Kiwi? Oui Oui! 🥝

Nope, it’s not about the flightless bird or New Zealanders today – we are all about this tiny, overlooked fruit in grocery store that has so much to offer you. What are its nutritional credentials exactly? Well, here’s a start:

  • It has about twice the vitamin C of oranges, per serving
  • Constipated? There’s more to help than prunes and psyllium – kiwi contains fiber and an enzyme that maybe help move things along, if you get our drift
  • Folate – this B vitamin helps prevent neural tube defects in pregnancies but is also important for building red blood cells and reducing homocysteine levels
  • Antioxidants to help neutralize free radical damage

A common question is whether one can eat the skin or not. Yes, you can eat the skin. It’s fuzzy and can kind of tickle the mouth a bit, but it has fiber and the skin doesn’t have much of a taste on its own. In terms of the fruit, the texture is similar to that of a banana but with crunchy seeds in the middle (similar to chia seeds). We think these elements come together to create an interesting and sweet snack.

How to eat kiwis:

The easiest way is to slice it up and enjoy it on its own.

We love it in our Red, White & Blueberry Fruit Tart and Spiced Vanilla Chia Pudding.

How will you eat your kiwi? Share in the comments below.

Choose your Water Wisely 🚰

Disclosure: this is not a sponsored post; products were provided by the manufacturer. Some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Unless you live in Switzerland, New Zealand, or Norway, it’s time to pay attention to the water you drink. Why? Because those countries have high-quality tap water (rated by entities such as the World Health Organization). Switzerland, for example, has strict standards for water treatment and their drinking water tends to come from natural springs or groundwater. New Zealand has focused on meeting chemical and bacterial standards in its water. Since the early aughts, Norway has been working on its disintegrating, aging water infrastructure (a problem the US shares).

So, why are we talking about this today? Well, everyone is told to drink plenty of water, to stay hydrated. We would be remiss not to mention the importance of the quality of water alongside any recommendation to increase its consumption.

Having experienced tap water from both coasts, many states and countries too, we’re just glad to be alive. Kidding. Kind of. As you may remember from our other article Is your Water Safe? there are many issues with water, including: fluoride (especially when it comes to endocrine issues such as hypothyroidism), chlorination byproducts, agricultural runoff, lead, pharmaceutical compounds, chemicals and bacteria. Oh and ‘forever’ chemicals. This other article deals with the control certain companies have over our water and waterborne illness. And this one, Water: A Human Right or a (Paid) Privilege? is important as water is both a global and home-country issue (also, get to know the parent company of your bottled water!).

During our teenage years, our household had a reverse osmosis filter installed and the water, when we did drink it, was of better quality. But then came college and post-college years of way more tap, bottled water, or the carbon filter types (e.g. Brita and PUR). After many years of buying water by the gallons or carbon filters, we looked into systems that we didn’t have to install and found a couple of countertop options, including the RKIN Zero Installation Purifiers (we compared the AlcaPure and OnliPure versions here).

These have been great, but we as a household apparently drink a lot of water and were filling up the containers multiple times a day. When we moved into our more permanent dwelling, the fridge had a built-in, carbon filtration system (which we use now to water some of our non-edible plants) and so we still needed a reverse osmosis solution. The undersink reverse osmosis system made more sense as it provided quality water at the kitchen sink, on demand (and it refills itself). Another bonus was saving some countertop space. If you are a student or are renting, the countertop version might be best whereas the undersink version might serve you better if you’re in a long-term situation.

So we had the reverse osmosis system set up at our sink and everything was hunky dory for awhile, but we noticed mineral deposits around our bathroom faucets and other symptoms of hard water. Since our water comes from a well, we weren’t entirely surprised when the data we received from our water suppliers showed that yes, we do have hard water.

In comes the softener system. The set-up was a bit complicated but the result is worth it. You can see the difference between our tap water and filtered water, softened and unsoftened in this video (near the end).

