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New Day

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Yes, there’s no “year’s” in between those two words!

 

“…you can go about resolving until the cows come home, and you still have to live your life just like everyone else on this planet – ONE DAY AT A TIME… What you can do is set up day-to-day goals for yourself… for example, instead of deciding you are going to give up sugar for a year, resolve to go one day without eating sugar. Anyone can do virtually anything if it is for only one day. When you go for one whole day without eating sugar (or any other new behavior), you are a totally different person at the end of that day. Learn to let that totally different person decide on the second day whether to do it again on this new day… let the new you make the decision and then you”ll be living in your present moments.”  Dr. Wayne Dyer

 

So, whether you are waging an effort to give up a habit, or are trying to establish a routine you think will make your life better… or even if you are undecided about whether you want to improve anything at all… commit and take advantage of a structured time to process your day, everyday. Reflect, let go, and start again.

New Year’s Resolutions: Old vs New & Improved

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The New Year is upon us.  Time for resolutionsdiet plans and anything else you want to start fresh in this new season.  As for me, I mentioned countless times I am not a huge fan of resolutions, mostly because I think it often embraces the all or nothing mentality that gets us into trouble in the first place. So while I am not making any new resolutions, I continue to work on many lifestyle habits that are always a work in progress.  One article I find very helpful is a 2014 blog from College Girl to College Girl that re-frames the way we think about our “resolutions.”  Embrace lifestyle changes as opposed to radical diets.

 

Old: “I’m going to lose 10 lbs this year.”

Why focus on weight and appearance for your New Years Resolution? You should instead focus on feeding your body with healthy foods and listening to what it wants and needs. After all, the number on the scale is… well, just a number.

New and Improved: “I’m going to make more meals at home.”

After the holidays, we fall into a bit of a nutrition slump. We’re used to eating bigger meals, eating out with our family and friends, and sampling the wide variety of Christmas cookies! But, most of us grow tired of this and are ready to get back on our normal eating schedule. After New Years, make a resolution to make more meals at home and only eat out, let’s say a maximum of twice of week. Also, eating at home is often healthier, more nutrient dense, and lower in empty calories and more conducive to weight management.

 

Old: “No more desserts for me!”

Cutting out your favorite foods will only lead to wanting them more, so give yourself permission to eat your favorite foods in moderation.

New and improved: “I am going to eat at least 3 different kinds of fruits/vegetables a day.”

Instead of focusing on what you are going to cut out of your diet, focus on what you can add into your diet! Fruits and vegetables are a great place to start. Check out this recipe for banana whip.

 

New and improved: “I will sign up and train for a 10 mile race.” or “I will try 2 new group fitness classes a month, and work out at least 3 times a week.”

Being more physically active is a great New Years Resolution. But, if you do not consistently exercise, making a resolution to “work out more” or “exercise every day” may not be specific enough. If you like to run, try signing up for a race with a few friends. Set up a training schedule together. If you don’t like to run, find other ways.

 

Old: “I’m going to get the bikini body I’ve always wanted.”

What is a “bikini body” anyway?

New and Improved: “I’m going to focus on what I love about my body.”

Try committing to saying 3 positive affirmations out loud everyday. Or make a list of 10 things you love about yourself that you love about yourself that includes non-body related personality traits. Add to this list often and read it often!

 

Old: “I’m going on a diet.”

New and Improved: “I’m going to fuel my body with the food it needs.”

This year try to REBEL against conventional fad diets that do not provide long lasting results and can be dangerous to your health.

 

Old: “I am going to start eating healthier”

This is a great resolution, but it’s too vague and general. Try coming up with specific and small health goals that you can accomplish and focus in on.  

New and Improved:  “I am going to get 7-8 hours of sleep per night” or “I am going to eat 2-3 servings of vegetables per day” or “I will start eating breakfast” These resolutions will help you eat and be healthier and are specific and achievable.

 

Adapted from College Girl to College Girl: Revamp your New Years’ Resolution

Adult Pimento Cheese & Bacon Flatbread

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Serves 2-4

1 lg clove garlic, crushed

¼ c diced pimentos

2 c Sharp white cheddar, coarsely grated

1 c Sharp yellow cheddar, coarsely grated

⅓ c Greek yogurt

sea salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper

2 ”Flatout” 6 x 11 flatbreads

4 slices Applewood smoked bacon, crispy pieces

1 c Baby spinach (optional)

 

Adult Pimento Cheese:

1. Combine garlic, pimentos (with liquid) & cheeses

2. Stir in yogurt, salt & peppers, to taste

 

Flatbread Assembly:

1. Preheat broiler

2. Spread 1 c+ pimento cheese, top with crispy bacon pieces

3. Broil 2-3 minutes, until melted & golden

4. Enjoy with or without fresh spinach topping

 

Note: use high quality cheddar cheeses

From difficult to delightful

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Dan Pink’s new show Crowd Control (on National Geographic) evaluates through some very interesting and interactive exercises…with willing human participants…what drives our behaviors and what it takes to change them.

