Fighting with Your Food? Turn to Pac-Man

June 10th, 2020 | no comments

 


Psst! Don’t forget to check out this week’s “Mel’s Mentionables” below for:

  • A brand of LOW SUGAR YOGURT that I love!
  • A brand of CLEAN GRANOLA to go with that yogurt.  

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Do you remember the old arcade game Pac-Man?

The object is to eat all of the dots placed in a maze while avoiding four ghosts. If Pac-Man makes contact with a ghost, he loses a life. When all lives are lost, the game is over.

But lucky for Pac-Man, he doesn’t have to go at it alone because built within the maze are four flashing dots called “Power Pellets”. When Pac-Man eats one, the ghosts magically lose their power, allowing Pac-Man to move right through them unharmed.  

 

Your life is like the game of Pac-Man

Consider your life like the game of Pac-Man. First, it’s far from a straight line isn’t it? In fact, it’s more like a maze— with dead ends and obstacles around every corner.

The way I see it dead ends are opportunities in disguise. They exist to make us stronger; to learn those life lessons we would’ve never willingly signed up for if given the choice.

Sign up for binge eating disorder? Are you crazy?! But holy cow, I wouldn’t trade that three-year battle opportunity for anything…because in a weird way, it gave me strength to become the person I was destined to be. Each hellish dead end was like being struck with a chisel… eventually cracking me open just enough to let the light shine through.

How about you? Are you brave enough to be cracked open? To see the dead ends in your life as blessings in disguise? Yes, it can be a painful thing to do because let’s face it, sometimes it just feels good to complain.


But where has that gotten you?


Back to square one?


Trying yet another diet or killing yourself with a new impossible workout?

 

Your “ghosts” are mostly in your head

And what about those ghosts?

In the game of life, “ghosts” come with the territory. These phantoms have only one job: to mess with your head and keep you small!

I’ll bet if you were really honest with yourself, you’d come to the eventual conclusion that many of the obstacles you face are indeed perceived obstacles. Yep! They’re mostly in your head!


The small mind likes to convince us that potato chips, cookies, and ice cream are obstacles— powerful foods that will own us for life…so we’d better get used to it.


You know what I’m talking about here don’t you?


Don’t those damn chocolate chip cookies seem irresistible around the two-week mark of embarking on a path to healthier living? And because you’ve convinced yourself of their power…they bring you down. Every. Single. Time. 

 

But…you have an unlimited supply of “Power Pellets”

Pac-Man has a mere four Power Pellets to work with (poor little fella). But you have a lifetime supply!

Since the majority of obstacles are really only you standing in your own way, you have it within you to transcend them. Every. Single. Time. Actually, it’s the only way out.


But how?


Stop “doing” and start “being”.


Yes, to reach our goals in life we must take action, but we are called human “beings”, not human “doings”. Our true strength lies in the little moments of non-action
.

It seems paradoxical, I know, but when you pause to take a breath and allow yourself to BE in the present moment (which is the only moment there is), it makes everything you do more powerful.

Ask any superstar athlete or world class golfer and they will tell you: the key to success is laser-like focus. Yet it’s impossible to focus if you’re not present, in this moment.

Consider that on average, you take 20,000 breaths every 24 hours. If you think of a single breath as one “Power Pellet”- can you now begin to sense your potential to surmount any and all obstacles…real or imagined?


Let’s then remodel the Pac-Man maze. The dead ends are still dead ends. The ghosts are still there. But those Power Pellets?

 

They’ve multiplied exponentially.

 

 

Presence is your default setting

Think about it. What’s the first thing you do when you’re about to receive some troubling news or enter into an important nerve-wracking meeting? Take a deep breath to center yourself.


The state of presence is our natural default setting.


Isn’t it funny how we return to it when there’s no other option? It’s just you and your breath…and the challenge in front of you. Time stands still.

Besides when you are sleeping, are you ever intentionally still? Have you ever surrendered your entire self to one simple breath before, say taking a bite of food? The results are silently profound. And you will most certainly miss them if you aren’t paying attention.

You are granted the gracious gift of breath, so why not use it to transcend your ghosts?

 

Stillness = strength (unraveling the great mystery) 

The act of breathing, or similarly, the beating of your heart, can only happen in the present moment. Agree? So when you place your attention on one breath or a couple thumps of your heart, you are indeed practicing a moment of stillness and entering into the state of presence.


And why does this matter?


Because it is in the state of presence that you are closest to your Higher power—the source of all well-being.

The present moment is indeed the portal to your Higher self, the part of you that is well and at peace with food. The part of you that is free.


So when you take a moment to just BE (the first two letters of BEING), it’s like a remembering of who you really are…a sort of pause-and-plug if you will. A plugging into the current of all that is.


It is here where you have access to your greatest strength and all that comes with it— an abundance of inspiration, joy, well-being, inner peace, clarity, ease, and good health.

 

Another way to look at it is like this: the sweet spot of your life is at the intersection of action and being. When action is met with a moment of presence—a simple, conscious breath—a shift happens in your inner world.

This is the point at which you are most powerful, and your actions most effective. 

 

The strength to drop the cookie (or eat it) is within you

Now let’s go back to that irresistible chocolate chip cookie.

When you’re standing at the intersection of action and being, you are able to pause and plug in (being) and then put the cookie down (or eat it in full presence) without the inner food fight.


You didn’t put that cookie down by yourself…you had help.

Wrestling with the decision to plop down and skip out on exercise? When you’re standing smack-dab in the middle of Action Avenue and Being Boulevard, you take a conscious breath to plug in (being) and then summon the strength to peel your patootie off the couch (action) for an invigorating walk around the block.

 

Just remember- this power is not outside of you or something reserved only for enlightened masters; it is part of you, and you part of it.

 

“But maybe I just haven’t found the right meal plan!”

Do you really believe your food issues, health ailments, and crappy food choices stem from not having found the perfect meal plan? Haven’t you tirelessly tried your fair share of diets?


Where are you now? Back to square one?


Honestly, would those chocolate chip cookies seem any less irresistible if you had a live-in chef to prepare your every meal? Sure it would make things easier, but would you be truly healed in both body and mind? What happens when your chef/personal trainer/drill-sergeant hired to smack the cookie out of your hand, goes home for the day and you are left alone with your thoughts? You know, the thoughts filled with images of chocolate chip cookies?

What then?


Face it— the personal chef, meal plan, drill-sergeant…they’re all just band-aids. Useful, but they won’t save you.

Are you emotionally exhausted from hitting the same dead end? Then it’s time to go within.


Because you can’t transform the outside without first tending to the inside. 

