No, you don't need the white button-up getup and chef's hat, nor do you need five million hours of intensive kitchen prep to make restaurant-worthy meals. Drum roll please..... the secret's in the sauce! Having an arsenal of just a few special sauces will turn any plain chicken breast or fish fillet into an amazingly delicious dinner. Believe me, when I whip up one of my simple sauces my family always rants and raves about how delicious it is and they somehow get the impression that I've spent hours in the kitchen creating some kind of magical flavor concoction. Little do they know these babies can be whisked together in less than 10 minutes! Although I can't argue that they really are magical flavor concoctions.

So if you are tired of simple pan-seared proteins, and need a fresh outlook on your dinners, you are about to take your cooking to the next level! The following are some of my favorite easy pan sauces that you can whip up while your main protein (steak, chicken, pork chops, fish, seafood or foul) is in the oven. Once you get this technique down you can play around with other herbs, flavorings and ingredients to make your own quick and delicious secret sauce.

 

Sauce                          Liquid                             Flavoring                   Enrichment                 


Red Wine & Dijon  
      ¼ cup chicken broth           1 Tsp Dijon mustard               2 Tbsp butter
(w/ steak)                         1 cup red wine                      thyme or sage
 
Orange-Dijon                1 cup orange juice             1 Tbsp Dijon mustard             2 Tbsp butter
(w/ seafood)                                                          1 Tbsp minced rosemary
 
Balsamic                      ½ cup balsamic vinegar                  none                              2 Tbsp butter
(w/ fish or steak)            ¼ cup chicken broth
 
Marsala                        ½ cup Marsala wine            1 Tbsp minced garlic              2 Tbsp butter
(w/ chicken)                                                            1 cup sliced mushrooms
 
 
Cooking Directions

Combine liquids and flavoring and simmer over medium-high heat until the liquid is reduced by 75% of its original volume. There should only be a thin layer of fluid left in the pan. Remove the pan from heat. Whisk in the enrichment 1 tablespoon at a time, until sauce is smooth and glossy (do not bring to a boil after you add butter, as it will separate). Pour over protein of choice and serve.

As you get the hang of sauce-making, dinner will become a breeze! Soon you'll be whipping out super yummy meals like Julia Child.. with or without her distinguishing accent!

Do you have any special sauces or sauce-making tips you'd like to share? We'd love to hear!

Wheat has long been a dietary staple in our culture, but it may not be all it's cracked up to be (pun intended). Wheat has a dark side, and we're not talking about the color... we're talking about it's impact on your health. For starters, eating wheat bread increases your chance of developing diabetes, thanks to the high starch content. High starch means high sugar and a high chance of weight gain, both of which contribute to the disease. Unfortunately we're just getting started....

The Grief of Gluten

Gluten is a wheat protein that acts as a solidifying and rising agent in bread and other bakery goodies. While we know it makes things taste delicious, I'm sure also you're coming to the realization that it's not all that good for you.
Perhaps the most obvious symptoms of gluten intolerance strike those suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that has no known cause but plenty of consequences if you happen to be a wheat fiend. When celiac disease sufferers eat wheat, their bodies react by becoming inflamed and thus, begin to resist insulin. Once your body goes into insulin resistance mode, you are a prime candidate for gaining weight and developing diabetes.
Gluten addicts (most commonly bread addicts) will also enjoy an increased risk for a handful of conditions well-known for striking those over age 55. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel syndrome, autoimmune diseases above and beyond celiac disease, acid reflux and depression. Even if you don't suffer from celiac disease, gluten can unkindly gift you with the same parade of inflammation and ailments. This is especially true if you happen to be one of the lucky seven percent of the American public who have elevated levels of gluten antibodies, or even just a plain old sensitivity.
So what's the answer? Choosing gluten-free grain products may seem like the easy path to take, but that road may cause even more problems. You see, gluten-free foods are highly processed, and thus, come with their own side effects.

The Perils of Processed Food

Even without the gluten, processed foods come with a whole host of pretty scary additives. A massive amount of sugar is typically one of them. In addition to bloating your body with extra calories, excessive amounts of added sugar can adversely affect your brain. It does this by decreasing its ability to produce BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Decreased BDNF can decrease your ability to create new memories, to maintain recall or learn new things, and can increase your risk of dementia and depression (III, IV).
And we're not done yet. Processed wheat rips the grain asunder and removes all natural fiber and other essential nutrients that would normally come with a whole grain. Processed foods are likely to contain added fat, salt, and other ingredients designed to perk up your appetite so that you continue to keep on eating even when you're already bursting the seams of your jeans. Sound familiar?

