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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Schererville, IN

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January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

December 17, 2020

Create Your Own Cookbook and Mr. Non-Compliant’s Favorite Vegetable

Those of us who attended the Zoom “Amazing Cookie Bake” had a delicious time baking our cookies. My cookie press was missing its piston—a critic

December 10, 2020

We’re Baking Cookies Together… Sort of

I’m baking cookies this coming Saturday morning, and I’d love for you to join me! Through the magic of ZOOM, we are all gathering to bake and soci

December 2, 2020

So, the Marshmallows Caught Fire…

Thanksgiving Day is but a faint memory, as we fast forward into Advent and the season of Christmas. It was quiet around the Slager home, until the mar

November 25, 2020

Cookies, Carrots, and Giving Thanks

Here it is November, and everything is still pretty weird. I find it hard to believe that we’ve almost blown through another year, even though it se

November 19, 2020

Are Bananas Good for You?

Bananas sometimes get a bad rap. The truth is, they have lots of redemptive qualities. They are among the most important food crops on the planet. Alt

November 12, 2020

What to Make for Dinner When the Power Goes Out

As I was writing this, my power went out. It wasn’t just a flicker. It was a full OUTAGE in our local area. Concerned that this could linger into th

Managing Inherited Behaviors

Ice cream is still my favorite food. It has been my favorite food my entire life, as far back as I can recall.

I firmly believe that my fondness for ice cream is sewn into my DNA as strongly as the color of my eyes. My parents were ice cream fans, hence, the inherited “ice cream gene.” 

So, what am I doing about it? We all know that ice cream is loaded with sugar, fat, empty calories, and provides no nutritional value whatsoever. I’ve tried “the cream provides calcium” reasoning. Lame.

We all have strong ties to some foods, behaviors, and ideas that we’ve grown up with. Think about it. What do you “blame” your family for?

Back to my “ice cream gene” behavior. Since I know that ice cream is a food that does not serve my health in a positive way, I’ve curtailed my consumption. If I were perfect, I would kick it out totally.

News Flash: I am not perfect, just ask Mr. Non-Compliant. I’ve been known to sneak a few of his M&M’s. There are some days I forget to eat a vegetable. Life Happens.

What I do is MANAGE my behavior in a way that better serves me. If I were to totally deny myself the pleasure of the occasional ice cream habit, the day would come that I’d go off the deep end and eat an entire half-gallon in one sitting. Not a good idea.

By carefully choosing when to enjoy my favorite food, I am still able to tie into all those great childhood memories that make me happy, and not feel deprived.

I DO NOT NEED ICE CREAM EVERYDAY. I used to think I did.

This, my dear reader, is progress. And this is how we manage those foods and behaviors that feel like they are such a strong part of who we are.

Incorporating our identity into ways that help us live and play full out is the ticket. It takes some creativity, and that is where I can help.

Together we achieve whatever it is that’s important for your health and well-being, in a way that is sustainable for you. I don’t do diets. I do “eat the best way for YOU.”

Let me know if you’d like to learn more about how we can work together. It begins with a complimentary conversation that dials into your unique “ice cream gene” traits.

Much love,
Carol

“Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity.”—Jonathan Safran Foer

Fresh fruits and veggies, fish, good fats make healthy eating delicious

(The following article first appeared in the February 14, 2018 issue of Get Healthy, a publication of The Northwest Indiana TimesOnline version)

There’s a video on the Internet that depicts why eating healthy can be a challenge. The setting is a 1970’s kitchen, complete with lime green cabinets. The wife has made her husband a beautiful breakfast of steak, eggs, toast, coffee and juice. As he sits down to peacefully enjoy this typical American meal, a man from the future continuously darts in with healthy food bulletins. Don’t eat the eggs; eat the eggs, but not the yolks; the entire egg is okay, but toss the red meat; no more toast; and so on. When did eating become so complicated?

 

Today I will give you a few tips so you may calmly enjoy your food as we did back in the day of lime green kitchens. Here are some simple ideas to get you started.

