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.

Classic” and “chill” were the words we chose to foster while hosting a small gathering recently. So when we were pondering what to serve, 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.

How to Talk with Kids about Eating Disorders

Collage piece, circa 1998

Inside and outside of school, there are many pressures on children and teenagers to look or act a certain way. It’s hard to be aware of, and control, what they are exposed to – whether on social media or in their friend groups- but here’s a question & answer guide to facilitate conversations with your child.

This interview may pop up on VeryWell.com and the link will be placed here when the article is ready to view.

  1. Why is it important to talk to your child about eating disorders?

It is important to talk with your child about eating disorders as a precautionary measure. It will help them build awareness of their own eating habits and to notice if it starts to swing into disordered eating. They may be able to help identify peers or friends who may also need help.

  1. Should you have these conversations only if you’re concerned or just in general? Why or Why not?

There are two sides to this. By starting a conversation and saying that sometimes people starve themselves, over-exercise, or purge in order to look a certain way, a child may pick up on that as a valid way to change the way they look. Conversely, the conversation, including the detriments of eating disorders (e.g. on dental, bone, reproductive, or psychological health – even the risk of death) may help them stay on a healthier path with their eating.

  1. Some parents may be concerned that talking about eating disorders will put the idea in their head or make a situation worse? Is that a legitimate concern?

[See above]. For some children, it can plant a seed in their minds to try unhealthy eating behaviors in order to lose weight. A child, depending on age and disposition, may also rebel against the parents by doing the opposite of what they suggest and become entrenched, or further entrenched, in disordered eating. It would be very appropriate, and perhaps necessary, to bring in a more neutral third party, perhaps a therapist or registered dietitian, to educate the child about disordered eating and its effects.

  1. Should parents talk about how to approach eating from a healthy place or give any advice?

It’s always best for parents to model healthy eating. I’ve heard too many stories from my clients about how their disordered eating started because their mom was on a diet and always talked about how “fat” she was or how dad would eat “whatever he wanted” and then run it off. Children model after and emulate their parents, for better or worse. Talking about eating from a healthy, positive place can definitely help. If the child is open to advice, you can offer it, but I would suggest letting them ask questions to get engaged in the conversation, versus delivering a lecture.

  1. What should parents know about talking about eating disorders?

Just like other topics – including sex education, personal finance, healthy relationships – it’s likely to be an ever-evolving conversation, not a one-and-done deal. Making the child feel safe, by being approachable and providing support, is probably the most important factor in getting them to trust you and participate in these important conversations. Pull in an expert for questions you don’t know the answers to or for a more neutral, objective advisor to counsel your child on their feelings, the way they eat, and more.

  1. How do they start a conversation in an age appropriate way?

Most parents are aware of their child’s maturity level and understanding of various topics. Meet them where they are. Just as you wouldn’t give a five year old child a blow-by-blow account of what happens during a birth, explaining the tax benefits of a Roth IRA, or explaining narcissitic or borderline personalities when talking about building friendships in kindergarten, you’d want to match their level of understanding by simplifying the conversation and making it appropriate to what they need to know at this stage of their development.

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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!

Review: True Food Kitchen

True Food Kitchen at Easton Town Center, Columbus, Ohio

It was another hot day in Phoenix when we first went with our friend to True Food Kitchen. Because we were both dietitian-foodies, we had tried all sorts of local restaurants and smoothie shops…but this restaurant was different. We found out that it was created by our long-time hero, integrative physician Dr. Weil. The food was authentically good – healthy and delicious (so nice when we don’t have to choose between the two). It’s fresh without trying too hard.

During one of our last visits to the Arizona True Food Kitchen, we expressed to our waitress how Columbus could be a great place for another location. When she returned, after speaking with her manager, she told us that there was one on the way. We could scarcely believe it. So we rather (im)patiently waited. And waited some more. AND THEN…

It looked like our wish was about to come true. We mentally planned a jubilant parade through Easton to celebrate the opening.

But you all know what happened. Covid. So another year of waiting.

It was a moment of absolute glee when we were able to visit last week. Did we go a bit overboard? Yes. After hours of wistfully looking at the menu and planning, we were finally able to pick up a rather gigantic order so that we could try nearly everything, and report to all of you. Ah, the things we do for love & food.

