February’s Tiny Change: Eat More Plants

*This post is part of Kale and Chocolate’s year-long #12tinychanges challenge. Each month, we’re implementing one small, super doable change-over a year it really adds up! Read about all changes here and share your progress on Instagram with the hashtag #12tinychanges!

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You’ve probably heard about the health benefits associated with eating a plant-based diet, like reducing your risk of heart disease, lowering your blood pressure, and adding years to your life. Food experts, nutritionists, and dietitians may disagree about the right diet, but amidst these debates, they have always been able to agree on at least one thing: MORE PLANTS = GOOD.

This month’s tiny change is just that – tiny. No need to cut foods out, restrict, or diet. Simply add more plant-based foods and recipes to your cooking repertoire. If you’re already eating a largely plant-based diet, wonderful! Try something new and interesting like DIY nut milk. If you’ve yet to dip your toe into plant-based cooking, start easy with something like chia seed pudding.

You don’t have to eat less or cut out anything. Just add more vibrant colors, nutrients, and variety to your meals. If a few of those delectable plant-based dishes happen to replace the less-than-healthy ones in your repertoire, that’s just a bonus! So what constitutes “plant-based,” exactly? Great question! Fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and oils are all fair game – all things that originally stem from plants (pun intended!)

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Here are five ways you can make this tiny change easy and awesome!

1. Incorporate these plant-based foods into the way you already eat

The best thing about plant-based foods? You can fold them into absolutely any eating style – they’re totally inclusive! Eating Paleo? Vegetarian? Gluten-free? Locavore or seasonal eater? Great, simply add more plants to your daily routine!

2. View this as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes + types of food
Consider this a little nudge to explore new recipes or make reservations at a new restaurant. Asian, Indian, and Ethiopian cuisines include lots of plant-based dishes, many featuring interesting spices and flavor combinations. Give them all a try!

Instead of trying to plant-i-fy existing dishes, why not try something totally different? We’re much more likely to enjoy a recipe (and make it again) if we eat it with an open mind…rather than thinking “this was much better when I made it with a whole stick of butter…” This tiny change gives you the perfect excuse to push yourself toward easy experimentation and more adventurous eating.

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3. Know that this isn’t just about smoothies and salads
Gotta love a good green smoothie, but there are tons of luscious, decadent plant-based foods out there. In fact, if you want to try just one new plant-based recipe a week this month, how about some delicious oatmeal, hummuscookies, PB & J, sweet chocolate avocado mousse, and even ice cream?! Plant dishes can be sweet, savory, warm, chilled, and satisfy just about any craving!

4. Swap in one plant-based dish for one meat or dairy dish

Rather than overhauling your entire meal, try just swapping one dish. Munch on a batch of homemade veggie burgers and sweet potato fries for your Friday night Netflix marathon or warm up with butternut squash soup for meatless Monday. Whip up a balanced meal, use DIY nut milk in your smoothie or make guacamole instead of french onion dip. Just one tiny swap at a time; you’ll be amazed how easy it is to eat more plants!

5. Choose plant-based dishes when you’re eating out or grocery shopping

Now, you know I’m a huge advocate of DIY-ing, but most of us are short on time and long on obligations. Who among us hasn’t picked up dinner on the way home from a hectic day?

Remember, there are a surprising number of plant-based options at your local grocery store, and maybe even your favorite restaurant. Grab a tub of guac, baba ganoush, hummus or even black bean dip. Check out the salad bar for freshly prepared veggies, grains, and plant-based proteins to add to a bed of greens.

When you’re eating out, soups, salads, and vegetarian entrees are often plant-based, (and delicious) so give it a try. To help kickoff this tiny change, you could win amazing prizes and tools to fill up your plate with as many colors and nutrients as possible. You’ll be amazed by how simple it is to eat more plants. And the best part? This easy, delicious tiny change can set you on the road to a healthier heart, longer life, and happier body!

One Healthy Breakdown: Crack open you cookbooks and get ready to veg out!

Healthy Holidays OHH Style

The magic of the holiday season surrounds us and we’re determined to make it through feeling healthy, happy, grounded, rested, well-fed, balanced, and ready for 2016!

