Wellness Series: Let’s Get Physical: Eating Well

In my last blog post, I introduced the seven aspects of wellness… a well-balanced person will care for their physical, emotional. spiritual, social, occupational, environmental, and intellectual needs.  This week, I’m going to begin to tackle physical wellness.

What constitutes physical well-being?  If we are able to create healthy habits that allow us to have a healthy diet, quality sleep, and regular exercise, and avoid unhealthy amounts of things like sugar and alcohol, chances are pretty good we achieve physical wellness,  and can function without feeling fatigued or experiencing a high level of physical stress in our activities.

But how do you get there?  It can be daunting, trying to change habits.  That is why I always suggest to folks to chance one thing at a time.  Let’s talk about healthy eating.

I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life.  I grew up in a meat-eating household, and at the tender age of 14, decided I was done eating red meat.  I had to learn how to cook, because as my mother said”I’m not a short-order cook.  If you don;t want to eat what I cook, you’re going to have to learn how to cook for yourself.”  I bought a couple of cookbooks, made some really bad meals at the beginning, but over time, I started making better meals that my dad even wanted to try.

By the time I was 21, all meat, including fish, was gone from my diet.  I now go in and out of veganism…which means no dairy or eggs, either. I do this because dairy is my gateway drug…if I start eating cheese, then along with it comes crackers, chips, a lot of eggs (think omelets for breakfast every morning), and all of a sudden I’m 20 pounds heavier.  And so, I do my best to eat dairy in moderation, and if it gets out of control, it’s not in my refrigerator.

A lot of my clients ask me about my diet on a regular basis.  I’ve had clients say they wished they could see into my kitchen, to find out what I cook.     Newsflash:  While I like salad, I eat so much more than that, which is what many folks used to think when they heard I was a vegetarian.    When I do salads, they generally have beans or nuts in them to add protein.   I will chop veggies to make enough salad to get me through several days, and bring it to work for lunch.  


When I prepare meals, I try to make enough to give me leftovers for a few other meals,  That way, when I get home from work and feel too tired to cook, I’m not eating tortilla chips and dip for dinner.   Instead, I have something yummy, like a tasty vegetable and bean soup, curried tofu and vegetables, or beans, rice, and greens.






If I have a super busy week, on Sunday, I will do massive food prep….chop lots of veggies, cook a few meals, package up stuff for lunches and snacks at work, so I can just grab something out of the fridge in the morning, pop it in my bag, and head out the door.  My lunches and snacks usually consist of fresh veggie salads, a rice salad like the one pictured below, apple slices and nut butter, veggie sticks and hummus, and other things that can easily be eaten between clients.  


What about breakfast? In the winters, I like a hot breakfast.  While some mornings I like to eat oatmeal with fruit and nuts,  I tend to make something on Sunday that I can heat up a few mornings a week.   As a huge fan of vegetables, these breakfasts tend to be veg-heavy.






Eating a lot of vegetables fills me up, so that I tend to not want to eat as much junk.

I’d like to encourage you to consider doing some meal prep on Sunday for the week’s lunches that incorporated lots of vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins.


Somewhat Healthy Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Oh. My. Goodness.

I found a recipe online for flourless cookies, and they are fabulous!  They are really easy to make, and fast, so it’s a quick fix to a craving for sweet. And they’re pretty healthy, too!  (Garbanzo beans and nut butter….protein!  They also provide some iron and potassium.  I can justify anything.)



  • 1-1/4 cups canned Garbanzo Beans~~ rinse & pat dry (I used one of the aseptic 13.4 oz container found at Whole Foods)
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup (generous) Cashew Butter (the recipe called for peanut butter, but I don’t eat peanuts, and made it with my favorite substitute.  I think it’s best to use the natural stuff…not the nut butters that have added  sugars and other somewhat questionable ingredients)
  • 1/4 cup Honey (go local!)
  • 1 tsp. Baking Powder
  • pinch Salt
  • 1 cup chocolate bits (I love chocolate.  The recipe called for 1/2 cup, but I doubled, because I can.  I also used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao, because the darker the better. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve cardiovascular health.  Another justification.)

