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4-Steps to honor your cravings in a healthier way (this really works!)

October 18th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly product pick: 
    Jackson’s Honest Coconut Oil Chips
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
    Simple Homemade Trail Mix

When someone tells me they never have food cravings, I’m always tempted to check their pulse.

Listen, if you are a living, breathing human being, you most definitely have food cravings. And if you follow a relatively healthy lifestyle, these cravings are probably for healthier foods. Remember…what you feed your body most, it will crave.

With this in mind, every once in awhile you will naturally get a craving for, say, a peanut butter, hot-fudge sundae with salted pecans and whipped cream (OK, maybe that’s just me).

It’s how we are wired. In fact, we were born to be perfectly imperfect. I believe this to my core, which is why I dedicated an entire section to it in my new book Missing Peace. Missing Peace #7 is Imperfection IS Perfection

I discovered a way to successfully honor my cravings in a healthier way and I think you will find it works for you too! Keep in mind, sometimes you have to just say “what the hell!” and go for the peanut butter hot-fudge sundae thing. But it doesn’t have to be as often as you think.

The next time you experience an intense food craving for a food that may not be exactly supportive of good health, rather than hit the panic button, try my four-step process for honoring your cravings in a healthier way:

Step 1: Describe your craving

First, ask yourself: What is my body really craving right now? Describe your cravings using adjectives versus nouns, or specific foods. The reason for this is that 99.9% of the time, a craving can be satisfied by a healthier food offering the exact same properties you are craving, without perpetuating continued eating. It cures the craving and nourishes the body all at the same time.

For example, are you in the mood for something:

  • Creamy?
  • Crunchy?
  • Fizzy?
  • Salty?
  • Spicy?
  • Sweet?

Step 2: Grant permission

Next, even though I’ve just prompted you to describe your cravings with adjectives, you may still have a specific food in mind that you want to eat. In this step, I want you to give yourself full permission to eat the food you are craving, whether it’s a doughnut, potato chips, or an ice cream sundae. This mental clearing puts you in control and releases the sex appeal of your trigger food.

An important point to note here is this— if what you are craving is your kryptonite food and you can’t control yourself around it, it is best not to have it in your house at all.

Step 3: Honor your craving

After giving yourself full permission to eat the food you are craving, it’s time to feed your body what it really desires- fat, crunch, fizz, salt, spice or sweet. It matters not, the package in which these cravings are delivered, so why not aim for a choice that will honor your beautiful body?

The key to success in step three, is to make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthier alternatives. Let’s get real here … we both know if you are on a serious mission for salt and crunch and the only food in your kitchen to deliver those qualities is a bag of chips, no matter how pure your intentions, you will not get in your car and drive to the store for hummus and carrots. You just won’t.

Here are some foods to help you bust through your cravings in a healthier, more peaceful way:

Creamy

  • Mashed avocado on sprouted bread
  • One tablespoon of fresh ground almond butter, peanut butter or cashew butter
  • Guacamole with raw veggies

Crunchy/Salty

  • Handful of raw, salted pumpkin seeds or pistachios
  • Hummus with celery sticks, red pepper strips, or baby carrots
  • Spoonful or two of fermented vegetables (kimchi or sauerkraut)
  • Homemade trail mix (see this week’s recipe for Simple Homemade Trail Mix!)
  • Jackson’s Honest Coconut Oil Chips

Fizzy

  • Club soda or sparkling water with a twist of lemon (Add one ounce of fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice for more flavor)
  • Kombucha

Spicy

  • A spoonful or two of kimchi
  • Roasted chickpeas seasoned with cayenne pepper

Sweet

  • A square or two of dark chocolate (72% cacao or higher)
  • 2-3 pitted dates
  • Homemade trail mix (see this week’s recipe for Simple Homemade Trail Mix)

Step 4: Evaluate your craving

Now it’s time to evaluate whether or not your craving was satisfied. The good news is, 99% of time the healthier alternative will do the trick. But what happens when it doesn’t? Then go ahead and give yourself full, guilt-free, non-judgmental permission to drive to the store and settle your craving once and for all! This is the beauty of being a perfectly imperfect human being.

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Jackson’s Honest Coconut Oil Chips

Sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and sea salt. That’s it! Three, pronounceable, recognizable ingredients.

Although these chips aren’t a certified “health food”, they are a snack you can feel good about indulging in. No fake, inflammatory ingredients here!

So many snack foods on the market today are loaded with inflammatory, highly refined oils such as canola, corn, and safflower oils. Jackson’s Honest gives the other guys a run for their money by using a healthier, albeit more costly oil. And those of us who care about the ingredients we put in our bodies, will gladly pay a few extra pennies. Check out all of their varieties HERE!

