Sausage, Kale, and Goat Cheese Frittata

Ok, ok…I can’t help it but I LOVE Frittatas – they’re so simple and delicious!!

As Mark Sisson would say (and yes, this is his recipe), every keto enthusiast should know how to make a frittata. You can use any combination of meat, cheese, veggies, herbs, and spices to tailor it to your liking – it is endlessly customizable.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 bunch kale, any variety
  • 1 T avocado oil
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes – you know how I love ’em
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 large eggs – local if possible
  • 1/2 C heavy cream
  • 1 C crumbled goat cheese, more or less to taste
  1. Remove any thick stems from the kale leaves. Dice the stems and chop the leaves (keep stems and leaves separate)
  2. Heat the oil in a large broilerproof skillet over medium heat (cast iron works well). When hot, add the pork. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme, nutmeg, and red pepper flakes. Add to the meat in the skillet and stir well. Continue cooking until the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to move the meat to a bowl. If there is a lot of grease in the pan, pour some off so that only 1 to 2 tablespoons remain.
  5. Add the onion and kale stems to the skillet. Saute until the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. If needed, deglaze the pan with a small amount of water, stirring up any browned particles.
  6. Add the kale leaves to the pan a handful at a time, stirring to wilt until all the leaves are in the skillet and cooked slightly. Add the meat to the skillet and stir to combine.
  7. Whisk the eggs and cream in a medium bowl. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the meat and vegetables in the skillet. Cook without stirring until the egg starts to set, about 5 minutes.
  8. Put the oven rack at medium position and turn the broiler on low. Sprinkle the goat cheese over the eggs. Place in the oven/broiler and cook until the egg is set and the goat cheese is lightly browned. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  9. Remove the skillet from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Protein-rich Brussels Sprouts Salad

Perfect light lunch to eat before doing some holiday shopping. It fills you up so you don’t grab fast-food crap (sorry McDonalds), nourishes your body and gives you energy that lasts all day.

Ingredients Brussels-Sprouts-Salad-Ingredients

  • ½ pound Brussels sprouts
  • ¼ head purple cabbage
  • ½ purple onion or shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. coconut nectar
  • 1 Tbs. coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley coconut nectar

For those of you who might be new to Coconut Nectar, you can buy this on Amazon, Whole Foods or http://www.thrivemarket.com (I think they’re the cheapest)

Instructions

  1. Cut ends of Brussels sprouts off and remove leaves, discard the core once it is too tight to remove leaves. Brussels-Sprouts-leaves
  2. Add Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onion, and jalapeno to a bowl and toss together.
  3. Optional: Cook both the Brussels sprouts and cabbage before adding the jalapeno – some people will find this easier to digest – like me! I love raw Brussels sprouts but my belly prefers cooked. Nothing better than a warm salad during the winter months.
  4. In a small bowl combine the balsamic vinegar, coconut nectar, coconut oil and garlic together. Add to vegetables and toss.
  5. Saute salad in sauce pan lightly, adding additional coconut oil if needed.
  6. Serve warm and enjoy!

Protein-Packed Vanilla Avocado Mousse

You had me at Mousse…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 avocados
  • 4 c. coconut milk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp. raw, local honey
  • Fresh berries of your choice – I prefer strawberries and blueberries
  • Chia seeds

DIRECTIONS:

Blend 1 avocado, 2 C coconut milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1 tsp of raw, local honey with fresh berries and set aside. Blend the remainder of the ingredients: 1 avocado, 2C coconut milk, 1 tsp pure vanilla extract and 1 tsp of raw, local honey and mix with a handful of chia seeds. In a fancy glass dish, or a jelly or mason jar, spoon in berry mousse and top with chia mousse – and top that off with fresh berries. Drop the mic

avocado

WEIGHT LOSS TIP:

You don’t have to eat meat to get enough protein. One avocado has 2 – 4 grams of protein! Pair it with high protein plant-based foods like leafy greens or chia seeds and you have a protein packed meal or dessert.