As you might now see, this article builds on, and is complementary to the others we’ve written about water quality. We suggest you test your water and ask for the annual report. If you’re not feeling like tap is your best option, consider a carbon filter at the very minimum and a reverse osmosis system as one of the best options all of us currently have. A softener might come in handy too; again, learn about your water supply. Bottled water is fraught with issues – including plastics and our environment, supporting certain companies unwittingly, bottled ‘spring’ water containing tap or carbon filtered water, and more.

Unless you plan to move to Vienna, Austria (where tap water flows from water protection zones in the mountains into the city) or one of the other top tap water countries, we need to take personal action on our tap water here in the United States.

Bottom line: the human body is mostly water and we need plenty of it for proper hydration. It makes sense to put some time, attention, and effort into making sure yours is the best it can be. We may not be able to control our municipal water, but we can exert some control within our homes by further filtering our own water.

If you like what you see on the RKIN website, click here and get 10% off your order.

Recipe: Plant-based Taco Tuesday 🌮

You definitely don’t need it to be a Tuesday to enjoy these tasty tacos, but “Sunday Tacos” doesn’t exactly have the desired alliteration. We like to call these the Anytime Tacos – the ‘t’ sound is still in there and it’s much more freeing – but social convention is a powerful thing. Regardless, have this crunchy, delicious, and nutrient-dense meal whenever you’d like. Remember the “Got Milk” slogan? Well, this calcium-rich meal actually does a body good. Enjoy!

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

Prep time: 10-15 minutes, depending on number of condiments offered

Serves: 3-4 people

Ingredients

1 package of 12 hard taco shells (we used Siete grain-free ones)

1 head of lettuce, romaine or green leaf, chopped

1 can, 15oz of black beans and/or our cauliflower & walnut crumble recipe (if time allows)

1 tsp taco seasoning

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, sliced

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jar of salsa to share

2 limes, sliced (optional)

Instructions

Rinse beans from a can and then put in a small pot over low heat. Add taco seasoning and stir; simmer for about 5 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees for the tacos. While waiting, prep lettuce, avocado, cilantro, tomatoes and limes. Follow directions on hard taco shell box for how long to heat them up in the oven (about 2-3 minutes). Plate tacos and allow each dinner guest or family member to decorate their own tacos with the condiments provided. Lime juice provides a nice splash of flavor and acidity to the meal. Your taste buds might just shout ¡olé!

Go-go Goji Berries!

The goji berry, also known as wolfberry, is a sweet orange-red fruit native to Asia. It has been eaten for thousands of years and is a staple of some of the longest-living people on earth, including the Hunza in the Himalayas. With an impressive array of nutritional properties and health benefits, you might want to include it into your diet. We’ll show you how.

Background & Nutritional Properties

Goji berries have been used both as food and botanical medicine. Fortunately, with its sweet taste (it looks like a red raisin but tastes more like a cross between a cherry and a cranberry), it ‘helps the medicine go down’, as Mary Poppins would say.

What else do goji berries offer, nutritionally-speaking? Plenty – including 18 amino acids (the building blocks of protein), high antioxidant content, more protein by weight than other fruits (e.g. oranges, apples, berries), great source of beta-carotene and vitamin C, trace minerals, B vitamins and more.

Goji berries have been extensively studied for their health benefits and have been known to:

• Strengthen the immune system
• Increase longevity and protects from premature aging
Reduce skin cancer risk
• Promote cardiovascular health
• Support eye health and vision
• Maintain healthy blood pressure and blood sugar
• Improve fertility
• Strengthen muscles and bones
• Manage weight

Ready to include more of these delicious and nutritious berries into your diet? First, let’s talk about who should NOT eat goji berries without consulting their doctor or healthcare professional. Obviously, those allergic to the berries should avoid them. Goji berries may interact with certain drugs including blood thinners and diabetes medications as well as drugs for high blood pressure.

Choosing to partake in the nourishment and benefits of these red berries? Here are some ways to include them into your go-go, busy lifestyle:

• During breakfast with DIY Hippie Granola or a warming Great Goji Groatmeal recipe or even just as a topping to your cereal

• Brew in a tea ball with loose green tea

• As a snack on its own or in a trail mix

• In smoothies and yogurt

• Paired with dark chocolate for a satisfying dessert rich in antioxidants

…and more! Goji berries have been used to make soup, stew and wine as well as herbal formulas as a tonic for health.

