Insta-Perfect & Tapping into Childhood

Back when my friend Rachel and I were planning our podcast, The Table Chat Show, we noticed quickly that we both shared the same childhood haircut. The same, straight-across the forehead bangs. The type of haircut that your mom gives you on the back porch, preferably shirtless, with one simple pair of scissors. I laughed so hard at this because it’s such a vivid memory. I can smell the scent of the strawberry, Suave shampoo, feel the water droplets running down my back, and hear my mom shouting at me to “HOLD STILL!”

IMG_5247

It’s simple memories like those that I hold near and dear to my heart. It’s also a haircut I’d rather soon forget. Thankfully I’ve moved passed those days, but it also reminded me of the carefree life of being a kid.

My childhood was far from gourmet and I’m ok with that. As my mom would also say, “you turned out JUST FINE.” We ate a lot of spaghetti, hot dogs wrapped in Pillsbury crescent rolls, doctored up cake mixes with help from the actual Cake Mix Doctor, bologna sandwiches, fruit roll-ups, my German grandmother’s noodle kugel, Domino’s take-out specials, and meatloaf, so much meatloaf. I actually still eat some of those foods (meatloaf for life), I just put my own spin on them.

With the world of Instagram and all social media, it’s easy to get caught up thinking all of your meals need to be perfectly placed, perfectly portioned, and perfectly perf-perfect. Too many perfects. I think if my 4-year old self had an Instagram, I’d probably have pictures of my comic book collection and the Oreos I had as a snack (which actually sounds like the present version of my Instagram).

But what does “perfect” Instagram worthy eating really look like? For starters, there’s no such thing, and second, health looks different for everyone. Crescent roll wrapped hot dogs and noodle kugel included, there’s room for a lot of different food in the diet and to still be a “healthy” individual! What matters most, and I have to keep reminding my clients about this, is how we approach the day. Not everyday will be the same, and sometimes you’re not going to be in the mood for that salad you planned for dinner. So eat what you truly want, savor it, and move on with your life.

If you think back to when you were a kid, like me in the picture above, you didn’t care about diets and eating “perfectly.” You were, in that very moment, most likely happy with your life. You had pages to color, people to meet, and most of all, many new things to learn and place to explore. You didn’t have time to let negative thoughts cloud your brain. Your life was carefree. While we can’t transport ourselves back to childhood, take the time to tap into your inner-child from time to time.

+ Explore more. As adults, we tend to focus on learning to solve urgent problems. A child, on the other hand, doesn’t have pressing problems that need immediate solving. They’re focused on exploring possibilities and options. For adults, trying new things will make you think in different ways!

+ Be mindful. Mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment, and children are naturally engaged and present with the world. They’re living and experiencing life as it is with whatever comes their way. Take some time each day to bring some mindfulness into your life, like paying attention to your breath. Even if it’s just for a minute. Take a walk and notice how your body moves – legs, feet, arms, muscles. Prepare a meal from start to finish, cutting, slicing, and dicing ingredients one by one.

+ Do something just for fun. Kids don’t have agendas, only unless they’re told to do something. They also just do things because they want to. When was the last time you did something for no good reason other than you just wanted to do it? Go treat yourself to a pedicure, go see a movie by yourself, or go enjoy that ice cream cone because you want to, and you’re a damn adult who doesn’t have to ask mom for money.

 

What I’ve Been Up To Lately: Spring Edition

It’s definitely been a busy past few months! I’ve actually been working on a lot of behind the scenes in addition to counseling my clients. One of those projects includes a new website! We’re still putting finishing touches, adding content, and adjusting the look and feel, but I’m so excited. It will have a lot more functionality and personalization not to mention more goodies for YOU. Last year when I launched this current site, I didn’t put much thought into the look and feel, as I wanted something simple to just broadcast my services, have the blog, and establish a presence. I’m all about that “just get started” life, otherwise my perfectionist tendencies get in the way. My husband, who has a pretty demanding day job, also just so happens to be my resident coder extraordinaire. I’m very happy with how things are coming together, and it’s looking like it will be completed by next month, June!

Besides a new website, I’m coming up on a year of working for myself which makes me feel all sorts of things. It’s been an incredibly challenging, stressful, life-changing journey, but I’m so happy I jumped on an opportunity that gave me the ability to set up my own practice. It’s also the time that I’ve started to reevaluate my goals I set when I first started. So far, so good! 2015-2016 was a time of exponential growth, both in my career and personally, and I’m feeling like the luckiest dietitian on the planet for the amazing clients I have working with me right now. There’s a lot of truth to the saying, the energy and good you put out comes right back to you!

