by Lucy | Dec 17, 2017 | Recipes and Meal Ideas
I will never forget it. It was my first time entering in a chili cook-off and also my first time to make chili. Luckily, it was a friendly competition among a small group of medical residents that we hung out with at the time. My family didn’t eat chili often growing up so I didn’t have a signature recipe that was passed on to me. I had to just try something completely new.
I was inspired by Emeril Lagasse’s vegetarian chili because I had never seen a chili made with so many vegetables. I didn’t need it to be vegetarian though, so I replaced the mushrooms with ground turkey. Perfect, I thought. Healthy and delicious. It was Emeril’s recipe after all, what can go wrong? So, I brought my very veggie chili to the cook-off and crossed my fingers, hoping it had a chance.
The judges were harsh, but funny and gave everyone’s chili a name. My chili earned the title: Milli Vanilli Chili. They said it looked pretty, but it turned out to be a “fake.” And for three reasons. One that was their mistake and two that were mine.
First of all, they thought the ground turkey was couscous, perhaps because it was finely crumbled or that I used 99% lean – which I don’t do anymore. Either way, it definitely wasn’t couscous.
Secondly, I left out the oh-so-important garnishes and spices that I didn’t realize were so key at the time. Now, I NEVER leave out the cilantro, green onions, and Greek yogurt. Those just make it complete!
Lastly, because of my preference, it lacked the heat that those serrano peppers would have added and that most of the other chilis had at the cook-off. If you like spicy chili – you will still love this one – just add some peppers with more heat or kick up the cayenne pepper a notch.
It may not have been a winner for the judges that day, but my family loved it. So much so that it’s now a family favorite. I’ve been perfecting it for six years, and we still call it Milli Vanilli Chili. =) It’s warming, delicious and nutritious! It looks pretty, AND it tastes good. No fake stuff here! If you are in the market for a healthy weeknight dinner that makes perfect lunch leftovers, you’ve got to try this!
Very Veggie, Turkey Chili
Kristen Norton, RD, LDN | Well Balanced Nutrition
- 1 lb lean ground turkey 85-93% lean
- 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 to 3 bell peppers stemmed, seeded, and chopped
- 1 medium zucchini stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
- 2 cups fresh corn kernels or 1 can of corn no added sugar or salt
- 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms about 5 large, stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 large tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped
- 3 cups cooked black beans or canned beans (low sodium, no added sugar), rinsed and drained
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup lower sodium vegetable stock no added sugar, or water
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Garnish for each bowl
- 1 oz Plain Greek yogurt garnish
- ? medium avocado diced, garnish
- 2 tablespoons chopped green onions garnish
- 1 oz Mild cheddar cheese optional garnish
In a large, heavy pot, brown turkey, onions, garlic, and bell peppers, and cook, stirring, until meat is browned completely. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.
To serve, ladle the chili into the bowls. Top each serving with a dollop (~1oz) of yogurt and spoonful of avocado. Sprinkle with green onions (and optional 1 oz cheddar cheese) and dig in!
For lower sodium, calories and fat content, do not add the cheddar cheese. This saves you 111 calories and reduces the sodium by 182mg.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving:
Total Fat 19g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 78 mg
Sodium 903 mg
Potassium 926 mg
Total Carbohydrate 34 g
Dietary Fiber 10 g
Sugars 17 g
Protein 33 g
Vitamin A 92 % Vitamin C 145 % Calcium 32 % Iron 20 %
by Lucy | Dec 3, 2017 | Friday Favorites
Tis better to give than to receive, but sometimes coming up with that ‘just-right’ gift is challenging. Especially when it’s for our coworkers, teachers, or neighbors whom we may not know as well as our close loved ones. Often I see people spread holiday cheer with homemade treats or fancy chocolates. It’s true that many people enjoy sweets but isn’t there plenty of that to go around already this time of year? Why not gift something different to stand out from the crowd and that’s not food?
Here is a roundup of awesome gifts that your loved ones, friends, colleagues, teachers and neighbors will love.