 

Occasionally, we need to change (or develop or grow or modify – whatever word works for you) our behaviors, yes?  Maybe to get along better (or more effectively) with our kids, partner, co-workers? Maybe to get and stay organized? Maybe to tackle a personal goal, quit a habit? Yes?

 

Dan summarizes it for us (but read the short article for more great insight), especially as we lead teams and individuals who may need or require some help with a difficult behavior:
  • First, get their attention
  • Telling people what to do doesn’t work, showing them does
  • Make them feel something
  • When nothing else works, distract
  • Tell them why

 
The New Year is coming…great time for tackling “difficultness”…practice on you!

Robin’s Tea House… A One-of-a-Kind Dining Experience

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Article from The Free Lance-Star

 

For me they’ve come in such disparate places as a mountaintop, a tropical island, a Paris train station, an open-air marketplace stall south of the border.

Sometimes it’s the food that’s stellar; other times it’s the ambience or the setting. And if you’re lucky, it’s all three combined.

That type of experience is getting harder to come by all the time, especially at chain restaurants, where everything from soup to nuts has been engineered and controlled for your dining pleasure.

 

But thanks to a reader recommendation, my wife and I recently enjoyed a meal that would be awfully hard to duplicate, at Robins Tea House at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden just north of Richmond.

First off, this is one gorgeous garden. Well, more like a dozen themed gardens on 40 well-tended acres, plus a conservatory with some amazing orchids in bloom. And I’m not even a flower guy, or much of a shrub lover, for that matter. Truth is, I go to a garden or Southern plantation and I risk contracting a bad case of “museum-itis.”

Some things you’ll need to know from the get-go: You’ve got to be a member or pay admission to the garden to eat in the tea house. There’s a seasonal lunch menu for weekdays and a seasonal brunch menu for weekends.

A bit of good news: Tea house portions don’t resemble the itty-bitty sandwich and pastry bites you find in tea rooms. Lewis Ginter also features another dining venue, a café with cafeteria-style self-service, which might be a better option for those with young kids.

 

The tea house incorporates some Asian design elements in its structure, but is so named for the Asian Valley Garden that surrounds it. With its floor-to-high-ceiling windows and exposed beam construction it resembles a great big pool house.

The dining room’s great acoustics, due to the use of special tiles overhead, helped showcase the soft jazz and New Age music on the sound system. While we were there, a couple was busy considering the tea house as a potential site for their wedding reception.

 

We started things off with a delightful lavender-lemonade cocktail and three apps: a smooth and creamy cup of roasted red-pepper crab soup that had a little heat to it; a colorful baby kale salad, with turnips, sweet potatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, almonds and Green Goddess dressing that looked like a work of art; and arancini—house-made butternut-squash risotto that had been lightly battered and flash-fried. It would have been nice to have a sauce with the latter; the three golden, perfectly crisped rice balls looked a little spare all by their lonesome. However, their delicate sweet, nutty flavor really didn’t require enhancing.

 

For entrées we got the “house-made buttermilk biscuits with traditional red-eye gravy” and “fall hash,” an autumn play on the traditional breakfast staple, with duck confit, bacon, caramelized onions, butternut squash, potatoes, fresh herbs and a sunny-side-up farm egg on top. Both mains came with a side of salad greens dressed with balsamic, which gave the plates nice balance and composition.

The hash was a winner, pleasingly earthy and rustic. The biscuits and gravy had a couple of issues: First, the gravy, which was more of a sawmill or sausage gravy, wasn’t as advertised, and second, too much fresh sage overpowered the mild, creamy flavors of the dish.

I guess the real question is: Why put biscuits and gravy on a bistro-style menu in the first place? Wouldn’t this be better left to Aunt Sarah’s or Cracker Barrel? This is one dish you don’t want to overseason or overly experiment with.

 

We had satisfyingly robust coffee, with chocolate gelato, for dessert. With less air and fat than ice cream, the gelato had a flavor that was unusually direct, hard and fast. It went a long way toward redeeming our brunch.

Verdict: The food, setting and ambience of Robins Tea House all add up to one very memorable dining experience.

Creatitudes

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With a little holiday down-time in front of us, here’s a question: got creative attitude? Check out this list. Recognize any “killers”?

 

1.  I know this problem
2.  I know the solution
3.  I’m a hard nosed realist
4.  I’m an expert
5.  I see things as they are

 

Instead of sinking a tire in an old pot hole (again), find a different road. Stuff happens that we can’t control (or don’t see coming), but for those recurring challenges…un-stifle our creative attitudes (lose the killers!)…and ahhh, new road!

