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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Schererville, IN

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July 29, 2020

Why I Can’t Get it Together

I’m still out of my pre-pandemic routine. Some days, the struggle feels way too big. And that soothing bowl of ice cream is SHOUTING my name. For yo

July 23, 2020

Vegetables for Lazy Days

There are days, many of them lately, when I’m happy to prepare a meal, yet I am not in the mood to peel and chop a batch of vegetables to sauté, ro

July 16, 2020

Creating Art in Your Kitchen

Years ago, I did not believe that I had a single creative bone in my body. This was due to the fact that I got poor marks on my drawings in art class.

July 9, 2020

Cheers for Rainiers

What is this Saturday, July 11, you ask? Why, it’s National Rainier Cherry Day! In 1952, Harry Fogle of Washington State University developed the Ra

July 2, 2020

It’s Summer, so Bring on the Ribs

In our family, summer means grilling. One of our favorites: baby back ribs cooked to perfection. There’s a rib joint in Porter by the name of Wagner

June 25, 2020

Sniff. What’s That Smell?

How does summer smell to you? What aromas make you happy? Maybe you haven’t thought about it much, unless you have seasonal allergies or a cold. Tod

June 18, 2020

A Time to Celebrate

Big weekend ahead. I wish all you fathers and like-fathers a very special Father’s Day this Sunday. May you enjoy a day filled with love, happiness,

June 17, 2020

Salmon Dill Nicoise Salad

Although a classic Nicoise salad is made with tuna, it’s nice with perfectly cooked salmon. Nicoise salad has all the light and vibrant flavors of a

June 11, 2020

Relax into Summer

The amazing season known as summer is nearly upon us. When I think of it, my mind sees beaches, hammocks, pitchers of iced tea, grills in action, all

June 4, 2020

I’m a Honey Fan

I am often asked about honey—if it’s healthier than sugar. Honey does contain sugar. Per tablespoon, honey has 64 calories and 17g of sugar. That

Fruits and Vegetables Made Easy

‘Tis the season of Farmer’s Markets and an abundance of fruits and vegetables grown locally. Well, almost. In winter, it can be such a challenge to find a tasty tomato or strawberry.

June is the month in Indiana for homegrown strawberries. July is for blueberries and corn on the cob, and August is the month of peaches. I realize corn on the cob does not really count as a vegetable, however it is a wonderful vehicle for butter and salt. When it’s amazing, and we live in the heartland, we enjoy it.

Here is a real eye-opener: Eating at least 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day may help lower your blood cholesterol. There are numerous substances in food that have cholesterol-lowering properties. Many are found in vegetables and fruits. Mother knows best, again. Now I know why she made me eat those stinkin’ green beans! (I like them now.)

Of course, there are many other reasons to increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. Among them:

  • They are alkaline producing, which can help to preserve bone mass and muscle tissue.
  • They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.
  • They contain lots of water to help you stay hydrated.
  • Because fruits and vegetables have a high water and fiber content, they’re low in calories relative to their volume. Consuming them on a regular basis can result in a higher volume of food intake. A high consumption of low calorie density foods can help to control overall food intake and manage body weight. In other words, when you fill up on fruits and vegetables instead of other foods, it can help you lose weight. Sweet!

If your goal is to reduce body fat, the ratio of vegetables to fruits should be 5:1. To maintain your current numbers, the ratio is 3:1.

I will admit, 10 servings of these wonderful foods do not quite make it on a daily basis with our family. We can do better, so we practice. I enjoy growing a few vegetables among all the weeds, especially tomatoes. Give it a try, even if you only have room for a couple pots on a patio. (Less to weed then!)

Another thing I like to do is bring home a “new” vegetable and then figure out a tasty way to prepare it. I challenge you to do the same. If you get stuck, shoot me an email and we’ll figure it out together.

The more colors and variety, the better. Have fun with this. Buying local produce helps support those who live in or near your community, is fresher than produce coming from another country, and has a higher nutrient content. What’s not to like?

For those of us who live in Indiana, the arrival of Farmer’s Markets is simply another reason to be glad it’s spring!

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson

Choosing Wisely

Sometimes we attend luncheons or dinners, and the fare offered is rather limited. Perhaps, as I wrote in my blog last week, we feel like we are using up our 20% of the 80/20 rule. But maybe, just maybe, we can get by unscathed. Here are my tips on how to make choices that are just a little bit healthier, so you can save your 20% for another meal! (Friday night pizza?)

I’ll give you a couple of scenarios so you get the general idea. Let’s say you are at a business luncheon with buffet options:

  • Tossed green salad with several dressings
  • Rolls for sandwich making or as a side
  • Thinly sliced roast beef with au jus
  • Italian sausage
  • Hamburgers
  • Sliced tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, etc. to dress up a sandwich
  • Assorted drinks: water, diet soda, regular soda, unsweetened ice tea, coffee
  • Assorted fresh fruits
  • Brownies (you can tell by looking that they are NOT AMAZING)

For this blog’s sake, pretend summer is just around the corner and you may need to put on shorts or a swimsuit. You are committed to cutting back on breads, sugars, and want to eat more vegetables. Here’s how you make this lunch part of your 80% instead of 20%.