Combine all ingredients except for chocolate in a blender (or food processor) until smooth.  Mix in chocolate bits.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and glop by large spoonful onto cookie sheet.  They don’t really spread or get bigger. ) The recipe says to wet your hands and form them into 1-1/2″ balls, but I’m a lazy baker and choose natural shapes instead.) Press down slightly if you so choose.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.

Try not to devour all of them in one sitting.  I dare ya!


Summer Zucchini Salad

One of my favorite things to do with zucchini in the summer, when there is an abundance of it in my garden, is make a salad with other fresh garden veggies.


Summer Zucchini Salad

4 descent sized zucchini, cut into 1 inch quarter rounds.  Steam until tender. 

 While squash is steaming, mix together:


2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut into halves

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 cup chopped cilantro                                                                                                                      

 1/2 cup cooked black beans


When squash is just tender, remove from pot, cool then mix with the rest of the ingredients.  Chill for at least an hour before serving.

For a complete vegetarian meal, this goes great with cheese enchiladas and avocado.  You can also mix in 1/2 to 1 cup of corn into it for a truly colorful salad.


Eat Your Veggies!

In March of 2007, the Center for Disease Control and the Produce for Better Health Foundation launched a national campaign with the slogan, “Fruits & Veggies — More Matters”, replacing the old  “Five a Day” campaign, which dates back to the early 1990s.  They have discovered that five servings of fruits and vegetables is just not enough. According to these organizations, adults need anywhere from seven to 13 cups of produce daily to reap all the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.

Many folks have a hard enough time eating 5 servings a day, which generally equals 5 cups of raw fruit or veggies or 2-1/2 cups cooked.  The thought of 7 to 13 cups a day is probably overwhelming to most folks.  How can that much produce be incorporated into the diet?  It really is quite easy.

I have been a vegetarian for most of my life.  Sometimes my diet is not that good, but generally, I can say that I easily eat 7 to 13 cups of fruits and veggies a day.  How?

Breakfast:  I usually  start my day off with a smoothie, made with  1 cup organic vanilla yogurt, 1 banana (about 1 cup) and 1 cup strawberries, or any other fuit that suits your tastes (frozen fruit is great for smoothies).  Or, slice a banana or some strawberries on your favorite cereal.  If you are a morning bagel eater, try it with sliced red onion and tomato, or spread some avocado on top of it. 

Lunch:  Generally, I eat a salad.  I like colorful salads, and often they have seven different vegetables….lettuce, cucumber, red bell pepper, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrot, red onion, celery, and avocado.  A big salad is about 4 -5 cups worth of veggies.  Sound like too much work?  Buy veggies already cut up.  Still too much work?  My “lazy” salad is mixed baby salad greens (pre-washed) with steamed asparagus or snow peas and red bell pepper, with walnuts.  still, about 4 cups worth of veggies.  If you are fortunate to live or work near a store like Whole Foods, they have a great salad bar….it may cost a little more to buy your salad ingredients that way, but it cuts down on the work.  And anyway, aren’t you worth it?  Add a harb-boiled egg, some shredded or cubed cheese, or a small handful of nuts for some protein.

Dinner?  If you don’t want to spend a bunch of time chopping fresh veggies, buy frozen…you can even buy bags of mixed vegetables for a bit a variety.  Add them to soups, or stir-fry them with your favorite protein. Steam them  and serve them as a side, sprinkled with parmesian cheese, Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids or soy sauce, or a splash of your favorite viniagrette.

Snacks:  Buy a bag of baby carrots, celerty sticks, broccoli crowns, cherry tomatoes…these all go great dipped into hummus, which you can also get pre-made.  Dried fruit is also a great snack, you can even keeep them in a desk drawer…just don’t eat too much, as dried fruit has a heavy sugar content, and can also cause stomach pains if you are no drinking enough water.

With a little bit of practice, it really is not that difficult to eat healthy meals. The more veggies you eat, the better you will feel. Mom was right….eat your veggies!

