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  • My Two Cents On: The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program

    My Two Cents On: The Culinary Nutrition Expert Program

    Today is the day!

    If you're a fellow CNE, you'll know this mantra well.

    It's a line from Academy of Culinary Nutrition (ACN) founder Meghan Telpner's official creed, and it's become something of a battle cry for those in the program.

    Today's the day:
    To dare to live life differently,
    To say yes to your heart,
    To chase your dreams,
    To make things happen, and
    To infuse it all with a whole lot of love, community, and integrity.


    When I first stumbled upon Meghan's blog, I was finishing up my training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN).

    I was in search of deliciously nourishing real-food recipes, and oh-my-goodness did I find them! Meghan's are still some of my all-time faves!

    The last year and a half had been an adventure in learning to eat to live.

    Changing the way I ate had given me my health and my life back and catapulted me onto a new path that felt so right I could hardly stand it. But something was missing.

    I wanted to feel confidently comfortable in the kitchen, learn to create awesome recipes, and take a deep dive into the world of food for healing.

    So when I saw the announcement about the debut of an online Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE) program, it was an immediate yes(!) for me.

    I knew, in my gut and my heart, that I had to do it. 

    What I didn't know was how incredible it was going to be, how it would challenge and transform me, or that I'd meet some of my best friends there.

    It remains one of the best programs I've ever completed.

    And here, my friends, are just a few of the reasons why:

    1 - IT'S THE REAL DEAL

    This program is legit.

    Meghan and team are committed to providing a rigorous, professional level, high quality, potentially life-changing experience. No fluff. They deliver on everything they promise and more.

    It's not easy. It requires dedication, time management, and organization. It assumes you are passionate about the study of culinary nutrition and challenges you to rise to the occasion and make the very most of your time in the program.

    When you receive your congratulatory letter and official certification at the conclusion of the course, you'll know that you earned that baby, and it will feel darn good.  

    2 - SERIOUS CULINARY NUTRITION KNOW-HOW

    Research, shared learning, and hands-on experience make for a powerful combination!

    You'll be asked to develop your own unique food philosophy, read the best culinary nutrition books out there, watch inspiring documentaries, create condition-focused recipes and meal plans, plan and teach a cooking class or workshop, and prepare amazing meals in your kitchen every week.

    By the end of the program, you'll have developed a comfort level in the kitchen like you'd never imagined.

    3 - CUTTING EDGE TECH, ONLINE PRESENCE, AND VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE

    This ain't your grandma's cooking school!

    The small-but-mighty ACN team has gone to great lengths to provide a high quality, visually appealing, professional level experience.

    You'll find beautiful images, awesome videos, and smoothly integrated tech. Whether you're an experienced online learner or brand new to the concept, you'll receive the support, guidance, and resources you need to succeed.

    The Academy is also well represented across the various social media platforms and committed to staying current and connected, which is something I appreciate and admire as an entrepreneur with my own online presence.

    4 - STELLAR SUPPORT

    You're so not alone here.

    You'll find an amazing community (more on that in a moment) in your fellow CNE students and alums.

    You'll also get to connect in real time with Meghan and your classmates on the weekly live call!

    You'll find an incredible support and beautiful soul in Ashley, the Academy's Director of Outreach and Customer Happiness.

    And, of course, you'll have your Program Coach (it could even be me!), who will offer valuable feedback and support throughout the program. 

    5 - THE CNE FAM

    Saved the best for last!

    The friends I've made as a result of doing this CNE program are the absolute best thing about it! They are co-creators, inspiration, motivation, expert resources, colleagues, business partners, team members, and so much more to me.

    There is something so extremely empowering to be said about finding your tribe, your peeps.

    Intentionally connecting with likeminded people, especially when you're in the natural health world, can be one of the most transformative things a person can do for themselves. It's a gift of shared enthusiasm, feeling understood, and finding the support and encouragement you've been looking for. 

    Here are just a few of the beautiful people I've been fortunate enough to meet (and snap a photo of) in person! So many of my CNE buddies have become dear friends, and I can't wait to meet them in person! 

     

    I'm often asked to share my CNE experience with folks who've been thinking it over and seriously considering the program. I hope this post helps!

    Today, I use what I learned in the CNE program without even thinking about it. It's become second nature, a part of what I do in all areas of my life and work. My clients, customers, family, friends, and team members have all been touched by what I learned at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.   

    I love connecting with you, learning a bit about you, and answering any specific questions you might have. If you're local, let's grab a cuppa tea and chat. If not, a virtual tea date works for me!

    Feel free to reach out anytime. Perhaps today's the day?!

  • Butternut Kale Salad

    Butternut Kale Salad

    I've been spending a lot of time on the couch in my office this weekend. Something's hit me - and it's hanging on tight.

