Archive | October, 2014

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

26 Oct

Shepherd’s pie is pure comfort food. This recipe from Nava Atlas’ Vegan Holiday Kitchen is one of my favorites. Sometimes I substitute crumbled tempeh for the lentils and add a can of diced tomatoes. I almost always add extra veggies like green beans.

Find the recipe here: 

http://www.vegkitchen.com/recipes/lentil-and-mushroom-shepherd%E2%80%99s-pie/

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Practicing Gratitude

19 Oct

Science shows us that grateful people are happy people.

This seems obvious, but let me reframe it. How often do we look inside of ourselves for happiness? How often to we believe that all we need for a happy life lies within us? If you are like me, your answers to these questions are probably “rarely” or “never”. We tend to put all the focus on our problems. Our problems consume our thoughts, our conversations, and alter our perspective on life. The “good” things- as big as a career you love and as small as a sunny afternoon- go unrecognized, undiscussed, and unappreciated.

Much of how we experience life is based on our perspective. Research estimates that our chosen perspective on life comprises 40% of our happiness. Perspective is a choice- something we have complete control over. If you can shift your perspective, you can control your experience. If you can control your experience, you can have happiness.

The best method I have found to remind myself to maintain a positive perspective and therefore cultivate happiness in my life is through a gratitude practice. A friend gifted me a gratitude journal several months ago. In the introduction, this journal gives a few valuable pieces of advice:

1) When things are at the very worst, it is the most critical time to cherish moments of joy. For example, if someone you love dies, there will be pain and grief. Allow yourself to feel it. But also allow yourself to feel and appreciate the glimmer of happiness that comes from telling stories about this person or a moment of unrelated laughter with a friend in the midst of your grieving period.

2) Always look for the “why” behind your gratitude. This will help identify and reinforce habits that cultivate happiness. For example, I am grateful for my yoga practice. Why? Because I am making time to care for myself and my wellbeing even on the craziest days. We relentlessly analyze the negative, so why not analyze the positive too?

We have started a habit in our house that we call “5 Things”. Each day JWD and I take turns listing 5 things we are grateful for. They can be anything from a delicious apple we ate at lunch to a meaningful moment with a friend. On some days 5 will feel hard- not because you lack 5 things to be grateful for, but because your perspective is blocking your view. Some days, 5 won’t seem like enough.

Today as we were walking in our neighborhood, JWD said “Ok babe, 5 things. Go.” Here is what I said:

1. I’m grateful for the warm cup of coffee I enjoyed as I started writing this post this morning. JWD brewed it and my gratitude stems from feelings of being cared for and feeling safe and relaxed in our home.

2. I am grateful for the dear, special friends we shared breakfast with yesterday. They are the kind of people who offer thoughtful conversation, genuine laughs, and the inspiration to better yourself. We’ve built a bond that feels more like family than friendship.

3. I am grateful for my health. Staying healthy is hard in our sedentary, stressed out, “SAD” (Standard American Diet) culture. I am grateful for workouts and sound sleep and nourishing food and that I have the means to make these things priorities.

4. I am grateful for fuzzy socks and hot tea that keeps me cozy on cold fall nights.

5. I am grateful for this smoothie. It’s the result of a very fun writing assignment that I will share soon.

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Today is a day when 5 is too few.

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Slim By Design

12 Oct

How do slim people stay slim?

Right now I am reading Brian Wansink’s new book, Slim By DesignI’m only about halfway through, but I can already tell it is a recommendation-worthy book. Brian’s theory is that it’s much easier to change our environments to be healthier than it is to change our brains (Amen, brother). Brian observed the habits of slim people in their native environments: their homes, restaurants, grocery store, workplace, and schools and discovered that everything from where you store your cereal to the size of your dinner plates can predict your weight.  Some of Brian’s strategies are already standard protocol in my home (fruit bowl front and center!), some are newly implemented based on his compelling research (check out my fridge below).

All of his advice revolves around one main concept:
Make unhealthy food less convenient and less visible, and make healthy food more convenient and more visible.

A few easy things you can do right now to design a slimmer home:

1) Store all of the snack foods out of sight and put a bowl of fruit on the counter.

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2) Move all of your produce out of the produce bins and on an eye-level shelf in your fridge.