 

This is all so simple, but it’s not easy. Here’s how to start…

Taking a moment to pause and plug in before taking action is really simple. Simple, but not easy. Sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable!


It requires intention, followed by practice.


But because we’re conditioned to multi-task, speed up, get it done, this notion of pausing to take a breath may seem like a waste of time. In fact, I’ll just bet you hear a little voice inside convincing you of just that.


Make no mistake, that’s your small self talking…and it wants to keep you small, sealed, and uncracked.


You’re braver than that.


I recommend starting with something little, like pausing to take a conscious breath when you first sit down to eat dinner. Then after a while, take it a step further and do it before each bite of food in that meal. You can then choose to add another meal, another bite of food, and so on.


Remember: Presence = Power.


So take a breath.

Plug into the present moment.

Can you feel it?

 

PS: Here’s a useless (but funny) piece of Pac-Man trivia. Did you know that the original name for Pac-Man was Puckman? Only the name had to be changed due to concerns over defacement of the arcade machines by changing the P to an…well you know the letter.🤭

 

Take a break and have a little fun! Click HERE to play the great game of Pac-Man (if you’re at work, be sure to turn the volume down🤫) .


  • A BRAND OF LOW SUGAR YOGURT THAT I LOVE:

Most flavored yogurts have a ton of added sugar. FAGE TruBlend is a brand of non-GMO yogurt with no added sugar or sweeteners. It comes in mango, raspberry, strawberry, cherry, blueberry, peach, coconut, and vanilla (my personal fav). 

  • A BRAND OF CLEAN GRANOLA TO GO WITH THAT YOGURT:

Purely Elizabeth Grain-Free Granola has everything granola should have…without the sugar (or grains). This delicious blend of nuts, seeds, coconut and almond butter doesn’t disappoint. And, it’s gluten-free, non-GMO, and certified organic too! Sprinkle some on top of FAGE TruBlend yogurt for a quick breakfast while on the go. 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Meals from Mel! Juicy Chicken Patties + Summer Lentil Salad

May 27th, 2020 | no comments

Move over chips and lunch meat sandwich, these new kids are gettin’ ready to claim precious real estate in lunch boxes across the land!

 


Psst! Don’t forget to check out this week’s “Mel’s Mentionables” below for:

  • A WAY TO MAKE RAW VEGGIES MORE PALATABLE (without dip)
  • A MOVING QUOTE about pain by Bishop TD Jakes
  • AN AWESOME BOOK by Ryan Holiday I just finished that lit my ass on fire with motivation! 🔥

 

I find it’s easier to stay on track with your healthy living goals when breakfast and lunch are prepared in advance. For example, a wholesome shake for breakfast and Summer Lentil Salad topped with a Juicy Garlic Herbed Chicken Patty and a Mason jar full of raw veggies for lunch.

And because you’ve done so much GOOD for your body, the occasional less-than-wholesome dinner of say, pizza or burger and fries, won’t sink your efforts in the least.  


There’s nothing better than a colorful lentil salad with chopped veggies and a sprinkle of feta cheese. In this
Summer Lentil Salad, you’ll get all things Mediterranean: Sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, olive oil, and yes…lentils.

This recipe originates from garlicmatters.com. It calls for dry lentils, but…if you’re looking to save even more time, just replace the 1/2 cup dry lentils with one and a half cans of rinsed canned lentils (I vote for boiling the dried lentils- it only takes 15 minutes or so and tastes so much better).

Alterations I made: 

  • Pitted kalamata olives instead of black
  • Sundried tomatoes in olive oil (be sure it doesn’t have canola oil). I use the Bella Sun Luci brand.
  • A few sprinkles of crumbled feta cheese on top

Photo from www.eatingwell.com

 

The Juicy Garlic Herbed Chicken Patties are even easier to prepare. The smart ones (that’s you!) will double the recipe, wrap each patty in parchment paper and store in a freezer bag in the freezer for a quick meal while on the go.

This recipe comes from eatwell101.com. Keep in mind, I only made the patties from this recipe. So you’ll only need the first seven ingredients (ground chicken, scallion, parsley, salt, cayenne, chili flakes, and garlic).

To prep these lunches, fill three to five glass meal prep containers with a few scoops of prepared Summer Lentil Salad, then place a cooked and cooled Juicy Garlic Herbed Chicken Patty on top!

I say three to five because some will get bored with the same lunch for five days in a row. If that’s the case, just freeze any remaining patties.

If you really want to up your game, fill five 12-ounce Mason jars with an assortment of raw veggies, seal with lids and stick in the refrigerator. Serve with a side of guacamole or hummus, enjoy them naked (not you…the veggies), or add a dash or two of seasoning right before eating (see Mel’s Mentionables below). 

 


  • A WAY TO MAKE RAW VEGGIES MORE PALATABLE (without dip):

I’m not much of a dipper when it comes to enjoying my daily raw veggies, but let’s face it…naked can get a little boring. I discovered a great way to spice them up so they are more palatable—sprinkle a couple dashes of seasoning into the veggie container (I use 12-oz. Mason jars), secure the lid and shake until each vegetable gets hit. I use Simply Organic Grilling Seasons. Remember, just two shakes is all it takes!

  • MOVING QUOTE:

“Pain always leaves a gift” ~ Bishop TD Jakes

  • AWESOME BOOK:

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

This book shares the collective wisdom from great men and women such as: Ulysses S. Grant, Thomas Edison, Margaret Thatcher, Amelia Earhart, and Steve Jobs. Its aim is to help you accomplish the goal of overcoming obstacles of all kinds: mental, physical, emotional, and yes…perceived obstacles.

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Food Allergies and Food Intolerances

May 17th, 2020 | no comments

Food allergies and food intolerances


🎈🥳 Good news! I’m trying out a new feature in my posts…and I think you’re really going to like it. Since I am passionate about so many things—books, thought-provoking quotes, discovering new recipes, and podcasts to name only a few— I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites as I come across them. Scroll to the bottom of the post for “Mel’s Mentionables”. I hope you enjoy it! xo


CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Does the word “food allergy” trigger images of hives, stomach cramps, and vomiting? How about food intolerance? Again, most people immediately think of skin and digestive issues. While it’s true both can occur upon exposure to offending foods, some symptoms of food allergies and intolerances can be more subtle—especially when it comes to a food intolerance.

 

Food allergies


In a food allergy, the body mistakes an ingredient in food—usually a protein—as harmful. In response, the immune system produces a protein called Immunoglobulin E (IgE)—an antibody—to fight it. These antibodies attach to cells in the skin, lungs and gastrointestinal tract, causing any number of the following symptoms:

  • Hives, rash, or itching
  • Swelling
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping/stomach pain

You’ve probably also heard of more severe reactions to food (i.e. peanuts) where the allergen causes a potentially life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

The most common food allergies include: fish, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, and cow’s milk.

