The 21-Day Sugar Detox

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Diane Sanfilippo with Balanced Bites has quickly become one of my favorite authors and educators in the field of nutrition and health. She wrote the wildly successful New York Times best seller Practical Paleo, has an incredible podcast with Liz Wolfe, and offers a fun and approachable perspective to creating healthy habits in our lives.

Her new book, The 21-Day Sugar Detox, is an extremely informative and easy to follow guide to busting carb cravings and breaking the blood sugar roller coaster. Though the book has only been on shelves a short time, the 21-Day Sugar Detox has been followed by thousands of people over the years, through Diane’s work as a certified holistic nutrition coach. The program outlined in the book is broken down into three levels. The varying factors are based on your experience with detoxification and what your current diet consists of. For instance, if you already eat primarily vegan, you will likely begin on the more advanced level that does not include dairy.

The book contains an extensive list of foods to avoid and foods to include, a full menu plan for the 3-week program and over 100 delicious (gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free and Paleo-friendly) recipes that are worth trying anytime! The supplement recommendations and descriptive section on what to expect during the 21 days are both very helpful as well.

This simple, straightforward, practical plan is a whole-foods-based program created to help you reset your habits, your taste buds and your entire relationship with food. If you are someone who wants to take control of your sugar cravings, and experience better energy, improved sleep, and freedom of symptoms from a myriad of health issues, I highly recommend picking up a copy of the 21-Day Sugar Detox.

 

Pork and Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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I made these little treats for a good friend’s birthday potluck and they were a hit! Free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, corn, sugar, etc. This is exactly the kind of dish I like to bring to special occasions with large groups of people whose dietary needs I’m unsure of. They are a wonderful finger food, tasty, and pack a great amount of protein and nutrients. Important for those events where alcohol may be consumed! Injoy!

 

Ingredients:

1 lb ground pork (turkey or beef work great as well)

28 oz whole mushrooms

3 cups baby spinach, chopped

1 tsp dried sage

1⁄2 tsp garlic powder

1⁄2 tsp salt

1⁄2 tsp pepper

1/3 cup Dijon mustard

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Clean the mushrooms and remove the stems.

3. Chop the stems and reserve for the filling.

4. Begin to brown the ground pork over medium-high heat.

5. After 5 minutes, add the chopped mushroom stems.

6. Season with spices and cook until the pork and mushrooms are cooked through.

7. Add spinach and cook until wilted.

8. Add Dijon mustard and stir to combine. Allow the filling to cool slightly.

9. Lightly oil and season the mushrooms with salt and pepper.

10. Add about 1 tsp of filling to each mushroom.

11. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.

 

Seahawks Sustain on Superfoods, Stress Reuction and Sound Sleep!!

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If you live in Seattle, you might agree that it feels nearly impossible to avoid getting excited about the Seahawks mania that’s going on in our fair city. Twelfth Man flags in store windows, flying off of cars and even over the Space Needle, blue and green Seahawks gear being sported by everyone from grocery store clerks to bus drivers to downtown executives. There’s even a 12th man handshake, the official touchdown celebration for Seahawks fans. It’s everywhere!

What’s even more thrilling is learning about the Seahawks nutrition and well-being practices. Reviewing the changes that have been made in a team that went from finishing the 2009 season at 5-11 before new Head Coach Pete Carroll arrived, to securing a spot in this year’s Superbowl.

It turns out the changes that Coach Carroll has implemented are all about a positive and healthful experience. “I wanted to find out if we went to the NFL and really took care of guys, really cared about each and every individual, what would happen?” Carroll explains in an interview with ESPN. His dream was to fundamentally change the way players are coached. Yelling and swearing are frowned upon, everyone in the facility, from coaches and players to personal assistants and valets, is expected to follow Carroll’s mantras regarding positivity of thought, words and actions. “Do your job better than it has ever been done before,” he tells them. The big idea is that happy players make for better players.