DIY gifts come from the heart. Who wouldn’t want this delicious wreath and sweet stove-top potpourri? Okay, oranges are food but it was too cute to not include it.
Affirmations are powerful, but sometimes, they feel a bit cheesy. Perhaps these can help. If your gift receiver won’t mind a little swearing here and there (okay, a lot) then these bad a** affirmation cards will make them smile and feel awesome every day.
Everyday Badass Affirmation Card Deck by AngieBeeHotz
If you like the idea of non-cheesy affirmations, but not the curse words, here is another option.
Affirmators! 50 Affirmation Cards to Help You Help Yourself – without the Self-Helpy-Ness!
Help them relax: Essential oils can be a great stress reliever and mood booster. Give the gift of essential oils on-the-go with an aromatherapy necklace. They can simply add a few drops of their favorite oil and reap the benefits wherever they are. (Click on the pictures for links to the products.)
Aromatherapy Necklaces from Etsy
Practical and inspiring: We all use our cell phones everywhere we go, which means we all have dirty cell phones. Gift these screen cleansing towelettes that come in a meaningful package. The pattern honors Steve Dezember, John McNeeley and others battling ALS. The art for this design was created by Steve who drives over a canvas with his wheelchair. A portion of the proceeds from this pack will be donated to ALS awareness.
Well-Kept Screen Cleansing Towelettes
Serve it up: These beautiful and functional serving spoons are a must for the entertainer you know. They rest nicely on your serving bowl with that fun zig-zag design and no one will know it, but they help you spoon out just the right amount. The set of 4 spoons are made in standard serving sizes: 1 cup, 3/4 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1/8 cup. It is all about serving up fresh food in healthy serving.
Livliga Serving Spoons
Spice up their life: Primal Palate offers gift sets of 3 spice blends like this one below. The owners of Primal Palate say, “we want you to experience cooking with spices like never before; using spices that are the highest quality, the freshest, and quite simply… the best.
Gift-giving can be so rewarding! Hopefully, we gave you some new ideas for your gift exchange party, neighbors, family, and friends.
What is your favorite gift to receive?
by Lucy | Nov 21, 2017 | Nutrition Questions Answered, Well Balanced Wisdom
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
According to the latest research from the American Diabetes Association, 30.3 million Americans had diabetes in 2015 and they estimate that 7.2 million of those cases are undiagnosed. Additionally, the ADA reports that another 1.5 million people are diagnosed with diabetes every year. November is national diabetes awareness month. We are wrapping up this month by bringing awareness of how people can prevent or manage diabetes the Well-Balanced way.
Let’s start by circling back to the Well-Balanced Plate, which is not only good for weight management and getting the vitamins and minerals you need – it can also help regulate your blood sugars. As you may already know, diabetes is a condition of having elevated blood sugars, which can often be attributed to eating a diet that is high in sugar or other simple carbohydrates (specifically for type 2 diabetes). There is also a genetic predisposition to have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes; however, it is often preventable with diet and lifestyle changes.
On the Well-Balanced Plate, we include complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, in small portions. You can read more about the benefits of whole grains here. A complex carbohydrate has higher fiber content and will not raise blood sugars as quickly as simple carbs. For instance, you might find yourself feeling hungry soon after eating a meal with white rice versus eating oatmeal or other whole grains. Not only do we find carbohydrates in grains such as oats, quinoa, and whole wheat bread but we also find carbohydrates in fruits, vegetables – especially the starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn – and most dairy products. It is important to know what foods are affecting your blood sugars and how to eat them in balance. This is something we discuss with many of our clients – click here to learn more.
Additional benefits of eating well-balanced means you’re including not only complex carbs – but we also emphasize protein and healthy fat. Incorporating protein and healthy fat helps to slow the rate of how quickly food is turned into glucose (blood sugar) to be used for energy.