Those with diagnosed food allergies are advised to avoid the offending food completely, as symptoms can be triggered by even a small amount of the food and will occur every time it is eaten.

 

Food intolerances


More common than food allergies, food intolerances are a digestive response to a food rather than an immune response. They are thought to be caused by enzyme deficiencies, impaired food absorption, and other gastrointestinal issues.

Potential symptoms of a food intolerance include: nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, brain fog, and skin conditions (i.e. eczema).

Unlike food allergies, those with food intolerances may not have symptoms unless they eat a large portion of the food or if they eat it frequently. Because of this, some people may choose to continue eating the problem food, rationalizing it with statements like:

“It’s just a little digestive upset—I’m willing to pay the price.”

The problem here is this: if left unmanaged, food intolerances can increase the risk of developing neurological disorders and autoimmune disease—a condition where the body essentially attacks itself. Two examples of autoimmune disease are inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis) and psoriasis.

So you see, just like food allergies, intolerances can be equally (if not more) detrimental to long-term health.

 

4 Common food intolerances


The four most common food intolerances are:

  1. Celiac disease
  2. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
  3. FODMAP intolerance
  4. Lactose intolerance


Celiac disease

Celiac disease is an inherited autoimmune disorder affecting the digestive process of the small intestine. When a gluten-containing food is eaten, the immune system launches an attack against the gluten, mistakenly damaging healthy cells lining the small intestine in the process. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

Contrary to popular belief, Celiac disease is not the same as a wheat allergy. Remember, a food allergy triggers the immune system to overreact to a particular food, causing potentially serious side effects shortly after ingestion. A food allergy is an immune reaction…not an autoimmune reaction.


Managing celiac disease:

A lifelong gluten-free diet is the only known treatment for this condition because as long as gluten is consumed, damage to the digestive system will continue to occur. Serious side effects can include:

  • Nutrient malabsorption
  • Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
  • Diarrhea, gas, or abdominal pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Migraines or seizures
  • Infertility
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia (bone loss)
  • Tingling in the hands or feet
  • Depression or anxiety

It’s important to note that many patients with celiac disease have no GI symptoms and may not even know they have it. This “silent” form of the disease is far from harmless and is associated with higher rates of iron-deficiency anemia, osteoporosis, and neurological symptoms.

 

 

Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)


Non-celiac gluten sensitivity—also known as gluten sensitivity—is neither an allergic nor autoimmune response. Symptoms often overlap with those of celiac disease and improve when gluten is eliminated from the diet. The difference is, the individual doesn’t test positive for the disease.

Managing NCGS:

Just like celiac disease, the only treatment for NCGS is the complete removal of gluten from the diet.

For more information on celiac disease and NCGS, please visit the Celiac Disease Foundation at: www.celiac.org 
 

FODMAP intolerance


Gluten sensitivity can be confused with an intolerance to FODMAPs, which stands for: fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. These are all carbohydrates found in common foods besides wheat, barley and rye.

They include:

  • High-fructose fruits such as: apples, dried fruit, watermelon, peaches, pears
  • Vegetables such as: garlic, onions, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Beans such as: black, kidney, lima, soy
  • Dairy products such as: cow, sheep, and goat’s milk, yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese
  • Sweeteners such as: agave, high fructose corn syrup, honey, sugar alcohols (i.e. sorbitol and xylitol)


In FODMAP intolerance, the GI tract isn’t fully digesting and absorbing these carbohydrates. In some cases, the carbs become fermented by pathogenic bacteria in the small intestine. Excessive gas, abdominal pain, inconsistent or excessive bowel movements occur as a result, allowing for an increase of uncontrolled gut bacteria. This is often referred to as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO.

In other cases, individuals may lack adequate enzymes to break down and absorb the fermentable sugars.

 

Managing FODMAP intolerance:

Along with a low FODMAP diet, addressing intestinal bacterial overgrowth and imbalance is key. A popular dietary treatment to help heal the gut is the GAPS diet. This plan eliminates difficult-to-digest foods that may damage the gut flora, and replaces them with nutrient-rich, gut-healthy foods.

For more information on FODMAPs, please visit: www.monashfodmap.com 


Lactose intolerance


Also known as “milk sugar”, lactose is the carbohydrate-portion of animal-based dairy products such as milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese. Individuals who are lactose intolerant, have trouble digesting lactose due to a decrease in production and/or functionality of the enzyme lactase. Side-effects can include:

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain


Lactose intolerance tends to run in families, but can also be the result of intestinal damage caused by certain health conditions or treatments, such as celiac disease, certain cancer treatments, and gastrointestinal surgery.

Managing lactose intolerance:

Most people with lactose intolerance can handle small amounts of lactose, and may even be able to enjoy yogurt, kefir, butter, and hard cheeses, such as cheddar or Swiss in moderation, without experiencing any symptoms. However, it is probably best to minimize dairy products and consider replacing them with plant-based options like almond milk, coconut yogurt, cashew-based cheese, and coconut butter.

 

Start by improving gut health


In many cases, your food intolerance may be due to compromised gut health, a condition caused by improper digestion and/or food molecules making their way past the gut lining—something they should not be able to do.

Here are some suggestions you may wish to consider to help support the health of your gut:

  1. Get tested and treated for intestinal pathogens or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). The goal here is to reestablish a healthy gut flora.
  2. Eat fermented foods like raw sauerkraut and kombucha—they are wonderful sources of gut-friendly bacteria, called “probiotics”.
  3. Consider taking a probiotic supplement.
  4. Enjoy foods rich in fermentable fiber—known as “prebiotics”. These foods act like fertilizer for healthy bacteria and can be even more effective than probiotics at improving gut health. Prebiotic foods include: asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic, leeks, jicama, seeds, unripe/green bananas, plantains, cooked and cooled parboiled rice, cooked and cooled potatoes, and soaked or sprouted legumes that have been cooked and cooled.
  5. Drink bone broth! The gelatin, glycine, and glutamine in bone broth all have beneficial effects for the gut.


