Sunday, August 31, 2008

Making Changes

It's almost September 1st where many people start thinking back to school or back to work or maybe just a new something that you might have been thinking of doing for a while like re-decorating, putting new fabric on the sofa or finally shedding those unwanted pounds you may have been wanting to let go of for a very long time. Think back over the last year or the last ten years. How much has changed in your life? What things do you keep anticipating to change only year after year the familiarity of them still being around, has sort of dropped them into the background of your life, like a noise that you have never liked, but are used to? Do you have anything that you've been meaning to do and haven't?

Often the act of paying me for a session will help someone leap into doing the things they might know how to do but have not gotten themselves to step in yet. Sometimes it is hearing things again or hearing things anew that spikes the impulse to create the life that they want. I do know that when students work with me, their lives change because they tell me all the time.

What I often ask of people is to just take steps. Not huge steps. Just steps. Anything that has lasted in your life you took steps to get there. From a long lasting relationship that had a slow start to learning a language. Most people do not become fluent in one week. They learn words slowly and start being able to put them together. The more they know, the more they can build on those words to make more complex sentences and soon they will be fluent and it won't seem like all that much effort. (Thank you Rosetta Stone!) Changing your diet is like that. For quite a few people, when they diet and try to change what they eat too rapidly, they will only be able to sustain that amount of newness for a short amount of time. To transform eating habits, a good way to go can be to start adding in more whole foods and cutting portion sizes down by just a small amount. If you then cut it down a little more in a couple of weeks then pretty soon you might be eating only 1/2 as many calories only it won't seem like it at all. Just give yourself the gift of continually stepping in the directions that you want to go. Getting a coach can improve the odds of that happening for you enormously!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Magically Delicious

My dinner tonight was magical and it was not lucky charms. I would have never thought this up in my mind, I don't think, nor will it ever wind up in one of my cookbooks. It's too weird, but oddly delicious. The weird part starts with a piece of jinenjo. A Japanese mountain potato. I like the hit of energy I get when I eat it, so if I'm gathering goods from an Asian shop, I'll usually pick up a little jinenjo to add to soups. I've had it in restaurants where they serve it peeled and grated to use as a condiment with soy sauce and ginger or placed in the bottom of a soup bowl. That is how I use it the most. When it is grated it turns into something like sticky sea foam. I like it best when dispersed in a watery soup. Once in a while I will peel it and use as a potato but it's sticky nature doesn't entice me to use it that way often.

Tonight I was in a bit of a rush to make dinner as I was later than usual getting in the kitchen and I was pretty hungry. Pasta is simple and I have some rice noodles so I was boiling up some with a thick broccoli soup and that was the quick and easy plan for tonight. Then I saw the lonely left over piece of jinenjo in my fridge. If I didn't eat it soon, it was going to turn pink and need to be tossed out. I decided to fry it up with some onions. I knew it wouldn't be like hash browns but maybe with some arrowroot added I might get a little jinenjo pancake? No such luck. I got a sticky mass with a mild flavor from the onions and a little soy sauce. Being hungry I decided to just put my cooked noodles in a bowl and toss the jinenjo on top. It needed some more flavor so a sprinkled in some ume vinegar and a little flax oil and it became magically delicious. Mixed with the noodles it gave me the impression I was eating macaroni and cheese - a very healthy version. I was amazed at what these simple ingredients became actually. I will eat this again - by myself. Not sure I want to ever serve it to anyone else really. But maybe. Then when I tell them what it's made of and the great energy they will have from eating it - they might love it too? Food really can be magical.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Adventures on the 720

I will admit selling my car might have been a tad rash. It was time though. The thought of buying a brand new car to sit on the street outside my apartment and get banged up and wait for the one day a week that I would use it, seemed silly. Renting a car once a week is actually cheaper than insurance and gas and car payments. So now I am carless in Los Angeles.

I do think about other places I might like to live. Places where having a car is not directly related to your status as a human. Places where the doors to venues are not all linked to the parking lots and the ones to that lead to the sidewalks are locked at all times. Where life takes place outside of cell phones and there are more personal interactions other than looking to your left or right at a red light.

So yesterday on a sunny Sunday afternoon I decided to walk up to Wilshire blvd. a few blocks from my home and hop on the 720 rapid bus to go and see the Broad exhibit at LACMA. It was my first time on the rapid bus system and I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as I found the bus stop, the bus pulled up. I got on, sat down and in a very short time and few stops reached my destination. The museum was surprisingly light on visitors but up the road I walked to "The Grove", a Disney like version of main street where chain stores and restaurants are linked up in an outdoor mall. That was packed with people browsing and eating. At around 3:30 or 4pm on a Sunday afternoon it seemed like everyone was eating. Everything from full plates of omlettes, crepes, burgers, burritos, or Chinese food to pies and frozen yogurt and cake. I suppose it seems reasonable that instead of spending their dollars on the bigger ticket items they were seeing in the stores they treated themselves to a Sunday splurge? Maybe it's a weekly tradition to eat a big meal or a pastry at that time of day. When I was in Germany once visiting a friend and her relatives, they had "coffee time" in the late afternoon that always included cookies or cake. They didn't eat a big dessert after dinner though. Perhaps I ought to do some investigation and interview people at places like this on Sunday afternoons?

