Monthly Archives: July 2016

listen to your body

How to Learn to Listen to Your Body

The other night I was speaking to a client and he said, “You know… when you first told me this I didn’t believe you.” (Yes, I was wondering where this was going to go). “But I’ve actually started to crave vegetables!” In fact, he went to one of his favorite fried chicken spots and ordered Brussels sprouts. Not because fried chicken is “bad”, but because he actually just plain and simple wanted the veggies. Moments like this really make me gush because our bodies are really so smart. When we give them a little love and attention, they start to point us in our right direction (because everyone’s right direction is different).

There’s no one way to learn to listen to your body. It’s something that starts to happen more and more as you set the intention to listen, and as you become more aware. It can definitely help to have a coach, or guide, but it isn’t necessary. For those of you who don’t have a coach, friend or mentor and feel a little stuck about where to start when people tell you to listen to you body, here are a few tips that can get you started.

Start paying attention.

Most of us work on automatic. We push through any discomfort in an effort to get through out days. Getting off of automatic is the first step.

Be curious.

Check in with yourself and your body. Go through each body part in your mind and take a second to focus in and see how that part of you is doing. Are your feet tired or achy? Do you have a mild consistent headache? Where is the headache? In the front of your head, middle? Are your fingers tired from typing? Maybe it’s just your right hand. Is the pain or discomfort dull, diffuse, or sharp?

Start noticing how you feel before and after you eat.

Were you tired? How did you know you were hungry? Did you see something that made you salivate? Are yo bored? Start asking questions.

Keep a log.

I don’t recommend this to everyone, especially if you have a history of disordered eating, but it can be useful to just notice what you’ve eaten throughout the day. I’m not talking about weighing or measuring your food, but just taking a general glance. From there you can start recording any persistent symptoms you are trying to understand and eliminate. Maybe red peppers give you a headache. Or sugar brings out your acne. Keeping a log is a great tool to help connect the dots.

Notice what you crave and why.

Be gentle with yourself.

When we start to pay attention to our bodies cues and come off of automatic mode, we realize that there’s often been a lot of negative thinking and harsh words we’ve silently directed towards ourselves. This can be a lot to come to terms with, but is the first step towards having compassion for ourselves and making the kinds of changes our bodies are calling out for.


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curry green beans

Recipe: Curried Coconut Green Beans

I have the privilege of working at one of the best places I could imagine, the Natural Gourmet Institute (NGI). I had been having a one way love affair with them since 2003, when Kathryn Bari, a graduate and chef, had me fall in love with healthy food. So, you can imagine how happy I was when I started working at NGI last year. It felt like everything was coming full circle.

The food at NGI is spectacular, but sometimes the recipes require more time, energy and ingredients than I really want to deal with. It’s great for special occasions, when I’m cooking for a client, or when I really want to treat myself, but sometimes I want a similar dish without all the frills.

When I tried Chef Rich’s Curried Coconut Green Beans dish, I was hooked. It was so flavorful and satisfying. I’ve made it over a dozen times since, and I’m very happy with my alterations to the recipe. Enjoy!

Curried Coconut Green Beans


  • 1 lb green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds, if you have them
  • 1 tbs curry powder, divided
  • 1 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 jalapeno or thai bird chili (if you like heat)
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1/2 tbs minced ginger
  • 3-4 fresh curry leaves if you can find them
  • salt to taste


  1. Heat coconut oil in a large wok or saute pan.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and wait until they pop, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Add the curry leaves, shallots and hot peppers if you’re using them. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder and ginger, and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  5. Add the green beans, and cook to your liking. About 5-7 minutes.
  6. Once the green beans are tender, add the shredded coconut and stir to coat the green beans.
  7. Cook until heated through. Adjust salt and curry powder to your liking.
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dirty dozen organic

Organic Fruits & Veggies, Which Are Worth The $?

If you’re anything like me, then you’ve likely had a moment when you’ve been stopped in your tracks in the produce section of the grocery store. The culprit? The sign next to the organic cucumbers that says $3.00, or the $7.00 strawberries. At that point I often wonder to myself, or aloud for that matter, how the same produce in the conventional aisle costs less than half of that amount.

So what is there to do? For me, I prioritize what to spend the extra money on. How do I do that? Great question! I use a list prepared by the Environmental Working Group called the “Clean 15” and “Dirty Dozen”. It basically breaks down which fruits and vegetables contain the least and most pesticides. It also takes into account how much of the pesticides are absorbed into the food.