Detecting food allergies and intolerances


Keeping a food diary


If you suspect a food allergy or intolerance, keeping a food diary can be an extremely helpful way to map your symptoms and pinpoint any potential culprits. To keep a food diary, o
pen up a fresh notebook and record the following information for one full week:

  • All foods and liquids consumed (include type of food and brand name)
  • Amount of food or liquid consumed
  • Time food or liquid is eaten
  • Time symptoms begin (if applicable)
  • Symptoms and remarks (including symptom description, how long it lasted, and any medications)


Possible symptoms to look out for:

Hives, itching, rash, trouble swallowing, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain/cramping, stuffy nose, runny nose, itchy throat, coughing, wheezing, trouble breathing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, irritability, fatigue, faintness, dizziness, headache, anxiety, brain fog, lethargy, seizures 


Testing


Although food allergy testing can be beneficial, an allergist or immunologist will likely request that you keep a food diary first (assuming the allergy isn’t life-threatening of course!). If a problem food is suspected, you may be sent for a formal allergy test to confirm and identify any other allergies. This could be a combination of blood tests and “skin scratch” tests.

It’s important to note that food intolerances will not show up on standard allergy tests, but that doesn’t mean your symptoms aren’t real.

Potential food intolerances can be measured using antibody-based tests called IgA and IgG. There is some controversy surrounding these tests, however, food exclusion diets based on these results have been shown to offer relief from conditions like ulcerative colitis, migraines, and skin disorders.

 

Elimination diets


With detailed food diary in hand, the next step is an elimination diet—the gold standard for identifying a potential food allergy or intolerance. It involves removing foods from your diet that you suspect your body can’t tolerate.

Next comes the “oral challenge”. This is where you eat the eliminated food(s) one by one after a period of avoidance to determine your reaction.

Temporary withdrawal symptoms may occur when you stop eating a problem food. If this is the case, you may have to follow an elimination diet for two weeks or so before the symptoms clear up and you’re ready to start testing foods in an oral challenge.

To reduce the guesswork as to which foods are problematic—and to help guide your elimination diet—some practitioners will test for food intolerances first.

Following an elimination diet requires commitment, careful record-keeping, and paying attention to your body. This is why I recommend enlisting the help of a qualified practitioner. They can also help you navigate confusing food labels and offer reasonable substitutions.


Mel’s Mentionables

  1. SWEET TREAT: Peanut Butter Blondies! Made these delicious “Peanut Butter Blondies” this week because I was in the mood for something sweet. They turned out great! Substitutions to the original recipe include: coconut sugar instead of stevia-blend sweetener (equal substitution); Enjoy Life Dark Chocolate Chips instead of Lindt chocolate. After baking, I allowed them to cool and then refrigerated overnight to help them set. In the morning I sliced into 24 squares and stored in a freezer bag in the freezer.
  2. INTERVIEW: How to Find a New Spiritual Awakening During the Pandemic. In this inspirational podcast episode on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations, Oprah interviews world renowned spiritual teacher and New York Times bestselling author, Eckhart Tolle. He explains how the current global pandemic is an invitation to accept the present moment for what it is. Eckhart shares how he believes we can suffer less during the pandemic and how Covid-19 might lead us all to a new spiritual awakening.

Click HERE for the interview. You can also listen on your iPhone via the Podcast app. Just search for “Eckhart Tolle: How to find a spiritual awakening” and it’ll pop right up!

 

Get FREE tips and tiny slices of motivation to help you live a healthier life...without giving up chocolate!

Meals from Mel! 9-Veggie Soup + Avocado Egg Salad Flax Wrap

May 2nd, 2020 | no comments

Nine different veggies come together to make this antioxidant-rich soup. Add a dunkable flaxwrap and you’ve got a meal!

 

JUMP TO 9-VEGGIE SOUP RECIPE
JUMP TO AVOCADO EGG SALAD FLAX WRAP RECIPE

 

Yes summer is right around the corner, but chilly evenings are bound to still be ahead. What better way to nourish yourself in preparation for warmer months than a 9-veggie soup?

Ideally, I think our main meal should be preceded by a small bowl of soup or a nice leafy green salad. It’s the perfect opportunity to fill up with quality nutrition and perhaps even “buffer” some of the not-so-wholesome components of the coming attraction (i.e. French fries; pizza; pasta, etc.).

The original recipe of Seriously Good Vegetable Soup hails from cookieandkate.com. 

JUMP TO 9-VEGGIE SOUP RECIPE

Soup and salad is a nice combination…but so is soup and a wrap! I’m not eating a whole lot of bread these days, but I do miss the act of dunking.

Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, created a brilliant wheat-free flaxseed wrap that’s super easy to make. Here I stuffed the wrap with mashed avocado mixed with chopped hard boiled egg, then added a small handful of Romaine Lettuce, broccoli sprouts, and a few dashes of Horseshoe Brand Garlic Hot Sauce

Don’t like eggs? Fill the wrap with tuna salad, an assortment of raw veggies with hummus, leftover chicken, or preservative-free cold cuts like True Story deli meat. For more information on ingredients to avoid in deli meats read THIS post. 

JUMP TO AVOCADO EGG SALAD FLAX WRAP RECIPE

 

Print Recipe
9-Veggie Soup
Nine different veggies come together to make this antioxidant-rich soup.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped seasonal veggies (I used sweet potatoes, green beans and bell peppers)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock or organic chicken bone broth (can substitute with veggie stock)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard, thick ribs removed
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped seasonal veggies (I used sweet potatoes, green beans and bell peppers)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups organic chicken stock or organic chicken bone broth (can substitute with veggie stock)
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups chopped Swiss chard, thick ribs removed
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Warm 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, seasonal vegetables and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, curry powder and thyme-stir frequently for 1 minute. Pour in diced tomatoes with their juices and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often.
  3. Pour in broth and water. Add ½ teaspoon more salt, bay leaves and the red pepper flakes. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer.
  4. Cook for 25 minutes. Remove lid and add the chard. Continue simmering for 5 minutes or more, until the greens have softened to your liking.
  5. Remove pot from heat and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired.
Share this Recipe
Print Recipe
Avocado Egg Salad Flax Wrap
Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, created a brilliant wheat-free flaxseed wrap that’s super easy to make. Here I stuffed the wrap with mashed avocado mixed with chopped hard boiled egg, then added a small handful of Romaine lettuce, broccoli sprouts, and a few dashes of Horseshoe Brand Garlic Hot Sauce. 
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 prepared flax wrap (see NOTES section below for recipe link)
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
  • 1 large organic free-range egg, hard boiled and diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small handful Romaine lettuce
  • broccoli or alfalfa sprouts
  • hot sauce, to taste
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1 prepared flax wrap (see NOTES section below for recipe link)
  • 1/2 small avocado, peeled, seeded, and mashed
  • 1 large organic free-range egg, hard boiled and diced
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small handful Romaine lettuce
  • broccoli or alfalfa sprouts
  • hot sauce, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add mashed avocado and diced egg to a small bowl and mix until combined. Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Transfer mixture to center of flax wrap and spread out lengthwise, leaving room around the edges. Add lettuce, sprouts, and hot sauce. Roll up and enjoy!
Recipe Notes

Click HERE for 5-Minute Flax Wrap recipe

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You Never Know…So Ease the Heck Up!

