearer for many years now and am always interested in what research has to say about the effects of the devices on not only our weight but other health related behaviors. Despite my dedicated commitment to achieving my 10,000 steps a day, I am under no illusion that achieving my step goals will result in automatic weight loss. In truth, my weight has remained relatively unchanged throughout my years of Fitbit use. Some may find this frustrating, but my purpose in using this device is to remind myself to move throughout the day rather than the goal of weight loss. The health benefits of movement throughout our day has been well documented and this is motivation enough for me. Regarding weight loss, research has shown that fitness tracker wearers are no more likely to lose weight than non-wearers. Part of the reason for this may be due to the fact that users rely on the devices’ daily calorie burn number to determine how much food they eat. Additionally, a recent study showed that 7 popular fitness trackers reported inaccurate caloric burn estimates (the number which many rely on to estimate calories in vs. calorie out). So, what is a fitness device devotee like myself to do?
  
Food First, Exercise Second:
research has consistently shown that diet is more important than exercise for weight loss.
 
Avoid Food Rewards:
food should never be a reward for steps walked or calories burned.  Use non-food rewards to celebrate success.
 
It’s All Relative:
almost all monitoring devices (scales, diet trackers, exercise equipment monitors, wearable fitness trackers, etc.)-have margins of error. Consider the data relative and only use this data as one tool to help you achieve your fitness goals, be it weight loss or just overall health. Data is most useful when it is viewed and compared over time, rather than relying on one variable alone.
 
Waist vs. wrist:
for the die-hard data fans, waist wearable devices are more likely to be accurate than their wrist device counterparts.
 
Remember the goal of a fitness tracker should be achieving good health, not weight loss.  While a fitness tracker can be a useful tool in your weight loss journey (if that is your goal) never rely on this instrument as a single tool for achieving success.

Making the Most of a Bad Situation

Life will always have contrast to it. Day, night. Joy, grief. Beginner, expert. Hot, cold.
Some days we feel like we’re “in the groove” – everything is falling into place and going well. And some days — well — just the opposite.
 
When someone comes to you and says, “this isn’t working, things are bad,” what do you do?
 
From Don’t say ‘it’s not that bad’ to someone who thinks it’s bad:
Say, “you know, you’re right.” And then ask,

  • What’s bad about it? Or, what makes you say that?
  • What decisions/behaviors are making it bad?
  • If it was good, what would it look like?
  •  
    Treat people who think things are bad like intelligent competent team members (because hopefully they are!)

  • Don’t contradict their assessments.
  • Ask for suggestions.
  • Expect them to make things better (share responsibility if it’s warranted).
  • Use “you” and “we” in the steps forward.
  • Avocado & Strawberry Salsa

    Serves 8

    1lg fresh avocado, diced

    1c strawberries, diced

    1lg navel oranges. diced

    1/2c grape halves

    1/4c red onion, finely diced

    ½t+ jalapeno pepper, seeded, finely diced

    1½T fresh lime juice

    1½T olive oil

    3T fresh cilantro, chopped

    taste s&p

     

    1. Combine all ingredients, stir in avocado last, chill

    Great accompaniment to fish, chicken & pork dishes!

    Healthy Eating “Headlines” – Part 2

    With all the confusing messages about healthy eating & nutrition science I decided this important topic warranted two separate blogs. Last month’s blog focused on nutrition priorities and this month I will discuss some of the popular nutrition headlines.

     

    Gluten Free-the cure all?

    No one can deny the current popularity of gluten free diets. Books & celebrities are advocating for a gluten free diet for “clean living” and weight loss. What the promoters fail to point out is that cutting out gluten containing foods like cookies, cakes & deep fried battered foods is a positive nutritional change that results in fewer calories consumed (hence weight loss).  This effect is not directly related to gluten consumption. Additionally, three large studies have shown that people with the highest gluten intake were actually 20 % less likely to develop diabetes.  Furthermore, these studies debunk the claim that eating gluten causes weight gain as evident by the finding that there was no relationship between gluten intake and weight. There is no benefit to avoiding gluten if you do not have a gluten sensitivity or allergy.

     

    Health Halo Package Claims-Help or Hinder?

    While food label reading is a component of healthy eating, it may unfortunately bring out the unwanted side effect of health halos. A halo effect on a certain food or brand causes the person to perceive the product as healthy, thus resulting in overconsumption of said product.  Health claims on a food package does not mean that food provides nutritional benefits, as these claims can be misleading.  Always check the Nutrition Facts panel & pay attention to portion sizes.  Healthy, unprocessed food does not contain (nor need) a health claim.

     

    Does Healthy Eating Cost More?

    The claim “healthy eating is too expensive” is often cited as a reason for consuming cheap, processed convenience food. Current research contradicts this belief by showing that people who prepare home cooked meals engage in healthier eating habits & actually spend less money on food.  Frequent eating out is associated with poorer health habits.  Processed, convenience “health” foods actually cost more money than preparing a home cooked meal.  If you struggle with ideas for healthy meal preparation, research quick and easy ways to prepare meals at home.  The Internet contains an overabundance of healthy recipes & tips-just know where to look.  Explore websites such as Ellie Krieger’s Real Good Food, Cooking Light & Eating Well (to name just a few).