Should GM Stand for `Gross Mistake'?

Ok, so maybe you now agree, gluten and processed grains seem out, but wheat that's been genetically engineered or modified has certainly got to be in, no? Not necessarily. The point of the genetic engineering is to reduce the sugar load and enhance the benefits of wheat, and the engineers do this by suppressing a gene in wheat that creates the alterations [I]. Australia is striving to be the first country to grow GM wheat commercially, but scientists are not too impressed with initial results.
Microbiologists are saying that all that tinkering may come with severe side effects... like death by age 5? Woah. The scientific conclusion is that GM wheat may induce a condition called Glycogen Storage Disease IV. This ailment brings liver problems, such as enlargement and cirrhosis, and an overall "failure to thrive" [V]. Children born with this disease rarely live more than half a decade.
The manipulated wheat gene not only suppressed functions in growing wheat, but it remains intact through cooking and even digestion. Since it had so much fun suppressing wheat functions, it decides to start suppressing functions in the human body as well [II]. Dare you take a bite?

Phytic Acids Pilfering Nutrients

One more mark against wheat comes from its phytic acids content. Phytic acid has the very naughty habit of pulling nutrients from the body, particularly iron and zinc. Lack of iron can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, while lack of zinc packs a wallop of problems. Lack of a little zinc can lead to lack of appetite, suppressed immune functioning and growth retardation. Lack of a lot of zinc can give you diarrhea, sexual maturation issues, hair loss, impotence, mental lethargy and skin lesions, just to name a few.
 
Perhaps rethinking your wheat intake may be in store... at least if you want to keep your body and mind in order!
 
 
References
[I] Carman, J. "Expert Scientific Opinion on CSIRO GM Wheat Varieties [report]". South Australia: Flinders University; September 2012. Web. September. 2016. <http://safefoodfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Carman-Expert-Scientific-Opinion.pdf>.
[II] Heinemann, J. "Evaluation of risks from creation of novel RNA molecules in genetically engineered wheat plants and recommendations for risk assessment". New Zealand: University of Canterbury; Aug. 28, 2012. Web. September. 2016. <http://safefoodfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Heinemann-Expert-Scientific-Opinion.pdf>.
[III] Krabbe KS, Nielsen AR, Krogh-Madsen R, et al. "Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and type 2 diabetes". Diabetologia. 2007 Feb;50(2):431-8. Epub 2006 Dec 7. Web. September. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17151862>.
[IV] Molteni R, Barnard RJ, Ying Z, Roberts CK, Gómez-Pinilla F. "A high-fat, refined sugar diet reduces hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neuronal plasticity, and learning". Neuroscience. 2002;112(4):803-14. Web. September. 2016. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12088740>.
[V] "Scientists Warn on CSIRO GM Wheat Threat [press release]". Safe Food Foundation; Sept. 11, 2012. Web. September. 2016. <http://safefoodfoundation.org/2012/09/11/media-release-scientists-warn-on-csiro-gm-wheat-threat/>.

Depression is perhaps the most prevalent mood disorder experienced by human beings. Medications used to treat depression actually remain somewhat of an enigma, as their exact mechanism of action on the condition remains largely unknown by researchers. What is known, however, is that prescription medications come with the risk of adverse effects based upon the dosage and each individual's metabolism. While medications do have their place, particularly in reducing the severity of symptoms, these side effects can often make matters worse.
The question that begs to be asked is, can non-pharmaceutical approaches be as effective? In the realm of natural foods, certain nutrients have in fact, been found to help reduce the debilitating effects of depression. A handful of foods have been proven to improve symptoms such as fatigue, lack of motivation and brain functioning.

Hot Peppers

Hot peppers, also known as chili peppers, have several important health-promoting benefits. The active ingredient in these peppers, capsaicin, is a powerful treatment for conditions associated with poor circulation. In addition, capsaicin can improve poor appetite often associated with moderate to severe depression.
Most importantly, because capsaicin naturally increases circulation, it also increases the body's release of endorphins, which are commonly associated with the euphoric feeling experienced by runners. Endorphins are nature's painkillers and also work to naturally improve your mood. These effects make chili peppers a safe, delicious way to help reduce feelings of depression.
Keep in mind however that your body requires relatively large amounts of capsaicin in order to achieve substantial endorphin availability. If you're not accustomed to consuming large quantities of chili peppers, start with small amounts and increase them over time. Try out recipes that use chili pepper to simply enhance flavor such as: Red Chili Pepper Vinaigrette, Spicy Chili Hummus or Grilled Corn Pico de Gallo.