Their fall menu had just come out; here’s what we ordered and recommend:

The Butternut Squash Pizza. Oh my goodness, the pizza. There is an evening we’ll never forget that took place in Akron, Ohio. We gathered with a group of friends at Vegeterranean (R.I.P. 2011) and, in one of the best decisions of our life, ordered a butternut squash pizza with carmelized onions and balsamic vinegar. It was so very good, we rather desperately wrote down the ingredients and then stored it in our recipe binder, with the hopes and plans of recreating it. Alas, it has not yet happened and the restaurant is no more. Buuuut….remember this moment from Ratatouille?

True Food’s pizza transported us back in time, while keeping our taste buds mindfully primed for the next exquisite bite. (Vegan and can be made gluten-free)

Grass-fed burger – this was for Mr. Chef, but we’ve had it before in the past and remember the deep, umami flavor from the carmelized onions, parmesan, and mushrooms.

Squash soup. This one was a great surprise! Sometimes squash soup can be a bit boring, but this was anything but bland. The blend of spices in the hot soup conjures up hygge-inspired evenings cozied up with blankets, a warm fire, and company of a loved one.

Spaghetti Squash Casserole. This was another favorite from the AZ location and last week we froze it to keep as a meal for when we weren’t wanting to prep dinner. That evening came and the dish reanimated very well after a proper defrosting and cooking. Definitely recommend. (Vegetarian, gluten-free)

Side of Sweet Potato Hash. This order included what looked like overly-roasted spuds and yet the insides were a bit tougher and undercooked. Having had this side before at the other location, we’re not giving up and will order it again.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts. Hands-down a winner. The miso sesame vinaigrette, along with the mushrooms and chili threads, created a savory appetizer.

Tuscan Kale Salad. We forgot to order these without breadcrumbs so Mr. Chef was the lucky recipient of both salads. His review: “it had a tangy, citrus-y dressing and if that weren’t enough, it had parmesan cheese on top. The kale itself is good, so it’s a bit like gilding the lily.”

Desserts

Flourless Chocolate Cake. Back in the day when eating gluten-free wasn’t very cool and restaurants pretty much had only baked goods with regular flour, this dessert was a gold mine. We ordered it every.single.time we went. All you need to know is that it contains chocolate, caramel, and ice cream. This dessert is all that and a sprinkle of cacao nibs. (Vegetarian, gluten-free)

Squash Pie. The flavor was very good and reminscent of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. The crust was crisper and the portion more generous than anticipated.

Chocolate Chip Cookies. Gluten-free & vegan, cakey and chocolately. We ordered a half-dozen. Only one survived past Day 3.

While we haven’t seen old favorites, such as Kale-aid juice and the Inside-out Quinoa burger yet, we’re thrilled to see what each season will bring to the menu of True Food Kitchen.

Our aim, despite our perhaps rather obvious obsession with this place, is to provide a balanced review. If you like what you’ve read, take a little trip over to 4052 Worth Ave at Easton Town Center. There’s a good chance you’ll catch us leaving there with a pizza.

Recipe: ‘Nacho’ Average Nachos

nachoaveragenachos

These nachos don’t follow the bell curve to the top. Oh no, they are at the tail end in the small, exceptional A+ pool. What makes them more amazing than ‘average’ nachos?

They are, perhaps surprisingly, dairy-free. They are also a good source of fiber, thanks to those black beans, AND they utilize cilantro, rather than more salt, to create a tasty and craveable meal. Ready to give it a try?

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 minutes
Servings: that’s up to you, it fills an entire sheet pan 😀

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

Ingredients

1/2 bag of organic tortilla chips

1 cup black beans, canned

1/2 cup of salsa

1/2 bag of Violife shredded cheddar

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1 tbsp jalapeño, diced (optional)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tortilla chips on baking pan and top with black beans and non-dairy cheese. Place in oven and bake until heated through and cheese has started to melt, about 6-7 minutes. Serve immediately with toppings of salsa, cilantro and other desired toppings such as diced jalapeño. Enjoy!

Is it Laziness or Rest?

Sometimes we can’t escape it either – the whispers of shame saying, “you’re being so lazy; you haven’t done _x_ in _y_ days.”

In the equation, “x” could be any activity and “y” can be any duration of time. Filled in, this could look like anything from “you haven’t vacuumed in over a week!” or, more recently and very apropos to this article, “you haven’t written a blog in over 20 days” and even “you said you were going to get started with daily yoga like over a month ago” (sometimes the shaming voice sounds like a Valley girl). Whether you call it “gremlin voice,” “inner bully,” or something else entirely, we all have it and oftentimes the negative voice has a loudspeaker and commands our attention, while our “inner best friend” voice gets drowned out.

