January 31, 2012

Eating Isn't a Drag Race, Friends.

See Chewy sitting there so nice and serenely? He's great. And I want you to think of him in this picture every time you sit down to eat a meal.

Here's what I saw two days ago, and served as a good reminder.

January 24, 2012

Turkey Chili Verde with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas--and KALE!

The title of this recipe/post could have also been called:
"Don't Have Tomatillo Salsa? Ok. Make Something Up Instead."

Because I worked a long day and I was tired, I forgot to pick up one crucial ingredient for this recipe created by Whole Foods Market. Good thing I'm a health coach. Here's what I know:

1) I know my way around a kitchen and can create an alternative on the spot.

2) I know that you don't always have to follow the rules to the letter. You can depart from convention.

So here's the recipe.

And here's my lesson from cooking it: if you don't have what you need, shake it off. Just use something else and consider that resiliency your success.

Turkey Chili Verde with butternut squash and chickpeas
prep time: 15 minutes
total time: 45 minutes

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground turkey, dark meat
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced (a natural cold and flu fighter!)
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomatillo salsa (or plain diced tomatoes with 1 Tablespoon of cumin, which was what I used instead)
2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 Tablespoons sour cream
**2 cups fresh red or green kale, chopped

Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add turkey; saute until turkey is cooked, about 6 minutes. Add onion, chile pepper and oregano; continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, chickpeas, salsa and squash. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, for 12 to 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes. Stir in cilantro. Serve in bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream. Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

**kale isn't an ingredient in the original recipe but check out this post I wrote about adding greens to anything: The Missing Ingredient: GREENS!

Why I'm now buying Eden brand canned beans, (good advice from my coach Michelle Pfennighaus): EDEN canned beans

Why I don't measure how much sour cream I use but mention good-sized portion amounts: I've learned healthy eating over many years. Many of my readers learn good habits from my posts and then learn to use their own judgment, just like I do, when eating.

January 17, 2012

When To Call It

It never ends.

It started in October, right? And it's now January. The stuff on these shelves is for a holiday that is a month away in mid-February.

Same product, different packaging. That's all it is. 
Those companies just want you to keep eating, consuming and buying processed, chemically-produced crap. And because it's already in your bloodstream, it's hard to stop.

When is it time to call it quits? How much is 'enough'?

Each year many of us opt in to this cycle of consumption in October and emerge in May feeling sick, tired, bloated and lethargic.

Since drastically reducing my sugar intake, I have not had one single cold since early September 2011--(knocking on every single piece of wood within arm's reach--and that wasn't even caused by sugar. It was caused by stress from a major life transition. I'm sure of it.

My nutrition is profoundly different from many years ago, and because of that positive shift, I'm starting to settle into some profound and healing realizations about my body image, my identity as a transgender person living in a female body and how my lifestyle habits and eating patterns affect my wellness inside and out.

I may be 10 pounds heavier than last year, but I haven't been sick once (I can't count on my hands how many sinus infections I had in the past 5 years) and I go to the gym 2-3 times a week so I'm willing to bet a large portion of my weight is muscle. Don't know my BMI but I'll check back in with that but don't know how much I really believe in it. If the price is an extra 10 pounds, I'll take the gifts of wellness and strength

But I'm also willing to see where else I can make improvements...

I eat sugar, yes. I ate a lot of it around the Christmas weekend, making a pact with myself to enjoy what I wanted and needed and then to be mindful after that weekend to make sure I wasn't letting myself get carried away on the roller coaster effects. It happened. I breathed into that experience and now every day when I'm reaching for something I ask myself, "are you eating this because you want and need it or because it's in your bloodstream and it's become a bad habit?"

Ask yourself that question the next time you witness yourself reaching for the sweet stuff.

And then ask yourself that question about something else in your life (job, relationship, exercise routine).

There comes a time to call it and say, "I've had enough."

I have tendonitis in my shoulder because I hit the gym too hard and now I'm resting until it heals.

I had a client remove herself from a relationship because her partner always looked at and talked to or complimented other women when they were out together.

Whenever we feels ourselves crossing that fine line from "hey, this is fun" to "wow, this doesn't feel good", it's time to assess. Too much of anything isn't good for us. Think of your life in this way.

When is it time to call it?

January 5, 2012

Oven-Roasted Roots & Things

I don't know about you, but my life has been a little busy lately.

The holidays were one thing, but the pace of things is really picking up. Same goes for my friends and my clients. People are leaving jobs, going on interviews, welcoming babies into the world---or raising busy, active teenagers. How about trying to find a new therapist for life changes when you're LGBT and your health insurance is based in a politically conservative state? I know someone who was told yesterday, "LGBT--what is that?! Oh, no one in our practice has that speciality. Click."

When finding the right support to live better takes that kind of time and energy, who has time to make gourmet meals? Not I.

Here's what happened last night, because it was already 6pm, I was pooped from a long day and we had invested the time into buying stuff so it was sitting right there waiting for me.
Paired with a simple salad and leftover plain grains in the fridge? Awesome.

