‘All Stories’

Food Messaging.. What does it tell us?

As I was prepping dinner one night, my 5-year-old sauntered by and declared in his most dramatic voice “wow, she lost a lot of weight.” My initial thought was utter cluelessness and then I realized he had caught sight of the Nutrisystem TV commercial showcasing drastic weight loss. Mind you, this is a happy go lucky 5 year old who is generally unaware of the pressures of everyday life, so his comment gave me great pause. This was followed by my 4 year old daughter quoting “bye-bye belly fat” followed by a flurry of giggles. Why did this weight loss commercial catch their attention? I pondered; what are we teaching our youth about their bodies? Already, two young ones, who in reality probably never gave their own body weight much thought, are picking up the messages that fat = bad and skinny = good. Already receiving messages of shame regarding our food choices & body weight. Yet, despite the shame & constant messaging that our life will magically improve with weight loss, we as a nation are still overweight, still depressed & still sedentary. We have turned food into the enemy, putting it in the same category as other addictive substances. The catch is, food is essential for life; we cannot sustain ourselves without it. Yet, we still are unable to make peace with food & stop thinking of food as the one barrier to our life of everlasting skinniness.

The intuitive eating & mindful eating movements have made great strides in changing our toxic relationship with food. However, they don’t offer the quick fix of diets & many people are simply unwilling to put in the long-term effort (i.e. slow results) required for healthy lifestyle weight loss success. Next month’s blog will highlight some of the main principles of these eating movements (notice the absence of diet) and how we can incorporate them into our life.

Lastly, it is useful to remind ourselves, that health isn’t always about weight. An extreme crash diet, may achieve your weight loss goal, but does it accomplish your long-term health goals?
There is obviously a reason diets are advertised over and over, they do not achieve sustainable weight loss. Sustainable being the key word.

Talk is Not Cheap

Humans are (still) social creatures wired to connect. It’s true.
And since in addition to loving food, we love people and serving others, we will always keep the conversation going about how to have a better conversation: one that leaves you and the other person feeling inspired, engaged, and basically — really good.

Watch this short TED Talk: 10 ways to have a better conversation
(It’s not just about eye contact…as she says: there’s no reason to show you are paying attention…if, in fact…you are paying attention!)

1. Don’t multi-task (physically or mentally). Be present.
2. Don’t pontificate: if you want to state opinions without discussion, write a blog! Enter every conversation assuming you have something to learn.
3. Use open-ended questions: what was that like, how did that feel, what do you think.
4. Go with the flow – meaning, let thoughts come as you are listening but let them go. Don’t check out of listening because you’re cueing up that random thought or story you want to share.
5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs. All experiences are individual.
7. Try not to repeat yourself, it’s condescending and boring.
8. Stay out of the weeds. That detail you are trying to remember (exact year or place) really isn’t that important to others.
9. Listen. This is the most important skill humans can develop. No man ever listened himself out of a job (quoting Calvin Coolidge).
10. Be brief.
Do all of these and be prepared to be amazed.

Stop Focusing on the Actual Goal

For a company that is wild about wildly important goals…say what?!?
 
You need a goal (or two, but not more than 3!) and it needs to be measurable. The process of identifying and agreeing upon a goal (what can be even better, cleaner, tastier, safer) brings focus…to everyone. And, by the way…”focus” is the single word to which both Warren Buffet and Bill Gates attribute their success — not determination, not smarts, not courage, not creativity — but focus.
 
BUT, to achieve your goal? Spend your time focusing on your “systems”.
 
“If you’re a coach, your goal is to win a championship. Your system is what your team does at practice each day…When you focus on the practice instead of the performance, you can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time. None of this is to say that goals are useless…goals are good for planning your progress, while systems are good for actually making progress.”
 
So, you have a goal…pulse-check…what are your systems for achieving it and maintaining the desired result? Focus, focus and refocus on that.

A Twist on Tradition

Before Valentines, take time to read “True love starts in the kitchen“… with Chef Anne from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, highlighted in Richmond Times-Dispatch! Sink your teeth into these Valentines Day foods with a makeover.

