Updates!

I realize how long overdue a proper update is around here! As you can probably tell, I haven’t been putting much time into my blog posts. Why? To better focus on my clients’ individual needs–as well as my own!

I’ve had a remarkable year so far and in the last eight or nine months, I’ve done a lot of growing, learning and advancing. Not just personally, but as a counselor, too! And in that period, I decided to create a business website where people can go to find more information on me and my nutrition and lifestyle counseling services in one simple space.

I’m still lively and active in the online world (you can find updates on my Facebook page) and I’m always an email away, so don’t let this quiet site fool you. Nothing is going to come down or be taken away - I will keep all past posts up as a resource for those looking to incorporate healthy habits, find new recipes, or seek out encouragement.

The Whole Nut was never meant to be an overload of health-related information, but instead a look into the world of healthy eating and healthy doing–through my own learning and revelations. Not about me, but about what I practice and how I navigate daily choices. By sharing what I know, with you.

So continue to browse and read through the thoughts and findings I’ve shared over the years. And if you’re curious to learn more about how healthful habits can re-energize and re-vitalize your daily life, email me at alexi@thewholenut.com.

I hope you’ve been inspired!

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February 24th, 2012

how do you measure success?

It’s rather obvious I’ve been neglecting the blog, isn’t it? It crosses my mind, often, and yet I have no real excuse. The more time I let pass the harder it became to get back into it. I’ve had ideas and thoughts and recipes to share, but they never quite came to fruition. At least not on paper. For those who aren’t in touch with my daily life, questions began to arise; how did this reflect on me, personally and professionally?

I had a long conversation with my boyfriend about this yesterday, and how it relates to conventional success. I won’t bother loosely defining “success” in that sense because I think we all know what it means. As someone who is in the public eye building a nutrition counseling practice, it’s easy to feel paranoid or insecure when others’ definition of success is put upon you.

This was something I struggled with years ago when I was a little less confident and a little more competitive (and a lot less balanced). However, in recent years I’ve encountered another definition of success that has helped me rely less on how others see me, and more on how I see me. So while some apply the term “success” to how well one does in one’s career (and career only), I believe it’s best measured by how fulfilled I feel in the following areas of my life:

  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Spirituality
  • Social Life
  • Physical Activity
  • Home Environment
  • Career
  • Creativity

If you think about these eight areas as making up a whole pie, it’s easy to elementsofsuccessunderstand how much energy you give one over another. It is important to consider all areas when measuring success–and not singling out just one. This is how we create balance in our lives. This is often heavily influenced by the environment we find ourselves in and the people we surround ourselves with.

Looking back, I made a post of this back in April of 2009, when my life was very much in a transitional state. Since then, I’ve been able to fine-tune my priorities, habits and lifestyle to help me become the successful person I am today. Please don’t mistake this for bragging; my intentions in saying all this is to inspire others to redefine success by looking at the bigger picture.

I have a related exercise I work through with my clients, and 9 out of 10 times it’s a real eye-opener. By seeing the bigger picture, it’s easy to understand which areas of one’s life could use a little nurturing. Are your priorities and perceptions contributing to a life of balance? Or are they creating an overload in one area and overshadowing the rest? See how you might reallocate your efforts and energy to help give you a sense of fulfillment in all areas of life (keep in mind this doesn’t mean eight equal parts, some areas of the pie will inevitably be bigger than others–we all vary).

With all the how-to-succeed and self-help books out there, it’s easy to make a mystery of it all. Consider for a moment how you define success; how does it compare to your long-term and short-term goals? And more to the point: are you happy?

Each morning, over my warm lemon water, I say aloud: “I am a successful person!” It’s a reminder as well as a declaration–something I can’t take full credit for, but something I still enjoy all the same. And that gives me peace, which is better than success (by any definition).

—————————————————————-

PS. What have I been up to? On a personal level, I’ve been making some updates and tweaks in my diet–and thereby in me, as well! I’m currently in my 36th day without sugar, which has been an interesting challenge and a great learning experience. I’m logging into Tumblr each day to track my progress and document my findings, which has all been very motivating for me. Perhaps once I feel I’m done I’ll provide a link (this way I won’t feel the pressure to update each day to a group rather than to myself!).

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June 27th, 2011

breakfast: what’s the right way to start your day?

Prompted by recent conversations and a New York Times article, I decided to come out of blog-world-hiding and say a few things on the most important meal of the day (or so we’ve been told): breakfast. The meal most overlooked, but also most often overdone.

Let’s start with the word: breakfast. A compound of break and fast. We know this. But exactly what fast, you ask? The fast you took part in last night while you slept.

While you sleep and the body rests, your digestive system is hard at work. You see, the more time you allow your body to rest between meals, the more work it gets done. Allow as much time as possible to pass between dinner and breakfast, and you will find you have less indigestion, less bloating, and more energy. Try to get at least 12 hours in between your dinner and the first meal the following day.

So what should the first meal of the following day be? As with anything diet related, there is no one right answer. Every body is different, so learning what works best for you is where the answer lies. Feel out various options and see what works best for you. A heavy meal for one person might be considered be a light meal for another–it’s all about being in tune with your body.

Breaking the fast
breakfast How long has it been since you last ate? What was the meal you last ate? If you’re recovering from a heavy dinner or late night snack, stick to a lighter breakfast, like fruit (but try not to mix your fruit). If you had a smaller dinner, try whole wheat toast with some sliced avocado for a more sustaining breakfast.