A note of caution: These chips are amazing, but they are also addicting! Be a smart little cookie and portion a serving into a small bowl or soufflé cup (worth the small investment), that way you won’t be tempted to polish off the entire bag. 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Simple Homemade Trail Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ignoring THIS elephant will get you into trouble

October 11th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly product pick: 
    Boiron’s Sepia (homeopathic remedy for bloating and menstrual pain) 
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
    African Peanut Stew

You start a new diet (on Monday of course!) and you plug along just fine for a day or two, and then it happens—the very foods you’re not “allowed” to eat become the object of your desire, to the point you even being dreaming about them.

There’s one thing I know for sure about us human beings: tell us we can’t have something and we want it 50 times more! Hey, maybe that’s a way to get your children to eat their veggies! Give it a try, what can it hurt? 🙂

My point is this:

Why do we ignore this larger-than-life elephant in the room? 

Why do we pretend it’s not going to happen when we know damn well that it will, and has?

Why do we insist that a deprivation mindset will lead to desired results? It won’t. It never has and never will! 

My love, you know it’s true. As soon as you put the red “X” on a food, what you’ve really done is hand all of your power over to that food. And when food has power…guess what?

It wins.

You are then left feeling hopeless and lacking any shred of willpower. But this doesn’t have to be your destiny because you can flip the switch in a literal instant and take your power back. How? By remembering these four little words:

No food is forbidden.

Give it a try and watch what happens when you lay that mantra on top of any food you feel weak and powerless around. 

No food is forbidden: this is Missing Peace #3 in my new book Missing Peace: 11 Secrets to Restore Inner Harmony with Your Food, Body, and Health. 

At first it may sound like I’m telling you to grab a grocery cart and fill it with all kinds of junk on your next shopping trip. Of course that’s not true! But what I am suggesting to you is this: Now you have a choice. And when you allow all food (even if you never end up eating the food), you unlock the door to your food prison cell and are free to make the choices that will serve you best—mind, body, and spirit. 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Boiron’s Sepia 

Warning: Men, you are about to enter into “girl talk”. Yes, I’m talking about the big “P”—the word you dread hearing: Period. 

But wait! Don’t leave. If you have a woman in your life that you love and adore, keep on reading because her life (and yours) will be much more pleasant when Aunt Flo pays her monthly visit.

Boiron is a world leader in homeopathy. A company that has been around since 1932, they offer remedies for everything from allergies and the flu, to stress, and yes…menstrual pain. You can visit their website to learn more about all of their solutions. They even have a free app (search for ‘Boiron Medicine Finder’) where you can enter your symptom and then receive recommended remedies.  

I have personal experience with Boiron’s Sepia, a remedy for bloating and lower back pain that always strike me during that time of the month. Prior to discovering Sepia, I would begrudgingly take Motrin to ease my symptoms. Now, I can’t even remember the last time I popped a traditional pain-reliever. Yes, this stuff is that good.

The active ingredient in Sepia is cuttlefish ink. Cuttlefish are marine animals related to octopus and squid. To watch them in action, click HERE! Mother Nature is amazing. How they stumbled upon this remedy is beyond me. All I know is, it works! 

Sepia comes in little white pellets that dissolve quickly under the tongue. And don’t worry, they have a sweet taste…nothing like ink! 🙂 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
African Peanut Stew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Restore inner harmony with your food, body, & health

October 4th, 2018 | no comments

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In September of 2015, I had an epiphany:

Missing Peace.

Boom! Just like that, the title flashed before my eyes. 

I explored it a bit more and began to feel a strong urge to write a book that shared all of the pieces that people tend to ignore (or miss) when they set out to improve their health.

I got super inspired because I now had the platform to share my knowledge and passion with the world. It’s what I’ve felt for years and the source of my frustration when friends, family or clients would hop on the next diet. Instead of being supportive, I would shoot it down and become angry. Angry at myself because I couldn’t help them. At one time, I was them and I knew deep down where this diet would lead them. They didn’t need another diet; they needed a deeper understanding of themselves and their immense power. They needed to understand the missing pieces in their lives that were keeping them from achieving lasting peace with their food, body, and health. Peace that is their birthright.

The concept of my book, Missing Peacewas born out of a burning desire to share my message with the world. To share the lessons I learned in hopes that it will help just one person. I’ve always said that if I can help change just one person’s life for the better, I could die tomorrow at peace. This book is for that one person—you. 

Missing Peace is for the open minded. The self-blamers who are sick and tired of the uphill struggle, the topsy turvy, loop de loop battle with food and their health. It is for you my friend, you know who you are. The one who feels lost and not quite sure where to turn. The one who awakens every morning in despair, believing that this is the best life has to offer. You have no idea how misled you are.

If you have an open mind and are ready to learn more, check out Missing Peace.

If you don’t know where else to turn, check out Missing Peace.

I promise you, this experience will be like turning on the light switch in the dark room of your life.

With so much love and gratitude for YOU.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Ashwagandha Root

According to the BareOrganics website: Ashwagandha is a coveted herb in Ayurveda, a system of traditional, natural healing with origins in India. The root is the most beneficial part of this small shrub and is well known for its energizing properties, coining the name, “Indian Ginseng.”