April 15th, 2020 | no comments
ease up
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
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As someone creatively driven by her emotions, I absolutely knew I could write no other post this week.

She’s been on my mind every day for over a month … so you’ll have to excuse me fiber, vegetable soup, and chia seeds, but you’re all being moved to the back burner. 

On March 4th, my dear friend Maryanne passed away from cancer — a diagnosis she received less than three short months prior to her transition. 

The thing is, she had no clue this disease was looming in her body.

I’m sure Thanksgiving 2019 was like any other. 

It’s not up to you


If you’re anything like me, you fall into the trap of believing that tomorrow will come, and will be just like today: business as usual. Get up, make the coffee, drive to work, scrounge up something for dinner…and at the end of the day, lament all of your less-than-perfect food choices. 

But we are guaranteed nothing; not a second more than this one.

Our final breath is not up to us. 

Back in February, I visited my dear Maryanne in Hospice and was given the precious, bittersweet opportunity to share my deepest feelings– how much I loved her and the impact she made on my life. I told her that even though we may do everything in our power to be healthy…sometimes “life” has other plans. 

Her response? A tear formed at the corner of her eye and rolled down her cheek, almost as if in slow motion.

At that moment, time stood perfectly still.
 

YOU still have time


I don’t know for sure because the cancer took away her ability to speak, but I suspect Maryanne wasn’t ready to die.

At 67 years young, she had five grandchildren to spoil, bike trails to explore, red wine to sip, road trips to take with her husband, and donkeys to care for. 

Yes…Maryanne had two donkeys and a whole bunch of chickens too! 

I don’t mean to make this such an emotional, sorrow-filled post (well…maybe I do!), but there was something about the way Maryanne ate her lunch that afternoon that filled me with sadness and my own urgent-yet-heartfelt conclusion.

One by one she ate her French fries, followed by a forkful of fried fish here and a few green beans there.

Slowly she chewed, and after 20 minutes or so, the plate—along with a slice of chocolate cream pie— was polished clean.


And as I watched her, all I could think of was this:


Do I want to wait until the end of my life to have a little guilt-free pleasure? What’s it all for if I can’t enjoy a damn piece of pie on occasion without calculating sugar grams?


I paint this picture because it’s the only way for me to pluck your emotional strings and lodge the following message into the very core of your being:


Give yourself permission to ease up and enjoy your precious life…including, and especially, your food. Cherish every moment possible; savor every bite. 


Ease up already!


Now, I’m not proposing you say “screw fruits and veggies…I could die tomorrow, so bring on the brownies, beer, and bacon cheeseburgers”

…but I’d like to encourage you to lighten up on yourself.

PS: The evening after my visit with Maryanne, I did just that with a big fat white chocolate sundae covered in strawberry sauce (+ whipped cream). See below for my funny story…

It’s time to ease up on this all-or-nothing attitude that, let’s be honest, doesn’t work. It only serves to give tremendous power to the very foods on your no-no list.

I promise that will blow right up in your pretty little face. 

When it comes to our lifestyle choices, we (including ME) are waaaaaaaay too hard on ourselves. We eat a little sugar and suddenly remember what “they” (yep…I’m guilty of saying it too!) say about the sweet stuff:

It’s a toxin!

It’ll spike your blood sugar.

It causes inflammation.

And while all this is true, it’s not reason enough to beat up on yourself if it happens to cross your lips at a birthday party.

Nor should you swear off the occasional
planned indulgence, because after all, what’s life without ice cream? 

Give yourself a big fat break already!


A mantra worth memorizing


Here’s a little mantra that’s worth committing to memory: 

My beautiful body thrives on nutritious, whole foods like greens, berries, and broccoli. It’s true the more I eat these foods, the more my body craves them. But it’s equally true that I am a perfectly imperfect human being, one who adores the occasional planned indulgence. This is a positive quality, one that should be honored, respected, and thoroughly enjoyed… without an ounce of guilt.

I don’t know about you, but I look forward to my occasional planned indulgence of an ice cream sundae (or Jack Frost donut). It reminds me that: oh yes, that’s right, I AM human!

Death’s door…you WILL be there one day


This now begs the question:



When faced with the inevitable door of death, how do you want to feel about your lifetime food choices?

 


I’ve given this a lot of thought, after all, there’s a fine line between taking care of your body and obsessing over your food choices to the point of stripping it of all pleasure.

Personally, I want to feel proud that I fed this beautiful vessel with nutritious food (especially my all-time favorite Pan Seared Salmon)– a gift for lovingly and unselfishly carrying me through this world.

ease up
But I also want to feel damn proud that I had some fun along the way too…like that time when I enjoyed a large white chocolate strawberry sundae with whipped cream (after a full dinner) and was so stuffed I could barely bend over to pet my cat. Or when I went to Jack Frost Donuts on Fat Tuesday (not realizing it was Fat Tuesday) and had my first experience with a cream-filled Packzi. Pure heaven on earth.



My beautiful friend…this dance called life is about balance. Balance of 80-90% wholesome food and 10-20% fun.

And occasionally it’s more like 50-50.

I promise it all evens out in the end.

Here’s how to protect yourself from regret NOW…


I encourage you to place yourself at death’s door. Why not? We’re all going to be there one day, so why not contemplate the idea now to ensure you have no regrets then.

Go ahead, put yourself there now.

Are you there?

OK, now answer these three questions as they relate to your food choices over the course of your life:

  1. Do I have any regrets either way?
     
  2. Did I spend too much time in the “fun-zone” and perhaps unintentionally contribute to my impending departure? 

  3. Did I obsess over my food choices and not have any fun at all?


It’s not too late to make a shift in either direction: to fuel your precious body with more wholesome food and also, to ease up, give yourself a damn break, and live a little.


It’s not too late to make sure, when that day comes…you have zero regrets

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Meals from Mel! Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup + “Life-Changing” Bread

April 3rd, 2020 | no comments

Prepare this nourishing soup, serve with a slice of “Life-Changing” bread…then freeze the leftovers!

 

JUMP TO IMMUNE-BOOSTING CHICKEN SOUP RECIPE
JUMP TO LIFE-CHANGING BREAD RECIPE

 

Yes, it’s spring. Soup is the last thing on your mind, isn’t it?

 

I don’t know about you, but when I come down with a little bug and my body really needs homemade chicken soup, not a container of it can be found in the freezer! Let’s be honest, making chicken soup isn’t usually a priority when we are healthy. At least it’s not for me! 