    The good news: I've got everything I need to tackle this thing, and I'm loading up! Garlic and raw honey. Ginger + echinacea tea. My turmeric powerhouse concoction. Miso soup. My oils. And rest!

    The bad news? I've been spending a lot of time on the couch in my office this weekend.
    Wallowing a bit, if I'm being honest.

    I can't smell.
    And I can only partially breathe (through my mouth).

    And I figure maybe if I do basically nothing, my body will have the energy to heal and recover faster.

    But it's getting boring.
    And a little frustrating.
    And: You'd think my aim would've improved by now. But, sadly, you'd be wrong.
    I guess I'm mainly just sort of throwing things in "that general direction" at this point.

    Eddie's away at his annual Alumni Soccer Game (they won!) day-long extravaganza, and our housemates are out, so it's just me here. And as much as I'd love for someone (Mom?) to come take care of me, it's just not gonna happen. 

    I decided it was time for a change of pace.
    (1) I was craving kale (need those healing greens!), and
    (2) it looked gorgeous out. (Figures.)
    Sunshine and fresh air and...kale. All good things.
    And it was up to me to make it happen.

    So I did. 
    I got dressed.
    I tied my hair up in a knot on top of my head.
    And I savored the walk (in the sunshine and the fresh air) to the market.
    It was lovely!

    And then I came home - to make a kale salad.
    I was hoping someone would bring me this one or make me this one.
    But since I never actually communicated that to anyone...
    And since it's just me here...
    I decided to throw something else together.
    And here's what I got:

    It's a winner! So I'm sharing it with you:

    BUTTERNUT KALE SALAD
    Serves 2

    Ingredients 
    4 cups baby kale, roughly chopped
    1 apple, diced small
    1 small-ish butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed, and diced small
    1 tablespoon olive oil + a drizzle for the diced squash
    2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (I like Grade B.)
    1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    1 tablespoon hemp hearts
    2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

    How-To

    • Toss diced squash in a light drizzle of olive oil (about a tablespoon) and bake at 350F for about 25 mins, until just soft.
    • While the squash bakes, whisk together the ingredients for the dressing: Olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
    • In a large bowl, combine kale, apple, baked squash, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, and dressing. Toss well to combine.

    Grab a fork and enjoy!

  • How To: Start Eating Clean + Feeling Awesome Again!

    How To: Start Eating Clean + Feeling Awesome Again!

    A few weeks ago, I sent my top five tips for transitioning to cleaner eating to the fine folks over at Jule's Wellness, an awesome Canadian wellness company on a mission to help you feel healthy, strong, and more conscientious in your life. (Love their stuff! I've got my eye on their monthly subscription box!)

    Eating "clean" isn't nearly as complicated as you might think, but with all the different points of view and diets out there, it's easy to get overwhelmed and confused! I know I used to be. 

    It took getting sick (asthma, IBS, allergies, acid reflux, relentless colds), taking a bunch of meds that didn't work, and feeling hopeless, for me to finally find my way.

    And I'm still learning every day! But that's, I'm quite confident, how it's supposed to be.

    The secret?

    There really is no one-size-fits-all diet. Not in my book, anyway. We are all individuals with unique bodies and needs, so it only makes sense that we would need to take a similar approach when it comes to food!

    Here, I'm breaking the whole "eating clean" thing down into five simple steps. Start where you are, and remember: It's not a race. It's a journey.

    The idea here is to do a little better all the time.

    1 - EDUCATE YOURSELF

    I have a Bachelor's in Secondary Education, a Master's in Science, and 5+ years working as a Trauma/Emergency Department registered nurse, and I still had to go back to school to figure all this stuff out!

    Your story, surely, will be different from mine. And I'm not saying you need to do everything I did! But in some form or another, you're going to need to begin to dig a little deeper and explore a little further than what you've always heard about health and wellness. (Hint: Counting calories, buying non-fat, and opting for "magic pills" will not be getting you to where you want to be, my friends. At least not in any lasting way.)

    For me, it all started with the documentary Forks Over Knives. (You might like Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead or GMO OMG!) From there, I devoured book after book on the subject of food as medicine. A few early favorites were The Omnivore's Dilemma, Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole, and UnDiet. If you haven't read these yet, I assure you they will shed new light on old "truths". 

    Having experienced what felt like was my own "health miracle", I craved expert guidance, to deepen my understanding of nutrition. And I felt a very clear calling to help others begin to take back their health, too.

    I enrolled in T. Colin Campbell's Plant-Based Nutrition course, followed by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, which truly expanded my vision of health (so much more than food!) and taught me the concept of bioindividuality, that what works wonders for one person might not be what's best for another. It was throughout my time at IIN that my vision of health and wellness (and happiness!) began to take shape. 