Last year, Karen* came to Well-Balanced Nutrition because her hemoglobin A1C, a marker of checking a person’s average blood sugars, was elevated at 6.4%. This is one percentage point away from being diagnosed with diabetes. Karen was very eager to learn how to prevent diabetes without going on any medications. During her initial assessment, we talked about her healthy habits, then she mentioned her love of Pepsi-Cola. After a few more visits, Karen incorporated some mindful eating techniques and implemented label reading to check the carbohydrate and sugar content of everything she bought. Karen reports it was easier than she expected to stop drinking Pepsi. She is pleased to still occasionally enjoy a glass of chocolate milk from Maple View Farms for days that she wants something extra special. At her follow-up doctor appointment last June, the doctor said, “Congratulations, whatever you’re doing is working. Keep it up.“
*Name changed to protect identity.
Here are a couple of examples of our favorite well-balanced meals:
Sauteed cabbage and carrots w/ quinoa, fried egg & peach
Garlic chicken legs w/ brown rice and artichoke green bean salad
by Lucy | Nov 19, 2017 | Motivational Mondays
This week came up fast. It has been a busy month at my house. Longer than usual work hours has meant less family time and more stress. That’s the way it happens. We don’t plan to get stressed out. We just find ourselves all of sudden overwhelmed. Then the holiday comes. We say that the holidays are stressful but sometimes its just life that is stressful in the first place, and the extra holiday activities are just icing on the cake.
Stress can make healthy eating decisions challenging in general, and this time of year we are often forced out of our comfortable routines and put into more situations that feel beyond our control. How do you handle the stress and the abundance of food without letting it derail you from your goals? A holiday wellness planning session is the place start! You can schedule your first one for free today. In the meantime, here’s how some of my clients and I are planning to stay well-balanced.
Jan* is traveling back home for Thanksgiving. She has been on a steady journey of changing the way she eats and drinks. She’s lost weight, feeling great and doesn’t want the momentum to stop. At her holiday wellness planning session, we discussed her favorite foods this time of year. She will thoroughly enjoy those foods that are special to her including pumpkin pie. At the same time, she will balance her plate with some vegetables and start her day with a healthy, balanced breakfast (a veggie-packed crustless quiche). She also intends to start a new tradition with her aunts and cousins to play Wii sports or have a little Wii dance party. Her plan allows room to enjoy those things that are unique and nostalgic while keeping her meals balanced and finding a fun way to build movement into her family time.
Keri* is on a mission to live well-balanced and lose weight in a healthy way. She gets a little stressed out over the abundance of food still left after her family’s big meal. One piece of advice I often hear is to not worry about one or two indulgent meals – it’s not enough to throw your progress off track. But when you have lots of sweet and starchy leftovers like mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cookies, and pies to eat for days and days, what are you supposed to do? At her holiday wellness planning session, we brainstormed some ways to get back to well-balanced eating even with an abundance of leftovers. One strategy was to use the freezer, using this advice on what freezes well and what doesn’t. And another idea is to be more mindful when planning the meal. Here’s a handy tool that helps you decide how much food to buy based on how many “big” and “small eaters” you will have at your celebration.
As for me, Thanksgiving meal is all about homemade mashed potatoes with gravy and rolls. This combo is the ultimate comfort food from my past. I will be adding turkey, a salad and mixed roasted vegetables to balance out my plate. I’ll also be journaling, drinking tea and meditating to help me get a handle on any stress that might pop up. Lastly, exercise brings me mental clarity, makes me stronger and keeps me energized, so I’m going to stick to my three days a week at Burn Boot Camp.
Food for Thought: What’s your holiday game plan?
Making a plan in your head is helpful but often does not equate to action. Talking it out with a Well Balanced dietitian will help you put your goals into action. Knowing you get to check back in to review your progress will keep you motivated to follow through. One client says, “I’ve received very practical, concrete solutions to my problems of craving sugar and feeling out of control around food. The monthly meeting keeps me accountable for my improved food choices and is helping me learn how to incorporate mindfulness into my daily eating habits. It’s one thing to know what a healthy food is. It’s quite another to actually change an eating behavior. The coaching I receive is invaluable to learning how to approach food with a balanced mindset.”