This nutrient-dense superfood deserves a spot in your pantry with all it can offer to you and your family. Enjoy!

Client Spotlight: Dr. Kim Carter 🙌

“It [the coaching journey] provided a clear focus on challenge areas and necessary goals and accountability to overcome them. I hoped to learn about my mental blocks to living healthier and I wanted to learn strategies to address them. Yes, my expectations have been met.

I have developed the strength/willpower to address all matters leading to a healthier me. I surprised myself when I drastically altered my work and personal schedules to make time and put myself on the front burner. My major insight/breakthrough was definitely the schedule disruption.

I benefited from, and enjoyed the most, what I learned about why my eating habits were poor and the tools to address this (eating at consistent times, drinking plenty of water, poor snack replacement, etc.). I am tracking my meals now (sometimes) and am more conscious about my food intake, eating times of day, and meal prepping myself.” – Dr. Kim Carter


It has been an honor and a pleasure working with Dr. Kim over the course of a few months. The most striking session was probably our first – she realized that she didn’t have much time to dedicate to herself and her health, and she fixed that right up in less than an hour! The keystone action of removing and choosing the activities that fit with her values and goals certainly helped as we added in healthier foods, routines, mindset, and more. Let’s find your keystone habit and build a healthier version of you – schedule your complimentary, 20-minute Discovery Call now.

7 Steps to your Pantry Makeover 💖

Suffice to say, we’ve watched more than our fair share of Netflix and YouTube organization videos – in addition to reading books and listening to podcasts. We find it a nice blend of relaxing and also energizing as we see what is possible. Inspirational sources include: Home Edit, Marie Kondo, The Minimalists, Home Body, Cas the Clutterbug, and more.

As we tell our clients, it’s great to have lots of knowledge, but the transformation happens with implementation. So we first we absorbed and planned and then we took about two good hours and made this happen. If cleanliness is next to godliness, this was a religious experience. Drink the communal wine, play some music, and join us in these 7 steps:

  1. Take measurements of the pantry. Height between shelves, depth of the pantry, length of shelving. This will serve you especially well if you are looking to optimize the space and for ordering containers that fit. Otherwise skip this step and proceed to step 2; while passing Go, do not collect $200 but save yourselves the extra three hours we spent here.

  2. Pull ALL items from the pantry and clean. Yes, it will look overwhelming but will probably only take 10 minutes. We swept the kitchen floor and had the kitchen table cleared off for this moment. Once you’ve removed everything, take another 10 minutes to wipe down the shelves and clean the floor of any sticky gunk or errant crumbs.

  3. Obtain containers. Use what you have already first; we pulled some from our office and basement. If you don’t have enough, and want the space to look more coherent and put-together, consider the containers that will complement, and fit, the space. This is the perfect opportunity to take those measurements and nerd out while shopping for the ‘perfect’ organizational materials. We ended up ordering a set of 3 clear plastic containers for the pantry (and another set of 4 stackers mainly used for the fridge; that’s another post), 1 small clear container with lid and wire bins for the bottom where we had more vertical space. We were able to get the two little tea bag holders from HomeGoods. Disclosure: some of the links are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

  4. Clean your bins and remove stickers. One of these Bino ones had such a sticky sticker that it smeared as we tried to clean it with essential oils, vinegar, metal scrubber – everything. If you have a hack for this, let us know. Otherwise, it’s being accepted as part of our perfectionism recovery program.
  5. Pull expired food out to throw away. There will likely be some food waste; show yourself some grace and move on. Remember the FIFO system (first in, first out) for the future so that you rotate items with a sooner expiration date to the front and put your new groceries to the back.
  6. Sort and Categorize. With all the pantry food you’ll have on the floor, start sorting them into categories that make sense to you. We have baking (rolled oats, flours, sweeteners), extra spices/herbs backstock, tea, oils & vinegar, snacks, potato bin, international cuisine items (e.g curry sauce, salsa), tomato sauce and paste, nuts and seeds, pasta and noodles, rice and broth, Mr. Chef specialty foods, our ‘superfoods’, and chips and crackers all in categorized bins or areas of the pantry. Your brain will know where to look and quickly grab the item when it’s all laid out this way.
  7. Labeling – just do it. Create labels for the bins, shelves, and jars if you want to. We were going to make this step optional (and it still is if you live alone and understand your own system) but here’s the thing: your family, even those from your own DNA, aren’t mind-readers. Just because you’ll know where everything is, and think the organization makes sense, doesn’t mean they will. It might seem obvious that the item being searched for is in the ‘baking’ box, or that the tea needs to go in the clear container where all the other teas are hanging out but save yourself and your loved ones the frustration. Just label it. We created labels with brown paper, a scrapbooking punch tool, and some calligraphy (a hobby we enjoy). Do what works for you!