    If you're anything like me, you'll find that what makes you feel happiest and healthiest may (and likely should!) change over time. Be gentle with yourself as you explore and, ultimately, discover what works best for you. Consider hiring a coach to help you along the way. There is truly something extremely powerful about having a loving, supportive, empowering person in your corner, especially when you're taking on big changes like these.

    2 - THROW AWAY THE CRAP

    As soon as you start re-educating yourself, you'll likely begin to feel like there's a lot in your fridge and pantry (and perhaps hiding under the bed or some other secret stash location?) that simply must go!

    Warning: This could be a little painful. You may want to enlist the help of a supportive friend (maybe after watching one of those awesome documentaries together!), family member, or coach. 

    But, I promise you, this is a critical and crucial part of getting you feeling amazing again!

    You must must must get rid of the bad if you wish to bring on the good. (And I know you do!) If it hurts too much to throw it away, consider donation. Remember: The longer you keep it around, the longer it will take for you to get healthy again! This is something you're going to want to go "all in" on.

    CRAP: I mentioned earlier than I'm of the belief that what's best for me might not be best for you. That being said, my experience and education has taught me that there are a few key offenders that seem to cause a lot of trouble for people. If only for a while, I urge you to consider removing things like dairy, gluten, and processed sugar/sweeteners. Processed anything, really, should go!

    What you want left over is, quite simply, real food. (Not the creations of the food "industry", not those long ingredient lists of unrecognizable items, and definitely not those "fake" and "imitation" animal products laden with processed soy, sodium, and other questionables.)

    3 - REPLACE IT WITH THE GOOD STUFF

    Hint: Good stuff = Real food.

    And here's where it gets fun again! (And the produce department of the grocery store becomes your new best friend!)

    Think seasonal, local, and organic whenever possible.

    Wary about spending more on organics? This little video on The Organic Effect will inspire you to choose "cleaner" options. I also love the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists, which help you choose the cleanest options while also being budget-conscious.

    Shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is another great tip! (Allows you to skip the a bunch of the processed stuff in the middle sections.)

    A couple of my favorite rules of thumb from Michael Pollan (and your great-grandma) that I like to use are: (1) Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. And I also love Rule No. 19 from his fabulous book Food Rules: (2) If it's a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don't.

    Beyond these, if you're eating animals, please be mindful of their source, what they were fed, and how they were raised. Always look for words like pastured, organic, and non-GMO. If you'd like to learn more about conscious "clean" farming, check out the work of Joel Salatin.

    And if you're looking for another all-around excellent guide to help you identify the crap (and get rid of it), check out Meghan Telpner's down-to-earth and inspiring take-back-your-life book UnDiet. You will love it!

    4 - EAT THE GOOD STUFF

    And make it delicious!

    After throwing together random "plants" for a year or so, I realized I should probably actually learn how to cook! As much as I'd always loved food, I'd never really felt comfortable in the kitchen - until I found Meghan Telpner and the Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

    Mind = Blown!

    I learned that health-supportive, nourishing, healing food can (and must!) taste mouth-wateringly delicious. And I learned that even I could make amazing food! (This shocked me, I tell ya!)

    I started by just watching her free videos, reading her blogs, and experimenting with some of her recipes, which are - to this day - some of my favorites to recommend to clients, friends, and family!

    If you're not used to cooking with a lot of plants and doing it in a way that is nourishing and healing to the body, just do what I did and start trying out a bunch of different recipes - until you find the ones you looove!

    Over time, as you practice and play and experiment in the kitchen, you'll develop a natural intuition about food and ingredients, and you'll begin to find it easier and easier to throw together something that's both delicious and nutritious for you and your family.

    I've got a bunch of recipes here! A couple other favorites (I have so many) are Rachel's Nourishing Kitchen, Green Kitchen Stories, and Sondi Bruner. Oh - and definitely take some time to browse through all the awesomeness in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition's Top 50 Clean Food Blogs!

    5 - REPEAT (WITH FRIENDS!)

    And there you have it! Educate yourself (lots of great books, documentaries, and classes out there to explore), get rid of the bad (seek support if you need it), bring in the good (lots of plants, think seasonal, local, and organic), make it delicious, and eat it - with friends!

    That's how you transition to cleaner eating. In a nutshell. 

    But the learning doesn't stop there, and there are certainly going to be ups and downs as you find your way. So, I'd like to say a word about your support system. 

    Finding a group of supportive, encouraging, like-minded folks will do wonders for your health, both mental and physical! If you can't find one you love, join mine!

    Making changes to the way you eat isn't always easy. You're going to need to have someone(s) to turn to when you looking for an answer to What the heck do I do with rainbow chard?, or your husband isn't exactly thrilled about your newfound plantiful ways, or you just want something sweet to eat, for God's sake! - but you don't know which ingredients are best.

    Why? Because this is the important stuff. This whole "figuring out what to eat" thing will keep you living and thriving and loving life for a very long time. It's completely changed my life, and I have a feeling it will do the same for you!