Ashwagandha has been identified as having adaptogenic properties, which are thought to be able to support the body’s natural response to stress.

By itself, ashwagandha is on the bitter side, so it is best when mixed in smoothies, energy bite recipes, tonics (like Moon Milk ), and fudge! See this week’s recipe pick below for Chill-the-Hell-Out Fudge

Ashwagandha also comes in capsule form. Check out Ancient Apothecary’s Fermented Ashwagandha or Gaia’s Ashwagandha Root.


Mel’s weekly recipe pick:

Chill-the-Hell-Out Fudge

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Stop using motivation as a crutch

September 27th, 2018 | no comments

Plus:

  • Mel’s weekly product pick: 
    Nature’s Way Sambucus Elderberry Syrup
  • Mel’s weekly recipe pick: 
    Egg Roll in a Bowl

It’s been over a decade since I first witnessed one of my personal heroes jogging the neighborhood…in the middle of winter.

Why do I consider him a hero? Well it’s not because he runs fast or far, quite the contrary, he keeps a comfortable pace, for maybe just a few miles. It’s not because he runs in cold weather either because plenty of us Ohio runners do that, so no biggie there. I’ve developed such a deep admiration for this man (I’ll call him Jack) because, well I’ll just say it…he’s no spring chicken. If I had to guess, I would say he’s in his mid-seventies and is more physically fit than most forty-year-olds I know. 

Sometimes I catch him walking the neighborhood or riding his bicycle uphill, and other times I smile as I watch him strike the punching bag in his garage like a heavyweight champion.

Jack is ALWAYS moving.

I’m a pretty curious individual, so naturally I began wondering what exactly fuels this man? What lights the invisible fire under his ass? Why—and how—does he keep going?

I’m often faced with these questions whenever I come across individuals (no matter what their age) who seem to have developed a fierce discipline for managing their health. If I could figure out what makes them tick, perhaps I can use it to help encourage others to do the same. 

Four months ago I saw Jack at the gym and decided this was the day I would finally introduce myself and pop the big question that’s been on my mind for years. I approached his weight bench and held out my hand:

Hi! My name is Melanie. We live in the same neighborhood and I always see you outside exercising, so I thought it would be nice to introduce myself. After exchanging a few pleasantries I asked my burning question. Jack, I just have to know…what is it that motivates you to work out so consistently? I mean, you are ALWAYS moving and are in such good shape. What exactly is it that motivates you to keep at it? Fully expecting Jack to reveal some major health scare as the catalyst responsible for his everlasting fitness journey, he looked into my eyes with a sort of puzzled look and replied so simply and matter-of-fact: Melanie, it’s all I know. 

And with that, I smiled and we parted ways—Jack returning to his bench press and me to my squats.

Take a moment to breathe in Jack’s response: It’s all I know.

Now, I don’t claim to know how Jack began his fitness journey so many years ago, but I imagine it went something like this:

He started working out for the health (and perhaps aesthetic) benefits, hit repeat day after day until it became a natural extension of himself (almost like growing a new organ), and then became motivated to continue because he felt so good. Fast-forward to today and the only way to explain his tenacity is: It’s all I know.

Here’s the thing my love. When you get to this place—and make no mistake, it is 100% possible to get there— there is absolutely no internal debate or mental ping-pong match as to whether or not you will work out today or choose to stop at one glass of wine. Why? Because it’s all you know.

But don’t wait for something or someone to motivate you to start, because the motivation factor eventually fades and you are back to sitting your ass on the couch, surrendering to that second glass of wine. 

Here’s how to make Jack’s simple, yet profound words work for you:

  1. Pick a habit you want to build (not one you want to break).
  2. Start today—NOT Monday— and take a stride towards building that habit. For example: if you want to make exercise a natural extension of who you are, take a walk around the block today; if you want to be the person who stops at one glass of wine (instead of three), pour yourself a 5-6 ounce glass of wine with dinner tonight and see yourself as someone who naturally enjoys just one glass of wine without the need for a second glass.
  3. Hit repeat tomorrow. Although, you don’t have to drink wine every day, but if you do- hit repeat on #2. 🙂
  4. Continue to hit repeat until you can confidently reply “It’s all I know”, when someone asks you how you stay so disciplined.

This may all seem so simple.

And you know what?

It is. 

Mel’s weekly product pick:
Nature’s Way Sambucus Elderberry Syrup

Last week my loving, adoring, and generous husband gave me the gift of his cold. At the very first sign of a scratch in my throat, I went to the store and bought a bottle of Nature’s Way Sambucus Elderberry Syrup, cracked open the bottle, and took a swig. PS: It’s quite yummy!

Sambucus nigra L. products are made from standardized black elderberry extract and have been traditionally used as a cold and flu remedy and for overall immune system support. In fact, in 400 BCE, Hippocrates referred to the elder tree (Sambucus nigra) as his “medicine chest”.