Salty Caramel & Pecan Oatmeal Cookies

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Yields (about) 48 cookies

1c butter, softened

1c granulated sugar

1c packed dark brown sugar

1t salt

1t baking powder

½t baking soda

2 eggs

2t vanilla

1½c all-purpose flour

3c rolled oats

11oz package caramel baking

1c pecans, coarsely chopped

coarse sea salt

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. In mixer, beat butter on medium for 30 seconds

3. Add both sugars, 1t salt, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda; beat until combined

4. Beat in eggs & vanilla; then flour

5. Stir in oats, caramel bits, & pecans

6. Using small scoop, drop 1½” mounds of dough, 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet

7. Sprinkle “sparingly” with sea salt

8. Bake for 11-12 mins, until edges light brown

Pumpkin Muffins

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Yields (about) 12 muffins

2ea large eggs

1¼c sugar

6t vegetable oil

¾c canned pumpkin, mashed

1c+6T all purpose flour

¼t salt

1t baking soda

1t ground cinnamon

⅓t ground nutmeg

⅓t ground cloves

1 pinch ground allspice

 

1. Preheat oven to 400°F

2. Combine eggs, sugar, oil, & pumpkin; mix well

3. Sift together flour, salt, baking soda & spices

4. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture

5. Pour into well sprayed muffin tins

6. Bake for 15-20 mins

note: can add white or dark chocolate chips, dried cranberries, or pecans

Sweet Potato & Apple Soup

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Serves 4

1 small onion, small dice

1 stalk celery, small dice

1 med carrot, small dice

1t chopped garlic

1T finely chopped or grated ginger

2c vegetable stock

½c dry white wine

2 granny smith apples, peeled, seeded,  ½” dice

3 large sweet potatoes, peeled, ½” dice

1 cinnamon stick

1 fresh bay leaf

½c unsweetened coconut milk

 

1. Sauté onions, celery & carrots over med heat 6-8 mins

2. Add garlic & ginger, cook 1 minute

3. Add stock, wine, apples, sweet potatoes, cinnamon & bay leaf

4. Bring to boil, reduce heat, simmer 10-12 mins, until potatoes are soft

5. Remove cinnamon stick & bay leaf

6. Pureé until smooth; season with sea salt & pepper, Add coconut milk or extra stock to desired consistency

 

Start cool, stay cool

breakfast flatbread time

As we go from zero (or slow-ish) to full speed ahead, everywhere (yay, back to school!), your time is at a premium and time management is critical. So, before you lose your cool (and who wants to spend time looking for that), here are some tips:

1. Preventative maintenance.
Fuel up with the right stuff. Eat a real breakfast…one with nutritional value. You’re in the food business, you KNOW what that looks like. Just do it.

2. Take 5.
Commit to taking mental breaks. Step outside, take three deep breaths, look at the horizon – the sky – anything growing from the earth, close your eyes, stretch, re-center. And then get back in there…they need your energy and your leadership!

3. Know your hot buttons and manage them.
What really sets you off? Guess what…it might happen today! What are you going to do when it does? Remember, you are in control of how you react. Spare yourself (and those around you) the stress and breathe through the things that push your buttons.

Deviled Egg Salad

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Serves 6

15ea hard cooked eggs, peeled

6T good quality mayo

1T dijon

½t sea salt

¼t black pepper

splash tabasco

 

1. Chop egg (cheese grater, coarse slide, works great!)

2. Combine with remaining ingredients. Mix well. Keep chilled

3. Garnish with fresh parsely

Belgian Chocolate Greek Yogurt

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Serves 6

⅓c cocoa powder

⅔c heavy cream

6oz 60% semi-sweet belgian chocolate chips

32oz plain greek yogurt

 

1. In saucepan, mix cream & cocoa; heat to a simmer

2. In a heatproof bowl, pour hot cream over chocolate chips, whisk until melted & smooth; cool 10 mins

3. Stir in yogurt in very small amts, blend well

4. Garnish with fresh mint

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