B Vitamin-Rich Foods

According to an article published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, deficiencies in several of the B vitamins, including folate and biotin, have been associated with an increased incidence of depression [I]. These B vitamins are found in foods like animal proteins, nuts, legumes, grains, and in smaller amounts in fruits and vegetables. Eggs are one of the best sources of biotin and lentils are one of the best sources of folate.
Often people suffering from depression don't take the time to eat a balanced meal. Some help may be initially required to embark on a new way of eating, but just a few short weeks of consuming quality protein and vegetables can give those suffering from depression the nutrients they need to begin the journey back to a positive outlook on life.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fats that your body can't make, so they must be obtained from food. They are crucial to the functioning of the central nervous system. These fats are naturally found in foods like salmon and mackerel and also in walnuts and flaxseeds. Omega-3 fatty acid deficiency, according to an article published in Lipid Health Disorders, has been found in several research studies to be associated with the presence of depression [III].
It's important to keep in mind that a deficiency of omega-3 fats doesn't always appear to be directly related to lack of consumption of omega-3 rich foods. The consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (found in refined vegetable oils and canola oil) in amounts disproportionate to omega-3 fats (found in fish and walnuts) can lead to a deficiency of the omega-3s. This suggests that avoiding refined vegetable oils and increasing consumption of fish, nuts and seeds can be a very Good Decision if you want to uplift your mood.

Caffeine, Sugar and Your Mood

Many individuals living with depression will turn to caffeine and foods that contain significant amounts of sugar in order to lift their spirits and get a quick burst of energy. Both caffeine and sugar do indeed, temporarily increase blood flow and the release of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Unfortunately, with the subsequent release of insulin by your body to the metabolize sugar and caffeine, your energy level and mood plummet within a short period of time.
Caffeine consumption, according to a 2011 study published in The Archives or Internal Medicine, is associated with an increased severity of depression in women [IV]. Sugar and caffeine have the capacity to cause depletion of important nutrients that can also effect your mood. These nutrients include the B vitamins as well as water; an often ignored source of vitality that can significantly improve your health and mental outlook.

The Importance of Water

Although water doesn't officially provide any nutritional value, it is a vital substance that is found in every cell and in every process of the body. Without adequate amounts of water, you risk mild dehydration that can effect your mood and cause fatigue, headaches and constipation.
According to a 2011 study published in Human Brain Mapping, inadequate amounts of water are associated with a reduction in cognitive activity and visuo-spatial processing [II]. Depressed mood is also associated with declines in these functions, suggesting that dehydration may be an underlying cause in some cases. Not enough water can also lead to lethargy which can cause a decline in your motivation to perform activities which many improve your mood.

Chocolate, Pasta and Bagels for Depression?

Definitely not. Turning to high carbohydrate foods when you feel depressed, which most of us are guilty of, is due in part to the short-lived increase in serotonin that these foods cause. "Comfort foods" like pasta and chocolate are also naturally high in the trace mineral selenium which aids in brain functioning. However, consuming these products may cause more harm than good. They are often hidden sources of sugar, additives, preservatives and other artificial substances that are not conducive to eliminating depression and will often promote and prolong it.
So instead of reaching for that plate of spaghetti or a toasted bagel, reach for a hearty brazil nut. One brazil nut provides 137% your daily requirement for selenium. This mineral has also been shown to decrease the risk of post-partum depression and aid in the treatment of adolescents who suffer from both depression and alcoholism [IV, V].
 
 
As you can see, the quality of your diet reflects the quality of your psychological wellness. The foods you eat and the foods you crave when you feel depressed can have an effect on your symptoms and the duration of your melancholy mood.
If you haven't been caring for yourself nutritionally, your path to healing will take time, but it will surely prove to be worth it. Eliminating sugar, refined oils and processed foods, while increasing fish, nuts, seeds, vegetables and legumes will work wonders on your state of being.
 
May you be willful, healthy and happy in the months and years to come!
 
 
 

Resources
[I] Bedson E, Roberts S, Tranter R. "Half-baked? B vitamins and depression". Am J Clin Nutr. August 2010. vol. 92 no. 2 269-270. Web. July. 2016. <http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/92/2/269.full>. 
[II] Kempton MJ, et al. "Dehydration affects brain structure and function in healthy adolescents." Hum Brain Mapp. 2011 Jan;32(1):71-9. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20336685>.
[II] Logan A. "Omega-3 fatty acids and major depression: A primer for the mental health professional". Lipids Health Dis. 2004; 3: 25. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC533861/>.
[III] Lucas M, et al. "Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women". Arch Intern Med. 2011;171(17):1571-1578. Web. July. 2016. <http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1105943>.
[IV] Mokhber M, et al. "Effect of supplementation with selenium on postpartum depression: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial." J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011 Jan;24(1):104-8. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20528216>.
[V] Sher L. "Depression and suicidal behavior in alcohol abusing adolescents: possible role of selenium deficiency." Minerva Pediatr. 2008 Apr;60(2):201-9. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18449137>.
 

