February 2004 Issue

FOOD FUN FACT: Shopping for Produce When You're in a Rush
CHRISTI'S COMMENTARY: Get Rid of the Winter Blues!
FOOD CORNER: Winter Foods - Sea Veggies
UPCOMING EVENTS: Winter Events - check out the new corporate events!


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 SHOPPING FOR PRODUCE WHEN YOU'RE IN A RUSH

I can almost hear what's going on in your head when you enter the produce section of the grocery store:

"Why bother? My veggies always go bad before I get around to eating them..."

"I'm so sick of corn and peas, I could scream..."

"Potatoes are a vegetable, right?"

"I'll just get a frozen entree - that will be much easier..."

Shopping for vegetables is easy when you have a recipe in mind because you can just buy what you need.  But most of us (myself included) don't have the time to plan lots of recipes out before we go to the store.  So, here are some tips for making sure you get vegetables that will:

1. get eaten before they wilt, rot, or turn mushy

2. give you the vitamins and nutrients you need

3. mix well together and taste good!

There are a few kinds of vegetables that go really well together, and can easily be made into dishes that will last you for a few days without going bad. 

Stir fries are tasty and easy

The best way to pick vegetables for a stir fry is to go by color.  If you pick out different colored vegetables, you will not only get a variety of tastes and textures, you will also get a variety of nutrients.  Try buying a white daikon radish, brown shiitake mushrooms, red tomatoes, green scallions, purple eggplant, yellow bell peppers, and orange carrots.  Or you could mix a white onion, brown burdock root, red jalapeno peppers, green broccoli, and yellow summer squash.  The color combinations are endless!  Simply use your eyes to help you pick the veggies.

A roasted veggie dish is easy

It's easy to throw together vegetables in a dish and bake them with some olive oil, sea salt, and some herbs.  One combination that works well is carrot, parsnip, and onion.  Another mixture that tastes great is zucchini with summer squash and orange peppers.  Or you can mix radishes, eggplant, mushrooms and asparagus.

Sweet vegetables satisfy a sweet tooth

When I'm at the store, I will always pick up at least one batch of sweet vegetables to make into a soup or to roast.  Sweet vegetables are the food I turn to after dinner, when I really want something sweet, but don't want to head for the chocolate (a craving that's started getting stronger for me during the winter!).  How about buying pre-cut butternut squash and pureeing it into a soup?  Or mixing carrots and sweet potatoes together and then drizzling a bit of maple syrup over them?  A beet/orange salad works great, especially with a bit of feta cheese on top.

Munchy vegetables are great if you're really busy

When you know that you're short on time and you can't handle chopping anything, go for the fast and easy choice.  Buy a bag of baby carrots, or a bag of celery.  Pair these with some nut butter or hummus, and you've got a great, healthy, low-calorie snack.

 



GET RID OF THE WINTER BLUES!

"It's just winter.  That's what's wrong with me.  I'll be fine once winter ends."

I hear this from a lot of friends, clients, and even from random strangers.  Why do we say this all the time?  Why do we make winter the culprit, year after year?  We know it's coming.  We know what it's going to be like.  We know the challenges.

Yet, every year, we blame winter for the fact that we're not in the kind of shape we want to be in.  We blame winter for the fact that we're not eating as well as we'd like.   We blame winter for the fact that we're kind of depressed these days.

I'd like to argue that winter is what you make of it.  Winter comes around every year.  And every year, it gets colder and darker.  And although we don't have control over winter, we certainly have control over how we LIVE during winter.

I've had a great winter.  And, if you've been watching the news lately, you know how cold it's been in Boston this winter.  I guess this year I figured out the secret.  At least, the secret that works for me.  I'm hoping that by sharing my secret, you may find your own.

I discovered that the reason winter didn't "work for me" in the past was because I used to fight it in the same way I used to fight with my food.  I tried to keep my life going in the same exact way that I did in the spring, summer, and fall.  But that doesn't work!  Just like it doesn't work to eat the same foods your whole life.

Winter is an amazing time.  It's a time of hibernation.  It's a time when we are urged (sometimes forced!) by Mother Nature to slow down, go inside, and get quiet.  Do you notice how exciting it is to be stuck at home during a blizzard?  There's nothing to do, nowhere to go, and no one to bother you.  It's a beautiful break.

Well, winter for me this year has become more of a beautiful break.  Instead of forcing winter to be exactly like every other season, I'm embracing it for what it is.  And I've made some changes.  How do these sound to you?

1. I take my hot water bottle into my office with me, and into bed at night.  Filled up with hot water, it comforts me and makes getting into a cold bed much more bearable. You can buy one at any drugstore for under $15, and it's one of the best investments I ever made.

2. I take more hot showers, even if I don't really "need to."  It warms my body and soul.  For those of you with bath tubs, you may want to take a real bath, complete with candles, music, and perhaps even a good book.  Don't rush it.  Make it a treat, instead of just racing to get your body clean.  One of my clients is using a nice, hot bath as a reward for getting herself to the gym on cold days.