 

Avoid trans fats. These are “bad” fats. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled in 2015 that these artificial fats are not safe for consumption and gave restaurants and food companies three years to eradicate this health hazard. We’re not quite there and they are still in many fried, baked, and packaged foods. Be sure to scan anything you buy that has an ingredient label. These are commonly listed as “partially hydrogenated” and “hydrogenated” oils. Legally, a food can claim zero trans fat and have up to 0.49 grams per serving. Even small amounts play a significant role in cardiovascular disease. Beware of biscuits, cookies, crackers, non-dairy coffee creamer, fried fast foods, microwave and theater popcorn, margarine, to name a few. Choosing to minimize trans fats and all processed fats is a great way to love your heart.

 

The good news. As you seek out foods in the aforementioned categories that are made with real fat (such as butter, olive oil) instead of made-in-a-lab fat, you will begin to taste the difference. What about butter and oils for a healthy heart? Moderation and balance are key. The enjoyment and satisfaction level with real fat is much higher. Less is more.

 

Consume less sugar. Most Americans eat too much sugar. It is highly addictive and tastes delicious. From a health perspective, it’s a slippery slope. Increased blood sugar levels lead to poor heart health. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that men limit their intake of added sugar to 9 teaspoons (36grams) and women limit their intake to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day. For reference, a 12-ounce can of soda contains about 9 teaspoons. Added sugars include any type of sweetener, whether it’s honey, agave, maple syrup, cane sugar, etc., that is added by the food manufacturer or you. Artificial sweeteners are not the answer, as they are chemicals and introduce health concerns of their own.

 

The good news. Many fruits satisfy a sweet tooth and add fiber and nutrients as a bonus. Eating a sweet treat when the ingredients are real, (see recipe), along with a meal or snack that includes lean protein, vegetables and real grains, is not as tough on the body as having a donut and coffee in the morning on an empty stomach.

 

Minimize intake of processed foods. These typically contain preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, excessive sodium, and other chemicals that aren’t boosting us toward stellar health. Deli meats, bacon, pre-packaged and frozen meals and any food that is not in its natural form could be included here.

 

The good news. There are many foods that will boost heart health: fish (wild-caught) rich in omega-3 fats, such as Alaskan salmon, albacore tuna, Atlantic mackerel, sardines; one to two ounces of dark chocolate that has a cacao (or cocoa) content of at least 70%; a handful of raw nuts; avocados and avocado oil (good fats); a variety of fruits (especially berries) and vegetables in all colors; a glass of red wine (the best option for an alcoholic beverage). Consider following the Mediterranean diet guidelines, which is mostly plant-based (fruits and vegetables), includes whole grains, legumes, extra-virgin cold-pressed olive oil, fish, poultry, and limits red meat and sugar.

 

Tasty and healthy snacks. Homemade protein bars, hummus and guacamole with raw vegetables; almond or other nut butters with apples or pears; fresh berries with a drizzle of flavored balsamic vinegar.

 

As for the breakfast from the 70’s? The entire egg is full of nutrients. Skip the juice and eat a piece of fruit–more fiber, more filling. I’d put a splash of real cream in the coffee. Red meat on occasion and true whole grain bread would not upset future man.

 

In Conclusion. Make one change at a time, eat more food that is simple and real, and keep the balance. For those times when you are choosing a treat, here’s a recipe that is a big hit with my family. These are gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use non-dairy chocolate chips) and vegan. You don’t even need a mixer. Deliciously simple.

 

Quick and Easy Chocolate Chip Cookie Bites

 

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour*
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ¼ cup Earth Balance Soy Free Buttery Sticks** (melted)
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/3 to ½ cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine almond flour, salt and baking soda in a large bowl, using a pastry blender to break up any clumps of flour. Stir in melted Earth Balance, honey and vanilla with a large spoon until dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more honey or melted Earth Balance, a little at a time, until it is moist enough to stick together. (You may need an additional 1-2 Tbsp.) Drop by teaspoonful or small cookie scoop onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently press the dough flat.

Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, until slightly brown. Be careful not to overbake. Leave them alone to set and cool for about 15 minutes so they don’t crumble and break. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freezer.

 

*Benefits of using almond flour: lower in carbohydrates and higher in protein, fiber and healthy fat than some other flour options.

**Earth Balance is a blend of good oils. Butter may also be used.

 

Applause for Your Consistency

Today, I acknowledge and applaud you for your commitment to consistency.

Whether you consistently make a conscious effort to consume more vegetables for dinner, walk everyday for 10 minutes, or drink your water, you are AWESOME!