While the "freshman 15" has gained it's reputation from the excessive amount of drinking when beginning college, the reality is that it's not just the beer pong that contributes to the trend of freshman weight gain. It's also stress, lack of enough exercise, too little sleep, and most importantly, poor nutrition.
Now, for those of you in college right now, I know that the last thing you want to be thinking about is what you eat. These are the days of grab-n'-go ramen noodles or 3 am visits to the diner for cheese fries and a burger. While these experiences are seemingly life-changing in your early 20s when you're rocking a late night buzz, they will likely come back to bite you.
It's not about the way you look with having gained a few pounds, it's your lack of mental clarity and poor health that is really going to weigh you down in school. I'm sure you well know that mac n' cheese and cereal aren't exactly "brain foods"!

So How Do You Navigate Food At College?

Getting creative with food options in the dorm room can be intimidating but it's definitely worth it. The first step is to schmooze your parents into buying you a few kitchen essentials. Tell them you're concerned with your well-being... I'm sure they won't argue with that!
The following is a list of dorm-room "kitchen" must-haves, with a few additional items that just make life easier. Having these tools in your arsenal will allow you to prep food and snacks for your upcoming week. This is the key to eating healthy. Take one day a week in which you dedicate a few hours to food shopping and prepping. Since you will be living at college a while, it will serve you well to be prepared and have the intention of setting up good, healthy habits.

Kitchen Dorm Essentials:

 
Now let's move on to some All-Star food choices that will feed the brain and keep the "freshman 15" out of your dorm room for good!

Nut Butters

These are great on just about anything but are especially good on celery sticks or an apple. Many college students have been known to eat it right off the spoon! Almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter and other nut or seed butters are also highly desirable. Read your labels because the fewer the ingredients in the butter, the better. Nut butters are rich in quality protein and healthy fat, both of which are required for healthy brain cells and normal blood sugar regulation. Plus they are very satisfying. The more satiating the food, the less you need. Don't fall for the old dogma that fat is bad for you. We now know that quality natural fats are quite healthy.

Fruit Bowl

Having a large decorative bowl dedicated to fruit is always a Good Decision. Apples, oranges, pears, bananas, grapes, and lemons are firm fruits and will last a while in a bowl. (Lemons are especially great for supporting the liver, which can be easily compromised by too much alcohol.) This beautiful bowl serves as a visual reminder to “eat me!” before going bad. Buy a variety of fruits and if any ripen too fast, simply throw them in the fridge to use in a smoothie. 

Veggie Bowl

Yes, you read that right, a veggie bowl! A good start would be to have garlic, shallots, ginger, onions, tomatoes, avocados and bell peppers. These ingredients will make a boring bean burrito super tasty, give nutrition to some bland ramen, or new life to a plastic-wrapped sandwich from the dining hall.
Snackable veggies that will keep well such as carrots, peppers, cauliflower and broccoli are great to chop up and put into individual baggies to eat throughout your day. A microwave-baked potato or sweet potato with a big pad of butter is a great dorm meal. It only takes minutes!
A word of warning— delicious smells coming from your room will likely attract hungry visitors from down the hall.

Eggs

Eggs are one of the most complete protein sources available. This means you can eat one egg and get all of the essential amino acids your body needs. Total brain food right here! If you have a microwave, making scrambled eggs is a breeze in the morning before class. Add a slice of cheese, fold all into a corn tortilla and tada! You have a breakfast burrito. Top it with avocado and salsa and you'll really be living the high life!
Eggs also make the perfect snack. You can hard boil a dozen eggs on the weekend and grab one or two on the go when you need something healthy and satisfying, fast.
 
Coconut oil
Coconut oil is an all-star brain food. The ketones in coconut oil feed the brain in a way similar to glucose. It can also be used as an antibacterial, anti-fungal and antiviral immune system booster internally. Not to mention coconut oil can be used to soften skin, and it lasts forever at room temperature. This is a little pricier than other oils, but it’s definitely worth it. Put it in your morning oatmeal for an extra boost, use it to cook your eggs in, put it into smoothies and pop popcorn in it. Plop a spoonful into your massive mug of I-need-this-to-be-alive liquid (aka coffee) and you'll soar through the day like nobody's business! The fat is very satiating so you don’t need much. A tablespoon per day will do a whole heck of a lot to keep your brain moving and your body satisfied.