IMG_3036Although it’s easy as pie to cut sleep, eat all the cookies, skip breakfast, have another cocktail, and end up completely burned out, tired, bloated, hungover, guilty, and miserable come January, let’s not!

hangoverOHH’s #HealthyHoliday Tips:

Keep it simple: yes, there will be parties and cocktails, gingerbread, latkes, toasts, roasts, cookie exchanges, peppermint bark, and a hundred reasons to indulge. And that’s ok. But all of those ‘extras’ sure do add up. To offset the indulgences, keep things simple at home. No need to make a three-course meal; instead, allow yourself permission to keep things light and basic. Make a “kitchen sink” salad, smoothie, or snack – just make sure you’re using whole foods. Keeping meals simple allows our body to maximize digestion and nutrient-absorption. Here’s a super simple salad made of arugula, sauerkraut, tomatoes, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs for your dose of greens, probiotics, healthy fat and protein all in one!

FullSizeRender3Eat your veggies: there’s no way around it – veggies are healthy and you must eat them. Don’t fret, you can easily increase your veggie intake in a yummy, easy way. Try making a meal that centers around vegetables instead of meat or pasta, like a meatless stir fry, hearty soup, or holiday smoothie. We don’t often give veggies the opportunity to be the main attraction, but doing so is a super simple, healthy, and affordable way to fuel our bodies. Secondly, try replacing your usual comfort foods with veggie-loaded options. Instead of your go-to mashed potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Forget the french fries and instead roast a new variation of squash, like acorn, delicata, spaghetti, butternut, kobucha, or pumpkin. When you’re urged to grab chips or crackers to snack on, eat crudite to satisfy that craving for a crunch.

Treat yo’self: we’ve said it before and we’ll say again – it’s all about balance. Let go of the labels and ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. Indulging in holiday treats is not only acceptable, it’s actually good for you! Consciously eating food that gives you immense pleasure can fulfill your heart, satisfy your cravings, and feed your soul. Whether it’s a family recipe that you look forward to every year or a new discovery on your journey, choose to indulge wisely and enjoy every single bite.

balancedNews flash: it’s not just about the treats. Or the veggies. Indulge in something that has absolutely nothing to do with food, like a bubble bath, scented candle, holiday movie, pedicure, song download, nature walk, novel, dance party, magazine, TV marathon, or anything that makes you feel pampered and rejuvenated. Just like we deserve to enjoy the cookie, we deserve a break, some self-care, and even a good nap!

Move and be still: we already established that most of us will be indulging a bit this season and that is A ok…as long as we remember to move (ie: exercise) and be still (ie: meditate/sleep/breathe.) Schedule your workouts (and your stillness) as you would meetings and don’t skip ’em. Get your turkey trot on, try a new class, rake leaves, shovel snow…whatever it takes to stay active and accountable. And mindful. Taking time to slow down, live in the moment, and embrace the holiday spirit is equally as important. Combine the moving and the stillness with a yoga class or non-workout workout. Sweat, enjoy, breathe, repeat.

One Healthy Breakdown: here’s to spreading health and holiday cheer this year!

PH 101: Alkaline Eating for Overall Wellness

While learning about pH in high school chemistry class may not have seemed like anything worth knowing back then, it’s actually vital in understanding our body’s reaction to certain foods and what will promote ultimate health. This is an area of health that is grossly overlooked! So many of our modern health problems can be linked back to an overly acidic diet. Let’s explore!

screen-shot-2015-05-25-at-6-41-03-pmWhat is pH?

pH value determines how many hydrogen ions are in a given solution (in this case your blood). It is measured on a scale of 0-14. Everything below 6.9 is more acidic, and everything above 7.1 is more alkaline, with increasing value the higher or lower it is on the scale, and 7.0 being neutral.

How does it affect my health?

Different parts of our bodies require different levels of acidity or alkalinity. Your stomach needs to be more acidic to break down food, but your blood needs to be slightly more alkaline. Without the correct pH, your cells won’t do their job which is to keep your body alive. Kinda important! Because your body wants to stay alive, healthy and in balance it will do everything possible to maintain the proper pH if it ever gets out of balance.

When we eat large amounts of acidic foods it causes inflammation in our bodies which is a gateway to all sorts of health problems (overgrowth of bad bacteria like yeast and fungus, heart disease, arthritis, allergies, skin problems etc.). In addition to being anti-inflammatory, alkaline foods are easier to digest which impacts our immune system, as well as reducing yucky bloat.