Not only does Sambucus help to reduce the severity and duration of the common cold and flu virus, it can also be used as a preventative measure…which I should have been doing once I learned of hubby’s cold. 

With cold and flu season right around the corner, you would be wise to have a bottle of Sambucus on hand and ready to go. You’ll thank me! 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Egg Roll in a Bowl

 

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Nutrition, health and motivational resources to uplift and educate you

September 20th, 2018 | no comments

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I long to be inspired.

Brilliant minds, nature, random acts of kindness, new ways of thinking, and cutting edge research all absolutely fascinate me.

Yes, I am a curious one for sure. 

My favorite time of day is early morning when I venture outside to be in nature and, well…seek inspiration. Sometimes it happens on its own, as if I’ve tapped into something that was just sitting patiently, waiting for me to witness it—such as dew drops resting on thousands of blades of delicate grass, the sun shining through a foggy mist, or a mourning dove cooing away in a majestic oak tree above. My mind is fresh and open, and I am like a fully inspired sponge, ready to soak up any bit of wisdom I can glean from my surroundings.

Another source of inspiration and education is through the wise and generous teachers I’ve stumbled upon over the years. It’s during my time in nature, while plugging into these intelligent minds, where I get my best ideas: Concepts for my weekly blog post, new book ideas, and even books that I’ve read upon the recommendation of the teacher, that literally changed the course of my life. 

When you are open to being inspired, your life will change in unthinkably amazing ways too. 

I read a lot, but the conduit that serves me equally well is listening to my favorite teachers through podcasts on my iPhone. A podcast is an audio show spread across a series of episodes. It can be downloaded from the Internet and listened to either on a computer or your smartphone. To listen to podcasts on your mobile device: iPhone users can download the free Podcast app and then search for podcasts; other devices can access podcasts via free or low-cost apps such as Stitcher Radio, SoundCloud, Spotify, or Google Play. 

Here are some of my go-to podcasts that I think you will really like:

Podcasts for when I want learn the latest in NUTRITION and HEALTH: 

  • Bulletproof Radio: 
    Get the latest information about biohacking as host Dave Asprey interviews expert guests about hacking life so you can kick more butt everyday! Dave is also the inventor of Bulletproof Coffee— a tasty coffee beverage that combines MCT oil and grass fed butter. 
  • House Call with Dr. Mark Hyman:
    A place for deep conversations about the critical issues of our time in the space of health, wellness, food and politics. 
  • JJ Virgin Lifestyle Show:
    Provides valuable, easy-to-implement strategies to help you eat healthy, turn back the clock, and become your healthiest, most vibrant self. 
  • Revolution Health Radio:
    Debunks mainstream myths on nutrition and health and delivers cutting-edge, yet practical information on how to prevent and reverse disease naturally. 
  • The Mastering Blood Sugar Podcast:
    Learn how to use a low carb, real food diet, lifestyle changes, and functional medicine to master your blood sugar and reverse type 2 diabetes. 
  • The Model Health Show:
    Author and nutritionist Shawn Stevenson breaks down complex health issues and makes them easy to understand and overcome. 
  • The Tim Ferriss Show:
    Tim Ferriss is a self-experimenter and bestselling author, best known for The 4-Hour Workweek. In his show, he deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use. 

Podcasts for when I want to feel INSPIRED (which is everyday!) or to get out of a funk. These are also very helpful if you are in a melancholy mood or negative space that you can’t seem to shake: 

  • Dr. Wayne W. Dyer:
    This show explores the power we have as individuals to create and manifest events in our lives. Hear lively discussions on how you can move past fear and into love.
  • Hay House Radio:
    Features expert authors in the fields of health, self-healing, motivation, spirituality, positive psychology and personal development.
  • Oprah’s Master Class:
    Hear the greatest life lessons of some of the most respected and renowned actors, musicians, public figures and athletes. Handpicked by Oprah, these luminaries reveal their lives with candor and insight—in their own words. 
  • Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations:
    Awaken, discover and connect to the deeper meaning of the world around you. Hear Oprah’s personal selection of her interviews with thought-leaders, best-selling authors, spiritual luminaries, as well as health and wellness experts. All designed to light you up, guide you through life’s big questions and help bring you one step closer to your best self. 
  • The Ziglar Show:
    Why do some people achieve and succeed and some do not? We are all capable of more. Listen and get massively awakened, inspired and equipped to move beyond your current reality. 

Go ahead and explore! Then pick your favorite podcast and listen to it while exercising, driving, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or sitting under a tree with your favorite beverage. 

There is so much to be learned from others, but you have to be open, willing and ready to receive their gifts. Are you ready to grow and become an even more well-rounded, inspired human being? I’m telling you, life gets better EVERY day…once you allow. 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin

You’ve probably passed this nutrition powerhouse hundreds of times as you pushed your grocery cart down the baking aisle. 

Canned pumpkin isn’t just for making pies my friends, in fact the possibilities are endless!