Avocado for Breakfast – Yes Please

Since it’s it’s the Holiday Season and we’re all bombarded with sweets, sugary drinks, and all sorts of foods that aren’t especially good for us – I’m going to focus the next few days and maybe weeks, on healthy recipes.

Here’s one breakfast that’s an all-time favorite of mine. And, the best part is, when in a pinch, I make it for dinner too!

Anti-Inflammatory Avocado Scramble

 It’s called anti-inflammatory because it’s good, whole, clean food that feeds your body, your gut and your cells. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 eggs, organic & humanely raised
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • sprinkle garlic pepper
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO or ghee
  • 1 Vidalia (sweet) onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, chopped
  • 1 avocado
  • Himalayan salt to taste
  • Sprinkle of Pepper flakes (optional) – I like foods with a kick

DIRECTIONS:

Whisk eggs and add spices and chopped vegetables. Either saute in pan with oil or ghee or bake in oven (25 minutes at 350 degrees, check that it is cooked through, adjust time as needed). Top with sliced avocado, drizzle with EVOO, and salt to taste.

 

WEIGHT LOSS TIP: 

Combining avocados with anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric and leafy green vegetables turn any dish into a super healthy meal that will satisfy, help you stay slim and feel great.

And, as always, I’d love for my readers to share with all of us a healthy, favorite recipe. Bring it on!

Holiday Stress and How to Minimize It

Ah, the Holidays! I think we all love/hate them. This time of year I always get excited thinking about spending quality time with friends and family. But, I also cringe at the thought of the obligatory gift-giving charade. Don’t get me wrong, I love shopping for the perfect gift or thinking of handmade gifts that will surely be appreciated by those I love. But read any blog or magazine article around this time of year and you’ll find charts with how much to tip your mailman, specific amounts you should be giving your hairdresser, don’t forget your UPS driver, etc. Come’on…..

This past weekend, spending time with family and new friends, we were discussing the holidays when one woman said, “I think we’re going to skip Christmas this year.” I was shocked! Skip Christmas?!? Who ever heard of such a thing. But as we continued talking, I realized she and her husband had the right idea. They of course, weren’t skipping out on the opportunity to spread holiday cheer, give thanks for what they have been blessed with and to try and spend quality time with those that meant the most to them. What they were skipping, instead, was the obligatory gift-giving, the stress of mall shopping, and saying ‘yes’ to each and every party invite they receive. What a glorious idea! Back to the good ole days.

Holiday

Whether you decide to tone it down a bit and get back to the basics this season or go all-out, the fact remains we all spread ourselves a bit too thin this time of year and forget to take care of ourselves the way we should. Remember this – your body can’t discern between good/exciting stress (like the anticipation of seeing a loved one you haven’t seen in years) or the bad/upsetting stress like Uncle Henry having one too many cocktails and getting into an argument with anyone and everyone who passes by his chair. When we’re stressed, that stress takes a toll on every cell in our bodies which leads to them not functioning properly. Some cells even die off which leads to inflammation which in turn, causes all kinds of nasty things to appear such as, getting sick (head or chest cold), headaches, stomachaches, bloating, gas, and just feeling like…well, crap.

One of the best ways to combat all of this nastiness is to take extra-special care of yourself.

  1. Eat clean, whole foods; look at the label and if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, put it back on the shelf! Eat only foods that are recognizable, foods that you know where they came from. Foods that, if your Great-Grandmother saw them she’d recognize – I’m sorry but that Grande Frappuccino, Caramel Latte, dbl shot whatever probably wouldn’t qualify.
  2. Get plenty of rest! Our bodies are not meant to go 24/7 and even though you may like to brag about only getting 5 hours of sleep – when you do, your body goes into fight or flight mode, stays in constant high alert and burns all its natural energy trying to prepare to escape at any moment.
  3. Drink plenty and I mean P-L-E-N-T-Y of water!
  4. Be kind to your liver. Your liver is your body’s detox hub. Your liver takes substances that may have accumulate in your body (substances it doesn’t know what to do with) and transforms that foreign substance into something that is less harmful on your body so it can eliminate it out of your body.
  5. Repeat #3

Harmful Liver Loaders:

Caffeine – I know…we ALL LOVE our coffee but caffeine is very taxing on the liver. Coffee, soft drinks, those god-awful energy drinks, etc. Be mindful of how much you consume in one day.