If your blood is overly acidic due to the food you eat or environmental conditions such as chemicals and toxins, your body needs to find reserves of more alkaline minerals (magnesium, potassium and calcium) from your bones, tissues and organs to get back to its happy place of balance. Which can be a bad thing if it happens all the time, because your bones and organs need those minerals too. And it’s just taxing on your system to constantly be fighting to maintain homeostasis.

Think about it this way: The body needs to remain at 98.6 degrees. Any higher or lower and your body goes into certain processes to get back to that temperature or else bad stuff happens. On a hot day you sweat to cool off, on a very cold day your blood will leave the extremities and go to the most vital internal organs to keep them warm.

Your body does the same thing to keep itself at that perfect pH which is around 7.35-7.45. If you eat too much acid forming foods, your body will pull vitamins and minerals out of your own tissues and send them to the blood to get that pH back down.

Fun fact: Everyone knows that dairy products contain calcium. So a direct line of thinking would assume that if I drink more milk I will be putting more calcium in my body and therefore have stronger bones. Not exactly. Once in our bodies dairy becomes an acidic food, so your bones will actually lose some calcium in your body’s effort to balance the pH after eating something as acidic as dairy. Scary right? You’re better off getting calcium from a plant-based source so you can utilize that calcium without losing any from your bones.

So which foods are acidic and which are alkaline?

I’m not going to list the pH value of every food here (trusty ol’ google will help with that if you really want to know). But it’s important to know which foods to eat more of, and which to eat less of.

More acidic foods:

alcohol
meat
dairy
coffee
eggs
sugar
wheat
processed foods

More alkaline foods:

fruits
veggies
nuts
beans
some grains are slightly alkaline like buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, millet, oats, barley and spelt.

Since balance is key, it is not recommended to eat a 100% alkaline diet. Our bodies are slightly more alkaline, therefore respond best to a slightly more alkaline diet. My favorite book on alkaline eating (Honestly Healthy for Life) recommends 70% alkaline to 30% acid foods. So you don’t have to give up all acidic foods forever.

3 easy ways to begin to eat a more alkaline diet:

1. Make the veggie the main and the meat the side. You don’t have to change what you eat as much as the portion size. Instead of 8 oz of steak with a side of rice, carrots or broccoli, make a 3-4 oz portion of meat as your “side” then make a huge salad with lots of veggies in it as your main. No need to become a vegan if you don’t want to.

2. Warm Lemon Water. I know this is totally ubiquitous on the internet right now. I realize it’s beginning to sound like a broken record. Everywhere I turn there’s another site touting the benefits of drinking warm water with lemon in it first thing in the morning before eating or drinking anything else. But it’s only because it’s true! This is an easy habit to get into and you don’t have to deprive yourself of anything.

3. Ditch the sugar and processed shit. Pretty self-explanatory. Everyone knows sugar and processed foods are the devil. But let’s be real, I don’t expect myself to give it up for good, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make good choices and substitutions whenever possible.

My 2 cents: This is not an all or nothing strict diet. Just because a food is on the acidic list, doesn’t mean I have to give it up completely. While meat is on the acidic list, I personally don’t believe giving up meat entirely is healthy either. The amount and quality of the meat is most important. I try to get grass-fed beef whenever possible. It contains far more nutrients than conventional beef does. The best thing to do is just be aware and if you tend to experience inflammatory symptoms it may be worth switching up your diet to include more alkaline foods.

One Healthy Breakdown: awareness is key…in alkalinity!

 

*Caroline O’Neill is a year round Hamptons resident and passionate wellness warrior. By day she is a Speech-Language Pathologist and spends her free time learning everything she can about nutrition, yoga, food, spirituality and personal development along with creating her blog www.bloomandspark.com.

Surf’s Up in the Hamptons

What’s a girl to do when her home gym closes for month?! Learn to surf, of course! Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration…I didn’t actually learn to surf, per se, but I did learn to workout on a surfboard! It’s called Surfset and it’s awesome! If you’re like me, you may have seen this innovative fitness company on Shark Tank years ago. Well, lucky for us, we can hang ten (have to use the surf lingo obviously, get used to it) at Well Within Studio in East Hampton.