Now, take a break, relax, and snap a photo for Instagram (or comment below) to share. You did it! AND you’re taking getting organized now instead of waiting for 2022 to start. Gold star for you!!

🔋 Get Energized, Bunny! 🐇

Maybe you remember the Duracell battery commercial with the little pink bunny rolling across the floor and beating a drum with the tagline “it keeps going, and going, and going…” If you’d like energy to keep you going all day long and perhaps all week or month long, you’ll want to pay attention to these two main forms of energy – physiological and psychological energy – as well as more esoteric ones we’ll get into shortly.

We could recount a song all about the Kreb’s cycle (nerd out with us and have a listen) and re-live the intense science behind chemical reactions, but suffice to say, the citric acid cycle is all about how our body creates energy for physical and mental performance.

For your best chance at improving your natural physical energy, consider some tips:

  1. Get proper sleep and nutrient-dense foods into the diet (those with a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants along with the calorie intake). Avoid added sugars, questionable additives, and low-quality fats.
  2. Understand energy drains. Low energy can be a result of everything from improper thyroid function to having processed foods that are high in unhealthy fats, salt and sugar. We can also feel lower energy as a result of the body’s burden in dealing with environmental factors such as poor air or water quality, exposure to plastics, heavy metals, mold and/or chemicals.
  3. Exercise will initially seem to be an energy drain, but it will gift you more energy on the other side of your workout and can help with sleep (another energy-giver).

Psychological Energy

It’s a common experience to be influenced by interactions with other people. After some exchanges you may feel more energized, inspired, and light whereas after others you might have felt lethargic and down. Whether the conversation was one-sided or ‘all about them’ or featured constant complaining, you may feel like you’ve come into contact with a ‘Colin Robinson’ or energy vampire.

Another example of psychological energy identified by research is called the ‘mental load’, the cognitive and emotional labor involved in keeping up a household and tending to family. In most cases, the mental load tends to fall on women to bear. This can include researching and planning options around a son’s new braces, figuring out all the ingredients needed for Thanksgiving dinner, remembering birthdays and anniversaries of not just their own friends and family, but their partner’s as well. And this is a small list. Take a moment to see if an element of mental load could be influencing your psychological or mental energy.

Depression has a number of causes and, when it settles in, you may find your overall energy zapped – mind and body. Depending on the duration and severity, you may benefit from talking with your doctor or healthcare provider, therapist, and integrative health coach.

Physical clutter can also lead to mental clutter, feeling as though your mind is overstuffed with ideas, to-dos, and that your attention is pulled in many different directions at once. Because physical clutter can impact mental health and affect everything from sleep to anxiety and our ability to focus, it’s an area worth improving. (Psst! See our next class coming up in December)

More Esoteric forms of Energy

Examine the energies of yin and yang or masculine and feminine within yourself and how you live your life. Are you always hustling, running on adrendaline, and contracted (hunched or tight shoulders)? Or do you live a slower, more free-form and intuitive-based life? The first one is more yang or masculine energy and the other is more feminine or yin energy.

This can also play out in food – alcohol and sugar are more extreme yin whereas meat and salt are more extreme yang. These extreme yin/yang foods can create cravings for each other AND can be what we turn to to balance ourselves out. An example would be a very ‘yang’ type of person – think New York City executive- walking fast, yelling into his phone, tight and contracted shoulders. He may turn to more yin foods, such as alcohol, drugs, sugar or ice cream – to help balance himself out. It’s an interesting way to look at food that most nutritionists don’t, but can help explain cravings and how each of us finds a sense of equilibrium in our lives.