For example, avocado is on the “Clean 15” list. This means that buying organic avocado is not something you need to prioritize. If you think about it, it makes sense. An avocado has a tough shell that gets removed before eating. Works for me.

Now think about strawberries. Strawberries grow very close to the ground and are sweet, attracting lots of bugs. They also don’t have a shell of any kind, which can make them more vulnerable. Hence, more pesticide usage. Strawberries are on the “dirty dozen” list.

Check out the full list above. The “Dirty Dozen” are the fruits and veggies with the most pesticides found on them, and the ones you want to buy organic. The “Clean 15” are the fruits and veggies that have the least amount of pesticide residue. These are the fruits and veggies that you don’t need to worry about buying organic. Some people like to post this list on their fridge or keep it stored on their phone for when they go to the grocery store.

Just remember, there is no need to get overwhelmed by this information. Eating vegetables is great, even conventionally grown vegetables. You can also wash and peel non-organic vegetables to remove some of the pesticides. Are organic better? Sure. But eating vegetables at all is a great thing for your body. If your budget allows for it, prioritize buying items off the “Dirty Dozen” list organic.

And, as a side note, dairy, eggs and meat should always be bought organic and, when possible, grass-fed or pasture raised.

Here are some of my budgeting secrets when buying organic:

  • Sales, sales and more sales! Even Whole Foods has sales! I know I was super happy when Whole Foods was selling organic Swiss Chard for $1.50 per bunch.
  • Trader Joes has really competitive prices on organic cucumbers, celery, kale and collards.
  • Buy frozen. Frozen organic berries can be less expensive than the fresh ones (and better off season).
  • Shop at Farmer’s Markets or at a local farm (yes, we have local farms in the city!) and ask questions. Sometimes farmers can’t afford to get the organic designation, but they don’t use pesticides or herbicides on their land. Smaller farms also often use less pesticides.
  • Buy in bulk when you can and cook and freeze what you can’t eat.

Happy shopping!

*this post was originally posted on 5/26/14

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nutrition advice

The Best Nutrition Advice

Friday morning I made a pit stop at Trader Joes before heading to the Farmer’s Market to do some cooking and nutrition classes. At checkout, the cashier (hey, Pamela!) and I started chatting and she asked me what I was up to the rest of the day. I told her what I did and she got really excited! If you know me, you know how much I love enthusiasm, especially around food. So, she asks me a slew of questions: what’s the ultimate nutrition advice I can give, what should she eat, does everything have to be organic?

I love these questions. And, they’re surprisingly important given the all the nutrition advice online, on TV and from “experts” and MLM representatives claiming to have the next easy fix. There are tons of different diets out there, and none of them are the “perfect diet”. It’s easy to get caught up in debates about what’s better for you, smoothies or juice. Should I eat paleo or vegan? What about ketogenic? Are carbs bad? Unfortunately, when we’re given too much, and often contradictory, information and too many choices, we get stuck in overwhelm and inaction.

We are all different, our bodies are different, our energy requirements are different, our health and our concerns are different, our ethics and budgets are different. What does that mean? It means there is no one right answer for what each of us should eat. But, there is some basic nutrition advice that all of us can follow.

As Michael Pollen says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

  1. Eat whole unprocessed foods.
  2. Cut sugary drinks out of your diet.
  3. Cook your own food.
  4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. More vegetables.
  5. Enjoy what you eat. Food should taste good.
  6. Learn to read nutrition labels. Avoid foods with more than a handful of ingredients or ingredients you can’t pronounce.

It’s not complicated nutrition advice, but it does take time, effort and planning to integrate. And, once you get there, then you can start looking at some of the other more nuanced questions. Maybe there’s a specific diet that would be better for you. If you have digestive problems, maybe a low FODMAP diet would work. If you have autoimmune issues, the AIP diet or Paleo diet might be right for you. But, taking on a restrictive diet without first mastering the above categories is a recipe for major overwhelm and stress. So, take it slow! Start by becoming more aware of what you’re eating. Start listening to your body for cues about how what you are eating is effecting you. Your body has so much wisdom to offer, but it starts with learning to decode your bodies specific language.

Good luck and have fun with it!

With love,


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