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3) Mummify your treats! Simply opening the freezer and laying eyes on that carton of ice cream can trigger a craving, so wrap the carton in aluminum foil so it doesn’t catch your eye so readily. Every time I open my freezer our wedding cake topper taunts me. Although I would never consider digging in to it for fear of cursing our marriage (but mostly because I’m too lazy to undo they 10 layers of plastic wrap), it does trigger a craving for something sweet. So I mummified it in aluminum foil. Craving conquered.

If you want to know more about Brian’s Slim By Design tips, watch and read here and here.

It doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple steps can make you slimmer!

 

And now for that LARABAR giveaway: Congratulations Stephanie Day! Email me at kayli@truefoodco.com with your mailing address to get your LARABAR goodies!

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The Power of Putting Relationships In Motion

5 Oct

Yesterday JWD and I went for our first tandem bike ride, about 30 miles roundtrip to a microbrewery. For those who aren’t familiar with tandem riding, here’s a quick lesson (the sum of my knowledge when our adventure began): a tandem bike is built for two or more riders. The person in the front (the captain) pedals and steers and the person in the rear (the stoker) only pedals. I quickly learned something else about tandems: the tandem experience depends greatly on the state of the riders’ relationship.

Maybe some would advise against such heightened activities when your marriage is still in its fragile infancy, but we decided to take the risk ;). As we took off, I began to doubt our decision. As the stoker, I had to relinquish control to JWD, my captain, something I am not very good at. My obstructed view, limited mainly to JWD’s back, left me clueless to the treacherous terrane ahead (pebbles, puddles… you know, the really dangerous stuff). Admittedly, I started out as a pretty annoying backseat driver- giving tips on gear shifting and steering (things I know nothing about- this was, after all, my first time on a tandem), delivering a swift pinch to my captain when I thought he needed to slow down, gasping and swaying my body every time he took a turn…

After several miles of white-knuckling my breakless handlebars, I decided that the only way I was going to enjoy this day was if I let go of my desire to be in control and put my trust in my captain. Most of our twelve riding companions had been on a tandem before- many of them, in fact, were experts. I admired their trust in each other as they rode fluidly, communicated almost telepathically, and told wild stories of their tandem adventures. As I settled in to my stoker role, I felt JWD and I begin to fall into a similarly fluid rhythm. Based on the fact that he hadn’t killed me yet (and the culmination of our entire relationship’s history) I decided that he deserved my trust.

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Maybe it was the pints of pumpkin beer or maybe it was my decision to trust our relationship, but the return trip was was even more enjoyable. We rode along smoothly, feeling very much on the same page. Our strengthened connection with each other left us more able to enjoy the company of our riding companions. We only knew five people in the group at the start, but we walked waddled (saddle sores…) away with seven new friends and a deeper connection to those we already knew.

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Yesterday’s tandem fun left me with two thoughts:

  1. If you want to see what a relationship is made of, put it through an exercise test. Tandem riding (or really any type of group exercise) is a great metaphor for the requirements of a relationship. You must be in sync with your companion in a way that can only arise from trust. Maybe you will hop on the bike with an already established trust or maybe you will have to work to earn each other’s trust. Trust is built on communication, another key requirement of a relationship. If JWD fails to tell me that there’s a big bump coming or he decides to zig or zag without warning, he weakens my trust. Mastering trust and communication with someone delivers a great reward- human connection built to last.
  2. Building activity into your everyday life can be more sustainable and enjoyable than a structured exercise program. I’m not saying we should ditch structured exercise altogether (going to the gym, yoga class, etc.), but there is much to gain from exercising for fun with friends, family, and even strangers. Research shows that when we socialize in a context that requires nonverbal mimicry (pedaling along on bikes, flowing through the same yoga poses), we walk away from that experience with a stronger emotional connection with our companions. In short, moving together creates a bond. Also, as you talk, laugh, and share an endorphine-rich experience, the time and the miles will fly by. You get layers of life’s moments wrapped in one experience: spending time with your significant other, socializing with friends, exercising, decompressing, and self-care. Thirty miles felt like a breeze and we walked away from our riding companions feeling a little closer and a little more connected than when we started.

So if you want to put a relationship to the test, build a new one, or strengthen an existing one, put it in motion. Your relationships will be happier and healthier for it… and you will be too.

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You have until tomorrow to win those 20 free LARABARs! To win: share a link to Running on Sunshine via social media and sign up True Food updates here.

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