We also have the Ayurvedic concept at play – for those who are more vata energy, there can be a scattered energy or fast ‘windy’ feeling to our thoughts. This is another way of viewing energy and gives a clue on how to balance out a person’s energy. Here’s a primer on Ayurvedic body types and seasons.

Tips to improve psychological energy:

  1. Spent time wth those who inspire and make you laugh
  2. Examine your own Ayurvedic dosha (we have resources to help!)
  3. If you’re finding your masculine energy too high and feminine energy too low, consider engaging in more creative projects – art, music, dance, pottery, or yin yoga – and slowing down in all areas of your life. Be open and receptive to ideas, people, and connecting with yourself and your spirit.
  4. Consider acupuncture for the physical and psychological balancing of Qi
  5. Beyond calories, look at your foods from more of a yin and yang perspective.
  6. Get curious about the mental load you’re carrying as well as how your environment makes you feel. If it’s too cluttered, get help and inspiration during our upcoming Minimalism class.
  7. If you have depression, reach out and get help

As you can see, energy doesn’t come from the amount of caffeine in your cup, the calories you eat and how they convert to ATP – it is a multi-faced area of study. Choose one area to focus on and a simple step to improve that type of energy (e.g. drinking more water, having more art or play time). For personalized assistance with a holistic nutritionist and comprehensive approach to energy management, reach out.

Fancy in 5 Steps! 🥂 Charcuterie Board

The inspiration for this came from a 3 and 6-year-old. We were to host a small, casual gathering and we sought to satisfy everyone without killing ourselves. Aha! A charcuterie board is like fancy buffet but far simpler to build. We used two cutting boards that Mr. Chef made, but you don’t need custom end-grain cutting boards to accomplish this festival of food. The cutting board could come from IKEA, or use serving tray. Have a bit of fun with your imagination and what you already have in your cabinets. Presto!

In hosting, as in life, we prefer balance and elegant simplicity, and fun with perhaps a *sprinkle* of fancy. It’s okay to throw something together and even bring in a bit of whimsy.

So, to keep things classic and chill, the idea of having a variety and simple foods- a smorgasbord- stood out. Call it that, a Hungarian cold plate or “Hidegál”, or, because it sounds so nice to say, charcuterie board (the way we like to remember to pronounce it: “shar(k)-coo-ter-ee”; say it fast enough and the “k” glides you right through the word). Other reasons we love this:

Unstuffy – at its heart, a charcuterie board is very finger-friendly and is even great for kids

Healthy – we went mostly for organic produce & gluten-free items but also had quality meat products for omnivorous types.

Visually appealing – because we all ‘eat’ with our eyes first, we really wanted to provide a cheery, colorful palette of foods from which to choose.

The Steps

  1. Think about your guests – do they have dietary restrictions or allergies? Food preferences? Will children be present?
  2. Plan your board(s) – think of food groups (healthier versions of fat, protein, carbohydates) and accessories (dips that go well with chips, carrots, and celery for example). This helps provide a balanced and light meal. Bonus: make a ‘rainbow’. Get creative and perhaps offer a fruit and vegetable option for each color – such as orange bell peppers and orange slices.
  3. Go shopping and prep the produce. Here are some items you might want for your custom board(s): vegetables (bell pepper, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes), fruits (orange and apple slices, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, grapes – dried fruit is also an option!), cheeses, deli meats (salami, turkey, ham or chicken), crackers and/or bread, dips (hummus, Ranch, herb-infused olive oil), olives, pickles, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), chips, and chocolate.
  4. Decorate your boards! Use little bowls for dips, dishes or plates, cutting boards, and utensils to design a beautiful, curated offering to your guests.
  5. Relax, eat and enjoy!