IMG_0926Surfset allows you to ride the wave without getting wet! Inspired by the art of surfing, Surfset is designed to strengthen the core, improve balance, burn fat, and be fun! Combining high-intensity interval training with Pilates, resistance training, and constant stabilization, it’s a full-body workout that will get your heart pumping, your arms paddling, your core tight, and your entire body working!

FullSizeRender_2Class begins with a warm-up (‘on shore,’ aka the floor) and immediately transitions into intervals of cardio and head-to-toe conditioning. Anything’s game, from ‘starfish crunches,’ to ‘duck-dive burpees’ (you think burpees are hard? Try doing ’em on a moving surface!) to ‘wave runner’ (aka mountain climbers.) The unsteady surfboard acts as an obstacle to jump over, a surface to squat on, a mat for Pilates and yoga, and even a place for standing arm-work with the built-in resistance band. The board is created to mimic the instability of an actual surf board on the water. In order to stay balanced or perform even the simplest movement on the board, the mid-section is engaged and working hard. By the end of the 45 minute class, (which flies by thanks to the thrill of the surf and hoppin’ music) the glutes, arms, abs, and back have all gotten a full workout!

FullSizeRender_1It’s safe to say that these surfers thought of everything. Emma Field, owner of Well Within and Surfset instructor, explains what made her first fall for this unique fitness program:

“I stumbled upon Surfset a couple of years ago at a fitness convention in Germany and immediately liked what I saw. I kept in touch with the owners and as soon as a space became available, I opened up a studio to accommodate Surfset as well as various other fitness and yoga classes. I’ve worked with personal trainers and done pretty much everything out there, but nothing compared to Surfset. You get cardio, strength-building, muscle-lengthening and, of course, your core whipped into shape in no time! Personally, I love that there are no props, (besides the board, of course), so you get toned, but not bulky. I started my fitness journey as a Pilates instructor, so I appreciate a great workout using just your own body weight!”

FullSizeRenderSo, how do you workout…on a surf board?! It takes a strong mind-body connection, an engaged core, and a balance of concentration and trust to complete the class without shaking profusely or falling off-board. Emma makes it look so damn easy and natural, you may wonder what’s wrong with you, but don’t fret. Emma says not to get discouraged at the first class. “If you keep coming back, your balance will improve and you will instantly start to see the results. I mean…who doesn’t want a toned surfer body?”

One Healthy Breakdown: Join the party wave at Well Within Studio! See you at the pipeline?!

Giving Thanks OHH Style

Here are a few tips for the happiest, healthiest turkey day yet!

Portrait of a family saying grace before eating dinner1. Focus on Thanks-giving. Giving Thanks. That’s what it’s all about. Most families tend to rush through a humungo, chaotic, larger than life meal that took days to prepare, and are lucky if everything’s still civil and sober by dessert. Embrace your company and focus on family. Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, which can definitely be a stressful time. Before the fun begins, take at least 5-10 minutes to actually ponder what you’re thankful for. What has changed for the better since last Thanksgiving? Who are you grateful to spend time with this holiday? Make it a point to think about how to truly live in the moment and enjoy the day and the season, not just the short-lived feast.

2. Eat all day. Ok, not allllll day, but don’t (do NOT) fast for the feast! If you skip breakfast and lunch to save room or calories, you’ll be starving, your blood sugar will be off, and you’ll make up for it big time later. Eat a balanced breakfast and even a small lunch or snack so that you’re more likely to eat dinner as dinner, not as the all-you-can-fit buffet. Smoothies are a great option for a light meal, packed with nutrients that won’t fill you up or weigh you down!

3. Chew more, eat less. Chewing is underrated and overlooked. The simple act of tasting and chewing our food (really chewing, like a lot) aids digestion and satisfaction in monumental ways. If you’re mindful of chewing each and every bite, you may not have to loosen that belt after all!

4. Eat the gosh darn turkey! We all know that the turkey is not the problem. Turkey is a delicious source of lean protein that is low in fat, low on the glycemic index, and full of healthy goodness. It’s those caramelized side dishes, dinner rolls, and pieces of pie that do us in. Let’s all stop blaming the bird and aim for a well-balanced plate of protein, carbs, and lots of veggies.