I'd had my fill of viewing and walked back down to Wilshire to find a 720 back to Santa Monica. The bus stop was simple to spot and there were many people waiting. This bus runs every 7 minutes so I didn't bother to look up a scheduled time. I figured with all of those people waiting it must be coming any minute. Perhaps a bus was missing that day? We waited for about a quarter of an hour before the bus arrived at Fairfax and Wilshire. Standing room only and English a second language for many. I helped an Italian girl pay her fare and squished in rather easily. Somehow there was plenty of space and people found their spots. Shortly after I got on, many got off and I took a seat.

I have driven up and down this length of Wilshire many times but the view from the bus is quite different. L.A. looked like a different city. A prettier city. Where race and status matter little and we are all wanting similar things of good food, nice clothes and shelter and have some pleasure in the day. I watched some girls with a little boy who got on the bus and probably never had a thought that they were supposed to have a car by this age. It was not about rights but about getting to where they needed to go. There were excited tourists seeing the city for the first time. They were probably having it easier than trying to navigate with an automobile. No parking, no gas to buy or other drivers to watch out for. It was a simple and different experience on the 720 on a Sunday afternoon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

What are those things that you think that you can not live without? I'm pretty happy for some things we have in our modern life, like toilet paper or my contact lenses.

With food, our bodies are adaptable beyond what our minds might conceive. We really can live without many of the foods we are attached to and some would improve the quality of our life to live without them, even though it's hard to see that when we are addicted.

I once didn't eat anything sweet for an entire year. Not even fruit. I was clearing Candida overgrowth and I was determined to finally be free of it. I love sweets and now that I eat them again, I still think they are enchanting, but they do not hold the same power over me they once did. I realize they are pleasurable, just not really any more than broccoli cooked nicely (and preferably in my favorite elegant sweet and salty creamy sauce...) or that bowl of millet hot cereal that is waiting for me to have for my breakfast when I'm finished writing this. It's just wired up differently in my mind because from the time I was very small, I was taught that the dessert was the part of the meal we were waiting for. That going to get an ice cream cone was special. Candies and cookies were wonderful gifts that came in fancy boxes and homemade ones were the best. After a year of not one bit of anything I used to consider a treat, other foods took on a new delight all their own. Cooling, detoxifying turnips became new friends. The nuances in greens became more charming than just eating them for the minerals I would absorb. I learned to love what I had instead of hurrying up to get to the "good" part.

It has been interesting to me to see that as I let go of the need for any particular food, the more possibilities I see instead. A paradox of the limiting diet was that I now feel much more free in that I know it's all temporary. Enjoying what I have has made me feel less desire for more more more. That endless struggle to attain and feel satiated. It goes beyond food as the addictive patterns fall away. I still enjoy shopping but I am also happy with what I do have and grateful to have it. Before I was a lot more apt to find fault with the old and looking at how the new and improved would be so much better. Once you find that point of balance inside, it seems to shine out in all directions. Do you feel like you are more by having more or would you feel the same to own less? How does this play out on your plate?

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Breaking Bread

Social eating is fun. For some maybe a little too much too often. Could there be healthier ways to break bread and keep the good relations flowing?

Of course. For everything there are probably multiple solutions and I don't claim to know them all. I do find that good eating tends to elude people when they are busy, pushed or just don't know how it all works together.

For many of us eating out was not a daily ritual growing up. In my own family it was a special treat to go out and that meant special foods, bigger portions and a lot more oil and sugar. These once in a while pleasures didn't effect our waistlines and if they effected health, it was temporary because it was so out of the normal realm of what we consumed. Big thick milk shakes, huge slices of pies, cakes or concoctions, giant pancakes, fried sandwiches, or rich sauces were not something we ever saw at home. Restaurants want you to be happy and come back again. They use strong flavors and oil helps to bring out those flavors as well as fill you up. You can ask for what you want though, even if you don't see it on the menu. Ask for less or no oil in the preparation of your order. Have tea for dessert or maybe some fruit if your digestion can handle it. Remember if you ate beans in the meal to steer clear of dessert for a couple of hours or you might be in for some pretty heavy wind. While fruit after a big meal may seem refreshing, it will putrefy in the intestine waiting for the meat and potatoes (or anything else you ate.) to move through the tract. That also translates into bloating, gas and being uncomfortable after the initial pleasure. I wonder if the aristocratic eaters we see portrayed in films often found themselves needing ant-acids from the rich food followed by sweet treats? Certainly by just looking at the array and large shelves filled with bottles and pills to alleviate such conditions now would suggest that many people find themselves with poor eating choices often.