 

Why not get ahead of the game and simmer up a nice big pot of Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup when you are well…then break it down into individual containers and freeze? That way, you’ll always have a back up and won’t have to rely on crummy canned soup to get you through. I’m sorry…it’s just gross and can’t even compare to homemade.

 

JUMP TO IMMUNE-BOOSTING CHICKEN SOUP RECIPE 

 

Now let’s talk about that Life-Changing Bread. I found variations of this recipe on Pinterest and what struck me about this particular one was its gluten-free, blood sugar-friendly (7 grams of fiber per slice!) nature. Not only that, when you pop it in the toaster…it actually toasts! This isn’t always the case with non-traditional bread.

 

I like to smear a layer of mashed avocado on my Life-Changing Bread, then add sunflower seeds and a shot or two of hot sauce. If this is too overwhelming for you, spread it with Kerrygold butter…or just enjoy it plain! 

 

JUMP TO LIFE-CHANGING BREAD RECIPE 

 

Print Recipe
Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup
A simple, nourishing soup perfect for under-the-weather days or anytime you're yearning for a little TLC. Add more veggies if you like, or for more of a hearty meal, serve over cooked quinoa or cauliflower rice. Be sure to make enough for leftovers (double the recipe if you have to), then break down in smaller containers and freeze for when you really need it!
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken breast free-range, organic if possible
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 8 cups organic chicken stock or organic chicken bone broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bone-in, skin-on chicken breast free-range, organic if possible
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 medium carrots, scrubbed and chopped
  • 5 stalks celery, washed and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 8 cups organic chicken stock or organic chicken bone broth
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Pat chicken dry with paper towel, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Heat large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add oil and sear the chicken breasts skin side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and transfer to a plate.
  2. Add carrots, celery, onion, leek, garlic, salt and pepper to the pot with the leftover oil and chicken drippings. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add chicken back to pot, along with the chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for at least 1 hour.
  4. Remove chicken, thyme stems and bay leaves from the soup. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skin and bones (or save the bones to make your own bone broth!). Shred the meat to bite sized pieces. Add shredded chicken back to soup. Ladle into bowls and enjoy!
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Print Recipe
"Life-Changing" Bread
Flaxseeds, chia seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, psyllium husk powder. Need I say more? This simple-to-make wholesome gluten-free bread is loaded with vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. Bake a loaf or two, then once completely cool, slice, add to freezer-safe bags and store in your freezer. Pull out a slice and toast when the mood strikes!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
slices
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup milled flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats, dry
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. psyllium husk powder (I like the NOW brand)
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 3 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil or ghee, melted (ghee is clarified butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
slices
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup milled flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup whole raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats, dry
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds
  • 3 tbsp. psyllium husk powder (I like the NOW brand)
  • 1 tsp. Sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 3 tbsp. unrefined coconut oil or ghee, melted (ghee is clarified butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
Instructions
  1. Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Whisk maple syrup, coconut oil and water together in a glass measuring cup and then add to dry ingredients. Mix very well until everything is soaked and dough becomes very thick (add one or two teaspoons of water if dough is too thick to manage).
  2. Add mixture to a flexible silicon loaf pan and smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours. When ready, the dough will retain its shape when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove bread from pan and place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing.
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8 Ways to Rock Your Immune System

March 21st, 2020 | no comments

8 Ways to Rock Your Immune System

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

 

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

Whew! What a time we are living in. And it’s during times like these when it’s more important than ever to NOT hit the panic button; to relax (I know, I know…easier said than done, right?!).

I’d like you to think about taking this opportunity to feel empowered, because you really DO have control over your lifestyle choices.

Here are eight ways to help you give back to that amazing vessel that unselfishly carries you through this world—protecting you while asking nothing in return. 

 

1— Hygienize🧼

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds—especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing and/or using the phone. Yes, I know– this is such an obvious one! But guess what? I discovered that I fell short on the 20 second rule!  Lately, I’ve been using the following songs to get me through hand-washing:

  • Happy birthday to you (sing it two times to reach 20 seconds)
  • ABCDEFG…
  • Twinkle, twinkle little star…
  • And my personal favorite…High Hopes: Just what makes that little old ant, think he’ll move that rubber tree plant. Anyone knows an ant, can’t move a rubber tree plant. But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes. He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes! 🐜 😀 

 

2— Move your body 🚲

Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity each day. Get outside in nature, it’ll do your mind and body more good than you realize. Watch the wildlife before you and ponder at the wonder of it all. Listen for the sweet whistle of the cardinal or the gentle coo of the mourning dove. Delight in those squirrely squirrels…who I am convinced were put on this earth to make us smile. Open your eyes…miracles are all around you.

 

3— Sleep, sleep, SLEEP 😴

Research shows that sleep keeps your immune system in tip-top shape, but if you are sleep-deprived (less than 7 hours of sleep per night), you’re more susceptible to viral, bacterial, and parasitic infections. It’s no joke. And NO excuse is good enough to skimp on it! 

 

4— Lemonize 🍋

Lemon is Mother Nature’s detoxifier. It supports the liver in pulling toxins out of the body and is especially powerful when taken first thing in the morning. So start your day with a glass of lemon water (1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice mixed in 16 ounces of water). I like to drink mine lukewarm.

 

5— Eat Earthfoods + other immune-friendly foods!🥦
  • Garlic: crush one or two garlic cloves, add vinegar, spices and olive oil for a flavorful and healthy salad dressing. Check out this Immune-Boosting Tonic using garlic, lemon, ginger, and raw honey.
  • Green leafy veggies: Arugula; cabbage; collard greens; dandelion greens; endive; escarole; kale; mesclun; mustard greens; radicchio; Romaine; spinach; Swiss chard; turnip greens; watercress
    • Toss a big handful of spinach or kale into your breakfast smoothie.
    • Eat a tossed arugula salad with your dinner.
    • Snack on dehydrated kale chips. I love THIS brand!
    • Add greens to soups, stews or sauces. Try my Nourishing White Bean Chard Soup!
    • Make healthy coleslaw out of shredded red and white cabbage and toss with apple cider vinegar.
    • Add a scoop of greens powder to your lunch smoothie.
    • Fold cooked spinach into your Sunday omelet.
    • Enjoy a big Romaine lettuce salad for lunch, sprinkled with pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, fresh blueberries, nutritional yeast, and broccoli sprouts. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and top with avocado slices.
  • Cruciferous veggies: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale
    • Add roasted broccoli to wild rice or quinoa dishes.
    • Steam and puree cauliflower and enjoy in place of mashed potatoes.
  • Berries (fresh or frozen): blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, goji berries
    • Add a handful of raspberries to cooked quinoa and eat for breakfast.
    • Toss a handful of fresh or frozen blueberries into your morning smoothie.
  • Functional foods:
    • Herbs and spices: ginger, oregano, turmeric (try my recipe for Golden Milk!)
    • Mushrooms/mushroom powders: try my Immune-Boosting Mushroom Soup!
    • Fermented foods: kefir, kimchi, tempeh, kombucha, raw sauerkraut, Bragg apple cider vinegar (dilute a tablespoon in 8 ounces of hot or cold water and drink it once a day!)