Stress Management Tip ~~ A Banana A Day

I just read an article in the newspaper that suggested making banana bread to help reduce stress.  The author’s reasons included the meditative, calming process of cooking, as well as the fact that bananas contain potassium, which helps to reduce stress.

This may work for some folks, if they like to cook.  I can say that some people I know would be taking the batter half way through the recipe and chucking it in the waste basket, because they hate cooking and they find the process stressful in itself.

A better idea might be to eat a banana a day for potassium.  It is said that potassium can help lower blood pressure, prevent and treat heart disease, and regulate the heartrate.  Potassium also works as an anti-stressor by enhancing adrenal function, so increasing potassium intake in anticipation of unusual physical or emotional stress is often recommended.

Some other sources of potassium include potatoes, winter squash, tomatoes, avocadoes, celery, carrots, sunflower seeds, oranges, and yogurt. 

Drink for the Health of It

I am a self-proclaimed Aqua-holic.  I love water, pure and simple.  I drink a lot of it.  In fact, besides my morning cup of coffee, and the (very) occasional margarita or glass of wine, water is all I ever drink.

Your body is made up of 80% water.  In order for your body to function properly, your cells must be properly hydrated.  The cells are the building blocks of all your muscles and organs.  If they are dehydrated, your body is not going to function as the efficient machine it is designed to be.  According to a lot of what I have read, one of the causes of many dis-eases is dehydration. 

According to F. Batmanghelidj, M.D. in his book Water: For Health, for Healing, for Life: You’re Not Sick, You’re Thirsty! , “every twenty-four hours the body recycles the equivalent of forty thousand glasses of water to maintain its normal physiological functions….Within this pattern of water metabolism and its recycling process…the body becomes short of about six to ten glasses of water each day.” (p.225)

Most reliable sources I have read, including “Dr. Bat”, suggest drinking at least half of your body’s weight in ounces of water per day.  So, for example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you should drink at least 75 ounces of water daily.  Using this formula, that commonly known recommendation of drinking eight 8oz glasses a day really only works for those who weigh around 128 pounds.

If you are active, drink caffeine, or alcohol, you should drink even more than half your body weight in ounces of water.

For some of us, that is a lot of water.  Some are hesitant to drink that much, because they don’t want to spend the day in the bathroom.  Try to gradually build up to the amount your body really needs. Add one more glass per week, until you reach your recommended amount, so your body gets used to drinking more.

Some folks I know complain of constipation.  I ask them how much water they drink, and usually I hear “very little” or “none.  I don’t like the taste.”  Water is an excellent laxative.  Try drinking a glass of water with fresh lemon squeezed into it upon rising in the morning.  This helps to get your digestive process moving.  You can also pour a tiny bit of pure fruit juice (not sugar-laden) into your glass to give it a little bit of flavor, if that will help you drink more.

So go have a nice, tall glass of water right now.  Your body will thank you for it.

The Benefits of Chocolate

When you get come out of a massage session with me, you will generally find a glass of water and a piece of chocolate waiting for you.  Some women feel the chocolate is decadent, and delight in the treat.  Yes, eating chocolate is a delightful experience.  However, there are good reasons for eating it as well.  It turns out that eating chocolate is good for your health.

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate,  is reported to be rich in flavonoids, making it an excellent antioxidant~~even better than tea, red wine, or apples.  Recent studies suggest that it raises HDL levels (the good choloesterol), can help prevent blood clots, and regulates blood pressure.  Another study showed that eating chocolate can help prevent preeclampsia, a serious condition that develops during the late stages of pregnancy, showing a sudden rise in blood pressure, excessive weight gain, and fluid retention.

Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter that is realeased during emotional euphoria…it makes us feel good. It also contains anandamide, which helps make us feel more relaxed and less anxious. 

Of course, all the nutritionists tell us to not overdo it on chocolate and continue to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. So the next time you sit down with the intention to devour a bunch of truffles, try eating them with strawberries or cherries.