Monthly Archives: April 2014

Easy BBQ Spice Roasted Chickpeas

photo 1 copy I hosted a vegetable gardening workshop at my home yesterday afternoon (thanks to the kind and knowledgeable Leslie Stevens of Sidewalk Farms in Portsmouth) and since I’m a foodie, I provided lots of snacks for my guests (most of them healthy).  Apparently, my roasted chickpeas were a hit so I thought I would share the recipe here.

One of the things I want to teach people in my coaching practice is that eating healthily doesn’t have to be a ton of work.  Simplify and get creative. If you’ve never had roasted chickpeas, you’re in for a treat.  They get crispy and crunchy and are a great stand in for protein rich snacks like roasted or spiced nuts. In addition to being little protein powerhouses, chickpeas are a great source of fiber, folate, copper, phosphorus, manganese, iron and zinc – minerals and nutrients we all could use more of. This is a snack you don’t have to feel bad about. And they’re super kid friendly!

There’s barely any work to make them (you just need a half hour or so of oven time) and if you have any leftovers, they make a great high protein topper for salad or mixed into a stir fry or pilaf. They will lose some of their crunch after several hours but you can refresh them by putting them back in a 400 degree oven for a few minutes. For this recipe, I used a BBQ Spice rub (modified and inspired by the one here) but you can roast chickpeas plain or with any other spices you like.  I also like them with coriander, cardamom and cumin. They’re crazy versatile.  If you put together this spice rub, you will have leftovers.  Try the extra rub on chicken or on sweet potatoes.

2 15oz cans organic chickpeas / garbanzo beans
1 tbsp olive oil

BBQ Spice Rub / Mix
(use organic spices if you can)
3 tbsp organic brown sugar
2 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt cayenne pepper to taste (optional) photo 2 copy

Directions Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse and drain the chickpeas, then dry off well with paper towels.  If you have OCD, pick off all the little chickpea skins (but they can stay on if you don’t).  Toss the chickpeas with the olive oil and then rub with a couple tablespoons of the bbq spice mix (at least 2, but feel free to go heavier!).  Spread the chickpeas out on a cookie sheet and then bake for 30-40 minutes until crispy and lightly browned.    Serve immediately or at room temp.

Just a note: The brown sugar in the spice mix will encourage browning (burning even) so check on them once towards the end of cooking so that they don’t brown beyond your liking.  The burned ones still taste pretty good if you ask me. If you try these, let me know what you think!

Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!


Asian Turkey Lettuce Wraps


photo 4Warmer weather is here so that means I’m ready to eat more raw foods. I spend all winter eating rich roasted root vegetables and steamed greens. Spring calls for crisp lettuce and crunchy carrots but it’s still a little chilly so I need to have something warm with my raw food.  These Turkey Lettuce Wraps help fit that bill. This is a fantastically filling yet light meal that looks impressive and takes only 25 minutes to make (and I’m the slowest cookin the world).  Also, they are delicious.  I used to serve these with some sort of dipping sauce but they honestly don’t even need any.  These are gluten free and dairy free.

One of the reason I love this meal is that it’s really versatile.  Don’t have mushrooms? Use bell peppers or snow peas.  Don’t have mung bean sprouts? Try alfalfa sprouts.  Don’t have sherry wine? Use mirin or rice vinegar.  No turkey? Ground beef or thinly sliced pork could work! The only thing I wouldn’t substitute here is the type of lettuce.  I once tried to make these with red leaf lettuce and they tore way too easily, leaving me with hoisin sauce dripping down my arms.  Not a good look.  Boston/Bibb lettuce is super soft and flexible.  It can hold all the fixings without leaking and doesn’t really have thick ribs which means they won’t snap when you take a bite.

This serves 3-4 for dinner (depends on how big of an eater you are) but this would make a great appetizer if you let everyone make their own wraps.

Turkey Mixturephoto 1
1 tbsp olive oil or coconut oil
1 cup chopped portobello or white mushrooms
20 ounces ground turkey
1 large shallot, chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced
1inch of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 (8-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp gluten free hoisin sauce (Joyce Chen brand makes one)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sherry wine (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

For Serving
1 cup mung bean sproutsphoto 2
1 head Boston or Bibb Lettuce, roots/core cut off, leaves washed

Carrot Salad
5 carrots, shredded
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1tbsp reduced sodium tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

Heat the olive oil or coconut oil in a large nonstick skillet overphoto 3 medium heat.
When hot, add mushrooms, shallots and onion and sauté 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender, stirring occasionally. Push the mushrooms and onions to the side of the pan and add ground turkey.  Cook the ground turkey through, breaking up with a wooden spoon. When the turkey is mostly cooked, add the ginger, celery, basil, water chestnuts, gluten free hoisin sauce, fish sauce, sherry (optional) and toasted sesame oil and cook for two minutes, stirring a few times.