5. Have your pie and eat it too. Splurging is o.k., normal, and enjoyable. Just keep in mind that this is not the last supper and that servings, bites, tastes, and even slivers add up. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a diet disaster. Instead of loading your plate once, twice, three times before dessert is served, take your time in choosing your favorites and indulge mindfully.

One Healthy Breakdown: focus on what the day is all about! (hint: it’s not mashed potatoes!)

Feeling Fresh & Clean Ending 2014

One engagement, wedding, and honeymoon behind me and I’m ready for a reset, both mentally and physically. The dress fittings have come and gone and life goes on, my friends! Real life is calling and there’s no time like the present. I know you can all relate. If it’s not a wedding, it’s a birthday, a vacation, or another reason to celebrate. There will always be an excuse to sip champagne and eat cake, but it’s about living in moderation and maintaining a healthy body and mind that keeps us stable. Instead of heading into January with holiday bloat and gloat, let’s skip the New Years anticipation and just feel better today. Personally, I feel my best when I’m treating my body and my mind right.

Living a healthy lifestyle is like balancing a scale, the middle point between extremes. Though I didn’t really diet for my wedding, I was definitely hyper-aware of what I put into my body and how I targeted my workouts. While that’s one side of the spectrum, the other was my honeymoon indulgence in all things good and carby; pasta, pizza, wine, dessert, and more wine. While both practices were right for me at the time, (no shame in that!) but I’m excited to find the happy middle that is real life again!

Vintage Balance Scale If you’re in a need of a few small changes, a little reset, and balancing out the scale, join me in the following practices. Let’s do this sans the juice cleanse, starvation, strictness, supplements, or labels. Just some good old fashioned healthy fun to feel good inside and out.

1. Eat clean, lean, and green, whole foods, and indulge mindfully. It’s no surprise that whole foods are the way to go and that fresh fruits and veggies should be at the top of the pyramid. As the seasons shift, our bodies naturally crave more comforting, warming foods. Satisfy these cravings with soups, autumn staples, spiced smoothies, lean protein, whole grains, herbs and spices, and healthy fats. It’s not rocket science and there’s no magic diet involved (thank the lord!) Indulge moderately, chew slowly, and be aware of portion size. Don’t restrict yourselves of your favorite pleasure foods (for me, it’s red wine, nut butter, and dark chocolate) and don’t beat yourself up for indulging, but do avoid processed food and too much of a good thing.

2. Move your body every single day. It’s that simple. I’m all about switching it up, trying new things, and enjoying exercise. To me, a healthy, balanced life includes some grueling workouts that challenge, push, and exhaust as well as less-demanding days to rest, stretch, and recharge. Regardless of what it is, your favorite workouts/classes should be a priority on your calendar. Make it happen, walk more, and treat your body with love, it’s carrying you through life and you won’t get very far without lots of movement.

3. Sleep. Thoughts of our honeymoon are full of amazing memories, sites, and meals as well as physically and emotionally feeling like a  million bucks. No, it wasn’t just because I was on newlywed cloud 9. I slept. A LOT. Sleep is the fuel that charges our bodies to run efficiently and stay healthy, both physically and mentally. 8+ hours – make it happen.

4. Take time for yourself and give yourself permission to RELAX, every single day. Whether you practice daily meditation or not, it’s crucial to take ten minutes a day to breathe, connect with yourself, reflect, refocus, set your intention for the day, do some yoga, and completely relax. Like sleep, this simple practice can make your entire day, week, month, life better all around.

One Healthy Breakdown: It’s really that simple, folks. Let’s commit to feeling fresh and clean heading into 2015!

It’s ALL about B A L A N C E

When I came home from Anastasia Gavalas‘ – who you may recognize from OHH’s One Healthy MomHamptons Wellness Week lecture, “Rebalance Your Family,” I felt more balanced instantly!

balanceAlthough I don’t have a family of my own yet, (though we are adding an addition in a few weeks…more to come on that!) better balance is definitely a goal of mine and Anastasia’s insight is valuable for anyone and everyone. I preach about balance a lot and clearly, I want to practice what I preach, so better balance is a huge goal of mine, in 2014 and beyond!