Here’s what I’ve been up to this season so far:

+ Cooking a lot of simple, easy dishes and mostly vegetarian! For budget and health purposes, we made the switch to eating meat, poultry, or seafood only once a week. We’re definitely more lacto-ovo in that we still eat eggs and dairy products like cottage cheese or yogurt during the week. We’ve definitely noticed a difference in energy levels, our bank account, and overall attitude. When you go vegetarian-ish, you tend to eat more veggies. Imagine that! Our go-to meals have been lots of different variations of roasted chickpeas with brown rice, pasta dishes and “zoodles” with loads of veggies, whole-grain pizzas, veggie sandwiches, green smoothies, yogurt bowls, soups and salads, tofu tacos, and much, much more. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing some of our fave meal combos!

tablechatshowofficiallogo

+ Listening to my new podcast collaboration, Table Chat, with my girl and fellow dietitian, Rachel Cassinat! She also writes the hilarious Food-ish Blog and has a great post on why we started ‘casting together which you can read here. We’re two episodes in, and have much more content on the way each week! Launching it has been a long-time coming, and we’d be so happy if you check it out over on iTunes and our website, The Table Chat Show. I’ve also added a picture with a link to our iTunes page over on my sidebar for easy access.

IMG_5703

+ Reading lots of web articles like this one on why you should always “flat pack” your suitcase, this one on intermittent fasting (it can work for some), this one one that reminds me of my own meticulous German grandmother, and Padma Lakshmi’s new book, “Love, Loss, and What We Ate.” I picked up her book at CherryBombe Jubilee last month because I knew she’d be doing a signing as you can see in the picture above. I finished half the book on the flight home and have been reading little bits here and there right before bed. More often than not, I fall asleep before getting very far (because I’m lame) which is why it’s taking me forever to finish, even though the book is excellent! Padma intertwines the most beautiful stories of her childhood, combined with favorite recipes, tales of her intriguing and sometimes tumultuous romantic life, how she got her start in modeling, Top Chef, and her lifelong struggle with endometriosis. Girl crush even bigger now!

 

+ Moving around however I can, whenever I can. It’s taken me about a year to get back in the groove with consistent exercise after completing my dietetic internship. Who would’ve thought that focusing on the health of others could lead you to forget about your own health? This is not the case for most people, but I find that when I have an exercise plan, it often backfires. It might have to do with that rebellious side I talked about last month. Instead, I’ve been focusing on getting activity in throughout the day, briskly walking/jogging with my dog for 30-40 minutes each morning at the crack of dawn, and doing some type of strength/high intensity interval training 3-4 times a week. Somehow this relaxed approach to choosing the types of exercise I want to do vs feeling forced into something has been very refreshing and helpful. I’m feeling great, noticing some long-forgotten tone in my arms, abs, and legs, and have much more energy. Lately, my favorite workouts include any of the Barre3 online workouts, Kettlebell videos, and kickboxing. I love me some YouTube!

Let me know what you’ve been cooking, listening to, reading, and how you’ve been moving this month in the comments below!

What I Learned at CherryBombe Jubilee 2016

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to go to the Cherry Bombe Magazine’s Jubilee in New York City. If you don’t know about Cherry Bombe yet, you should. It’s a magazine celebrating all things women, food, and its intersection with pop culture.

IMG_5828.JPG

Cherry Bombe is a beautifully designed biannual publication that celebrates women and food—those who grow it, make it, serve it, style it, enjoy it and everything in between. It is about sustenance and style and things that nourish the mind, the eye and, of course, the stomach. Our readers, subjects and contributors are passionate about food, aesthetics and the world around them.

I have only been reading it for the past year but find that with each issue, I learn to love the art of food even more. Too many women-centric magazines focus on telling you what you’re doing wrong. Teaching women to be afraid of food, maintaining macros at a strict level, obsessing over calories, and viewing food as the ultimate nuisance because we’re all just so #OMGSOBUSY all the time. Whatever happened to taking some time during the week and practicing the art of cooking? Even if it’s a grilled cheese. You still made it yourself. Chances are you’ll feel much better about eating it because you know what’s in it. My mother always taught me that what you have going on upstairs (your brain), matters way more than fitting into $700 jeans. Cherry Bombe showcases bad ass women who are not only really good at what they do, but also a look into the food they love and share with people they care about. By the way, cake almost always tastes better when you share it with someone over great conversation. Here are some of my favorite moments from this year’s Jubilee!