The Only Scale you’ll Ever Need

Many of us have felt tied to presence of the little square box in our bathrooms. Whether it’s with a sense of trepidation each morning, or out of habit, we step on and wait for the results. This smug, often shame-inducing bathroom scale seems to revel in a bit of schadenfreude as it spits back a number that we’ll inextricably tie in with our sense of self-worth. And the bad news often colors the rest of our day, and mood, a dark gray.

While we aren’t necessarily proposing that you throw that machine out or smash it à la Office Space, what we *do* suggest is a different ‘scale’ of sorts – one that will serve you now and well into the future. It involves way less shame and is a springboard into knowing yourself better while quite possibly helping you lose a few unwanted pounds.

What is it? The Hunger Scale.

The tool seems simple enough, but don’t let it fool you. Its power lies in helping you answer some rather complex questions about yourself.

A client recently expressed this beautifully when she mentioned, “I feel like I don’t know how to fill this out. Am I the only one who feels out of touch with her body?

Our answer was, “oh, definitely not. You’re in good company”….because it’s true. Many of us have had similar past experiences when it came to HOW we ate. Why?

Think back to elementary school. You had maybe 30 minutes to process through the line to get your lunch, eat, and talk with your friends before it was recess or back to class. This, of course, continued for many years into higher levels of education.

If you were part of the “clean plate club” at home, you were often eating out of alignment with your true fullness cues.

When it came to work, typically your first job(s) would give you a 15 minute break to maybe shove down some food.

Because of our early experiences in life, all of us have gotten used to driving and eating, eating and working, and eating just because food is around. Rarely do we know what hunger looks like until we are ravenous or light-headed…or what fullness looks like until our pants start biting into our belly skin.

We have lost a connection with our bodies over the years because of all these factors and more. Even if your stomach was growling during an early morning class, you might have told yourself, “shut up body, I can’t eat until lunch.” Perhaps being made to finish your plate involved inner dialogue like, “yeah, I know you’re uncomfortable, body, but you need to make more room and eat this because I don’t want to sit here; I want to go outside and play.”

If you want to read more about our connection, or lack thereof, with our bodies, check out Your Body: Whispers or Screams?

Understandably, this claim seems a bit brazen, but we truly believe that this Hunger Scale tool is the only ‘scale’ you’ll ever need. When you are attuned to your body’s need for fuel versus its need for comfort, you start being able to differentiate between stress or emotional cues and the body’s refueling requirements.

Since getting in touch with her hunger and satiety cues, one client remarked, “I feel like I used to always be eating. I don’t do that anymore.”

We’re gifting you our Hunger Scale template here, with some parts filled in to assist and guide you.

Every one has different signals of physical (and psychological) hunger, so fill it out according to your own unique patterns. If you’re finding it a bit harder than you thought, you’re not alone and we are here to help.

Recipe: Chocolate Chunk Tahini Cookies 🍪

Do you miss chocolate chip peanut butter cookies? Well, with peanuts out-of-the-picture for many school kids (and adults), what can we do instead? Tahini to the rescue!

What is tahini? It’s sesame seed paste that is a great source of protein, healthy fats, and is reminiscent of peanut butter’s taste. With the 90% chocolate chunks and lower amount of maple syrup, this struck us a “healthy cookie” (i.e. not very sweet). Also, amaranth is a come-back grain (really a seed) after a rather sordid history of being banned because it was considered blasphemous (it also strengthened the people to fight against the invaders). Feel free to use chocolate with a lower percentage of cacao and a little more maple syrup, if desired, to fit your sweet tooth.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 11 minutes

Servings: 12

Ingredients

1/2 cup tahini

3 oz dark chocolate, chopped

1 cup amaranth flour (for extra protein; or use gluten-free flour of your choice)

3 tbsp gluten-free oats

1/3 cup maple syrup

1-2 tbsp water (if batter becomes too thick)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In medium mixing bowl, combine tahini with maple syrup and vanilla. Then add in amaranth flour, gluten-free oats, cinnamon, and salt. Mix and then add chocolate chunks. If batter is too thick, add 1-2 tbsp of water or maple syrup (for those who want this sweeter). Scoop onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 11 minutes. Cookies should be chewy and look underdone in the middle (they are vegan and perfectly safe to eat this way). Let set and cool for 10 minutes and then dig in!