Brewers Yeast
:
Packed with essential amino acids, B vitamins and minerals, this can be put on everything and is great for supporting stress and blood sugar regulation. This is a must have for the dorm vegetarian. Put it in your smoothies or sprinkle it into salads, pasta, soups and veggies. For my all-time favorite, sprinkle it over popcorn on movie night. Cheesy without the cheese!

Protein Bars

These can be tricky as they are often a source of hidden sugars. When it comes to the "freshman 15", sugar is by far the number one offender, and will put weight on your hips faster than anything else. If you read the ingredient list on a box of bars, look for mostly natural protein, with some fat and minimal carbs to sweeten them. The ingredient list should only contain things that you know. Protein bars are great to throw in your backpack next to the apple and cut up veggies or hard-boiled egg to snack on throughout the day. .

Grains

Even for those who aren't allergic to gluten, eating bread is often a one-way ticket to fatigue. That delicious french loaf is not going to help you to write your ten page paper! Non-gluten containing grains such as quinoa, teff, amaranth, brown rice and wild rice are all very healthy and easy to prepare. These can all be soaked overnight, then cooked in your rice cooker. Think rice bowl with onions, peppers, mushrooms, garlic, ginger, thyme or sage. Add these ingredients to the water before you cook it, along with some butter, and you've got yourself a delicious dinner! Rice is also always a staple in a tortilla with refried beans, sliced avocado and salsa. Yum.

Dairy Foods

While we don't have dairy recipes on our website because many people have allergies or sensitivities to dairy, for many people, dairy foods are a good source of protein, quality fat and minerals.  For those who tolerate dairy, consuming 2-3 servings of organic dairy products per week is very healthful. Quick and easy dairy snacks would be organic cultured whole fat milk, cultured buttermilk, plain whole milk yogurt, kefir, or my personal favorite, raw cheese. Again, if you feel gassy, bloated, or irritable, dairy may not be a good choice for you. Always purchase organic dairy if possible to avoid growth hormones.
Dairy items that contain the most sugar are the sweetened or flavored varieties or those with syrupy fruits added. Avoid these and reach for plain, full-fat dairy items that you can add your own fresh fruit to.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein and healthy fats. They help to keep you full for a long period of time and are easy to take with you when you’re heading to class or on-the-go. Make little baggies ahead of time for when you're in a rush. Add in sunflower and pumpkin seeds for an extra omega-3 brain boost.

Legumes

Beans are great for dorms because you can buy them in bulk and store them until you need them. Beans don't spoil and are easy to cook when you know how. All you have to remember to do is soak them overnight. Beans are also an excellent way to deliver other all-star foods into your belly such as seafood, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and whatever else you would like to add to them. Beans are a great pasta substitute and are a nice protein source for the vegetarian college student.
Hummus is a great legume dip made from chickpeas, garlic, and olive oil and is easy to store in a small dorm room refrigerator. It can be used as a dip for veggies, or as a dressing for a mixture of beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and kalamata olives. It's also really easy to make in your own blender!

Canned Soups

These can be really healthy or really unhealthy. While Top Ramen is a classic dorm room go-to, loads of salt and gluten aren't going to give you the fuel you're looking for. I would suggest much healthier, lower salt versions of soup to nourish the body and the mind. Organic soups that contain beans, peas and lentils, as well as vegetables, are your best options. These are easy to prepare in your dorm room microwave. Always use glass, not plastic.

Canned or Smoked Fish

Talk about brain food, this is the biggest one of all! Shown to help with ADHD, Dementia, Alzheimer’s and more, fish such as canned light tuna and canned salmon stay fresh for a long time and are excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. How would you use these tasty little fishies? On salads, wrapped in an organic corn tortilla with tomato, lettuce, avocado, or even right out of the tin. Smoked salmon, oysters, or sardines also make a delicious European meal with olives and cheese.
 
Ready to go food shopping yet? Here's your starter list:
 
For the Fridge:


For the Freezer:

 
For the Shelf:

Space can be tight in a dorm room so you'll have to get creative. If you have no cabinets or shelves for dry goods, you can purchase a couple of plastic containers or milk crates and stack them for vertical storage. You can either put your bed on risers and store these underneath, or if you have the space, stack a bunch of bins and put it to the side of your bed to double as a small table. 
 
Go-To Meals
Ok, so now you've food shopped and have stocked you room full of healthy goodies! The following lists of easy meal ideas can be printed out and kept on your desk to remind you what your options are when you're in a hurry. Don't forget that prepping will make life a lot easier!
 