P.S. If you want to talk about your personal game plan, create action steps and follow up with Well Balanced dietitians, take advantage of our November special. A package valued at $220, on sale for $159 until Dec 1st. Your first call is always free and meetings are virtual so you can easily fit them into your schedule!
*Names have been changed to protect privacy.
by Lucy | Nov 12, 2017 | Well Balanced Wisdom
Food cravings are tricky. Have you noticed that some just can’t be ignored? You know, when you crave something specific like a brownie, and you try to satisfy the craving with something else that’s a little healthier, let’s say yogurt or a granola bar because you are working so hard to stick to your goals. But then you still can’t stop thinking about that brownie. You might try several things to appease the desire, but nothing seems to work. Your craving remains and you finally give in. In those cases, it’s just best to have that brownie in the first place instead of having several alternatives, only to eventually indulge in the brownie anyway. You end up eating more unnecessary calories when you try to ignore an intense craving like that.
But what about those less intense cravings?
Like those silly cookies in the breakroom that are only a distraction but look so tempting. If we gave into ALL our cravings ALL the time, we could be setting ourselves up for excessive weight gain or unbalanced eating, especially over the holiday season. Here is a technique called the CRAVE WAVE that can help you manage your urges.
Go through this exercise first and then decide if your craving needs to be satisfied or you can let it ride.
- Acknowledge and name the craving: “Oooh chocolate…I definitely want that chocolate cake right now.”
- Visualize yourself riding the crave wave: Instead of letting the waves of the craving crash down on you and suck you in, picture yourself jumping on your surfboard, riding out the wave and safely coming back to shore. It might sound cheesy, but this imagery is a powerful thing.
- Refocus your attention: Walk away from the food, busy your hands, write down your current thoughts, slowly take five deep breaths or any other activity that can redirect your attention. Congrats. You just rode the crave wave!
If you need some more guidance on dealing with your cravings, let us know!
by Lucy | Nov 2, 2017 | Transformation Tuesday
I joined Well Balanced Nutrition because I had gained weight and my clothes were not fitting. I wanted to lose weight and get back to my weight from a year ago. I am a very self-conscious person and always compared my body to other people and was not happy with who I was.
I started doing one-on-one appointments with Lucy and she is amazing. Lucy listens to you and the goals you want to accomplish and helps you get on track. She explained to me how the well-balanced plate works and helped me eat more healthy foods, while still enjoying the foods I love.
I have a dog and he loves to go on walks and I always found an excuse to not be able to go on walks and Lucy told me about the 5-4-3-2-1 (The 5-second rule). Since implementing the 5-Second Rule, I take my dog on walks – he loves it – and it keeps me active and moving as well.
It has been an amazing journey for me, I have made progress since meeting Lucy. I eat more vegetables too. Before, I didn’t eat many vegetables and wasn’t up for trying new things either. Now, I portion my food and I am trying new things, such as recipes from Skinny Taste Cookbook. I am still a picky eater but much less than before. I go on walks with my dog and I have joined the gym and go 3 days per week, which that is a big milestone for me.
I have also learned to love myself and my body more. I’ve stopped comparing my body to others. We are all different, we do not know what other people are doing to maintain how they look or how long it has taken them.
We each have a different journey we embark on to get where we want to be.
For me, I found that I want to be and feel comfortable with the clothes I wear. Compared to where I was a year ago, I feel comfortable where I am right now, I feel confident. Also, I found something that I like to do which is donate blood and platelets and you must maintain a certain weight to donate.
Thanks to Lucy, I have been able to stay on track and know what to do if I get sidetracked from my goals. She has been amazing in helping me find what works for me and what doesn’t. She also helps me figure out what to change when I feel stuck and want to give up. I have learned how to eat the things I love while still maintaining a well-balanced style. For me keeping a routine works best and helps me stay on track with my weight. Well-Balanced Nutrition is just the best.
Let us know how we can help get you unstuck! Click here to get started today.
by Lucy | Oct 25, 2017 | Motivational Mondays
You know that empty feeling after you eat? The times you think, “that was so unsatisfying.” What if there is a different way to get the most nutrition and enjoyment from your food.