Practicing and attaining balance makes us happier and healthier human beings. Balance isn’t necessarily permanent, but the feeling of balance is one we can learn to continuously strive for. Whether we have two things to do or 39, it’s about our approach. It’s about US. If we don’t first work on ourselves, everything around us will feel unbalanced too.

When we feel balanced, everything is more doable, things naturally fall into place. We go with the tides instead of against them. We’re able to feel good about what we get done and not beat ourselves up for what can probably wait until tomorrow. We’re content and realistic, and in turn, more present and efficient. Sounds good, right? So, how do we get there?

One of Anastasia’s top tips, which I’ll share with you, takes just ten minutes a day, and makes a huge difference. Get up in the morning and ask yourself: What is most important for me to accomplish today and what will make me feel happy if I get it done? What do I need to do today that will allow me to go to bed tonight feeling content and balanced? What are my top priorities today?

I LOVE this strategy and I’m going to incorporate it into my morning routine starting TODAY. I see it as a combination of list-making and meditating, rolled into one (which is good for a busy person seeking balance!) It’s not about making a never-ending to-do list, it’s about weeding out the ‘stuff’ and surfacing the big priorities. It’s not about the number of checks on the list, it’s about accomplishing the tasks that will make us truly satisfied at the end of the day. Personally, I’m making to-do lists left and right. I have pads, post-its, and pens all over the house and a list of notes on my phone. Anastasia reminded me that it’s not about ALL of these tasks, big, small, immediate, future, etc. It’s about the top priorities that turn a busy day into an accomplished day, a successful day, a BALANCED day.

Maybe one day, what comes to mind is going to three meetings, making 10 phone calls, and writing two articles for work. Maybe another day, it’s just attending a long yoga class or spending the day with family, reconnecting with a friend, or taking a walk outside. Depending on what your mind, body, and soul really need to feel balanced, those things will make it to the top of the list. I love it, thanks Anastasia!

One Healthy Breakdown: Life really IS ALL about B A L A N C E.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie

This healthy pumpkin pie recipe is delicious, vegan, and gluten-free!

pumpkpieCrust:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 2 cups raw pecans
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp flax
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ cup brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil, melted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F
  2. Grease a 9 inch pie pan
  3. Process oats into a fine powder using a food processor or blender (or you can just buy oat flour!) and set aside
  4. Put the pecans in the food processor and process until it starts to clump and oils are released (around 45 seconds), when finished you should be able to make a ball with the pecans
  5. Melt Earth Balance and brown rice syrup in the microwave for 30sec.
  6. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl (it’s easiest to do this part by hand)
  7. Put the pecan dough in the pie dish and spread out evenly, bringing it up the sides to make a crust. Press down firmly
  8. Poke the crust with a fork a few times
  9. Pre-bake the crust for 10-12 minutes, watching to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes.

Filling:

  • 2 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp Earth Balance (or preferred butter/margarine/oil)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp brown rice flour (or tapioca flour or cornstarch or arrowroot powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
  1. Whisk together the maple syrup and brown rice flour.
  2. Add all ingredients and whisk together
  3. Scoop the filling into the crust
  4. Cover the pie with aluminum foil
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes at 350F
  6. Let cool for 1 hour on the counter
  7. Place in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (I’ve found its best the longer you wait, even a few days later, so you can prepare this early for Thanksgiving to relieve some of the cooking stress!)
  8. Slice and serve!! For some added deliciousness, serve with some homemade coconut whipped cream!
  9. Serve and enjoy with family!

One Healthy Breakdown: Better than your average pie and much healthier too!

(Recipe slightly adapted from Oh She Glows)

*About Josie: I’m originally from Sag Harbor and I’m currently a student at Boston University working towards becoming a registered dietician and getting my Masters in Nutrition. I’ve been gluten-free for almost 2 years and vegan for a little over a year. My family is having a completely vegan, gluten-free Thanksgiving this year! I’ve been testing out new recipes to serve and this one was a real hit with my roommates (so hopefully it will be a hit with my family too!)