Oven-Roasted Roots & Things
serves 4-6

15 mins prep time (you can prep ahead of time or the night before and shave off some time at night)
40 mins bake time (approximate)
  • preheat oven to 450 degrees. When it's ready, place 1-2 cookie sheets in there (depending on how many veggies you prep)

4 med beets, diced
2 sweet potatoes, diced
2 small white potatoes, diced
4 carrots, cut into coins (1/4" thick)
2 onions, cut into wedges
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 pinches dried rosemary

fresh salad greens or spinach
homemade salad dressing of choice (might I recommend organic options if store-bought--Annie's is a nice company)

whatever leftover plain grain you have kicking around the fridge (we used some leftover brown rice to round out the meal--you can also just have a veg-tastic meal)

  • put all the veggies into a big bowl and toss with olive oil and rosemary, make sure everything is well-coated 
  • using an oven mitt, take out the cookie sheet and put the veggies on it, return to the oven
  • boil hot water for tea and drink it, you've had a long day
  • check on the veggies and turn them once or twice with a wooden spoon or spatula
  • when the veggies are crisp or browned to your liking, serve on a plate with simple salad. Make sure the veggies are cooked through, not mushy but not crunchy, either.

Why you want to eat root vegetables:

1) they are in season which means alot of good things namely, you are eating in harmony with the season and not eating, say, watermelon in January. Yeah. Can you even imagine that?

2) root vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, complex (read: slow-burning) carbs and phytonutrients. 

3) speaking from a food energetics theory standpoint, root vegetables come from the ground and can ground you if you're feeling a little off your center. Holiday hustle got you spinning in circles and hooked on the sweet stuff? Many root vegetables are naturally sweet (especially when roasted) so they can help you come down from the sugar high slowly and naturally. Heck yeah. That's why I made them last night!

How is your food and your mood lately?

January 3, 2012

Take What You Can Use

I saw this printed on a card:

Take what you can use, and let the rest go by.

Perhaps we were told as kids that we needed to take what we were given, eat everything on our plates because there were children starving in Africa (that's still true, but it's true in America, too) and settling for "good enough" was safer than being without a (fill in the blank).

It's easy to continue these patterns of thinking, when we don't interrupt those storylines.

That's how we end up overweight, stuck in jobs we don't like (but are convinced we need) and in relationships with people who don't really make us feel happy, precious and fulfilled. Or we keep ourselves forever in limbo, never deciding to jump down onto one side of the fence that's stuck up our butts because we listen to the opinions of too many people, never our own. Sometimes we make a decision to do the exact opposite of what we need, because we are too scared.

We don't need to do this.

Here was something I noticed about myself recently: I wasn't doing the same old thing when it came to eating sweet things.

January 2, 2012

Put It Down

Years ago, I had this wonderful boss. She dressed in turquoise and purple and adorned herself and her work space with turtles. Little metal, wood or plastic idols of them.

She was honest, open, inspirational and one of the most authentic mentors I had in my adult life.

She cried during staff meetings when we'd talk about the injustice of racism and oppression. From her, I learned that it's ok to get really pissed or frustrated about something and it's certainly ok to emote and express it, especially when someone can learn from it and create change for the good of all.

There was one other thing I learned from her: to put it down. To JUST DROP IT.

Before a work retreat one day, something we were doing to "bond" as an office staff, she placed a dog bone on the table in the center of the room. We all wondered, "are we having a fluffy visitor?"


It was a tool.

She said, "I have this here to remind us, when we get really stuck or fixed on an opinion or viewpoint we have---to eventually just 'drop it, put it down'. Let it go. Stop holding onto it."


How poignant, at this time of year when we are all about making changes in our lives! The New Year is a good excuse to wipe the slate clean and start anew. Even though we can really do this type of stuff EACH and EVERY day, it's perhaps nice and helpful to have the incentive from everyone around you doing the same thing.

So, that's what my new year's resolution was for 2012: PUT IT DOWN. 

I wanted to leave the pain, frustration, ego, low self-esteem, resentment, bitterness, unresolved guilt, unexpressed words behind. ALL OF IT. I wanted to leave it in the past so it stops haunting and screwing with the present and future moments of my precious life.

At the lovely New Year's Eve party I attended, I did just that. We all went around and expressed both what we looked forward to for 2012, but also--what we wanted to leave behind.

I want to leave behind my need to be right. My need to be heard. My need to be a victim about things that happened years ago so I can suffer and live in fear endlessly day after day. 

Not only is it extremely practical for making each day more fun and growth-filled, but it's completely aligned with my Buddhist practice! Non-attachment (to outcome or ego) = less suffering.

Make a list of 10 things you're holding onto and one-by-one...PUT IT DOWN.

If you can use some help with this, you probably want to join my 15 Days of Fearless Living program. Because putting things down takes alot of courage. The program is free, virtual and it's going to kick-butt. Maybe yours, in a good way. ;)

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