    YOUR TURN NOW

    Now it's your turn to share!

    Where are you in this whole process? Wherever you are, I hope you've found something useful here. What's been your biggest takeaway, and where would you like more support?

  • Seasonal Wellness: Top 6 Natural Solutions Here!

    Seasonal Wellness: Top 6 Natural Solutions Here!

    It's that time again. 
    But don't worry, I've got you covered!

    I feel your pain. A few years ago, I too was struggling to build and support a healthy immune and respiratory system, to combat irritating (to say the least) seasonal and environmental threats.

    After quite a bit of time experimenting with various options that made me feel foggy, sleepy, and just generally like I wasn't myself, I was fortunate enough to learn that by changing my diet, I could change a lot of other things, too. Including my health issues.

    This blew my mind. And I knew, immediately, that there was a whole world out there that I needed to explore.

    Since then, I've been on a mission to learn as much as I can about natural healthcare, and to share my experience and knowledge with others. Here, I'm sharing what I've learned about managing seasonal threats naturally.

    There is hope!
    And if you have something awesome to add, please, leave a comment. I love hearing from you!

    1 - EAT + DRINK CLEAN FOOD

    It always starts with food. That's been my experience, anyway. Transitioning to clean eating has been hugely beneficial to my overall wellness. Why? A massive portion of our immune systems is located in the gut. Clean up what you're putting in there, and you'll start to notice a shift in how you're feeling pretty quickly.

    What can you do right now? Begin to move in the direction of a whole food, plant-based diet. That doesn't mean you have to become a vegan. Or paleo. Or anthing in particular, really. But it does mean paying attention to where your food comes from and how it was grown/raised. Some of the most common triggers to avoid include processed/packaged "foods", overdosing on sugar, conventional dairy, and (for some) gluten.

    We are all different. This is the concept of bioindividuality. What makes your body feel amazing might do the complete opposite for someone else. If you think you could use some help sorting that out, consider hooking up with a health coach for a seasonal cleanse (elimination diet approach) or a few personalized sessions. Every body is unique.

    2 - SPOONFUL OF HONEY

    Wild, raw, and local, to be more specific. And just a quarter (tea)spoonful or so at first. Why? Those beautiful bees, as they're buzzing about doing their thing, pick up pollen from their environment. The result: By consuming a bit of wild, raw, local honey, a little at a time, you may help to desensitize your body to the pollen. You'll want to start with a smaller amount in the beginning and gradually work up to the full spoon.

    3 - ESSENTIAL OILS

    Until about a year ago, I had no idea how significantly these guys would change my life. When a friend of mine introduced me to essential oils, touting, specifically, their therapeutic properties, I was hesitant and skeptical at first. But I just kept hearing more and more good things about them. Eventually, wanting to really understand the why behind essential oils and their theraperic properties, I took a leap and ordered myself a kit.

    And I am so glad I did. Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint essential oils are known for their ability to support clear breathing and a healthy inflammatory response when combined together. Used by both veteran and novice essential oil users, this well-known blend is frequently diffused or mixed together for its respiratory health benefits. A little goes a long way.

    4 - HERBS & SPICES

    In conjunction with eating clean, a couple of standout herbs and spices that are really worth mentioning here are turmeric and nettle. 

    Turmeric's active ingredient, curcumin, is a phytochemical with many beneficial properties. One of my favorite simple turmeric recipes is "Turmeric Tea", from 101 Cookbooks. Super simple, soothing, and delicious.

    Nettle is another great one, as it contains ingredients believed to support a healthy inflammatory response. Used regularly, many report significant improvement. And it's wonderful for lots of other things, too. Side benefits. My preference is nettle tea from Traditional Medicinals

    5 - OIL PULLING

    Oil pulling is thousands of years old and comes from the ancient practice of Ayurveda, the science of life. I love it because it's an age-old, all natural option for improved overall oral health, clearing out toxins hiding in the mouth and sinus cavities, combatting seasonal threats, supporting a healthy respiratory system, and freshening breath.

    I also love how simple it is. All you need is oil! Coconut, sesame, and olive oils are great options. But stick with the cleanest, most natural version you can get your hands on. 

    How does it work? The fat cells in the oil pull out the bacteria and other harmful toxins from your saliva and around your teeth, tongue, and gums. It’s super easy, painless, safe, and affordable. See the simpe how-to right on over here.

    6 - BREAK OUT THE NETI POT

    The neti pot is another old standby when it comes to respiratory health. The concept is simple: Flush out the problem before your body's had time to mount a major attack. Most folks recommend using the neti pot morning and night to most effectively clear the invading substance(s). 

    Have you explored any of these natural options for combatting seasonal and environmental threats? Any others you swear by and would love to add? Please share, if you like. I love reading your recommendations!