     

    The research on nutrition & health will be ever evolving, this much we know.  However, we can be confident that the basic principles of healthy eating won’t change, consuming real, whole foods with a variety of plant rich foods including fruits, vegetables & whole grains.

     

    Source:

    Karen Collins-Behind the Headlines

    The Platinum Rule

    “Treat others as you would have them treat you.” That’s a modern adaptation of the Golden Rule and one that we’ve probably heard a number of times throughout our life. It’s an ok model. Certainly better than treating others worse than you would have them treat you. But, this article suggests the Golden Rule doesn’t work as well as we may think.
     
    Why is that ineffective? Because it’s based on just this teeny, tiny assumption that the whole universe wants to be treated the way I want to be treated. That’s not the case. We’ve got to learn how to treat others as they want to be treated, which is the Platinum Rule.
    We all see the world through our own filters. These filters are unique to us and while we know they must exist, most of us are unaware of them as we move through our day to day interactions.
     
    “Filter – shift” is a concept where we learn to recognize our individual filters and shift our behaviors or responses to them (in other words, our bias) so we can be more effective and have better relationships with one another.

    Roasted Tomato & Pesto Soup

    Serves 8

    2lbs ripe plum tomatoes, cut ½

    2 cloves garlic, whole

    1 carrot, large pieces

    1 med onion, thick slices

    1-2T brown sugar

    2T olive oil

    to taste s&p

    2c veggie stock

    4T basil pesto

    touch of half & half, optional

    fresh basil, chopped

     

    1. Preheat oven to 350°F

    2. Toss tomatoes, garlic & onions with oil, sugar, s&p

    3. Spread in 1 layer on baking sheet, roast 30 mins

    4. Transfer to large pot, add veggie broth, bring to boil

    5. Reduce heat, simmer 20 mins, reducing liquid by ⅓

    6. Stir in pesto

    7. Using immersion blender, purée until smooth

    8. Can add “touch of” half & half for more creaminess

    9. Garnish with freshly chopped basil

    Healthy Eating “Headlines”

    There is no shortage of headlines toting the latest development in nutrition science and I will fully admit that it makes my head spin. We all know how important science is, but sometimes it appears that the science is constantly contradicting itself.  To avoid this conundrum, I only seek out information written by qualified (i.e. science) experts, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore what consumers are readings.
     

    Recently I read an article simplifying some of the more confusing messages about nutrition science.   And despite all the hype we hear, it still comes down to the simple message of eating more plant-based foods, less processed meats & lower sugar intake.  The first part of this blog I will sum up the basic messages (which many of us have already heard) and part 2 will address more of the catchy headlines we have seen lately (gluten free among others).
     

    Part 1: Nutrition Priorities
     
    10 dietary factors that show strong evidence as causes of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure & diabetes.

    • Excess sodium (i.e. salt) intake
    • Low intake of nuts and seeds
    • High intake of processed meats (such as bacon and sausage),
    • Low seafood omega-3 fats consumption
    • Low vegetable & fruit consumption
    • High sugar-sweetened beverage intake
    • Low whole grains consumption\\
    • Low polyunsaturated fats, (vegetable oils)
    • High intake of saturated (unprocessed) red meats (beef, lamb, pork).

     
    Optimal dietary intake
     
    What does “optimal” dietary intake look like? Optimal daily intakes include:

    • Vegetables-400 grams daily (~ 2 ½ cups) this includes dried beans & peas
    • Fruit-300 grams daily (about 2 medium pieces of fruit or 2 cups)-not including juice

    o   Whole grains-at least 125 grams daily (total 5 or more)-1 slice whole grain bread, ½ cup whole grain ready to eat cereals, cooked whole grain pasta, brown rice, quinoa or other
    o   Nuts & seeds-equivalent of at least five 1-ounce servings per week

    o   Seafood-supplied omega 3 fats-at least 250 mg per day-available from 8 oz of a variety of fish per week or 4 oz /week of high omega 3 fat
     
    Source: Healthy Eating Roundup: Behind the headlines

    What’s headed for your trash?

    You can be less wasteful. Guaranteed. Wasteful of what, you might ask. Lots of things. But, let’s start with food.
     

    You’ve heard this before: 40% of edible food ends up in the trash. Globally, about 1.3 billion…TONS. So much…it’s hard to even imagine, but let’s try. An average elephant weighs 4 tons. That’s 325 million elephants worth of good food in the trash. Still hard to imagine. The average skyscraper weighs 222 tons. That’s 5,842 skyscrapers. Did that help, or are you still mind-boggled? It’s tempting when we see or hear something that is unsettling to just walk away from it…to try to put it out of our mind because we feel bad about it.
     

    Salt & Straw is a small ice cream shop in Portland, Oregon, and they are whipping up some new flavors using food bound for the trashcan. Get inspired to be less wasteful, to find a way to use ALL of your edible food and to have nearly nothing end up in the trash.

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