Breakfast Ideas:

 
Lunch Ideas:

There is no law that says you have to eat lunch, especially in college. If you snack throughout the day from your trusty backpack stores, you will be just fine. Just be sure not to starve yourself and then overcompensate at dinner.
 
Dinner Ideas:

 
Beverage Ideas:

If you noticed, beer and vodka tonics weren't included on this list!

The Importance of Exercising Self Control

The moral of the story is that your ability to self-govern effectively around food (and drinks!) is what will ultimately keep the "freshman 15" off your hips. It is important to exercise self control and make nutritious choices most of the time but don't let the "all or none" approach run your life either. Don't let food put limitations on your social life. After all, life is too short not to enjoy a late night slice of pizza with friends every now and then, right? Make the conscious decision to treat yourself once in a while but also be aware of the moments of unconscious overindulgence. Did you eat that donut during a relaxing coffee break between study sessions, or did you scarf it down to get a quick sugar buzz on the way to a class that you're late for?

Making The Right Decisions

Overindulgence happens when we feel the discomfort of having something in front of us that we know we shouldn’t eat, but we eat it anyway. We do this because it is uncomfortable to say no, especially when it's in front of others who are feasting away. You may even come up with justifications as to why you feel that you have earned foods like sugar, soda, or fast food. You may eat these unhealthy foods to be part of the crowd or to soothe yourself and get away from uncomfortable feelings. Sometimes it may feel involuntary, as if you don’t even have a choice in the matter... but you do.
You always have two choices:

  1. You can overeat, or eat foods you know are unhealthy for you.

The temptation to eat the unhealthy food to make you feel better (temporarily) can be very strong. However, if you assess this choice, you will see that, if made often, it will result in weight gain, poor mental clarity, and a host of other health issues down the road.

  1. You can choose to eat healthy.

If you assess this choice, you will realize that you are making the decisions to enhance your mental clarity, increase athletic performance and nourish a healthy body and radiant skin. However, you will have to face sitting in the discomfort of not eating the foods that you know are unhealthy for you. You will have to get used to being uncomfortable and find other ways to soothe yourself than with food. You may have to wait long periods of time to eat healthy, and risk not fitting in with the group. You may be judged.
Assessing this option further however, you know that the uncomfortable moments will pass. If you stand your ground in the beginning, friends will simply come to know you as someone who eats healthy and takes care of oneself. You will not be pressured after you hold your boundaries a few times. When you do this this you learn how to self-govern, and will be more able to handle stress as well as anything else life may throw at you. You will enjoy more energy, vitality and mental clarity than you ever dreamed of, and you will have learned to honor yourself.

You're in Control!

Practice saying no to fast foods and processed foods, and stand your ground when peer pressure may be applied. You may not have been taught to delay gratification but choosing to sit in the discomfort of not having the food helps you to develop psychological hardiness. Remember that you are now an adult. You are responsible for setting and holding your own boundaries, not only with food, but also with relationships, a work/play balance and much more.
The more you practice making conscious choices, the more power you will have over your life. This is a wonderful place to be! How exciting it is to be in control of yourself and your destiny! Who knew that choosing to eat healthier would positively affect so many areas of your life? Give it a try and see what comes of it.
 
So, what Good Decision will you make today?
 

 
 
 

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I live in Seattle and one of the things I enjoy the most is driving up north to Birch Bay where you can pick up a shellfish license for $17 and walk out onto the tide pools with a bucket and a small shovel. You honestly don't even need the shovel; all that is really required is a willingness to play around in the rocks and sand for 20 minutes to walk away with 40 clams. The only thing that takes real effort and creativity is thinking of the all the new and delicious ways to cook them! On my last trip to Birch Bay I created Steamed Clams with Leeks, Garlic, Thyme, White Wine, and Butter. It was definitely a hit!
In addition to all the fun and absolutely delicious ways to ingest these bodacious bivalves, there are also five very good reasons to eat steamed clams on a regular basis...

1. Seafood Energy Boost

Rich in iron, 20 clams provide almost 300% of your daily needs. That's huge! I don’t know about you, but slurping down 20 of these meaty little mollusks is pretty darn easy. Iron plays a role in transporting oxygen to red blood cells and is an essential mineral that is needed for your cells to make energy. Fatigue and anemia result from low iron diets.
Clams are also one of those foods that are rich in vitamin C, which helps you to absorb the iron. In fact 20 clams will also provide you with 70% of your vitamin C needs. Hello energy!