This big idea shows up in many forms around the Seahawks practice facility in Renton, WA. Mac McNabb, the team’s official chef begins breakfast preparation at 4am by cracking 60 dozen fresh, organic, free-range eggs. The Seahawks purchased an organic farm in Olympia, where the chickens roam free and are fed an organic diet including leftovers from the players’ fresh-fruit buffet. In addition, the players are fed all grass-fed beef, wild caught fish, and organic vegetables and fruits. No deep-fried food is made in the kitchen. Even French fries are baked. And no sodas or junk foods are served, but there are fresh-baked cookies on Thursdays.

Along with a foundation of the highest quality foods available, the 91 men that make up the Seattle Seahawks also participate in some wellness practices that are unheard of in the NFL. Yoga classes are part of the team’s regular strength training sessions; daily meditation with Michael Gervais, a high-performance sports psychologist for mental wellbeing; Neurotopia brain-performance testing to manage stress and sleep quality. Carroll has gone to extraordinary lengths to create a culture of happiness and wellbeing for his players, and it shows in their performance.

With this wonderful insight in mind, I am even more excited to cheer on our Seattle team in Sunday’s Superbowl XLVIII! GO HAWKS!!!

Almond Chia Pudding

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Chia seeds are known for their many excellent health benefits. Just two tablespoons pack lots of fiber, Omega 3 fatty acids and tons of antioxidants and minerals. This tasty pudding is a great way to incorporate some of those wonderful qualities into your diet. Super quick and simple to prepare, this recipe comes out a bit like tapioca. Smooth and creamy with a nice texture and subtle sweet flavor. Also, I recommend making your own almond milk if you have a high-powered blender. The ability to control how creamy you make the milk is a great advantage. And, none of those pesky preservatives! I add an additional ¼ cup of almonds to the milk for extra creaminess. Injoy!

Ingredients:

2 cups raw almond milk

6 Tbls. whole chia seeds

1-2 Tbls. maple syrup

Instructions: 

1. Place almond milk, chia seeds and maple syrup into a glass jar, cover, and shake.

2. Place in the refrigerator overnight, or for about 8 hours.

3. Serve with fresh fruit, toasted coconut and hemp seeds.

Reflections, Commitment and The Hero’s Journey (A personal essay)

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I’ve been thinking a lot about commitment lately. Reflecting on the themes in life past and present and where commitment has shown up. 2013 was a big year of commitment for myself and many of the people around me. Personal relationships and career paths took a big shift forward and I’m excited to see more of that energy created in 2014.

My role as a Nutrition Coach has a lot to do with helping others articulate their goals and align their daily actions with their greater vision. The idea I am feeling confronted with most at the start of this new year, is that whether or not you are conscious of it, you are making commitments to follow one path or another. If you are watching television or being distracted by some other energy draining activity night after night, week after week and then “don’t have time” for preparing food or packing your lunch for the next day, you are making a commitment. A commitment to stay the same and choose the path that has gotten you exactly where you are. If you recognize that change takes sacrifice and commit to adjusting your energy accordingly, change happens. It’s like magic! Only, it’s not.

I read a quote by Thomas Edison recently, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” I love this! It feels so spot on. It becomes incredibly easy and comfortable to stay in our rhythm, even if that flow has created a life and a body we never would have chosen for ourselves. Another quote for you: “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”

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At the end of last year I began attending an Intentional Life Design group at Heroics Training Studio. This has been a beautifully inspiring process of voicing commitments and breathing life into goals and dreams. The idea is to gather with others (which has so far been a beautifully eclectic mix of Seattleites) to declare our commitments aloud, share ideas, do exercises to build skills in communication and test and practice these goals. The leader of the sessions, Titus Kahoutek, co-owner of Heroics, a physical trainer, and graduate of the Newfield Coaching program, brings mindfulness activities and focus to the group. This week, we discussed Joseph Campbell and elements of “The Hero’s Journey.” The call to adventure… meeting the guides… crossing the threshold… tricks, trials and tests… the lessons/rewards… ascension… reintegration. Having a lively discussion around this topic has been a wonderful opportunity to bring real perspective into the commitments I have set for myself in 2014.