3. I am eating a lot of soups, potatoes, and warming foods.  I don't seem to want salads, and that's fine with me.  I'll want them in a few months, but I'm not beating myself up for not wanting them now.  You may find yourself craving comfort foods like bread and mac & cheese.  That's fine - just try and make the healthiest versions you can with organic ingredients.

4. I started doing "winter sports" so that I'd have something to do when it gets gross outside. Snow-shoeing and snowboarding are now options for me.  I also fell in love with doing yoga in a 90+ degree room (when it's raining outside, I now opt for yoga over a run).  I have workout tapes I can do inside if I really need to - it's all about options.

5. I have been making every attempt to go to bed earlier.  I noticed that I crave more sleep in winter. In years past, I would fight that urge.  Now, I just give in to it.  I figure it's my way of hibernating.  Naps on weekend afternoons could be just the thing for you.

6. I try to get outside at least once, if not several times a day.  Even if it's just for a quick walk to the Post Office, that sunlight is so crucial to my health.  Vitamin D is something that we need - even in the winter.  So, taking a walk in between client sessions is a real perk-me-up tool.

7. I'm gentler with myself.  This time of year seems to last for a long time, especially in the Northeast, so I just remember that in a few months, I'll be in shorts and wishing that the humidity would disappear!

8. Speaking of shorts, I just got back from a quick trip to Miami.  Being on the beach while everyone else was in the snow made me realize how valuable a short trip like that can be during winter.  I'm going to do it every year.

9. I bought a few new winter clothes - fun hats and scarves and warm jackets - so that I don't dread going outside like I used to.

10. What about getting into bed right after dinner and curling up with lots of blankets on top of you, and a book in your hand?  Not exactly something you want to do in the heat of the summer, right?  Right!  It's a winter treat.

 

By putting all of these things into action, I'm actually enjoying myself this winter, and looking forward to next winter!  What are some things you can do to make your winter a bit more fun, and a bit less frustrating?  It's all up to you, you know.  If you don't make any changes, then I guarantee next winter will be just as cold, just as depressing, and just as long!  But it could become one of your favorite seasons ever.


WINTER EVENTS

Corporate Offerings

I offer lectures and group programs to corporations and associations.  I am focusing primarily on women's networking groups within these organizations.  If you would like to bring healthy eating and living to the women in your organization, please contact me.  We can schedule a lunchtime nutrition workshop for your group so that we can get to know each other better and create a program that will work best for you.

Individual Health and Nutrition Counseling
If you are depressed, low in energy, sluggish, or a bit heavier than you'd like... chances are, you're experiencing the "Winter Blues."  To increase your energy, balance your moods, and eat better foods, I invite you to schedule a health consultation with me.  We will go over your health history, evaluate your current diet, and design a personalized program that will put you on the road to optimum health.

I offer in-person and phone consultations.   To schedule a consultation: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info.

Group Nutrition Program For Women Only!
We are almost halfway finished with the February/March group program, and we're having so much fun!  The next 6-week program will begin on April 7 and is designed for women who are sick and tired of the New Year's Crash Diet Craze (which never works anyway!).  The gentle, enthusiastic support of the group will help you design a way of eating that gives your body energy, moves you towards your ideal weight, and helps calm your food cravings.  This program is designed for women who want help cooking new foods and redesigning their relationship with food.  We will help each other make fitness, wellness, and healthy food choices a habit that sticks... for good!

Location: Porter Square, Cambridge

Time: 6:30-8:00 p.m. every Wednesday from 4/7 - 5/12

Your investment in your health: $300

To sign up: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info

Health Food Store Tour
Are you trying to make healthier food choices this year... but feel stuck in a rut and need inspiration?  Are you overwhelmed by health food stores... and want help navigating the aisles?  My ever-popular health food store tours are back!  There is only 1 more space left on this next tour, so please respond ASAP if you'd like to come.  If I run out of room, I will keep your name on the waiting list for the April tour.  Participants will receive a $5 coupon to use after the tour.

Location: Whole Foods, River Street, Cambridge

Date: Thursday, March 4

Time: 6:00-7:15 p.m.

Your investment in your health: $15 (free for clients, $10 for TNTers)

To sign up: email me or call 617.492.1489 for more info

Winter Food - Sea Veggies


We're still deep in the middle of winter (the water season), so sea vegetables are the perfect topic of conversation. Did you know that your blood contains all of the minerals and trace elements found in the ocean?  Sea vegetables contain these minerals and elements - in the most assimilable form. 

Most people have never tried sea vegetables before, which is a shame.  Sea vegetables are absolutely loaded with nutritional power.  They contain the greatest amount of minerals of any organism.  In fact, they contain 10-20 times the minerals of land plants.

Nutritional Value

Sea vegetables are a wonderful source of iodine, calcium, and iron.  In fact, hijiki, arame, and wakame contain more than 10 times the calcium of milk.  Hijiki contains 8 times the iron of beef.