 

6— Supplement with these 5 immune-boosters* 💪
  • Fish Oil
  • Magnesium Glycinate
  • Probiotic: particularly those including the following strains: B. infantis, S. boulardii, L. casei, L. Salivarius 
  • Vitamin D3
  • Zinc

*As always, please be sure to check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplement.

 

7— Chill out! 🧘‍♀️

Take 5-10 minutes each and every day to practice quiet meditation. If the word “meditation” doesn’t resonate with you, call it: breathing, contemplation, reflection, or prayer. Don’t get hung up on the title…they all point to the same end result. A regular meditation practice has been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, provide you with a calm and easy state of mind, and guess what else? Increase your immune function!

 

8— Practice gratitude 🙏

According to Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life. It can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep. Studies further indicate that grateful, optimistic people actually have more disease-fighting cells in their bodies!”

So open up a fresh Word document or notebook, write today’s date, followed by three things you are grateful for. It helps to do this first thing in the morning. You can also start a gratitude journal on your smartphone using one of the many free apps out there. I like the “Gratitude Happiness Journal”. Give gratitude a go…it’s free, so you have nothing to lose and a stronger immune system (and so much more) to gain!

 

Well there you have it my friend! Eight opportunities to give your body some love. One thing I know for sure: take care of that beautiful body of yours, and it will indeed take care of YOU.

 

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Meals from Mel! “Hempmeal” Breakfast Cereal

February 26th, 2020 | no comments

 

Looking for a hot breakfast that’ll keep you satisfied and NOT raise your blood sugar? 

JUMP TO RECIPE

I really enjoy hot cereal on cold winter mornings, but whenever I eat oatmeal, I wind up hungry an hour later. Why? Because even though it’s a whole grain and better for you than a bowl of Frosted Flakes, it still raises blood sugar. And what goes up, must come down. The problem is, with the “down” comes a return of hunger and food cravings. 

The base of this recipe is hemp seed— a mildly-flavored source of plant-based protein that provides all nine essential amino acids (making it a complete protein). They’re also one of the best plant-based sources of essential anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids! Flax and chia are the others…and I managed to squeeze both into this recipe!

Hempmeal Breakfast Cereal can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for tomorrow’s breakfast. Just add a few tablespoons of unsweetened almond, cashew, or coconut milk, give it a good stir and pop in the microwave for 60-90 seconds. 

I don’t add sweetener to my Hempmeal Breakfast Cereal because the fruit, vanilla, and cinnamon make it sweet enough. If you prefer, add just a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup. 

Print Recipe
"Hempmeal" Breakfast Cereal
The base of this filling recipe is hemp seed-- a mildly-flavored source of plant-based protein that provides all nine essential amino acids (making it a complete protein).
Prep Time 5 minutes or less
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds I like Navitas brand
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. almond flour
Optional toppings
  • 1/2 small apple or pear, chopped with skin on you can also substitute fresh berries!
  • 1 tbsp. organic, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp. cacao nibs
  • 1/8 cup nuts or seeds try almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia, or Brazil nuts. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds also work!
Prep Time 5 minutes or less
Cook Time 2 minutes
Servings
serving
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond, coconut or cashew milk
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds I like Navitas brand
  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp. chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp. almond flour
Optional toppings
  • 1/2 small apple or pear, chopped with skin on you can also substitute fresh berries!
  • 1 tbsp. organic, unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp. cacao nibs
  • 1/8 cup nuts or seeds try almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia, or Brazil nuts. Sunflower or pumpkin seeds also work!
Instructions
  1. To a microwave-safe bowl or Mason jar, add almond milk through vanilla. Stir until combined and microwave for 1 minute. Stir and cook another 30 seconds. See Recipe Notes below for stovetop directions.
  2. Stir in almond flour and top with desired toppings. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

To prepare stovetop:

Add almond milk through vanilla to a small saucepan. Stir until combined and heat over medium heat until a light boil is reached. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almond flour. Top with optional toppings and enjoy!

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This Void Can Never Be Filled By Food

February 11th, 2020 | no comments

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO TODAY’S POST!

 

Have you ever experienced a time when you ate, but knew deep down you weren’t hungry? I think we all have! 

 

Who gave that leftover pepperoni pizza a voice…and why does it keep calling your name? What exactly is this faint, subtle sensation in your gut that you’re misinterpreting as hunger? There’s definitely something there…but is that something hunger? 

Yes and no.

Yes- it’s hunger; but not physical hunger.

It’s an emptiness; a void seeking to be filled…but not with food. In fact, attempt to fill it with pizza or even carrot sticks, and you’ll notice the food goes right through you. Not physically, but just as if there’s a hole in the bottom of this imaginary empty container, it just leaks right out. The void is still present, and now you feel guilty for having eaten the damn pizza… and totally befuddled because you’re still “hungry” for something.

 

What is this hunger?

So what exactly is this emptiness, marked by the erroneous sensation of physical hunger? 

It’s a longing.

A longing expressed by that deeper part of you that never ages. It was there before your birth and will continue on after your physical body fades away. I call it my higher self. Some call it soul; others call it the “silent witness”. You can call it Eleanor if you’d like…or nothing at all. The name is irrelevant. 

It helps to visualize this deeper part of you as a tiny flame that remains unswayed by even the most turbulent of storms. There it rests, without a flicker…no matter what.

 

What’s it longing for?

So what exactly is Eleanor 😀 longing for?

Recognition.

If you aren’t listening, you’ll miss the whisper:

  • Notice me! 
  • Use me!
  • Here I am…the source of all your strength. 

 

What causes the empty feeling in the first place?

The emptiness can be triggered by any event whereby you feel a loss of power:

  • an argument with your spouse or teenage daughter
  • serious illness of self or family
  • impossible boss, etc.

Just think of any occurrence in life where food is your fruitless antidote. Yep- that’s the one. Congratulations, you’ve unearthed one of your triggers.

That’s step number one.  

For me, this void, this “hunger”, appears when I am in my creative space and hit a stumbling block. As I search for the next word, the unsettling sensation begins to simmer. At the moment it reaches boiling, I’ve lost my chance…I always choose food. And of course, that food leaks right out…every single time. 