Breaking out of the cozy comfort zone with the support of others cheering you on and keeping you accountable, injects a real force and possibility behind the life you are looking to design. For me, it has helped to build momentum behind what I want to create with Kitchen Delightenment this year. I have purchased the official domain name (as apposed to having it at WordPress), which is a small step, but a big symbol for me, ordered professional business cards, began researching education opportunities for personal chef certification, began building resources for professional kitchens and venues I can potentially hold workshops at, and followed up and began working on a business plan for a few clients that have inquired about cooking meals for their family. In addition, I have overcome my hurdle with social media and my limited technology skills. I have posted regular content to my Facebook page involving healthy recipes, wellness articles, facts of the week and inspiring quotes; I’ve gotten in the flow with Instagram and a bit with Twitter, which I still hesitate with, but do recognize the value and am getting better.

At this point, I would consider myself to be at the threshold of the Hero’s Journey. The adventure has been called, the guides are in place and I’m excited to see what tricks, trials and tests my journey has in store. If you are looking to take that extra step this year towards creating change and building your dreams, and live in the Seattle area, I highly recommend checking out the Life Design Workshop at Heroics.

As for your 2014 commitments… What does the life you wish to design this year look like? Are you looking forward to more activities and projects that support your personal identity? Creating better habits to maximize your health and utilize your greatest physical potential? Change your career to align better with your personal happiness and fulfillment? Where are you on your Heroic journey? Get out there and make it awesome! Happy 2014!!

In the Crockpot: Herb-Roasted Chicken with Vegetables

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There’s nothing quite like opening your front door after a long day at work and being welcomed by the aroma of herb roasted chicken hot and ready to carve and consume. I use my Crockpot 2-3 times a week during the winter and I love and appreciate it more each time!

The assembly of this one pot wonder takes about 10 minutes in the morning (you can even chop the veggies and herbs the night before and have them waiting in the fridge for you if that works better) and is easy as can be! The wonderful thing about using a whole chicken is that, depending on how many are enjoying the meal, there are usually leftovers that can be a wonderful lunch the following day. And making bone broth is fantastic way to utilize the incredible nutrition of all the leftover bits. The gift that just keeps giving! Injoy!

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Ingredients:

1 free-range, organic chicken

2 sweet potatoes or yams

4 potatoes

4 or more stalks of celery

4 or more carrots

1 large onions

1 head of garlic, peeled

ghee (or pasture butter)

juice of ½ lemon

thyme (dried or fresh)

sage(dried or fresh)

rosemary (dried or fresh)

freshly ground pepper

sea salt

 

Instructions:

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry.

2. Place in roasting pan and rub ghee (or pasture butter) over the breast and legs.

3. Squeeze lemon juice over chicken.

4. Arrange chopped vegetables all around chicken and season everything with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and rosemary.

5. Roast covered in Crockpot for about 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low (Could be longer depending on weight of chicken).

 

Seasonal Superfood Spotlight: Butternut Squash

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Move over zucchini, there’s a new seasonal favorite in my pantry… butternut squash! Like all members of the gourd family (which includes pumpkin, melon, and cucumber), butternut squash is technically a fruit because it contains seeds. It also compliments sweet dishes just as well as savory, so it can be a wonderfully versatile addition to winter kitchen staples.

Butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. Squash’s tangerine hue, however, indicates butternut’s most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, the gourd boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration. What’s more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C. As if this weren’t enough, butternut squash also has an anti-inflammatory effect because of its high antioxidant content.

Incorporating more of this hearty winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Try this Butternut Squash Soup to integrate more of this heart-healthy fruit today!