If I am eating dessert, I will plan for it. What that means for me is very little bread perhaps if any with that meal. I might eat lighter on purpose. I call it saving room for dessert. Instead of gobbling my food I try to enjoy the company, eat slowly and chew well. No one notices really if I'm not eating all that much, especially if it is some place like an Indian restaurant where we are all sharing the food. It's the quality of the time I'm having and I'll be much happier if I walk away from the experience feeling good. Sometimes I will make two starters my main meal. The small tastes make me happy and are quite often lighter than the main courses with sides. I've been known to re-invent menus as well. I'll see what they have and create a plate from the offered sides or have a sandwich that wasn't on the menu before if it's a noon time spot.

These are just a few creative ideas to have more healthy options while eating out. What are some of yours? Share your answers here or at

Friday, August 8, 2008

What's your game?

I woke up this morning contemplating my life and the obstacles to having what I desire. I mean, I'm great at seeing other peoples but it's so easy to gloss over my own and continue on as I do. I have loads of projects I want to be working on and yet, where to focus my attention can sometimes be a dilemma. I get things moving and yet not at the level I would like. So I sat down with myself and thought a few things through. Guess what? I decided it was just another game of procrastination. The Scarlett O'Hara "I'll think about that tomorrow" kind of action that isn't going to shift things at all. Have you ever said I want to lose weight and yet do what you do, day after day, that isn't going to create new habits. You say things like oh, I'll start later. I'll skip X later and just do this now. I'll exercise tomorrow when it isn't raining. Anything to justify staying the same. If you are lucky enough to have something to push you, you can finally create those new habits or push your business, your ideas or what ever you would like see come to fruition past the point of not enough. Coaches are great at cheering things on and eliminating the blocks and I know you can do it for yourself too! Just getting a guide makes it easier. We're trained in the go to the doctor and get a prescription and do what he tells you because he knows more than you do, kind of mentality. We can bust ourselves though if we really want to. We can look at the game we are playing and play another game. I'm excited by my own self coaching because the energy that was stuck feels somewhat released and I have a whole lot of juice for creating more of what I want and not letting my old thinking get in the way. See what new game you can play today. Care to share?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Drop the Guilt and Shame

Guilt and fear. Not the most pretty of emotions that we carry in us and often they come up around food. Okay, especially around me since I teach about food. I notice it in the way someone might act as they eat when I’m present. Feelings of the eater become apparent in the angry tension that is visible beneath the surface. The glance my way, and an almost hiding of the food, or the drop of the eyes, as I stand unaware. I become aware though, as the feeling of something wrong wafts my way. I’m usually curiously eyeing the buffet or what is on people’s plates simply assessing if there is something that I might like to eat for myself. I really am not thinking thoughts of shame or blame or anything about what others choose to consume. If they ask my opinion though, a switch will click in my thinking, so watch out. Then all bets are off and I will have some strong ideas about benefits or destructiveness of so called foods. Thankfully there are friends or acquaintances who do not have noise in their minds about what they eat. They eat what they like and enjoy it guilt free. That’s the healthy way to be. They don’t feel judged because I’m there. They don’t feel any sense of shame. They know I do what I do because I need to for my own health and that doesn’t predicate anyone else choosing the path that I am weaving. I love those people. They also can go to any restaurant with me and not ask me to order for them. Those that are constantly guilty or feeling shame for their food choices are getting more harm in my opinion from the shame and the guilt than the actual food itself. We all need to take personal responsibility and give ourselves what serves us best. My choices usually stem from what would I like coupled with what would be the most supportive for me right now. I have my never’s, as in, I never eat cane sugar and my friends know that if they do it doesn’t make them bad in my eyes. I usually tell clients, if you do, make some kudzu tea sometime after that like the next morning to bring you back and forget about it. Yet, still there are those who feel badly or try to hide the cupcake from site, I’ve even had one girl invite me to a party and ask me to bring cake. I declined as I barely know her and I don’t do cooking for hire. So drop the guilt, the fear, the shame and let’s eat well together!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Colorize Your Plate

I'm reading a book that is so disappointing. It talks about getting all sorts of color in your diet to protect your DNA. Maybe it was the work that made anti-oxidants a household word? I don't know. It's one of the oddest food books I've ever read, because page after page it looks like it should be offering great information. Even distinct paragraphs on foods for example offer so little real information it's fluff. Because it is written by a distinguished doctor, I guess it's doctor fluff. Seems more of an idea that wasn't flushed out enough though. They had a little science and wanted a cool scheme to sell perhaps. He talks repeatedly about being careful of calories. Doesn't he know if he were REALLY touting a whole foods diet with beautiful colors, you wouldn't need to ever worry about calories or fat grams or counting, ever again. He offers that ancient man would have gotten a lot more colors than we get now. Sure, and I'm sure the people foraging for their food didn't compare waistlines except when they got too skinny.