We teach our clients all about this, and we practice awareness of these two forces ourselves. So, when the inner bully voice recently came booming into our thoughts, accusing us of being super-lazy by not writing a post in our usual time frame, we thought this was the best opportunity to explore the the truth and to let our inner best friend voice weigh in.

The gremlin voice will tell you all sorts of lies and typically either push you to over-compensate, over-perform, over-do anything (and consequently burn out) OR it will paralyze you with why-bother or ‘Eeyore thinking’, overwhelm and perfectionism.

The first step we take is to evaluate whether the accusations are true. In this case, we did an exploration into what “lazy” and “rest” actually mean. Here’s what we came up with:

The definition of lazy is “unwilling to work or use energy.” Laziness can look like staying in one’s bathrobe all day and watching hours of TV. Laziness can have you feeling stuck, mired, and doing lots of passive activities or staying ‘busy’ while ignoring the larger results you want or need to accomplish. This results in feeling like you’re not moving forward in your life (and perhaps even feeling like you’re moving backward). Laziness also drains your energy and can feel like giving up and quitting, avoiding the challenges in work or life. It is not useful to us and is not a characteristic you want to embody. Lastly, laziness also does not not help us produce desired results in our life.

Rest is not laziness; it is to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.” In a word, it is restorative – and when you’re done resting, you feel energized and revved up to go. Adequate rest can help prevent burnout and will help you move forward in a ‘juicier’ state of being. Rest is useful, necessary, helps you recover from illness and produce desired results in your life. Here’s the rub…HOW you rest, and whether the rest occurs BEFORE or AFTER an important activity, matters.

Not wanting to do something is normal – and is part of the human condition. The feeling can exist; however, the difference is whether we still proceed to do the hard things in our businesses and our lives, or lay around watching Netflix and not produce the results we want in our work and relationships.

One of the best things we’ve done in recent years is calendaring our week with REST first. After that, we schedule the activities to get us the RESULTS we want. We desire to be proficient with our time and work against Parkinson’s Law. The alternative, we’ve found, is that we get distracted with Facebook or social media, only to find that we spent 8 hours on something we could have done in one hour. Keep in mind too – procrastination is the result of perfectionism and produces stress as we make ourselves do something.

Produce or create, then rest. Repeat and harvest the results you want – whether it’s completing marathon training or writing a book.

Examples of rest:

  • finishing a blog post or podcast and then sitting on the couch to watch a favorite show
  • running a few miles and then taking a nap
  • cleaning the house and then soaking in the tub with a good book

What all of these have in common is that there is a sense of accomplishment and feeling of having earned a reward, this rest, after completing a task. The rest activity is enjoyable and restorative.

Contrast this with examples of laziness:

  • avoiding homework by watching YouTube makeup tutorials
  • shopping online instead of cleaning the house in preparation for guests coming over
  • playing video games for hours while your essay for business school is due tomorrow

What these have in common is that the activities aren’t truly a form of rest because there’s the background voice of “you should do your project/homework/cleaning…” and after we’re done with the YouTube videos or online shopping, we quite often don’t feel better or fueled-up for the activity we need to do. We might just act only under time-pressure of now having a few hours to write the essay before it’s due. This is common in people who claim, “I do my best work under pressure”; however, in this case, the end result is feeling worse and drained.

The best way to overcome laziness is to acknowledge that we don’t feel like doing the activity that needs to be done, and doing it anyway.

If we aren’t intentional with our rest, it can become laziness. The place to aim is somewhere in the middle of these two – work hard and rest (and play!) when we need to.

Bottom line: do you feel restored or drained after your version of resting? Do you feel like you’re producing your desired results? These will be your clues as to whether rest or laziness is involved. Commit to resting well – in a way that feels restorative, earned, and in a way that takes care of you.

Recipe: Chocolate Cherry Smoothie 🍒

Boy have we missed juicy organic cherries. Now that we were able to procure some from the local grocery store, we combined our love of this fruit with another favorite food, chocolate. Like many of our recipes, we try to avoid added sugar – even too much of the more natural, healthier kind- so adjust to your sweet tooth accordingly. Give this cherry chocolate smoothie a try!

Prep time: less than 5 minutes

Servings: about 4, makes ~64oz

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.