Caffeine – average mg/cup

 Coffee (French press) 120
Espresso 80
Instant 60
Tea 50
Green tea 30
White tea (from the white tea bush) 5
Decaf 2-5
Cola (can) 35
Diet cola (can) 45
“Energy” drink (bottle) 109
Dark chocolate (bar) 20

Alcohol – please don’t kill me here, I love a nice glass of wine as much as the next guy or girl BUT, wine and alcohol are very taxing to the liver as well. The World Cancer Research Fund tells us to “Limit alcoholic drinks to no more than 1 standard drink per day for women, and include a minimum of 2 AFD’s (Alcohol Free Days) per week” but did you know the WCRF qualifies one glass of wine as 1/2 a cup?!? I don’t know about you but I’ve never, EVER gone to a restaurant where they pour 1/2 C of wine.

santa

Have fun this holiday season, take time for yourself to really enjoy those you love as well as time alone in peace and quiet. Be mindful of the foods you eat and the drinks you consume. Maybe take on a new holiday tradition of going for a massage, taking a meditation or yoga class or just soaking in a hot bath. Let’s all learn to be good to others as well as to ourselves.

‘Tis the Season to Boost Your Immune System

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing Thanksgiving spent with people you love. I know we did.

road trip

Gary and I drove 12 hours to Virginia to spend Thanksgiving with his daughter and her family. And on Friday, we drove 3 more hours southeast to meet and stay with her boyfriend’s parents and family. It was such a wonderful experience to spend Thanksgiving with total strangers yet feel so welcomed. We talked and got to know each other, laughed until our belly’s ached and ate and ate and ate. Do you remember the feeling when you were a kid of walking into your Grandmother’s house and immediately feeling right at home, all warm and cozy? That’s exactly how we both felt this weekend and I can’t emphasize enough how much the entire weekend meant to us to be able to spend it with family and our new-found friends.

With all the hustle and bustle tho, I started to feel a bit wonky and rundown on the last day of our trip. My throat was hurting, my gland’s swelled and I was getting one of those dull headaches that really slow you down. On our 15 hour drive home, it completely crashed into a full-blown head cold with an awful cough. Constant runny nose, a cough that burns in your chest and that damn headache that just won’t quit and poor Gary, trapped in a car with germ-infested me (true love indeed). Monday, we both took the day off; I slept most of it and he did his own thing.

Today, I woke saying I need to take matters into my own hands if I want this cold to go away. So, I’ve been sipping herbal tea and chicken broth and trying to sleep as much as my body will allow. This is the time to be as selfish as humanly possible. I can’t tell you enough – REST  –  REST  –  REST!

I’ve also gone to the Health Food Store and stocked up on the following:

Turmeric Plus  –  I take 1-2 capsules or 500-1000mg per day. (the plus is black pepper extract)

Ashwagandha  –  I take 1-2 capsules or 500-1000mg per day.

Vitamin D3  –  take 4-5000IU per day.

Chyawanprash  –  take 1 spoonful or more every few hours.

The science behind this 

Turmeric is an herb that has been used for thousands of years, and the research continues to be impressive. With over 300 active constituents, turmeric has been found to support the natural production of new brain cells during sleep, help lower cortisol levels, increase antioxidant stress-fighting activity and boost lymphatic circulation. Turmeric is also emerging as an adaptogenic herb for stress-related mood concerns. It’s also been found to boost the immune system’s natural response to stress triggers, supporting healthy lymphatic flow during acute stress. Black Pepper Extract helps to relieve a cough and cold and has an antibacterial quality.

Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has many studies showing its stress-mitigating properties. An adaptogen is an herb with many benefits, energizing the body when it needs it during the day, and calming overactive nerves for easy and restful sleep at night.

Vitamin D3 plays a critical role in supporting immunity. Low serotonin levels, which have been linked to seasonal mood imbalances, may be caused by vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D levels often plummet naturally in the winter months due to a lack of sunshine. Vitamin D activates genes that protect antimicrobial peptides, which govern our immune systems and support the body’s natural immune response to the change in seasons. It is converted into its potent form in the respiratory cells, a process that supports healthy lungs and immunity.

Chyawanprash is an immune-supportive, vitamin C-rich, antioxidant herbal paste for both adults and kids. For kids, give them a spoonful with breakfast along with a squirt of liquid vitamin D3. With a supporting cast of over 40 organic herbs, chyawanprash is a classic Ayurvedic formula for anyone who needs support during the change of seasons and stressful life in general. Chyawanprash helps support the body’s natural ability to remove toxins from the body and helps support optimal vitality when you need it most.

I also highly recommend steering clear of all dairy products, especially when you’re feeling run down, as they tend to be more inflammatory on the body.

If you find yourself starting to feel wonky or know that because of the upcoming holidays and festivities you’re going to run yourself a bit thinner than normal – I highly recommend taking extra special care of yourself. These strategies, along with rest, warm baths, yoga, and extra down time with help keep you healthy and happy.

Sleep and Life Expectancy

When you think of how long you’re going to live – what age comes to mind: 75, 80, 85, 90, 95?

Let me ask you a simple question, when thinking about your own life expectancy, do you take into account how much sleep you get every night? And, do you believe the two are intricately connected?

Harvard Medical School experts recently revealed that people who get less than 5 hours of sleep are 15 percent more likely to die at an earlier age and from a host of things. In the “Whitehall II Study,” British researchers discovered that less than five hours of sleep also doubled the risk of death from cardiovascular disease – which is the number one cause of death in America according to the CDC. A lack of sleep doubles the risk of death…let that sink in for a moment.

Drowsy Driving vs Drunk Driving

Sleep and alcohol may not seem like they have a lot in common when it comes to driving. However, going 24 hours without sleep is equal to having a blood alcohol content of .10. That’s .02 BAC above the legal driving limit.

Both lack of sleep and alcohol slows your reaction time, affects your ability to process information and impairs your memory. One of these things alone can lead to an accident even in the best of conditions, but all three together is a recipe for disaster. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 100,000 accidents can be directly attributed to drowsy driving each year. When 1 in 4 drivers admit to driving drowsy in the last month, it’s easy to see why this can be so dangerous.

And how about this shocking article Drivers Beware, Crash Rate Spikes with Every Hour of Lost Sleep

Just another reason to give your body the Zzzzzs it needs. And, until tomorrow when I offer you even more reasons to get your beauty rest, sweet dreams.

 

Sleep your way to good health!

If you’re like many Americans, you’re in constant motion. Does this typical day sound familiar?

Drive the kids to school, go to work, pick up groceries on the way home, make sure your daughter gets to soccer practice on time and your son does his homework. Cook dinner, throw in a load of laundry, respond to unanswered work emails, call your Mom to say hi out of sheer guilt because it’s been days, weeks even, and run a vacuum before collapsing into a chair to drink a much awaited glass of wine. And your day isn’t over yet. Your son blasts into your bedroom at 9:30pm in a panic because his band concert is tomorrow evening and his white shirt needs ironing. Your daughter comes in upset because there’s no Kombucha in the fridge – OMG!! The President of the PTA calls to ask you to volunteer for the fundraiser next Tuesday and “oh, can you bake a batch of brownies for the meeting?” Your husband comes home cranky from work and you still have to finish that report that your boss asked you to do as you were walking out of the office today – with a deadline, of course, of tomorrow at 8am. I know what you’re thinking – Linda just nailed my life and/or you mean I’m not alone?!?