While the turkey mixture cooks, mix the grated carrots with the cilantro, tamari and sesame oil to make a carrot salad.

For each person, serve 5 or 6 lettuce leaves, some mung bean sprouts, carrot salad and the turkey mixture on a plate (put some of the components in a small bowl if you like).  Then spoon a small amount of each item into a lettuce leaf, fold over with your hand and eat like a taco or a little dumpling.

photo 5

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Misleading Food Label Claims and What to Do About it

What does this all mean anyway?

What does this all mean anyway?

The other morning I was having some granola for breakfast and as I was pouring it from the package I laughed because one of the claims on the package was that it was “Cholesterol Free!” as if that was some huge revelation.  The ingredients are oats, flax, honey, amaranth, millet, vanilla and apple puree.  Not a single one of those ingredients contain cholesterol and that is because cholesterol only comes from animal foods.  Did you know that?  Most people don’t and that is why the marketing on food packaging is so confusing. In this particular case, it is technically true that the granola doesn’t contain cholesterol but it’s slightly misleading when the package next to it on the grocery store shelf has the same ingredients but doesn’t have that claim on the label.  More people want to buy the product that boasts that it’s  “Cholesterol Free” (but they are both free of it!!!!).  Cholesterol in our food isn’t always our enemy anyway, but that’s another blog post for another day.

It’s important to understand what the food label claims on your food package really mean before choosing one product over the other. In the US, some words in food packaging have legal definitions and others don’t.  Unless you know what they mean, you could be purchasing something that isn’t as healthy as you think.  There’s no way I can go over all of the misleading and confusing claims that are out there (there are far too many!) but these are just a few examples of marketing tricks to watch out for.

Natural / All Natural
There is no legal definition or standards for using this label on a food product, except in the case of meat and poultry.  Meat and poultry can’t contain artificial preservatives and can only go through minimal processing to use this label.  It does not mean they are free of hormones, antibiotics or raised in a humane environment.  Other foods that use the term “Natural” means absolutely nothing.  It does not mean that a product is organic or that it is even remotely healthy.

To use this term on it’s label, a food must meet specific requirements for the amount of fat, saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium in the product.  It doesn’t mean that it’s actually good for you.  A food labeled “Healthy” could be full of preservatives like BHT or BHA or have an ingredient list where you don’t recognize more than a few items.

No Trans Fat
If you see this claim on a label and then the ingredient list contains “partially hydrogenated oil” put it down!  The FDA allows manufacturers to use the claim No Trans Fat or 0 g Trans Fat if a product has less than .5 g of trans fat per serving.  There is no safe amount of artificial trans fats to consume.  What is so worrisome about these types of claims is that most of us use far more than just one serving of these foods and you could easily be getting a couple grams of trans fats every time you eat your favorite butter spread or cooking spray.  Have you ever used just 1/3 of a second of cooking spray?  I didn’t think so.

Good Source of Whole Grain
Whole grains are great, but products that contain some whole grains are not necessarily better for you.  A product that claims it’s a “Good Source of Whole Grain” must contain at least 8g of whole grain per serving.  But if the serving size is 30 or 50g, then the majority of the product is refined grains.  That 8g isn’t really doing you a heck of a lot of good, especially if those whole grains are in junk food like cookies or crackers.   A product that contains the Whole Grain Council’s 100% Whole Grain Stamp only needs to contain 16 g of whole grain per serving to have that stamp on it.   But again, it doesn’t mean that the product is made from nothing but whole grains.  Look at the weight per serving and subtract the whole grain and everything else is likely refined.  If you really want to increase your servings of whole grains, start using them more at home.  There are so many delicious and easy to cook grains available today:  quinoa, amaranth, millet, kasha, wheatberries, bulgur, farro, etc.