Pumpkin happens to be a great source of fiber and vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant and immune-boosting vitamin. One serving of canned pumpkin offers your body 380% of the daily value for vitamin A and 4 grams of fiber.

Beware! Don’t be fooled into purchasing “Pumpkin Pie Mix”, which is made with added sugars.

Here are a few ideas for sneaking canned pumpkin into your meals:

  • Mix one cup of pumpkin into three cups of marinara sauce to cut back on sodium.
  • To thicken your smoothie, add 1/4 cup of pumpkin and blend.
  • Stir a couple tablespoons of pumpkin into a half-cup of applesauce for a different flavor.
  • Add it to your pancake mix!
  • Make a batch of Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (see this week’s recipe pick below!)

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Maple Pecan Pumpkin Muffins (flourless)

 

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Common breakfast mistakes (and how to fix them)

September 13th, 2018 | no comments

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Growing up, breakfast in my house consisted of cereal with milk, maple-flavored Cream of Wheat, or toasted Wonder Bread (yikes!) with grape jam and a glass of juice. It’s no wonder my energy level took a major nosedive by 9:00 a.m. 

Here’s what was going on in my body after eating such a highly-refined carbohydrate breakfast:

Melanie ate breakfast → Her body digested the food, breaking down the carbohydrates into glucose (sugar) → Her blood sugar spiked → In an effort to lower her blood sugar levels, Melanie’s pancreas pumped out a rush of insulin to clean up the glucose and store it in her body cells → Her blood sugar dropped rapidly, along with her energy level → Her hunger level quickly returned → She craved (and ate) more highly refined carbohydrates → The cycle repeated itself.

If you typically eat a highly-refined carbohydrate breakfast, I’m afraid you’re leaving a ton of energy on the table. I should also mention that because insulin is a fat-storage hormone, your high-carb breakfast is likely causing you to store body fat! 

Sometimes you just don’t know how good you could be feeling. How could you? As human beings, we grow accustomed to feeling a certain way (tired, achy, inflamed, etc.) and then convince ourselves that this is the best life has to offer. I think that’s plain nonsense. We can all feel the effects of healthier food choices.

So what’s the answer? Rethink and reduce the source of your breakfast carbs and then add in some healthy protein and healthy fat!  

See if you are making any of these common energy-zapping breakfast mistakes. If so, try the “fix” and see how much better you feel.  

 

MISTAKE FIX
Toasted white/wheat bread or bagel with jam or cream cheese EZEKIEL SPROUTED BREAD with fresh ground almond/peanut butter or mashed avocado
Cereal with milk COOKED QUINOA topped with fresh berries, a handful of nuts/seeds, a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup, and a splash of unsweetened non-dairy milk
Yogurt parfait with sweetened yogurt, fruit and granola SIGGI’S PLAIN ICELANDIC YOGURT (full-fat!) topped with fresh berries, pumpkin seeds, and a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup
Pancakes drenched in syrup FIBER-RICH COCONUT FLOUR PANCAKES with PEANUT BUTTER & RAW HONEY SYRUP
Blueberry Muffin BANANA WALNUT BREAKFAST MUFFIN paired with a hard-boiled EGG and a mug of GOLDEN MILK

Store-bought smoothie
(Note: many have between 50-130 grams of sugar. Yikes!)   

Follow THESE INSTRUCTIONS for making your own breakfast shake! Recipe included.
Not eating breakfast!

Note: I’m not talking about a planned intermittent fast here. I mean you’ve convinced yourself you are “too busy” to eat breakfast (PS: no you’re not!)

Grab an ORGANIC APPLE, pair it with a tablespoon or two of fresh-ground NUT OR SEED BUTTER (almond, cashew, sunflower, pecan, or peanut butter), and serve it with a hard-boiled EGG.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Walnuts

All nuts offer health benefits, but walnuts are the crème de la crème!

They are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, powerful antioxidants, fiber, and magnesium. Because of their unique nutrient-profile, they aid in maintaining a healthy heart and sharp brain, normal blood sugar, and healthy body weight. 

Another juicy nugget about this amazing nut…they just happen to improve sperm quality too (just in case you’re interested).  

Here are 10 easy ways to fit more walnuts into your daily routine:

  1. Stir a small handful into cooked quinoa and enjoy for breakfast (see above)
  2. Blend a handful into your smoothie
  3. Mix into plain yogurt and top with berries (see above)
  4. Eat a handful for a snack
  5. Toast and mix into vegetable dishes
  6. Toast and toss on salads
  7. Make Walnut Taco “Meat”and enjoy in place of ground beef on Taco Tuesdays!
  8. Add a handful to your popcorn 
  9. Bread your fish or chicken with finely chopped walnuts. See this recipe for Walnut Crusted Lemon Chicken Piccata
  10. Incorporate into homemade muffins— try this week’s recipe pick for flourless Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins
Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Banana Walnut Breakfast Muffins (flourless)

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Are you always hungry? There’s hope.