A client, who we will call Eric, was recently diagnosed with melanoma stage III. Eric is a young and otherwise healthy guy who typically eats a plant-based diet. He admitted to regularly eating a bowl of sugary cereal and milk at the end of the day for many years but with the diagnosis he a made the decision to cut out those foods. Eric is especially sensitive to sugar and has become choosier about what sweets he will eat. In the beginning, after the diagnosis, Eric was very fearful of food. He questioned what foods prevent a recurrence of cancer and what he should avoid.
It’s not what you’re eating, it’s how you’re eating it
Eric told me he was visiting a retired gentleman who offered him a Hershey kiss. Eric politely accepted this treat with the intention of getting rid of it later, at which point the gentleman said, “while you’re having one, I’ll eat one too.” In order not to offend his friend, he decided to join him in eating the chocolate.
I asked Eric what he’s learned since easing up on his sugar and carbohydrate restriction over the past two months. Eric thought for a moment and said he realized he needs to put less emphasis on what he is eating and more emphasis on how he is eating. This literally stopped me in my tracks. In a previous conversation, I had briefly mentioned mindful eating to Eric, but didn’t go into much detail. That’s why I was so impressed at how he came to this decision. Eric noticed after eating a meal while being distracted with computer work or in a meeting it did not feel as nourishing as those he savored and enjoyed more mindfully. For him, that means taking time to eat without distractions. Slowing down to savor the look, taste, smell, and textures of the foods.
The food and cancer conversation is highly controversial and there is a lot of conflicting science-based evidence out there. At Well-balanced Nutrition, we encourage people to embrace natural food, such as those items that are clearly coming from the farm, orchard or mother nature. I still have not come across an Oreo bush or pizza tree. When reading a food label, I don’t often look at the numbers. I want to know the ingredients. What is in the food?
Eric recognizes when he eats more slowly and enjoys the meal mindfully it feels more satisfying and enjoyable. He decided to take this a step further and plan for future meals. For instance, when thinking about Thanksgiving, he plans to take more time during that meal to savor the smell, taste, and appearance of the special holiday dishes. He plans on taking regular breaks throughout the meal – putting the fork down and enjoy the moment.
Here are 4 ways to start practicing
- Spend time considering the foods that are #WorthIt beforehand to make a mindful decision each time you eat
- Before shared meals and holidays imagine the event and sitting at the table
- Spend time savoring the meal (the look, taste, textures, smell, etc.)
- Stop during the meal – perhaps consciously putting the fork down in between bites – to slow the pace of how you eat
Food for thought:
We know making healthy food choices is important for reaching our health and wellness goals. When I’m being mindful and tuning in with what I really need, I tend to avoid the less nourishing options because I know they won’t make me feel better. How can you include a mindful technique to get more from your meals?
Let us know how we can help you on the journey! Contact us to get started today.
by Lucy | Oct 22, 2017 | Well Balanced Wisdom
What stresses you out? Is it traffic? Your to-do list that seems to be never-ending? Your kid’s messy room?
Your project deadlines at work? Money concerns? Whatever it is, the American Heart Association has a brilliant tool for letting go of your stress.
The scream booth is a stress reliever tool that first made an appearance on the streets of Austin, Texas and is now in the exhibition hall of the 100th Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) in Chicago, IL. The video below was posted on the American Heart Association – Austin facebook page and gives you a preview of what it’s like inside. Once you press start the screen asks you what stresses you out. It hears what you say, and the words appear on the screen. The words will only go away once you scream. Take it from me, it was very therapeutic – and at the time I didn’t have any real stress.
Excessive stress can contribute to hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, and more. This activity reminds us all that we need to work out our frustrations in a harmless way, so the weight of our stress does not start to impact our health and well-being negatively. When you don’t have a scream booth out your backyard, what are you to do? Here are some other healthy ways of coping with stress.