Free Range Eggs
The term free range has some definition when it comes to some poultry products but there is no standards for egg production.  Hens that produce eggs that are labeled free range need to have some access to the outdoors but there is no criteria for what that means.  Are these hens allowed out of the barn for 20 minutes a day in crowded small fenced in area or are they allowed to roam freely out of barn all day in a large grassy field?  You don’t know. Free range does not mean they are raised more humanely (beak cutting and forced molting are still allowed) or that they are fed a higher quality food.  The only thing it probably means is that they’re not kept in cages.  It doesn’t mean that they are not sitting on top of each other in a crowded excrement filled barn.

Reduced Fat
Foods that are labeled as “Reduced Fat” must have 25% less fat than the original version of the food.  It doesn’t mean that it is low fat or low calorie.  You may have noticed that reduced fat foods often have the same amount of calories (or sometimes slightly more) than the regular fat version of the food.  This is because when manufacturers take fat out, they usually replace it with sugar or some sort of bulking action fiber.  Worse, they often add extra salt or chemicals to make the food still taste ok. Why is it better to eat more sugar, salt and chemicals than fat? It’s not.

So what do you do?  Completely Ignore claims made on the packaging.  The packaging is there partially for transporting the food but it’s main purpose is free advertising for the manufacturers.  Don’t fall prey to it.  Ignore it and look for the facts by reading the ingredient list and the nutrition label.

As far as purchasing eggs goes, try to buy from someone local or call the brand in question and ask them specific questions about how they raise their hens.

Try to make the majority of your food whole foods that don’t come in a package and isn’t made in a processing plant. Keep your eyes and ears out for new marketing claims – new ones are popping up all the time as marketers realize consumers are paying more attention.  There’s no sign they’re going to start being more honest anytime soon so the best defense is to not put any stock in what they’re trying to promote.

What labeling claims do you tend to look for? Is there a claim that you are wondering about? What do you find frustrating about grocery shopping today?

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Going After Love: “When You Stop Looking It’ll Find You” is Bullshit

Photo taken by Brianna Sherry at Timeless Treasures during our elopement.

Photo taken by Brianna Sherry at Timeless Treasures during our elopement.


There are women (and men) out there who need to hear this:  When people tell you that you’ll find love when you stop looking, they’re lying to you. 

At a friend’s son’s first birthday party recently, I was chatting with some of my girlfriends about how they got together with their husbands.  I can’t remember how the conversation started but I suddenly realized that all 4 of us involved in the conversation were only with the men we married because we went after them.  We had to put ourselves out there in some way and make the first move. I’m not sure why I didn’t realize this sooner (heck I was in some of their weddings)!

From a pretty early age, women are taught not to go seeking love, instead we’re told “When you stop looking for love, it will find you”.  I always thought that was bullshit because of my own experience with dating but I’ve always gotten crazy looks when I told people that.  After talking with my friends, it’s clear that my experience is and was not unique.  Many of us were taught that it was up to the man to initiate a date, a relationship or even that it was inappropriate to call boys.  Times have changed and people are dating longer and getting married (if at all) later.  Male or female, if you wait around until someone asks you out because you don’t want to be “looking for love”, you may be waiting around a long time.

Taking action isn’t being desperate
Why are we encouraged to put so much effort in other areas of our life but not with finding love?  We work hard, study hard and play hard.  But God forbid you’re a woman who wants to find love and you’re actively trying to meet someone.  You’ll hear “Stop looking, it’ll find you”. What? How?  Does Love have GPS or your cell phone number?  Probably not.  You also might hear “She’s so desperate”. The idea isn’t to go around throwing yourself at everyone you meet but you must open yourself up to the possibility that love is out there for you. Taking action isn’t being desperate.  If you sit back and decide to stop looking, you are closing off a huge opportunity to get what you want.  You are responsible for putting yourself in situations where there’s even a chance love could find you.  You are responsible for projecting an attitude that says “I’m here. I’m ready. I accept”.

No one will love me because . . .
When I was in my early 20’s, I had a non existent love life.  I had zero luck with guys and I always blamed it on my weight.  I was outgoing and got asked out but would quickly shoot down anyone who showed interest because they weren’t fitting in to whatever criteria I had decided I wanted at the time.   By the time I was 25, I was frustrated, sad and lonely.  I had lost the weight but I hadn’t lost the attitude of “No one will love me because of my weight”.  That’s what I was projecting to others even if I didn’t mean to.

