We are in the midst of week two of summer vacation, and I’m still trying to figure out the summer. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding that it takes a bit of time to switch gears from the end-of-the-school year mayhem into summer mode. I’ve yet to crack the code on how to slow down while driving one kid to soccer camp and the other to golf practice—and then trying to do something useful with the free hour or two I end up with in between. One thing I do almost immediately, however, is punt the whole meal-planning routine and let our full-on sit-down family dinners take a hiatus for a couple months.
Photo by Laura Hobbs
Since moving to Boulder, my life has become an all-out yoga fest. I’m the managing editor for the yoga-heavy Elephant Journal, I’m the social media ambassador to one of the hippest yoga studios in town, I’m connecting and networking with amazing yogis from all over the country (Seane Corn kissed me on the cheek—I can die now), I’m going to yoga class every day, and I even got the chance to check out the Yoga Journal Conference in Estes Park a few weekends ago. I’m living and breathing the yoga life, and I’m loving every second of it.
How to Spring-Clean Your Eating Habits
It’s a natural impulse to purge your closet this time of year. Who wants itchy, pilling sweaters when they could be wearing crisp tees and cute sundresses? I also get the urge to clean my windows so I can get a better view of the (sometimes) blue sky and flowers on my trees. And I can’t wait to finally put away the stack of hats, gloves, and snow boots that has overtaken my entryway (since it snowed this past weekend, I’m going to wait a week or two on that one).
When I got married, my sister gave me an herb garden planted in a giant galvanized metal tub. At that time in my life, the only plants I’d ever kept alive were a couple scrawny succulents on my dorm room windowsill, and while I already loved to cook, I had no idea what to do with nine varieties of fresh herbs. Needless to say, I was intimidated. The plants died a slow, neglected death, which I rationalized as okay because all the herbs I ever needed were available at the grocery store.
Sixteen years later, I’ve come full circle on the idea of growing my own herbs (although that tub is usually used for keeping beer cold at parties). Now I grow herbs in pots, and here are some good reasons why you should, too.
- Cooking with fresh herbs is fun; it feels very “chef-y” to do things like chiffonade.
If not, you totally should. Even if you’re not gluten-free, it’s still okay to eat more vegetables. And this is one wicked awesome way to do that.
Whether it’s trying a new food or attempting a new recipe, the rewards far outweigh the risks.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve urged my kids to try a new food—a food they claimed to “know its disgusting”—only to hear them say, “Wow mom, I didn’t know delicata squash (or kale, pomegranate, clams) was so not gross! Can I have some more?” Sure, sometimes (as with the pureed broccoli-and parsley salad I foisted on them last night), they confirm it to be disgusting. But they don’t gag, vomit, or die.
This time of year, people tend to go in one of two directions, eating-wise: Either they double down on their dedication to a healthy diet and forego every sugar cookie, candied pecan, and cheese plate they encounter—or they say some version of “screw it” and dive head first into the buttered mashed potatoes (or cookie platter).
Learning to love—no, crave—the only non-controversial food group.
I was cooking up some turkey bacon for my kids’ breakfast when my husband read me the headline about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) decision to designate processed meat as a “Group 1 carcinogen” (that’s the same category as cigarettes). Up until that moment, I’d been pretty proud of the recent addition of bacon to our morning repertoire and was pleased to cut out carbs and replace them with “healthy” protein. Now I was throwing my hands up in frustration. Was I poisoning my children?
Quick—which one fruit most reminds you of summer?
Did you say watermelon? If you didn’t say watermelon, I suspect the beautiful photo gave it away. Anyway, if you did say watermelon, you’re not alone; I conducted an informal poll at a recent get-together, and every single person I asked (all 8 of them) said watermelon too.
Healthy eating begins with two simple principles:
Processed Foods = Bad
Whole and Minimally Processed (WAMP) Foods = Good
The idea that eating whole foods is good and processed foods is bad may seem self-evident, but it’s not as obvious as you might think. In fact, pinpointing WAMP foods isn’t simple. Processed foods can be sneaky and disguise themselves as healthy foods without our noticing.
For example, we all know that chips, fries, and doughnuts are processed junk-type foods — that’s obvious. But what about bagels, cereal, and yogurt? Maybe not—it all depends on the ingredients that make them what they are. Most bagels are full of refined, processed wheat, and mainstream cereals are stuffed with processed sugar — they’re certainly not WAMP foods. The fact is there isn’t a standard, regulated definition of the words “whole” or “minimally processed.” You’ll need to learn what makes a food WAMP and what doesn’t because labels on packages won’t tell you.
Luckily, there are a few key attributes that flag a food as WAMP.