- Screaming into a pillow
- Taking a nature walk
- Attending your favorite group exercise class
- Talking with a trusted friend or family member
- Coloring or creating art
- Meditation or deep breathing exercises
What are your favorite ways to cope with stress?
by Lucy | Oct 15, 2017 | Uncategorized
Imagine getting a call and learning that you have the opportunity to sit down with Oprah for an interview. Would you be nervous and awestruck? Would you try to play it cool? When Brene Brown, author and researcher, had this very experience she went through all those emotions. Before she went on the show, she found a pen and a post-it note, then jotted down a permission slip for herself that allowed her to be present in the moment, to enjoy it no matter how uncool she might look when she got excited and giddy. Brene apparently uses this technique often. I think it’s brilliant!
The other weekend I had an opportunity to either spend time with my family just relaxing, or get caught up on laundry and all the other chores. I felt the pull to get things on the to-do list checked off as usual, but I also knew the importance of unwinding with my family on a Sunday. Inspired by Brene’s written permission slip method, I got out a scrap piece of paper. On it, I wrote, “You have permission to relax and enjoy the day. Your to-do list can wait.”
That was powerful. The act of writing it down helped me let go of the ambivalence I was experiencing in my head. I went on to enjoy my Sunday as I should… relaxing with my family.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT:
Lucy and I give you permission to take good care of yourselves or to keep it simple, but sometimes only you will know what you need. So for what can you write yourself a permission slip? To enjoy a food you’ve been craving without guilt? To politely pass on a social opportunity that would make you fall off your current eating plan? Or maybe it’s permission to rest because your body is begging for a day off from your workouts.
Permission slips aren’t excuses; they are a way of silencing that inner critic who is always telling you that you aren’t enough and they are great for those moments when feel a battle going on inside your head. Permission slips help you honor your needs, be your own best friend, and solve the doubts in your mind.
by Lucy | Sep 18, 2017 | Motivational Mondays
Monday, Sept 18, 2017
I just don’t do this often but I’m putting my foot down. There will be no more self-afflicted food shaming.
As Kristen eloquently states in her blog post, Why Well-Balanced Eating is NOT fail proof,
“Well-balanced eating (and well-balanced living for that matter) is not fail-proof because at the end of the day no matter what plan we decide to follow we are only human and this is real life.
Too often we expect the journey to be picture perfect and we don’t plan for the struggles. It doesn’t matter the number of mistakes, slips, failures – no matter what you call them – that you have, it’s how you embrace them and what you do next that matters the most. Lucy and I like to call them LESSONS because there is always something you can learn or a way you can grow from something not going the way you hoped. We can get a lot further if we embrace the struggle, have compassion for ourselves and never let our setbacks define us.”
Here to help (not judge)
Last week, I got to see a client who decided to enjoy free queso day at Moe’s Southwest Grill. She returned to her office just before our meeting and promptly said, “don’t judge me!”
I want to let everyone know, Kristen and I are not judging you. In fact, our goal is to support and encourage you, which we could not do if we were busy judging the people we want to help. Eat the queso! Just try do it mindfully.
On other occasions, people say “I shouldn’t have eaten…” which is personal food shaming for the decision made in the moment. We know from the article on, HALT that people tend to make the least healthy decisions when they are hungry, angry/frustrated, lonely, tired, or sometimes bored. If that’s the case, doesn’t it make sense to set ourselves up for success? Instead of spending time and energy thinking about what I “shouldn’t have done,” it will serve us better to learn the lesson and think about how to set up for success in the future.
For example, if I find myself eating the free food in the breakroom all morning because I didn’t eat breakfast, now I know I need to prioritize finding quick, convenient, and well-balanced breakfast options. Or if you notice you feel bad each time you eat out for lunch, it’s time to focus on bringing homemade meals to eat at lunch.
Food for thought:
Eating is supposed to feel good! Not only is it yummy, there is also a dopamine release creating a pleasurable experience to encourage us to keep eating regular meals and snacks. When eating is combined with shame, instead of feeling good we feel terrible.
This week take a moment to notice that little voice that says “shouldn’t.” How can you rephrase that into what you want or what will feel good? What lessons have you learned to help you make better choices?