One Healthy Mom

Enjoy this refreshingly honest and inspirational interview with local family life teacher, parenting coach, and amazing mother of five, Anastasia Gavalas!

meee1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a mom, family life teacher, author of WING IT: 6 Simple Steps to Succeed as a Modern Day Parent, and founder of the WING IT PROJECT. I live in Bridgehampton with my husband and five children (ages 15, 13, 11, 9, & 7.) Helping parents make life with children easier is such gratifying work and making a difference in the world through the WING IT PROJECT is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. I live my life in a wholehearted way where I am happy with myself and confident with the choices I make.

mekidssm

2. How did ‘life as you know it’ come to be?

After I had my 2nd child I felt exhausted and couldn’t get out of bed. I was quickly diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, an autoimmune disease, that had been manifesting in my body for years. I took the prescribed medicine and it just didn’t help much. I kept plugging along but felt overwhelmed and emotionally drained. In 2003, we decided to move to the Hamptons and found out we were expecting baby #4… surprise! With all that was going on, on top of not having family or friends around for support, I quickly learned that I needed to change. I began searching for alternative methods that would support what I knew in my heart was best. I tried acupuncture, homeopathic remedies, and a new overall wellness approach for my health and for my family. It was out of necessity that I found a more organic way of living life. This included making my well-being a priority as well as teaching my children to be more independent.

3. What’s something you overcame and how?

My need to do everything perfectly and my fear-based reactions. Once I was able to recognize that the display of the “perfect” children or my role as the “perfect” mother was wearing me out and preventing me from living authentically, I let those ideas go. Perfection is based on other people’s judgements. I made a decision to separate myself from the concept of perfection to be happy. I practiced meditation starting ten minutes a day, carved out me-time every single day, and (just like I explain in the chapter, “Build Your Village” in WING IT) I began to surround myself with more supportive people who encourage my growth.

4. What is your favorite workout? Favorite family activity?

Dancing is one of my favorite things to do and I mix it with a brisk walk a few times a week. I get bored easily with exercising so I need to change my workout routine up all the time. As far as a family we like to swim (although 2 out of 5 kids hate the beach – not sure how that happened?!?) take bike rides, and go skiing. I have high-energy kids who are constantly moving and ready for adventure at all times so, we’re always moving & grooving.

5. As a career woman, mother, and wife, and how do you maintain balance in your life?

First, I redefined the concept of balance. Standing upright at all times isn’t realistic or worth the effort. But, remaining focused on a goal with a trusting, more joyful attitude will help balance appear in the most challenging of roles. I believe balance is about remaining flexible and knowing that, just as the mightiest of trees will bend and sway with the winds of world, so will mothers who strive for balance. At the end of the day, people just have to appreciate the flexibility and positions experienced.

5. Any great healthy tips for busy moms?

Yes, take time for yourself: get enough sleep, eat good food, sit down and take time to meditate so you can be the woman you were meant to be and the best mom for your children.

6. What food items do you always keep in the house?

Fresh vegetables and fruits – organic as much as possible, olive oil, different cheeses, good meats, gluten-free foods, and always a bottle of chilled champagne for those special occasions…because moms are people too!

7. What is your favorite indulgence?

Drinking tea in the morning, sleeping in (that’s happened maybe three times in the past 10 years… but, a girl can dream!) and long hot showers (alone.)

8. How do you make health a priority in your family without going overboard?

Practicing being healthy is a lifestyle choice. We spend a lot of time outdoors. I talk to my kids about nutritional balance. Four of my children are responsible for cooking one night per week. So, every night, we have a really good, balanced, colorful meal. Children learn by what they observe and I try to demonstrate a healthy lifestyle with the choices I make instead of badgering them with health talks.

9. What is your FAVORITE thing about living in the Hamptons?

The ease of living out here. There is an organic way to life. I love the diversity of people and the experiences it provides. It is a really special place to live with the most amazingly kind people. It’s a great place to raise children because you can be as tuned-in to what’s happening or tuned-out of the busyness of life as much as you want to be.

1094944_578046278901282_1736507745_nOne Healthy Breakdown: Love, laugh, play, learn, and live your life for YOU.