Health Benefits

Sea veggies have a detoxifying, moistening effect on the body.  They are used to treat swellings, lumps, swollen glands, and phlegm.  They are also used to treat tumors and skin diseases.  They remove residues of radiation in the body and can be beneficial to the thyroid.

Sea vegetables are also helpful in weight-loss programs.  They lower cholesterol and fat in the blood.  They contain soothing gels that rejuvenate the lungs and intestinal tract.

Good Sea Veggies to Try

If you're new to sea veggies, they might take some getting used to, because they don't exactly taste like pasta! 

My first suggestion is to go to your local Japanese restaurant and order sea vegetables to try them out. Just ask the waiter what he/she would recommend.  You can also find sea veggies that are pre-made in the sushi section of your grocery store.

If you're brave enough to cook them on your own, here are four sea vegetables that are good "starters:"

1. Nori - this is the dark green seaweed that's used to make sushi rolls.  It comes in sheets and can be cut by scissors into strips or crumbled over salads or sprinkled on top of brown rice. Nori aids in digestion (especially with fatty foods), decreases cholesterol, and treats high blood pressure. (See the sushi recipe below for a great way to sample nori in your own kitchen.) 

2. Wakame - this is the olive green, "leafy" kind of sea veggie that you often find floating in Chinese soups.   Wakame promotes healthy hair and skin and purifies the blood.

After soaking wakame in some water (it will expand quite a bit), you can put it in some boiling water with tofu, scallions, carrots, and mushrooms.  Then simmer it for 20 minutes and add some soy sauce or salt.  Voila - you've just made sea vegetable soup!

3. Kombu - a member of the kelp family, kombu is famous for decreasing the gassy effects of beans and other tough-to-digest foods.  You simply tear off a strip of kombu and put it in a pot of cooking beans or grains.   It will expand and soften and make those foods easier to digest.  Kombu benefits the kidneys, relieves hormonal imbalances, treats any kind of inflammation, and reduces tumors.  You can eat it along with your meal.

4. Hijiki - once cooked, hijiki looks like black little pasta noodles. After soaking hijiki for 15 minutes, it will expand to twice its original volume.  You can saute it in oil with carrots, onions, tofu, garlic, scallions, and some tamari soy sauce.  Hijiki has the highest calcium content of all sea veggies.  It normalizes blood sugar levels, benefits the thyroid, moistens dryness, aids in weight loss, and is rich in Vitamin B, niacin, iron, and iodine.  Arame resembles hijiki, but has less of a fishy taste, so it's also a good one to try.

Cooking with Sea Veggies

If kept in a dark place, sea veggies will keep for years.  You should rinse them well before use.  For best digestion, soak them in water as well before cooking them.

You can find sea vegetables in the Asian part of the supermarket (near the soy sauce and rice noodles).  They'll usually be hanging in bags on racks near the top of the shelves. 

Introduce sea vegetables gradually to give your body a chance to adapt.  Please, be patient with yourself - the taste may take some getting used to.  But the nutritional value can't be beat!

*Information adapted from Paul Pitchford's book Healing with Whole Foods.

RECIPES

Sweet Potato Nori Rolls
This recipe is a great if you like sushi.  You can cut up the rolls into little pieces, if you like. You can add any ingredients - eggs, tofu, sprouts, tomatoes... whatever you like!

Ingredients:

several sheets of nori

1 cup of cooked brown rice

1 big sweet potato

1 carrot, grated

1/2 beet, grated

1/2 daikon radish, grated

1/2 avocado

Brown rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Pinch of sea salt

Shoyu or tamari soy sauce

Wasabi (optional)

 

Cooking Instructions:

1. Cut sweet potato into slices.  Bring to boil in pot of water.  Lower heat and cook for 15 minutes.

2. While potatoes are cooking, grate carrot, beet, and daikon.  Slice avocado.

3. Drain excess water from sweet potatoes and mash with fork.  Mix potatoes with cooked rice and add a splash of vinegar.

4. Apply thin layer of rice/potato mixture to a sheet of nori, leaving room at the edges.

5. Sprinkle a small amount of grated veggies and avocado on top of rice mixture.

6. Drizzle with soy sauce.

7. Roll the nori up like sushi and seal edges with water.  Enjoy!

 

ABOUT CHRISTI LEHNER

Christi Lehner, H.H.C., AADP, is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. A Holistic Health Counselor is a nutritionist and life coach all rolled up into one. Christi studied Eastern/Western nutrition and modern health counseling at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City and earned a B.A. in Honors in Communication Arts from Villanova Universty. A three-time marathoner and triathlete, an avid pianist, and a newly converted Red Sox and Patriots fan, Christi delights in helping her clients make nutrition and lifestyle changes that boost their energy, heal chronic illnesses, reduce stress, and make their bodies and souls extraordinarily healthy.

Christi can be reached at christi@bostonhealthcoach.com or 617.492.1489.

 


About "Nourishing News"

Note: the information in this newsletter is presented for educational purposes only. This information is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a licensed professional.  To suggest topics for future Nourishing News issues, please contact me.

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