The Summer of Yes
Out of frustration, I finally decided that I was going to have more of an open mind when it came to dating. I was going to be more proactive about getting what I wanted.  I was tired of everyone around me finding love and still waiting for it to happen to me.   I started to say yes when guys asked me out (provided they weren’t giving off a serial killer vibe).  As long as they were nice, it was worth going on one date, right?  I needed to stop pre-judging them.  I went on some really good dates and some bad ones (one picked me up on a motorcycle in a thunderstorm, then told me 5 minutes into dinner that he tried to kill himself after his last girlfriend dumped him – ahh, red flags everywhere!).  I call this period of time my Summer of Yes.

When there was a guy I thought was cute at the bar, I started to be the one to show interest instead of waiting for him to do something about it.  At the end of one night, I told one man I had my eye on:  “This is the time of the night when you ask for my phone number”.  He laughed, seemed a little surprised but he took it and he called.  And we dated for awhile.  Was I nervous putting myself out there like this?  Hell yes!  But my strategy of waiting for the right person to come along wasn’t working – I had to change my approach.  What’s interesting, is that after a while of taking action and being open to people I normally wouldn’t have been interested in, I started to get a lot more attention.  Instead of putting out “No one will love me because of my weight”, I had started to put out “I’m here. I’m ready. I accept.” and others could see that so they were attracted to my energy.

Come back here and kiss me
By the time September of that year rolled around, I had done more dating than ever before in my life. I was sending a beacon out into the universe telling it that I was ready for love.  I went stag to a wedding in early September and there was a cute boy at my table.  I managed to get his phone number early on in the day because some of us were going to carpool downtown after the wedding was over. We said goodbye at the end of the night and I told him “We should hang out sometime”.  He agreed but we left it at that. He drove away and I began to walk home.  I thought he was interested but just shy and I realized that if I didn’t let him know that I was digging him, I may or may not hear from him.  What did I have to lose? Nothing. I pulled out my phone, dialed his number and when he answered I said “I think you should come back here and kiss me”.  There was a pause (which was only a second but felt like three minutes) and then he said “Where are you?”.  I told him where I was, he came back, he kissed me and we’ve been together ever since.  That was close to 10 years ago.   I’m so glad I had the guts to do that – he’s admitted that while he thought I was cute, he had had just gotten out of a relationship and wasn’t ready to take initiative himself.  He never would have called if I didn’t do something about it.

I know the only reason we met was because I had opened myself up to the possibility of meeting someone.  I thought I was open to it before I went on this active quest to date as much as possible (even those that I didn’t think I was interested in) but I was sitting back waiting for others to make the move.  It didn’t matter that I was social and outgoing, because I wasn’t taking an active interest in anyone, the universe thought I was fine with the way things were.

You have to go to the ball
Do you need to go out and ask out every guy you meet?  No. But if what you are doing right now isn’t helping you meet people, you need to make a change. You need to get out, talk to more people, ask people out if they’re not asking you and if you don’t have anyone to go out with, go alone. I ended up going to concerts alone, went out for a drink alone, sat in coffee shops alone and as uncomfortable as it was at first, I did end up meeting people. And it got easier.

I know it’s naive to think that everyone can and will find romantic love.  I’m not saying that it will happen for everyone.  But you’re a lot more likely to find it if you put a little effort in.  If you don’t think you will ever find love, guess what? You are right. Whatever you believe will become true for you.

If you’re sitting at home wondering where Prince Charming (or Princess Charming) is, I’ll tell you where he is. He’s at the fucking ball. If Cinderella didn’t go to the ball (and lost her slipper), she would have never met him.

The Time is Now
And if, as you are reading this, you are thinking of all the things that are holding you back from loving now, dating now, being happy now? Your weight? Your hair? Your income? Your past baggage? All of that is a story you have been telling in order to keep yourself from being and feeling vulnerable. You deserve love and can find love right now.  Not when things are perfect (because there is no such thing).  And if you are someone who has been in love and had their heart broken? Then it’s even more important to take action.  When we’ve been hurt we put up walls that no one can climb over.  How can love find you if you’re blocking it with a barrier?

To sum up a really long post:   I’m not saying you need a Prince CharmingHell, some of us don’t even want one.  But if you want one, you deserve one and you need to take some ownership in your love life and make it happen. You have to welcome love in by taking active steps towards it.  Love will only find you if you let it in.  Let it in by showing others that you are here, you are ready and you accept.

Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!