High Vibe Food, High Vibe Life

Kiley’s Intro: I was first introduced to the concept of raising our vibrational frequency and eating a high vibrational diet at Dream Body & Mind Re:TREAT. I am so incredibly intrigued by this realization that I just have to share. Energy – it’s everywhere. And we can control it. You know when a song you love is blasting and you feel so much energy building in and around you that you can’t help from start to dance? Or, when you’re talking to someone about something you’re passionate about and you suddenly feel happier, taller, prouder, and more energetic than you did just moments before? Turns out that the things we think, the words we say, foods we eat, sounds we hear, and everything we interact with, affects our own energy, which in turn, affects our mood and lots more. Energy is “contagious.” Everything in life has a vibrational frequency and One Healthy Hamptons aims to raise that frequency higher. And higher. We have that in common with Not Your Sugar Mamas...that and a deep love for chocolate. Kyleen Keenan & Bennett Coffey, Co-Founders of Not Your Sugar Mamas, explains this concept of connecting to our highest vibration better than I ever could, so read on!

Connecting to our highest vibration is one of the most important things we can do at this point in time. Think about it like this: everything is energy, every little thing contains some amount of energy within it, some things more than others. From a chair to a person, there is energy in each thing.

In regards to people, there are some people who are vibrating on a higher frequency than others. Maybe you’ve felt this but haven’t been able to really put it into words. You hang out with someone and you feel high and excited after you leave them. Another person may make you feel strange or down after you leave them. People who aren’t making the effort to connect to their higher vibration can energetically bring us down. Those who are, on the other hand, can bring us UP!

In regards to food, some food contains a higher vibration or more “life force” than other foods. Take kale for example. Kale is fresh out of the earth, it is a leafy green and it grows up and out, which gives us the same energetic feeling when we consume it. We feel lighter when we eat kale…as opposed to a Snickers bar.

photo(99)A Snickers bar has taken natural ingredients like chocolate, dairy, nuts, etc. and processed them so much that there is very little – to no – energy left in that food. In fact, nutritionally, a Snicker’s bar is hardly a food at all. After we eat a Snickers bar, we feel sluggish and tired, not energized and alive. We are brought down by the lack of energy in a processed candy bar and other processed foods. Not Your Sugar Mamas’ mission is to put really high quality chocolate, infused with good vibes, on the shelves and accessible to anyone. We believe that the energy from the food infused with good vibes will actually transfer into the person eating it, and help, even if in a really small way, to raise the vibration of that person.

Chocolate, particularly raw chocolate, is an incredibly high vibrational food with more antioxidants than any other. It also contains the bliss chemical that we release naturally in our brains, so we feel happy when we eat it. Putting these high quality superfoods into our bodies helps to shift the vibration. When we eat foods with more life force, we feel better. Food affects everything, even our thoughts. By eating better, we will become happier, healthier and more successful people capable of anything we put our minds to.

ChocolateWhen we are aligned with our higher vibration, we are living our truth and we are able to see and think more clearly. We have more positive and powerful thoughts going through our heads and we can attract positive things to ourselves and others around us. When we are on that higher level, we have more energy, we feel inspired, we are happier, we are lighter, we are higher.

Couple Playing on a SwingThink about a downward spiral of energy. You hang out with someone who makes you feel bad about yourself, you go to the store and get a Snickers bar, you feel crabby and pick a fight with a loved one, you continue to spiral downward, feeling worse instead of better.

Now think about the opposite. When you treat your body with love and respect, feed it high quality foods, exercise your body, and strengthen your mind, good things start to happen. This is living a higher vibrational life.

This can be the case all the time. We just have to make the choice. It’s up to us whether to spiral upward or downward. It seems like people have an obsession with control, with controlling their lives to look a certain way on the outside. But really, the only thing that we are in control of is our thoughts. We get to choose what we think about each and every moment, each and every day. When our inner world is peaceful, so is our outer world. It’s really that simple.

Keep a list of the things that bring you down and another list of things that make you feel good. Try to do MORE of the things that make you feel good, more often and LESS of the things that make you feel bad. We can catch ourselves before we start to spiral downward, we can literally stop in the moment and change our direction. How powerful is that? When we are in-tune with this idea of increasing our vibration and staying true to ourselves, there is no other outcome than happiness and success. If we were all doing this, we would change the world. Outer peace starts with inner peace. If we stay responsible for raising our own vibration we will raise the vibration of the planet and heal ourselves and the planet. There is no other way.

The only thing that sets us apart from the most successful people is the way we think. If you think you can, you can and if you think you can’t, you can’t. We have unlimited potential as human beings. So try raising your vibration, now. Why not start with some chocolate?!

One Healthy Breakdown: you had me at chocolate. And happiness!