IMG_5831.JPG

+ The Hemsley sisters, of Hemsley + Hemsley fame, are even more radiant in person. I think it has a lot to do with how incredibly passionate they are about wellness and food that makes you feel good, inside and out. That’s something this dietitian can get behind! They kicked off the day with their top 10 lessons they’ve learned from owning their own business, food rules, and rules they like to teach others including: Follow Your Bliss, Dream & Dream Big, Grow Slow & Be OK Saying No, Get With Your Gut, Meditate, Exude Happiness & Gratitude, Make Space, and Make Soup (the best of all).

+Eat real food. I can’t rave enough about the food throughout the conference and it was all really, really well done. Of course, I was in New York City which is home to some of the best food in the country, but the menu for the day was meticulously planned. From the moment we arrived, we were ushered into a room with little toasts and chia puddings from Dimes, iced coffees from Stumptown, teas from T2, fresh pastries and gluten-free banana bread, and yogurt parfaits with granola from the Natural Gourmet Institute. Lunchtime was from Dig Inn, who provided a beautiful and healthful spread of coconut oil poached sockeye salmon with roasted fennel sauce, sweet herb chicken with kale pesto, and vegan quinoa tabbouleh. We washed everything down with Health-Ade Kombucha. I’m kicking myself for not snagging more bottles of the Maca Berry flavor. If you can find it, go try it! It was also during lunch that I broke my spork while in the middle of a conversation with Chef Elizabeth Falkner from friggin’ TOP CHEF. File that under spaz moments of a lifetime. There was a brief moment where I tried to just sneakily play it off and eat with the stump of the spork, but Elizabeth said, oh darn, you better go get another. Snack break highlights were the mini pies from Four & Twenty Blackbirds and pistachio rhubarb thumbprints from Ovenly. Heaven.

IMG_5838.JPG

+Being a boss isn’t all Beyonce power anthems and Instagram photos. Truly making an impact and being successful takes work. I was like, AMEN (hands raised emoji). My favorite panel of the day, titled “How to Be the Boss,” featured the baddest boss ladies including Ellen Bennett founder of Hedley & Bennett, Jodi Berg of Vitamix, Amanda Hesser of Food 52, Katrina Markoff of Vosges Chocolate, and Christina Minardi of Whole Foods. Some favorite quotes of the day included, “As women leaders, it’s our responsibility to help other women move up.” “Hire an intelligent, ambitious team with different perspectives to keep your company fresh.” “Don’t look left and right. Always look forward.” Did you know that Vitamix was the first ever televised infomercial? Vosges Chocolate was also literally started in a tiny, New York apartment, and Christina Minardi always asks job candidates during their interview what they ate for dinner the night before. What I loved most was that each woman never focused too much on the struggles of being a woman AND in the food industry. There was none of the dreaded, “how do you balance it all,” talk. Instead, they focused on the impact they’re making as a leader and how they define success.

IMG_5834.JPG

+Martha Stewart loves scrambled eggs. The final keynote of the day was with Kerry Diamond, co-founder of Cherry Bombe and Martha Stewart. She talked for a good 30 minutes about her start as a young entrepreneur, her daily habits, and what she thinks are the best things to remember when pursuing your passion project. She’s a real firecracker, too! Too many one-liners to count. On trying to have it all, “I lost focus on a husband of 27 years, and he went away. But it’s ok.” On being financially savvy with her business, “Retain as much ownership as possible. I still owned 40% of my business when I sold it.” On relaxation, “I get off the plane, rush home, eat my eggs (steamed in a cappuccino machine!!?), and then ride my horse.” One of my biggest takeaways from her talk was how focused and organized she’s been with her business from the beginning. She’s evolved with the changing times, but always makes it a point to make daily lists (mental and physical) and have real life, face-to-face conversations. Simple but incredibly effective.

IMG_5835.JPG

+The best accessory is a smile. Sometimes it’s overwhelming to walk into a crowded room and try to strike up a conversation with a random person. Especially in a city that is about 3,000 miles from your hometown. Maybe it’s easy if you’re goddess, Padma Lakshmi (see above, total fan-girl). Luckily, I was there with my sister who is the best kind of travel companion, loves food, works in food, and knows how to strike up a conversation with anyone. Even if I came alone though, it’s important to remember that no matter the theme, you’re all there for the essentially the same reason. Find a commonality you might share and go from there. Every woman I met had a unique and interesting career and history, but we all shared the same bond: food and genuine conversation.

+New York City is beautiful in the Spring. It’s been about 6 years since I was back in the city, but it didn’t disappoint! We stayed at the Highline Hotel, in Chelsea, and loved every minute of it.

P.S I just read on Twitter that CherryBombe is going to be doing a West Coast version of Jubilee later this year in San Francisco!?