September 6th, 2018 | no comments

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When you eat a meal, the expectation is to feel satisfied and for hunger pangs to disappear.

  • But what if that doesn’t happen?
  • What if you never feel full?
  • What if you feel the urge to snack all day long?

Setting out on a journey to healthier eating is a beautiful thing, but often the motivation to continue fizzles out. And it’s not because you stopped caring about yourself, but rather, your body feels hungry and your cravings are out of control.

When I was suffering from binge eating disorder, I never felt full. And I mean never. It didn’t matter how much I ate, my body always wanted to keep on eating. This was a foreign feeling to me, one I couldn’t wrap my head around.

 

Then I learned about a little hormone produced by our fat cells called leptin.

 

It’s a pretty powerful hormone too, one that controls appetite by regulating your brain cells that tell you how much to eat. It also plays a role in weight control.

In a nutshell, lots of leptin tells the brain that we have plenty of fat stored, which sends the signal to stop eating. Low levels of leptin tell the brain we are at risk of starvation and hunger and cravings kick in.

Where this whole system goes a bit haywire is when leptin is being produced in ample amounts, but the brain doesn’t “see” it, creating a condition called leptin resistance.

So what does this really mean?

The brain mistakenly thinks it’s starving and therefore turns on the signal to eat more and expend less, creating the perfect environment for weight gain and making it nearly impossible to shed body fat. What’s worse, the very process of losing weight reduces leptin, so your brain attempts to hold on to body fat by increasing appetite and hunger, while decreasing metabolism. How frustrating!

This invisible, vicious cycle is likely why we blame ourselves for lacking willpower. Only, it has nothing to do with willpower, it’s your body biologically calling out for food.

If what you just read sounds like a carbon copy of your struggles with weight loss and food cravings, please know it’s not your fault.

Diets high in sugar (particularly fructose) and processed foods promote surges of leptin, which overtime, can create leptin resistance. These diets also compromise the integrity of the gut, leading to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

To regulate leptin, getting back to the basics is in order

This means doing the following on a daily (yes, DAILY!) basis:

  1. Fill your plate with Earthfoods, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, avocados.
  2. Eat plenty of healthy fats like coconut and olive oil.
  3. Include a moderate amount of healthy protein, such as beans, lentils, tempeh, organic free-range eggs, wild salmon, organic free-range chicken, and grass-fed beef.
  4. Get a daily dose of probiotic-rich foods and supplements to keep the good bugs growing and the bad ones at bay. 

Remember, what you feed your body most, it will crave!

You deserve to have the craving needle move in a favorable direction, so stop counting calories and start putting the good, whole foods in and before you know it you’ll be begging for broccoli over burgers. Really.

PS: A good way to begin can be found in this week’s recipe pick of Easy Grilled Salmon (over greens & sprouts) drizzled with Primal Kitchen Dressings (see below). 

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Primal Kitchen Dressings & Marinades

I’m a big fan of simple dressings and marinades. Give me a bottle of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a few cranks of Himalayan sea salt and pepper and I’m a happy girl. 

Sometimes it’s nice to give the tastebuds something different to sing about. I tend to stay clear away from the salad dressing aisle because most of the household-brand dressings (you know what I’m talking about) are filled with vegetable oils, added sugar, and even preservatives. 

Note: You should NOT be using vegetable/seed oils like canola, soybean, corn, safflower, and sunflower oils for dressing your salads or marinating meats or fish (or really for anything!) because they are pro-inflammatory, meaning they induce inflammation in the body.  

Primal Kitchen Salad Dressings and Marinades have it going on! Made with avocado oil, organic herbs and spices, and free of added sugar and preservatives, you are sure to find a flavor you will adore. Check out all of their varieties HERE!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Easy Grilled Salmon (over greens & sprouts)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Today is my birthday…here’s what you can gift me (it’ll only cost you 5 minutes!)

August 30th, 2018 | no comments

Mel as a baby (check out those cheeks!)

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Today I turn 43.

Another year has passed; a few more gray hairs than last year (magically disguised thanks to Brad, my wizard of a hair stylist); a new ache in a joint or muscle; a fresh little crease under each eye. Hey wait a minute, I swear those weren’t there yesterday, I said upon noticing them for the first time.

With each little change I witness, I smile and think to myself: I am not this wrinkle; I am not this gray hair; I am not…this body. 

You and I, we are so much more than this suit of skin, bones and blood we wear. We are:

Love in human form.

Divine creatures full of endless light.

Miraculous bundles of wonder.

Unimaginable possibility.

It’s a common belief that our state of health is dependent upon what we choose to eat and drink, our level of physical activity, and a twist of genetic fate. While those are certainly contributors, there’s a missing piece to this equation: how you see yourself.

I mean really see yourself.

Forget about what you see in the mirror. When the dust settles after a busy day and you take a moment to breathe…can’t you feel it? Even if just for a moment, can’t you get a faint whiff of who you really are? 