Pumpkin Sage Soup

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Serves 4

2 T butter

1     med onion, diced

2     carrots, peeled and diced

1     apple, peeled and diced

1 T fresh sage leaves, chopped

2 c pumpkin, canned or fresh, puréed

3 c vegetable stock

½ c evaporated milk

pepita seeds

Stockpot Over Medium Heat

  1. Melt butter; sauté onion, carrot, apple & sage 8-10 min
  2. Purée above mixture with pumpkin in processor or blender
  3. Return purée to stockpot, add stock & simmer 15 min
  4. Add milk and simmer 5 min
  5. s&p to taste
  6. Garnish with pepita seeds &fresh sage

Simple Holiday Treat – Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

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In an effort to simplify my life this holiday season, a theme that resonates with me every year, I have been thinking about ways to pare down my life. This thought started with a simple trip to the grocery store where I noticed the shelves were filled with an overabundance of holiday food items, that sadly, go to waste. It goes without saying that we live in a world of abundance, particularly when it comes to food. Of course, this is not a blog about world hunger, but it certainly gives you something to think about in this season of plenty.

 

Obviously, being a nutrition professional, I have a love of food so I am not going to totally forgo the joy of baking, just stick to my favorites that I know will be savored by family & friends alike.  My personal favorite holiday treat is Hazelnut Maple Biscotti; nothing beats this divine combination of chocolate and hazelnuts.

 

So, I will savor my biscotti and all the simple pleasures the season has to offer.

 

Hazelnut Maple Biscotti

Hazelnuts (a tree nut) are a good source of folate & dietary fiber.

 

½ cup pure maple syrup

½ cup hazelnut butter (I ground my hazelnuts which is actually pretty simple)

¼ cup butter

2 eggs, slightly beaten

1-teaspoon vanilla

1-tablespoon hazelnut liquor (optional)

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup lightly toasted hazelnuts

Semi-sweet or Bittersweet Chocolate for drizzle

 

Preheat oven to 325. Line cookie sheet with parchment or silpat. In a medium bowl, cream together maple syrup, hazelnut butter and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and liquor, blending well. In a larger bowl, combine flours, brown sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend. Make a well into dry ingredients, add egg mixture and mix until incorporated. Add nuts. (Knead by hand if necessary). On a lightly floured board, divide dough into half and roll into 2 14-inch logs. Place logs on prepared sheet, then flatten about 1 inch high. Bake for 25 minutes or until loaves spring back when touched lightly. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Reset oven to 300. Slice cookies on the diagonal. Place slices flat on baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes (a lot of this process is trial and error; I like my cookies crisp so I bake longer). Remove from oven and let cool. Drizzle with chocolate (or dip in chocolate) if desired.

Two words

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Things move fast in the kitchen, and when the day is done, things move fast…out.
This article came advertised as “how to communicate in two words.” I’m thinking…this could be a good thing in a place where there’s not much extra time!

 

“Words are tools of influence. At the beginning, you say things you need to say. As time passes, you learn to say what others need to hear.”

 

Two words can..

deflate (“you lose”)
prompt action (“what’s next”)
help when things go wrong (“forgive me”, or “it happens”)
compliment when things go right (“love it”)
challenge (“try again”)

 

As we hustle and bustle in our ever-busy work and personal lives:

  • Speak to make things better.
  • Be courteous (or…kind, positive and gracious). Good manners matter most when you feel like ignoring them!

Students Experience, Enjoy “Green Cuisine”

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Article from Inspiration Lab

 

Sidwell Friends has been committed to cleaner and greener food since 2004; its “Green Cuisine” program now incorporates, wherever possible, ingredients and practices that are truly sustainable.

 

Teaching “food intelligence” is an important factor. The menu planning, preparation methods, ingredients, and dishes make everyone on campus more mindful. “Meatless Menus” emphasize that eating less meat is better for our health and environment, reducing factory farming, water contamination, land degradation, and greenhouse gases. Using local, seasonal ingredients maximizes freshness and minimizes the distance food is transported, thus saving energy, reducing pollution, and supporting local farmers and merchants.

 

Mealtimes are also opportunities for students to discover where the food on their menu originates and what it does for their bodies; they learn to avoid waste by taking only the amount of food they’ll actually eat, a practice that contributes to a more affordable dining program. On a daily basis the school ships its compost to local farms, which includes Sandy Spring Friends School’s farm.

 

When everything comes together in the cafeteria, the results are impressive, and include a main entrée hot bar with a vegetarian option; nutrient-rich dark green leafy vegetables seasoned only with fresh herbs—some from the Lower or Middle School rooftop gardens—and fresh salad, sandwich, fruit, and yogurt options. There are no processed foods, added MSG, trans fats, fried foods, added-sugar sweets, high-mercury fish, high-fat ingredients and recipes, or non-seasonal imported foods.

 

Each food-related goal is reflected in the menu and experienced in the food served. Students are now more open to new foods and tastes, a testament to the success of “Green Cuisine.”

 

For more detailed information on the program visit this link.