Begin with a GENEROUS helping of salad. Choose the least amount of dressing you need to add flavor without distracting from the taste of the greens and other salad components. An oil and vinegar based option is typically a better choice than thick and creamy, since you need more of the creamy types to go around.

Next, if you make a sandwich, add more vegetables to it. Maybe you could even make an open-faced sandwich and use a big piece of lettuce as a topper, instead of eating the entire roll. Or, skip the roll totally and you have the meal concept: main dish with side salad. The best drink option is water, then the tea or coffee. If you select soda, you will get more than your day’s maximum of sugar, and the chemicals in diet soda are not good. Enjoy your natural sugar from the fresh fruit.

If you typically bypass the salad, eat the sandwich and drink a soda, practice switching just one of those options. Slow and steady…

The brownie…it’s not amazing, so skip it. Save up for a treat you will REALLY enjoy later.

When you attend a sit-down dinner and the food is plated for you, you get what you get. However, these are usually pretty standard: salad, soup, protein (beef, chicken, fish), vegetable (green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower) and starch (baked potato or pasta). Can you tell I’ve been to lots of these? If the chicken is fried, removing the skin is a good move. Avoiding fried foods as much as possible is preferable. Rolls are almost always present and may certainly be skipped in case the dessert IS AMAZING! (I have been known to eat the bread when the main course is not the best or if it is rather skimpy. There are times…)

This is simply a matter of making choices that are a little better than you may have made a year ago, or six months ago. It depends on your personal health and fitness goals and what works for you. Bon Appetit!

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ― Thomas Edison

Why 80% is an “A” on my Scale

When I was in school, an “A” was earned with a score of 90% to 100%. There wasn’t much room for error. When I practiced pharmacy, the range of error was even less, as you can imagine.

When it comes to eating in a way that serves you nutritionally, I like the 80% rule. It works like this: eat nutritionally sound foods at least 80% of the time. The other 20% is “room for error” or “cheat meals” or whatever term suits you. 

Reality check: life does not always allow us to carry out our perfect plan for fitness, food, and the way we think things ought to go. We have very little control. However, we can usually control our food choices and how much we move.

80% is realistic. The 80/20 rule allows for those special times with friends, holidays, birthdays and “because I had a tough day” days. 80% gets us past the ALL or NONE way of thinking, which only sets us up to fail miserably.

Here’s how it works: 80% of the time make sure you eat the proper amount of lean protein, vegetables, carbohydrates and good fats.

An easy way to know how much you need:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your veggie portions.                            
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

The recommendation is that women have one of each of those with most meals. For men, the recommendation is two of each with most meals. This guideline assumes you eat 4 times a day. Easy.

Let’s do the math. Eating 4 meals a day means 28 meals a week. So, following the 80/20 rule, if 22 or 23 of those meals are on target, you’ll most likely stay on track.

This takes into account Sunday brunch, the birthday celebration at work on Tuesday, “because it rained” on Wednesday (this person doesn’t live in Northwest Indiana where it has rained everyday for at least a week—that person blew it BIG time), pizza sounded really good on Friday night, and the hot dog at Home Depot called to you on Saturday.

I’ve had days when I never saw a vegetable and the carbohydrates ruled the plate. It happens. Life happens. Eat well most of the time and you’ll probably reach most of your health and fitness goals.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –Charles M. Schulz

What’s Your Elephant?

I recently came across a movie starring Bill Murray (odds are good it’s a comedy—it was) and an elephant by the name of Vera. In a nutshell, it’s about a motivational speaker (Bill) who learns his circus clown father died and left him Vera. Since elephants aren’t like dogs when it comes to traveling, eating, sleeping, etc., Bill found himself in quite a quandary. The movie tells the story of how he and Vera managed their new partnership as they traveled across the country. 

Although I’ve never seen an elephant up-close and personal, I’ve seen some fascinating documentaries and think they have many traits similar to us. They’re pretty interesting looking, not to mention HUGE.

So, what is the elephant you’re facing today? What is the problem in the middle of the room that feels as big as Vera? Need some clues? It could be the one thing that is keeping you stuck and out of alignment with your health and fitness plan.

Maybe your elephant is:

  • Too many snacks in the house because your family “needs” them. 
  • Eating late at night.
  • Taking care of everyone else and not taking care of you.
  • Working too many hours.
  • Difficulty in planning meals.

Here’s the thing Bill discovered in the movie: the more he wanted to avoid Vera, the bigger she got. He couldn’t make her go away by eating, drinking, sleeping or running. He finally had to face the fact that he had an elephant and he had to deal with her.

Today, what if you could just whittle away a piece of your elephant? Is there one small thing you can do to make your Vera a bit less daunting?

Like:

  • Exchange one of those snacks in the house for something a bit healthier.
  • Figure out if your truly hungry, or simply bored, then make an adjustment.
  • Ask for help with one thing that you really don’t need to do.
  • Shave an hour off of one workday.
  • Plan one or two meals ahead of time for your busy week.

Don’t worry about the WHOLE elephant today, simply a piece of it. Face your Vera, make a plan, and take one small action!

“The very things that hold you down are going to life you up.”—Timothy Mouse from Dumbo

The movie: Larger Than Life