I don’t think you realize how amazingly divine and perfect you are. I see it in you, every time we meet. I can hear it in your voice and feel it emanate from your eyes. In the words of poet and writer Shane Koyczan: If you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look a little closer, stare a little longer”

No, I promise you aren’t exempt. You just forgot.

Take another breath…there it is. The gap, the momentary pause where you just are. Look a little closer, stare a little longer…it’s there.

I don’t plan on leaving this earth anytime soon and I hope you don’t either, but of course, that’s not up to us. So often I hear stories of people who’ve lost loved ones before having the opportunity to share how much they meant to them. But what about the person who passed? Did they miss their opportunity too? Quite possibly.

That’s why I am taking this opportunity in today’s post to tell you how glad I am that you are in my life. 

We may have only met once (or maybe not at all), but there is a reason we are connected here. I don’t know exactly what it is and I’m not trying to figure it out. It may seem silly to some what I am about to say, but I don’t care: I love you. Not just you, but the deeper You.   

In celebration of my birthday, I’m only asking for one gift:

Take a few minutes to yourself today. Close your eyes and just breathe. Feel into the true essence of You. What do you see? Who do you see? 

When you are done, just send me an email (melaniejatsek@gmail.com) so I know you did it. Enter the subject: Melanie’s Birthday Gift. That’s it! You don’t have to write another word unless you feel moved to do so. Please, do this for me on my birthday.

With so much love…

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Almond Flour

Almond flour is a fabulous gluten-free alternative to wheat-based flour and can be used in baking, as a breading for chicken and fish, or mixed into the dough of your favorite energy bite recipe.

The only ingredient listed should be: Blanched Almonds. Blanched simply means the skins have been removed. 

You can very easily make your own almond flour by processing whole blanched almonds in a coffee grinder or food processor to create a fine powder. Process any longer than that and you’ll wind up with almond butter…which isn’t such a bad thing. If you happened to have an apple or banana nearby, it’ll make a great snack!  

To make approximately one-half cup of almond flour, use 1/3 cup of blanched almonds.

Try almond flour in your next recipe! It can be used to make pancakes, cookies, muffins, breads…and cake! See this week’s recipe pick for: Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles 

Note: In baking, although you can substitute almond flour for wheat flour in a one-to-one ratio, you will have to add a binding agent, such as an egg.  

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Tiny Double Chocolate Birthday Cake + Pink Sprinkles 

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It’s already in you

August 23rd, 2018 | no comments

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Faced with a block of marble and a vision, Michelangelo, the famous Italian sculptor and painter of the High Renaissance said:

“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

The first time I heard this statement it brought me to tears. Since then, every time I stop to reflect on it, I am moved to my core. I think about us. You, me, the woman I met after one of my speaking engagements— we are all such brilliant human beings, with power and potential far beyond our wildest imaginations. 

We all have a statue inside of us just busting at the seams to be revealed. What does yours look like? Come on, I know you see it. You can visualize it so clearly because it’s already in you. It is you. 

So what’s holding you back from chiseling away at the stone you’ve allowed to form over your magnificence?

  • Is it too difficult? Give it a little elbow grease! You can do it…because you’ve done it before. What was it that lit the fire under your ass last time?
  • Are you afraid? As author Susan Jeffers said (and the title of her internationally renowned book): Feel the fear and do it anyway! Once you take that first scary step, you realize the fear was totally unfounded; a phantom you created in your mind, perhaps to keep you small? 

On playing it small, Michelangelo offered these wise words: The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.

It all begins with a choice. Just one single choice. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just higher than before. So you ate pizza for dinner last night. Who cares! What will you choose to eat today? For your very next meal?

Now get to chiseling, you magnificent creator…and set yourself free!

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Nutritional yeast

I promise it’s not gross. In fact, it’s quite the little flavor-enhancer, lending a savory, cheesy, nutty flavor to your favorite foods. Made by culturing yeast for several days in a nutrient growth medium (often glucose from beet molasses or sugarcane) and then deactivating it with heat, just like sauerkraut and other cultured foods, the final product contains no sugar.

Unlike baker’s yeast, which is a live active yeast used for helping baked goods rise, nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that is consumed for its nutritional content. Full of B-vitamins, minerals and complete protein (8 grams per 1 1/2 tablespoons), nutritional yeast is a wonderful addition to a vegan diet. 

How can you use it?

  • Sprinkle it on fresh popcorn and cooked veggies
  • Use as a base for dips and dressings
  • Add a tablespoon to your morning smoothie 
  • Add it to soups, sauces and baked foods. See this week’s recipe pick: Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf!

 

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Spicy Vegetarian “Meat” Loaf (hubby’s favorite)

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Want better health? You must make peace with NOW

August 16th, 2018 | no comments

Photo by Tan Danh from Pexels

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What you think about, you bring about. Really?