We live in a prevailing culture of striving and achieving and an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude. Men are actually the worst culprits of this and almost boast about their lack of sleep. Walk into any office across the country and you’ll probably hear Joe say, “I don’t require much sleep, as a matter of fact, I only got 4 hours last night.” We’re walking around like zombies and our bodies are in constant fight or flight mode. Our lackadaisical attitude toward sleep is just plain wrong, and this ‘constant on the go’ lifestyle is NOT sustainable!

Over the course of the next few days I’m going to outline some of the health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep. Sure, sleep makes you feel better, but its importance goes far beyond just boosting your mood or banishing under-eye circles. Adequate sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle, and can benefit your heart, weight, mind, and lifespan.

“Sleep used to be ignored, like parking our car in a garage and picking it up in the morning,” says David Rapoport, M.D., director of the NYU Sleep Disorders Program. Not anymore.

Here’s just one of the many health benefits researchers have discovered about a good night’s sleep.

Improved Memory

Your mind is surprisingly busy while you sleep. During sleep you can strengthen memories or “practice” skills learned while you were awake (it’s a process called consolidation). “If you are trying to learn something, whether it’s physical or mental, you learn it to a certain point with practice,” says Dr. Rapoport, who is an associate professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. “But something happens while you sleep that makes you learn it better.” In other words if you’re trying to learn something new — whether it’s Spanish or a new tennis swing — you’ll perform better after sleeping. And, getting a good night’s sleep has been scientifically proven to improve your memory. This article from Science Daily is fascinating and a quick read. Study on how Sleep Improves Memory

Over the course of the next few days, I’ll do my best to convince you that sleep is THE BEST healthy gift you can give yourself…but in the meantime – get some rest!

Be Gentle with Yourself

Every year around this time, I begin my year in review by taking inventory on what worked and what didn’t. The most interesting find is, when I analyze what did work and why, there’s a common theme: simplification!

Small steps, consistently taken, add up to big changes. For instance, I gave up on carbs – not completely but over time, drastically decreased the number of grams I consume daily. But I started very slowly so I wouldn’t feel deprived. The end result of this small step taken every day? I’ve lost 14 lbs, lost the ‘brain fog’ and feel great! So if you’re itching for a wellness breakthrough, I encourage you to test drive a few simple shifts to your self-care routine, rather than sweeping changes that overwhelm you and you probably won’t stick to.

Change doesn’t have to be intense to be effective. Your life is already pretty packed — a little too packed if you’re like the rest of us — so instead of loading up your to do list with goals, deadlines and self-inflicted pressure, get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions, intentions or whatever you like to call them, by trying some of the ideas below instead.

And listen up well-meaning perfectionists (I resemble that remark), stop getting in your own way and relax. Your new mantra is progress, not perfection. You don’t have to do these things 100% to see the benefit. In truth, perfectionism is really a desperate attempt at creating complete control and certainty, which doesn’t exist. It drains our life force, pisses off our soul and sucks the collagen out of our faces (or does that just happen to me?!). For the majority of us, when we start from an extreme place and seek extreme results, we set ourselves up for extreme disappointment.

Simplicity. Ease. Grace. Let the turtle be your spirit animal. Slow and steady, my glorious friend. From a spiritual perspective there is no race, there is only growing.

 

 

6 Gentle Self-Care Tips

With the holidays around the corner, this is a perfect time to ease into healthy practices that nurture your body and feed your spirit. I was coaching a client yesterday and reminded her that this time of year, she needs to be extra kind and gentle with herself and ready to whip out the “no” more readily. Pick one or two points to focus on for this month. Keep in mind that these suggestions aren’t about “never” doing something ever again. If you slip, congratulations! You fall into the human category. Ask yourself why you slipped and just listen for the answers. DO NOT judge yourself – please! And if these tips work for you, keep practicing them one glorious day at a time!