He also doesn't seem to understand basic differences between fruits and vegetables either. Just because they have similar colors doesn't mean they do the same things in our systems, although this book seems to say all purple foods give you this and green foods give you that. Well, sorry, no way. Eat blueberries and the sweet succulent bites have sugar and water as major components. A carrot and a peach are just not the same in your system just because they both are orange. Fruit is quite different than vegetable. Fruits tend to make you more relaxed and in excess, tired and spaced out. Vegetables tend to strengthen us and give us more vitality.

Where oh where are the whole grains? He thinks that bread falls in that category. I wonder if he has a bread tree growing then at UCLA? Bread is a grain product and no matter how high a high fiber cereal is, it's still a refined, dry hard, difficult to digest as compared to whole grain, product. I wish someone with that many resources would study the effects of a real whole food diet and see why most of us that practice this type of eating have fewer ailments, are naturally slender and usually look about 10 years younger. I want to see the science on that!

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Order, Weight and Mind

There is this little thing called the order of the Universe. Books have been written on it and people attempt to explain it with religion or "the Secret", etc. Getting how stuff works is essential for living a free life, and yet there seems to be more to know than we can possibly assimilate. What are the rules to live by to be healthy, slender and happy?

Michael Pollen attempts to give us some tools as he opens his latest book with a simple formula. "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Good formula. This doesn't account though for how someone is holding ones energy, thoughts and emotions. Or how an internal disturbance might be effecting it all. Food can correct quite a bit but our minds are much more powerful and yet this seems to be one of the biggest challenges for us all. Okay, mostly all. I'm sure there are some who don't find harnessing thoughts to be a challenge but I have not met one of those people yet personally who could tell me how to get into the flow more efficiently.

For now, it seems to me that what we get to do is practice. Practice doesn't mean perfect it means to keep doing things that give us more. I practice eating a predominately whole foods diet. Sometimes I experiment with what that entails. I practice meditation and sometimes I don't. I find that it's all a great experiment and I do feel better when I'm practicing the meditation than when I don't. I practice being happier.

When I practice, I do not need to think about my weight. It naturally takes care of itself and I stay slender. The more I practice the less I need to try and make things happen that I desire. They just happen. But I have been very practiced in trying to control my world. I want to control the outcomes to be what I want instead of allowing it to occur. Not always though and each day I practice a little more to trust. Do what I know works and see the order of it all.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Candida free cooking and the ideal diet

It's early on a Sunday morning and I'm venturing out to the farmers market again today in search of a ripe avocado for my Candida Free Cooking Class this afternoon. 3 hours of laughs, learning and tastes. There were no ripe avocados yesterday and even though the translucent quinoa wraps would be just as tasty with a little dressing instead of a green slice or two of California's good fat fruit, I would rather have them then not...

I will also get to see what other fun things I might bring home for my own week of experimental cooking. I go through phases of doing what I know I like and then I flip into all experiments all the time for a few days. I'm still searching for what might be the ideal diet as well.

Currently reading more and more science to see if any of the extreme diets have the scientific backing they claim that they do. Unfortunately even the scientists seem to find conflicting evidence as it can be difficult to measure exactly what people eat. What they say they eat might be only partially of what they really eat. Then there are heredity factors, amounts of exercise and the least control of all is what the people are thinking about their life, their weight, foods, etc. The thought factor plays another enormous role as all of this is influenced by all different energies. How we hold our own energy daily makes a difference in how the foods land.

Luckily though, there are some common grounds and so far; the macrobiotic way of eating whole foods predominately, and finding balance seems the most supportive. Raw being a cooking style and meats being a small portion of the diet, I'm finding thriving to happen more frequently as long as it doesn't become a healing diet for a person who doesn't need a healing diet. Rigidity in any one of the systems out there seems to be a big pitfall. I notice people cling to their diet of choice like a religion that must be protected. Somehow I think as long as it's actually food and not man made reconstructed food stuff, it's most likely better than not. Each of our bodies will also need different things at different times so knowing how it all works should be basic stuff we learn in grade school. Only since the foodstuff business is big money, there is more weight on you not knowing how to feed yourself well and create balance, slenderness, vitality and aliveness. I can only wonder though that if we all got more well and happy what we might create then?

Well, first the lucky cooking class participants for today, I'm going in search of those avocados.
visit where I've posted a couple new recipes.