If someone told me this five years ago, I would’ve listened politely, laughed quietly to myself, and then dismissed the idea as nothing more than new age baloney. I live in the real world of things, and if I can’t see it, I don’t believe it, I would’ve thought. I mean, if I can’t physically see a thought, how is it possible that it can manifest into something physical? It doesn’t make logical sense.

In his 2005 Stanford University commencement address, Steve Jobs said:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

From June of 1997 to August of 2000, I fought a daily battle with binge eating disorder. After I healed, I did some serious soul-searching and began to realize that the painful experience I went through was not only brought about by my thoughts; it was a dot that had to happen in order for me to move forward and live the life of my dreams. Yes, I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that I attracted binge eating disorder into my life.

What you focus on, expands

Another way to speak of this phenomenon called the law of attraction is, what you focus on, expands. Focusing on undesirable states that offer a great deal of inner contrast, such as lack, poverty, obesity, and disease, will draw more of these things into your life.

Since thoughts are energy and, literally, things, you want to be extra careful not to feed anything to your mind that you don’t want to come to life. I suggest very strongly that you clean up the thoughts you think about yourself and the contrasting experiences in your life. Pretend that every thought you have will come to life.

At first glance, the word contrast might conjure up negative feelings, but it’s not necessarily a negative thing. In fact, it can be quite helpful as a tool. I define contrast as an experience or situation that helps clarify what you really want. It can occur in any of these areas of your life: health, body shape, fitness level, food, relationships, finances, career, and spirituality.

Embrace your shadows…they are here to teach you something

Jalaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Sufi mystic and poet, offers a unique way of appreciating all the thoughts and emotions we experience as human beings. Rather than deny them, he asks you to invite them in, with gratitude in your heart.

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

 

For example, let’s say you are out of shape and therefore experiencing contrast in your level of physical fitness. This contrast helps you identify what you do want: a fit and healthy body. So if you don’t wish to occupy an out-of-shape body, stop talking about your unfit body and calling attention to it. Instead, acknowledge and welcome the contrast, and then focus on what you desire instead.

During my journey with binge eating disorder, all I thought about was how unhappy I was with my current body. This unhappiness multiplied, giving me more and more unhappiness. I got to the point where I was drowning in a tangled web of food and emotions. I couldn’t take it anymore. I had enough of the binging and overexercising, feeling guilty about food, inability to sense fullness, and total detachment from the true essence of me. This was the most contrast I ever experienced in my life, and it helped me to identify what I did want: a life free of food addiction and obsession. I wanted to be able to sit down to a delicious dinner at a nice restaurant with Wayne and not focus so much on the food. I wanted to enjoy the company and environment, and then walk away from the table without thinking about my next meal. I felt this deep within my soul. I felt, even if just for a few moments, what it would feel like to be free.

Here’s what the entire process looks like:

Make peace with, embrace, and appreciate what is (your body as it now is). Decide what you want (a fit and healthy body), and put that desire in your mind without calling repeated attention to what is (your body as it now is). Imagine what it will feel like to occupy this fit and healthy body. How will it feel in your clothes? See yourself in the mirror staring back. See it as already done. Believe that you occupy a fit and healthy body, and release resistance to any thought or feeling to the contrary, such as Yeah, but I’ve tried to improve my body in the past by dieting and spending countless hours in the gym, with no results.

Now it’s time to take action. This piece must not be forgotten. A fit and healthy body isn’t magically created by thought alone—you must take action. Eat more Earthfoods, move your body more, and offer it gratitude for keeping you alive all these years. Do this all while releasing attachment to the outcome. Let go, and watch your body as it changes.

You will get exactly what you place your attention upon, whether you want it or not. So if you aren’t satisfied with your body as it is today, for Pete’s sake, stop focusing on it, get to thinking about the healthy body of your dreams, and take action; it will become a reality.

 

Mel’s weekly food pick:
Thunderbird Real Food Bars

 

 

 

 

There aren’t many bars that I like because most are loaded with added sugar. One of my rules for choosing a nutrition bar is that it should have no more than 8-9 grams of sugar per bar and it must not contain any added sugar. Thunderbird Real Food Bars (specifically the Hemp + Sunflower + Pumpkin Seed bar and the Hazelnut + Coffee + Maca bar ) pass this first test. Check out these identifiable-by-your-grandmother ingredients:

  • Hemp + Sunflower + Pumpkin Seed bar: Dates, Macadamia Nuts, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Macadamia Nut Butter, Coconut Shreds, Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Cinnamon, Himalayan Sea Salt
  • Hazelnut + Coffee + Maca bar: Dates, Almonds, Hazelnuts, Hazelnut Butter, Cacao Butter, Cacao Powder, Fair Trade Coffee Beans, Chia Seeds, Maca Root Powder, Vanilla Extract, Himalayan Salt Salt.

Because they have a low sugar content, these two bars are not super sweet. If you prefer less sweet, you’ll love them. If you want your nutrition bar to taste like a candy bar…go buy a candy bar. 🙂 xo

Mel’s weekly recipe pick:
Strawberry Banana “Surprise Shake”

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