Start your day with introspection

Here’s how I greet each morning: I wake up when it’s still dark, say a prayer of gratitude and meditate for 5 minutes. Then I make a cup of hot lemon water, read something inspiring and uplifting or write in my journal if I feel the need. That’s it. The world is pretty chaotic and frightening right about now. It’s easy to turn on the news and feel the positive energy sucked right out of your body. Make a vow to start your day peacefully and introspectively instead of grabbing your phone and checking the news or reading emails. If you have to get up 15 minutes earlier, do it – you’re worth it. Choose a time when your home is quiet and you’re the only soul awake. Or ask the waking souls to “shhhhhh” so you can have your space.

Nourish your body first

You are what you eat. Personally, I have no desire to be a pop tart. By choosing to nourish your body first thing in the morning, you’re setting the tone for the rest of the day. Water, a green veggie smoothie and avocado toast will give you a boost of sustainable, nutrient-packed energy. If you love coffee like I do, guess what? You don’t have to give it up. Instead, try cutting back to one cup and have your green juice first. Give your body a healthy burst of nutrients, alkalinity and antioxidants, and then sip the mug-o-joe.

What to do with cravings

As your day unfolds, notice if you find yourself battling cravings. Cookies the well-meaning co-worker brought in, those mostly sugar in a cup Starbuck’s seasonal offerings, chips, a smoke? But remember, your cravings aren’t always about the sugar, caffeine or whatever it is you’re jonesin’ for. Sometimes they’re a plea from your higher self. Instead of mindlessly acquiescing to the donut, ask yourself what the urge is really about. Do you need more sweetness in your life? A time out from stress? (taking a few deep breathes eases the craving) Some love? An apology? What’s the craving attempting to fill for you? And what could you do to satisfy that itch (and your soul) instead?
My cravings are usually a clear reminder to listen to my inner wisdom rather than my outer, soft-lived comfort. Compulsions to drown our pain in gummy bears (or cocktails) are a sure sign that we have something deeper going on. And, believe it or not, when these cravings hit – try drinking a big glass of water. Sometimes, all your body wanted was WATER!

Practice The Daily Ten

You know you feel better when you move your body. There’s no denying it. So while you may not have time for a full-blown gym workout, you do have 10 minutes to shake it up a bit. Take a well-deserved break and run the stairs at your office. Grab your coat and take a quick walk around the building. There are also online videos of chair yoga you can incorporate right at your desk and are a click away. Ten minute bursts during the day help get the blood pumping to the brain, energize your body and stimulate your creativity. These short, 10 minute bursts are ideal for the dreaded 3:00 drag. And, better still? Grab a co-worker and do it together…soon you’ll have the entire office feeling energized without eating the left over bagel and cream cheese!

Cultivate what nourishes you BEYOND food

Your plate doesn’t contain all the answers. Your job won’t always fulfill you. Your kids and/or husband aren’t always around (or pleasant!). And yet we all need soul nourishment. Without it, we wither. So what’s one thing you could do that would bring you some smiles this week?

Here’s what I do this time of year: I go to https://www.stjude.org/ and donate. Their mission strikes such a chord with me – and it nourishes my soul more than broccoli. The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of their founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.

So, how about you? What nourishes your soul? What makes you feel more connected, happy or of service? Whatever it is, do more of it, especially this time of year!

Practice self-compassion

Unfortunately, suffering is a natural part of life. And try as we may we can’t avoid it. The trick is to acknowledge your suffering and then bear-hug it with compassion. Compassion is key. Once you apply compassion you’ll be able to take the lessons and move through the discomfort. We all have scars, they give us character. I have old wounds and scars on my hands from kitchen accidents (hey, I’m not a trained chef). And then there are the cancer scars, the divorce scars… All of which are a part of me now, neither pretty nor ugly, just there—longing for compassion. Here’s a tip, when you’re feeling the need for some self-compassion, draw a nice, warm bath, put out your Do Not Disturb sign, lock the bathroom door and sink into ahhhhhh.

Breathe Deep. Smile Often and Love Yourself Fully

Images by: Anthony Tran and Samantha Gades