Ingredients

4 cups non-dairy milk (we used hazelnut from Elmhurst)

1 cup swisschard and/or kale

1 cup cherries (fresh or we used frozen too cool this drink down even more) and 1 cup blueberries

2 tbsp cacao nibs

2 tbsp cacao powder

2 tbsp beet powder (optional)

4 medjool dates

2 tbsp almond butter

4 tbsp shredded coconut

Instructions

Add all ingredients into a 64 ounce blending container and then blend. You got your veggies in, congrats! Enjoy 🙂

Discover the Digestive ‘Galaxy’ 🌌

There is a whole world within us. Not only are we complex human beings in the way we think, feel, and interact – we contain a universe (of sorts) in our intestines. That’s right, the human microbiome contains an estimated 100 trillion microbes – most of which live in our gut (our largest organ, the skin, also contains a microbiome).

The microbiome influences our energy balance and metabolism (e.g. risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes), gut permeability (and whether one develops “leaky gut” syndrome and/or food sensitivities), immunity, and inflammation.

What influences the microbiome? Our diet, genetics, antibiotics, and probiotic foods being some of the most important aspects.

What to learn all about your digestive ‘galaxy’ and the common issues along the journey? Let’s start at the top and work our way down:

Day 2 and Day 3 are on the same YouTube channel. This is like a mini college course – Digestion 101 so feel free to take notes as you learn all about your digestive tract and ways to improve it #nerdoutwithme

BONUS: for additional information, support, and community – consider joining our Go with your Gut Facebook group

Health Trends & Predictions 🔮

We’ve been approached by a couple of companies this week to consult about health trends and the future of nutrition and wellness. Would you like to take a peek into the now and what’s to come? No crystal ball nor clairvoyance needed.

#1 – Personalized medicine and nutrition. We’re all so used to customizing our license plates, shoes, clothes and the like…and when it comes to health and dietary advice we know there’s no-one-size-fits-all. What works for a celebrity, your best friend, or even cousin may not work for you. We all want to know what we should be eating to best fuel our bodies for performance, heal our guts, and be genetically appropriate to help prevent cardiovascular disease or even improve our memory and brain health. Enter food sensitivity testing and DNA testing to fill a gap in the market that helps figure out the best foods to avoid, and incorporate, for your unique body.

#2 – CBD products. Many of us are interested to see what CBD can do for our pain, our poor sleep, and even to help with anxiety. From gummies to tinctures and pain patches, there’s a lot of research and people experimenting on themselves with these substances to alleviate health issues.

#3 – Herbs & Botanical Medicine. Plants have been used to help our species deal with all sorts of maladies since time immemorial. During the Middle Ages, folk healers were called upon to help people in the community with their health issues. However, sharing generations of herbal knowledge was parti-cu-larly dangerous during this time as a church in power not only had strict roles for women, but also condemned the pagan practice of herbalism. This sent herbalism underground and it nearly died out. Fortunately some pioneers in the 1960’s and 70’s brought this ancient knowledge back into ‘mainstream’ attention. Depending on the plants used, and the knowledge of the herbalist, this can be an effective, low-cost option, and generally one without so many of the dangerous side effects mentioned in pharmaceutal drug ads.

#4 – Plant-based diets and Intuitive Eating. There are many specialty diets floating around these days: keto, gluten-free, low FODMAP, vegan, paleo…and interest in plant-based eating is growing. Whether for health, animal or environmental reasons, many people are looking to incorporate more plant-based meals. Meatless Mondays are a good start, if that’s something of interest to you. Intuitive eating, or mindful eating, really is different than just letting your inner two-year-old run your diet. It’s about paying attention to your thoughts and feelings around your meals and after. How do you feel physically after your meal? How full or stuffed are you and what does that feel like? Part of Intuitive Eating is about slowing down, which creates a little bit of tension in a world that seems to demand that we eat quickly while we do any other number of activities – including driving, working, or watching TV.

#5 – In, out, and all-around Health & Wellness Changes. A typical progression when making healthy changes is starting by changing what one is putting into their bodies – mainly their food and drink. After having spent time reading through ingredients lists on food, the next common change is that people will take a look at their personal care products and/or cosmetics – the ingredients put on the body (which, of course, get absorbed through the body’s largest organ, the skin). The next progression tends to look more at changing the environment closest to one’s individual bubble – such as the home – and then thinking more globally. This could initially look like changing the cleaning products used in the house and adjusting laundry detergents, fragrance sticks and plug-ins, or water quality. Thinking globally, one might start looking the company practices behind their favorite coffee, chocolate, and more to see if they value fair trade practices, organic or sustainable farming practices.

While some of these are certainly not new, they were definitely more fringe ideas back a decade or so ago. Which ones do you think will trend into the future? What are some other changes you anticipate seeing in health and wellness?