2. Alzheimer’s Prevention

Can't remember where you put your keys? Feeling a little bit irritable lately with mood swings? You may be low in vitamin B12. The perfect solution may be steaming up 20 of your favorite clams. This serving provides you with over 3000% of your daily B12 needs! That's quite hit of nutrients! While a vitamin B12 deficiency has been associated with mood and energy disorders, memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and low immunity, eating clams maybe a tasty preventative plan to also keep these conditions at bay.

3. Younger Looking Skin

The huge hit of B12 you get from clams will also nourish your skin. In fact, vitamin B12 is often applied directly to the skin for certain conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Clams also provide 95% of your daily selenium needs. Selenium has antioxidant properties and may help protect cells from damage. Clams are also a good source of riboflavin, a vitamin also connected to skin health that helps to fight off free radicals.

4. Increases Sex Drive

Clams are high in zinc. This is a mineral that can trigger an increase in the production of sex hormones. It is also an essential mineral needed for sperm production. So whether you want to increase sexual function or prolong it, this mighty mollusk could help.
In addition, clams also contain D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, two rare amino acids that are believed to increase testosterone in males, and progesterone in females. Both of these hormones are associated with greater sexual activity. Vavavoom!

5. Immune Boosting

Since clams provide 95% of your daily selenium needs and a hearty dose of vitamin C, your immune system also gets a boost. Clams also provide 35% of your potassium and zinc needs, which is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to boosting the immune system.
 
So are you a steamed clams fanatic like I am? What are your favorite ways to eat them?

Butterflied chicken, also known as spatchcocked chicken, is a fabulous way to prep a whole chicken for the grill. Not to mention it is just plain fun to say the word "spatchcocked"! It can make your husband stop in his tracks when asking you, "honey, what's for dinner?", and have your kids giggling under the table. I enjoy imagining the voice of Beavis or Butthead saying "he, he, you said, spatchcocked!", with a few giggling grunts.
All joking aside, the original term is actually "spatchcock." Alan Davidson tells us in The Oxford Companion to Food that "The word is an abbreviation of 'dispatch the cock,' a phrase used to indicate a summary way of grilling a bird after splitting it open down the back and spreading the two halves out flat." Davidson speculates that spatchcocked birds originated in Ireland around the 18th century. Pretty interesting, right?
Butterflied or spatchcocked birds require less time in the oven which is really handy. This also means that the breast pieces won't be dry as with roasting the whole intact chicken. Plus it's easy to make a pocket between the skin and breast meat if you wish to stuff the bird.
My friend Karen and I had a lot of fun making this video tutorial on how to butterfly a chicken. We called it "how to fillet a whole chicken" but whatever you decide to name the technique is entirely up to you! I hope you find it entertaining and helpful. I apologize ahead of time for overusing the word "anus", as we did have a few glasses of wine prior to spontaneously making the video.
The recipe for the finished chicken can be found here.
 

I was in the mood for pasta tonight, but didn't want to deal with the gassy, bloated, crampy side effects that come with gluten-filled spaghetti. So I decided to use fennel as a pseudo noodle base on which to perch some of my favorite seafood items. This was genius because fennel in itself is a carminative. It's a herb known for its gut soothing, gas relieving, digestive enhancing properties. So not only did I not have to worry about gas, but this recipe would ease any digestive discomfort I may be having. Fennel noodles = brilliance!
In addition to the fennel, I included red chili pepper to spice things up. Red chili pepper increases circulation and in high doses has been shown to ease depression and increase sexual function.
When I served this to my partner and told him of all the benefits, what do you think he said?
If you know Austin Powers you'll understand his response: "Yeah Baby!"
Calamari and Fennel Noodles with Seafood

When pork tenderloin is cooked just right, it's so juicy, tender and full of flavor. Yet if you're anything like I was (until I learned a few tricks), for one reason or another you can never get it to come out right. It's so frustrating! It's either too dry, too bland, too this or, too that. Well, the search for perfection is over! Time to let you in the on the secrets...

Secret #1—
  Don't overcook it! The temptation arises when we see the faintest amount of pink on pork to continue cooking it. But remember, the tenderloin will continue to cook as it rests. Trust me on this.
Secret #2— Bring the tenderloin to room temperature before you cook it. This will help it to cook evenly and faster. If it is cold, you may have to cook it longer.
Secret #3— Don't move it constantly when it's on the grill. Most of grilling is not about us, it's all about letting the grill do the work. Forgo the temptation to play with your pork. This way, you can even create beautiful grill marks on your tenderloin if you'd like... the hallmark of a true grill expert!
Secret #4— Let it rest. Once you remove your tenderloin from the grill, let it rest for at least 5 minutes and ideally up to 10 minutes. This allows the muscle fibers to reabsorb the juices and the protein fibers to relax, resulting in a more tender, tastier tenderloin.
...Now for the recipe!