I know you are committed, because you share your stories with me–on my Inkwell Healthy Lifestyles Facebook page, via email, or 1:1 conversation. You are making changes that improve your health, well-being, and happiness!

Congratulations!

I know it’s not easy. The road to wellness takes patience, perseverance, and a deep desire to make changes that feel really hard some days.

And we are always learning.  

Last week I attended a class at Mrs. Dornberg’s Culinary Experience in Highland, IN. The title of the class was “Eating for Awesome Energy.” The topic presented was not new for me, yet I learned LOTS of new information to help me on my health journey. Oh, and some very yummy recipes!

For example, do you know how to choose the very best vegetables?

Say you have two heads of cauliflower. (I know, not my favorite. I keep on trying…) One may be larger than the other and both look similar in appearance. Choose the heavier one. Why? It contains more water, which makes for a tastier head of cauliflower. This is true for all vegetables, since they are made up mostly of water. Lighter ones contain less water, and will not be as tasty. Same rule applies for melons, etc.

The moral of the story: by taking ANY of Mrs. Dornberg’s classes, you will learn things that are new. One of the best ways to improve the health of you and your family is to get into the habit of cooking more meals. Learning from Mrs. Dornberg is a great way to go.   

I don’t mean to rush time, however we are only 3 months out from Christmas. If you are already dreading the “holiday five, ten, or fifteen” pounds that seem to appear by the New Year, I can help.

Email me and we’ll have a conversation to set up a plan to keep you on track. It is very possible to enjoy the holiday season without feeling bad. It’s simply a matter of understanding what works best for you, along with committed consistency.

Together, we can do this!

Much love,
Carol

“Every bite you eat will either promote health or promote disease.”—Cheryl Dornberg

No Time? Quick Meal Ideas

No time. Can you relate? I’ve been feeling the crunch of more scheduled evening events—and I no longer have kids going back to school!

As I sat looking at what happened to my calendar in the last week, I realized that many of my extracurricular activities were on summer sabbatical. They are all back with a vengeance.

EVERYTHING started up at the same time.  

The Challenge: My brain is still stuck in summer mode. Workouts feel hard, I can’t deal with buying more than 15 items from the grocery at a time, and I can barely find the cherry tomatoes in my garden because of the weeds.

Then there’s the little detail of making dinner really fast, so that I can be at my evening functions. Can you believe Mr. Non-Compliant gets hungry and wants more than M&M’s?

He does.

I thought it might be helpful for you to have some REALLY QUICK meal ideas, in case you’re finding yourself in a similar end-of-summer situation.

Here are my last four days of dinner menus, and all took less than 30 minutes to prepare: (Please don’t judge.)

Sunday: Hamburgers, angel hair pasta (for Mr. NC), tossed salad

Monday: Sautéed scallops, sautéed zucchini and onions, brown rice  

Tuesday: Beyond Meat Hot (not really) Italian Sausage sliced and sautéed with broccoli florets, orange bell pepper, and canned mushrooms, leftover brown rice for me and leftover pasta for Mr. NC

Wednesday: Rotisserie chicken (from the grocery) and tossed salad, which neither of us were home to eat—oh well

 

Quick Tips

  • I cook a surplus of pasta and brown (or white) rice so that they are ready to reheat as an accompaniment to the protein of choice. This saves time AND dirty pans, especially since I don’t eat gluten-filled pasta and Mr. NC is not so fond of brown rice. I love my Instant Pot for cooking rice.
  • Keep ground beef/turkey/pork, chicken, sausage—any of your favorite proteins—in the freezer so you don’t have to run to the store. Add a few vegetables (which could also be frozen) and you have a stir-fry. Really easy when you have your rice already cooked.
  • A tossed green or spinach salad goes well with everything and gives you another serving or more of vegetables.
  • Fresh fruit is a good choice for dessert if you don’t have to dash out the door as soon as you set down your fork.

We really DO have time to do the things that matter most, once we get our mindset right. If you’re struggling, I’d like to help. Let me hear from you! Clarity is a wonderful thing, yet it is sometimes tricky to find on our own.

Cheers to fall,
Carol

“Don’t be so easily moved by things that do not benefit the well-being of your soul. Time waits for no one, and you’re going to wish you invested more of yourself into the things that sparked your heart.”