 

Game Day! N’oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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It’s game day. And my boys are fired up over here. There’s been a lot of buildup to the Seattle vs. San Francisco championship game and the energy is high in this Seattle living room. Being a California girl at heart, though spending my entire adult life in Seattle, makes things tricky. My brothers and Dad and many of my childhood friends are big time 49er fans, but you better believe I am decked out in my blue and green and super proud of my Seattle team this afternoon. Tooting around downtown last night proved to be a very spirited adventure! The city is alive with cheer and going all out with Seahawks support. The Ferris wheel is a permanent dance of blue and green lights, the Space Needle is dressed in beautiful blue flare, flying an enormous 12th man flag and even the corporate buildings are showing their support with floors lit up in the shape of a “12.” It’s big fun!

No surprise, I am head of the kitchen, preparing snacks for our crew. Since many of my friends choose to avoid lots of inflammatory ingredients… grains, dairy, sugar etc. These fantastic N’oatmeal Paleo cookies are a great fit for everyone’s dietary needs. No gluten/grains, sugar, corn, soy etc. They are a tasty snack that very closely resembles an oatmeal raisin cookie. The texture is a perfect combo of chewy and crunchy and the sweetness is a perfect dose! They’d even be great for breakfast! Let me know what you think!! Injoy!!

 

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Ingredients:

2 cups almond meal

½ cup flax seed meal

½ cup shredded coconut

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

1 Tbls cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 eggs

½ cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup coconut oil

1 cup raisins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, combine eggs, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and melted coconut oil with a hand mixer.
  4. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients.
  5. Fold in the raisins.
  6. On a parchment lined baking sheet, drop tablespoon-sized amounts of cookie batter.
  7. Bake cookies for 15 minutes.
  8. Allow cookies to cool and serve.

Blueberry Cauliflower Porridge

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I came across the original recipe for this sweet little morning meal while on the hunt for new grain-free, egg-free breakfast options. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first, but cauliflower continues to impress me! While it’s about as void of color as a vegetable can get, its nutritional profile offers great reasons to incorporate it into your diet. With 1 cup racking up only 20 calories, it supplies 3 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber and is a great source of vitamin C. In addition, cauliflower, along with other cruciferous vegetables (kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy) has been proven to fight oxidative stress and help to detoxify the liver. Set a goal to get at least 3-5 servings of these vegetables a week. Make a cauliflower pizza crust, or perhaps some chicken fried cauliflower rice! It is easier on the digestive system when already pulverized into small bits as in these recipes. Injoy!

Ingredients:

1 1⁄2 cups riced cauliflower

(Pulse raw cauliflower in food processor until it resembles rice.)

1 cup coconut milk

2 Tbsp equivalent sweetener  (coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, stevia)

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup blueberries

1 Tbsp coconut flour

Directions:

1. Combine all of the ingredients, except the coconut flour, in a saucepan over medium- high heat. Bring to a rolling boil.

2. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 12-14 minutes. Mash the blueberries and stir occasionally.

3. Add coconut flour, 1 tsp at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

4. Choose your own adventure toppings! The photo shows toasted coconut flakes and raw pecans.

In the Crockpot: Butternut Squash Soup

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This soup rocked my world this weekend! And got rave reviews from the friends I shared it with, I might add. An extremely simple recipe to create, just gather the ingredients, toss them into the Crockpot and leave it alone for 6-8 hours. At the end, blend it all up into a creamy pot of deliciousness and enjoy! This is the perfect type of meal to prepare the night before, set the Crockpot to ‘on’ before you leave for work and have a hot, delicious, nutritious meal waiting for you around dinnertime.

Recipe:

1 large butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 large onion, rough chopped

1 can full-fat coconut milk or equivalent amount of homemade coconut milk

1 cup chicken broth

1 apple, peeled and cut into chunks

2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Place all ingredients in slow cooker and set to Low. Allow 6 to 8 hours to cook. When squash is soft, blend soup with an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a blender to process. Consistency should be smooth and silky.

Season with unrefined sea salt and pepper, and top with a swirl of olive oil or balsamic vinegar. In the photo, I also added a topping of crisp bacon for a little extra protein and green onions for a tasty zing. Injoy!