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Sage

This is a very basic recipe from which you can expand your pork tenderloin repertoire. Try substituting fresh rosemary in this recipe one day, and thyme another. Crushed garlic is also delicious. Eventually you might get really daring and graduate up to pork tenderloin stuffed with prosciutto and dried fruit with port wine! Wowza!
 
Serves: 8
Total Time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:
2 (2½-pound) pork tenderloins
2 tablespoons olive oil
Unrefined sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped

Directions:

  1. Remove the pork tenderloins from the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature, about 30 to 45 minutes.
  2. Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high heat (about 450°F).
  3. Season the tenderloins on all sides with salt, pepper and sage. Place the tenderloins on the grates and cover the grill.
  4. Grill the meat, turning every 4 to 5 minutes until tenderloins are cooked to your liking. Cook tenderloins for 20 minutes for a perfect medium, which leaves the center of the loins slightly pink at the center. If you’d like, you may also insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the tenderloins (it should register 140°F). The temperature will rise another 5°-10°F while the meat is resting.
  5. Transfer the tenderloins to a carving board and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice across the grain and at an angle to the cutting board. Serve.

Tonight I decided to honor a good friend on her birthday by creating a crazy version of Korean Bibimbap with traditionally fermented soy beans. I call it Alien Peanut Bibimbap because these slimy little nuggets seriously do look like an alien choked on some peanuts and hacked 'em up up after Sigourney Weaver pounded its back. .
Now, I had never tried these "Alien Peanuts" before tonight but you can tell by the pictures how much I enjoyed them! 🙂
Happy Birthday Jackie, thank you for stretching my limits with all the crazy food you eat!
You can find the recipe here... alien peanuts are optional!
 
IMG_5554  IMG_5570             IMG_5563
 
 
 

With summer right around the corner my mind has begun to anticipate all the delicious summer foods that I love.... BBQ ribs, hot dogs, hamburgers and french fries. Hey, good decisions most of the time, right? One thing for sure is that I can't have most of my favorite BBQ foods without ketchup. I've wanted to create a homemade ketchup recipe that would knock my socks off and perhaps even blow away my competitor Heinz®! Now this was not an easy task considering Mr. Heinz began at the young age of 12, but I was willing to give it a whole-hearted try.
Today's commercial ketchup brands typically contain high fructose corn syrup and "natural flavorings" that are anything but natural. I don't know about you, but I like real food, food that has not been refined, processed and turned into something that barely resembles what it started as. I have a feeling Mr. Heinz probably felt the same way when he started out.
I've tried a couple of homemade ketchup recipes in the past that did not pass the test so I decided to go straight to the source. I bought a bottle of Heinz® ketchup and began the process of deconstructing this condiment!
I used tomato paste instead of tomato concentrate, and since I did not want my homemade ketchup to contain high fructose corn syrup, I tried to substitute grade B maple syrup. Unfortunately this did not work all that well. I thought back on what Mr. Heinz might have had available to him when he created his recipe in 1876. I decided to use honey and it was absolutely delicious! And might I add, pretty darn close to what commercial ketchup tastes like, without the high fructose corn syrup and not so natural flavorings.
I think Mr. Heinz would be proud!
Check out my official recipe here!

Last year for the fourth of July I made a Napa Slaw with Spring Radishes and Sesame Peanut Dressing. It was absolutely delicious but this year I was craving good old fashioned classic coleslaw. I used to the stuff at barbecues because of the mayonnaise, but once I discovered you can make your own healthy version of mayonnaise at home, a whole new world opened up to me! If made from scratch, mayonnaise at it's heart is nothing more than egg whites and oil. If not made from scratch, you may be ingesting at all kinds of additives, preservatives, and hydrogenated oils. Not ingredients that actually improve the flavor of mayonnaise or coleslaw at all!
This classic coleslaw recipe is super simple, and it definitely satiated my craving... just like mom used to make.
 

Ok, so I know what your thinking, how could water possibly taste like the fourth of July? Well...it just does! I mean all you have to do is look at this combination of fruit to all your senses will be feeling patriotic in no time.
You can even use watermelon as a substitute for strawberries if you really want to get crazy with your fruit flavored water! Combining fruit and water is an excellent way to hydrate, especially in the heat of mid-summer. It infuses the water with vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and pure natural flavor that just makes plain water so much more delightful.
So the next time you are thirsty, but aren't in the mood for water, reach for some fruit water. Take note that it's also good for hangovers if you found you have overindulged! Might be especially useful the day after the 4th of July? 🙂
Find the recipe here!
 

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