I promise, if you wait too long– and I’m talking seconds here– you too will miss it, and turn to the cookie(s). You may even try to convince yourself that this looming emptiness is physical hunger. 

It never is. 

 

How do you satisfy this hunger? 

So how do you plug the hole and fill the void? How do you make that emptiness disappear? By filling it with a moment of presence.

This is step two.

As I shared in THIS POST, you are not alone- you never were and never will be. Surrender to this knowing by closing your eyes (or not), and tapping into this always available, ever-flowing stream of strength. There are two ways to do this- pick the one that speaks to you:

  1. Breath
  2. Heart

When you take a conscious breath or place your hand on your thumping heart, it’s not really you who is doing the breathing and beating. Go ahead, I dare you to try beating your own heart. Better yet, tell it to stop beating. Command your lungs to stop filling with air.  

 

You’re not really in control

We think we’re in control, but we’re really not.

And as soon as you recognize this, the door to your strength will open to you. It’s like we spend our whole life trying to open this door by pushing on it, and after a while we give up because it makes no sense to push on a locked door. Yet when we take a moment to notice, we discover that the door was never locked…we’ve been pushing, when we should’ve been pulling. 

Pushing is seeking without for the answers (cookies, pizza, your mother). 

Pulling is going within.

 

Food is powerful. But…

Let me tell you something…

Food is extremely powerful…but only when you attempt to put on your big girl pants and face it alone. Again, the downward spiral can happen in a split second– empty feeling, fill it with a truffle. Why? Why not? It’s there (and tastes amazing). 

This can happen 46 times a day, but the moment you wake up, stop pushing and instead pull inward– take a conscious breath or place your hand on your heart to remember– you’ve stepped into your power. And it was there all along.

It’s all so simple. 

 

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Meals from Mel! Earthfood-Loaded Nachos + Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

February 5th, 2020 | no comments

 

This week’s Meals from Mel features: Earthfood-Loaded Nachos + Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats

 

Nachos for dinner and rice crispy treats for dessert?! Hell yeah! Why not? Unlike those greasy nachos found at baseball concession stands across America, you can feel good (and a little naughty…not really) about treating yourself to these bad (not really) boys.

 

Although I’m not vegan, I made these nachos 100% plant-based because it was actually easier to do! Feel free to substitute ground turkey or grass-fed ground beef for the Walnut Taco Meat and Organic Valley sour cream for the coconut or cashew yogurt.

You may be tempted to use regular cheese, but I want to challenge your taste buds with the Sunflower “Cheese” Sauce recipe. Created by vegansandra.com, this simple and tasty dairy-free, plant-based “cheese” won’t make you feel bloated…and it’s full of real-food ingredients. 

You can enjoy these nachos alone, or, do what we did and pair it with a big old leafy green salad with chopped veggies.

 

Now let’s talk about those rice crispy treats. Listen- they aren’t a health food, they simply replace less-wholesome ingredients with better-for-you ones—like raw honey and cashew butter in place of marshmallows. 

 

Let yourself feel like a kid again!

 

This week’s Meals from Mel:

  1. Main: Earthfood-Loaded Nachos 
    JUMP TO RECIPE
  2. Sweet: Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats
    JUMP TO RECIPE

 

Print Recipe
Earthfood-Loaded Nachos
Nachos for dinner?! Why not? Unlike those greasy nachos found at baseball concession stands across America, you can feel good about treating yourself to these bad (not really) boys.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 3 big handfuls grain-free tortilla chips I like The Real Coconut brand of coconut flour chips or Siete brand cassava chips
  • 3/4-1 cup prepared Sunflower "Cheese" See 'Recipe Notes' below for the link to the recipe
  • 3/4 cup prepared Walnut Taco Meat See 'Recipe Notes' below for the link to the recipe
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup canned black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives, drained
  • salsa to taste
  • 1-2 dollops unsweetened coconut or cashew yogurt
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 3 big handfuls grain-free tortilla chips I like The Real Coconut brand of coconut flour chips or Siete brand cassava chips
  • 3/4-1 cup prepared Sunflower "Cheese" See 'Recipe Notes' below for the link to the recipe
  • 3/4 cup prepared Walnut Taco Meat See 'Recipe Notes' below for the link to the recipe
  • 1/2 large ripe avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup canned black or pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives, drained
  • salsa to taste
  • 1-2 dollops unsweetened coconut or cashew yogurt
Instructions
  1. On a platter or large plate, layer all ingredients in order listed above. Dig in!
Recipe Notes
  1. Click HERE  for coconut flour chips or  HERE  for cassava chips.
  2. Click  HERE for the Sunflower "Cheese" Sauce recipe! I used Bragg liquid aminos in place of soy sauce and avocado oil to saute the onions and garlic.
  3. Click HERE  for the "Walnut Taco Meat" recipe.
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Print Recipe
Better-4-You Rice Crispy Treats
No marshmallows needed for this version, as the combination of cashew butter and raw honey makes for a beautiful substitute. These treats are sweet, chewy, and most importantly, lacking in the inflammatory vegetables oils, corn syrup, artificial flavors, preservatives, and monoglycerides (i.e. trans fats) found in the store-bought junk! 1 Earthfood per serving: ♥
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew butter Add 2 cups raw cashews to your food processor and blend until it's the consistency of almond butter. Stop to scrap the sides a few times during processing. You will have a bit leftover, so store in a sealed container and use for shakes!
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 4 cups puffed brown rice cereal I used Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal (the only ingredient is puffed whole grain brown rice)
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2/3 cup raw cashew butter Add 2 cups raw cashews to your food processor and blend until it's the consistency of almond butter. Stop to scrap the sides a few times during processing. You will have a bit leftover, so store in a sealed container and use for shakes!
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. Sea salt
  • 4 cups puffed brown rice cereal I used Arrowhead Mills Puffed Rice Cereal (the only ingredient is puffed whole grain brown rice)
Instructions
  1. Combine raw honey, prepared cashew butter, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Stir well. Add the puffed rice and mix with a spatula until combined.
  2. Line a 9x9 baking dish with parchment paper and pour mixture into the dish. Press down with the spatula to smooth out and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Once the bars are hardened, cut into 16 squares and store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
Recipe Notes

Nutrition Facts per serving (1 square)Calories: 110Total Fat: 5 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Sodium: 40 mg; Potassium: 73 mg; Total Carbohydrate: 15 g; Dietary fiber: 0 g; Net Carbohydrates: 15 grams; Sugar: 8 g (8 grams added sugar from honey); Protein: 2 g

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