See the bigger picture
Take a snapshot of your day to see where breakfast will fit in with the rest of your meals. Going out for a rich dinner that night? Opt for a lighter, easily digestible meal. Had a big morning workout? Be sure to get plenty of protein and complex carbohydrates. Your breakfast should be in balance with your daily total intake.

Define its role
Have you ever thought about why you eat breakfast every morning? Maybe you cherish the breakfast ritual. Maybe you really do need that fuel first thing in the morning to get you through your day. Or maybe you just really love your bowl of cereal. As long as you’re not mindlessly stuck in a routine–fine.

Brave new breakfast world
For those of you who think you could use a breakfast makeover, let’s continue thinking outside the processed cereal box. Have you ever tried a green smoothie? Or a green juice? Try dressing up your oatmeal–the less traditional, the better! Even a little almond butter on natural rice cakes can be the fresh start you were looking for.

Ready, Set, Go!
Who says breakfast must be eaten between 7 and 9am? Practice self-awareness: eat when you find yourself getting hungry, and eat a little less than you normally would. But before all that, begin your day with a glass of warm water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This will give your body a final boost in the digestive center before you take your first bite.

So while I still think breakfast is an important part of our day, it’s the tradition we’re caught in. Breakfast isn’t defined by the local diner’s menu of bacon, eggs and waffles. Think back to its original purpose: breaking the fast. Breakfast is whenever you decide to break the fast. Got it? Just be smart about it.

The Times article ends with a quote from an author of the study: “eating breakfast is just added calories.” I believe this shows little faith in our ability to exercise both portion control and meal planning. Furthermore, I don’t think one meal should be blamed alone for excess calories. That’s not fair to breakfast. But just as we suspected: eating habits are just as important as what we are (or are not) eating.

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333 comments February 2nd, 2011

garlic anchovy pasta

Not just any recipe makes it into my red folder of random printed pages and clippings. So when I come across one that looks worthy, I get really excited and immediately begin a mental grocery list. This is what happened when I found this pasta recipe. And I don’t normally go for pasta recipes. But this one makes the cut. Which is why I just had to share.

You see, when I venture beyond my cooking comfort zone (simple, veggie-based meals), things can get complicated. Sometimes I have to do a recipe search. And you know what? It can be a challenge to find a good recipe that is healthy, vegan, well-balanced, simple, not a salad, easy to follow and most importantly: pleases all palates. To cook for myself–no big deal. But to cook a proper meal for me and my boyfriend–well, sometimes I have to search a little bit harder.

Rather than turn to my favorite recipe sources (both on- and off-line) I decided to mix it up and peruse the many options offered by the New York Times. Despite the massive amount of recipes at NYT, I find that I usually compromise in one area. Obviously this one isn’t vegan–but that’s okay. I’m okay with anchovies (in fact, I find them quite tasty). It’s easy to start with high expectations and come down a little since I don’t adhere to diets and their labels.

Speaking of expectations–the dish exceeded mine. In fact, I’m already thinking about when I can make it again. This time for a crowd, so others can praise my cooking appreciate the meal, too.

pastaBut it’s more than just a tasty plate; it’s a well-balanced meal full of fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K (to boost the immune system!) and omega-3 (which happens to be on my get-more-of-this list lately). You have some greens (the Swiss chard) a little protein (the anchovies) and the complex carbs (the whole-wheat pasta). The caramelized onions are just a bonus.

Here’s the recipe, adapted from the New York Times (I had to steal their photo, too!). “Pasta With Caramelized Onion, Swiss Chard and Garlicky Bread Crumbs” is a bit of a mouthful, so I prefer, simply: Garlic Anchovy Pasta (…with Swiss chard, caramelized onions, and bread crumbs).

Garlic Anchovy Pasta

Ingredients
3 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan butter (or olive oil)
10 anchovy fillets
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (use less garlic if you like–I love garlic)
2/3 cup bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 yellow onion, halved from stem to root and thinly sliced crosswise
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound Swiss chard, ribs removed, leaves chopped
1/2 pound whole-wheat pasta, such as fusilli (I used brown rice penne pasta)

Instructions
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add 6 anchovies to the skillet; cook until melted, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the bread crumbs and toast until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Next, wipe the skillet clean and return it to a medium-high heat. Add the oil, the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Chop the remaining 4 anchovies and add them to the skillet. Cook until melted. Add the Swiss chard, a handful at a time, and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain well. Toss thoroughly with the chard mixture, then add in the bread crumbs, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Makes 3-4 servings.

The final product is so incredibly rich and buttery–without being heavy–and the texture is out of this world. I started off dinner with simple bruschetta and an equally tasty tomato soup, which was a labor of love if I do say so myself (it took me over three hours to make). Overall recipe search: success (yep, made it into the folder).

I truly hope you enjoy this dinner as much as I did. As for the boyfriend, he quickly gave it his stamp of approval. Nevermind the garlic-anchovy breath it left us with. Sign of a good time? (and happy palates!)

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October 19th, 2010

some (small) changes

As you may have noticed, I haven’t been terribly busy with the blog lately. And I feel a little bit guilty about it! But then again, I’ve had nothing close to a regular routine these last few months. The injury back in May totally cramped my style. Not really, but it did lead me to make some changes in the way I operate, for better or worse.

With doctor’s orders to “do nothing,” I wound up with a lot of extra time on my hands. At first I thought I would go crazy, but then I embraced the long days. I had time to meditate and get lost in thought (a luxury!). I took a step back and reviewed my priorities, my routine, and my habits. And although things were in good working order, I realized my world could use some revising.

So, I decided to make a few small changes here and there. But small changes here and there add up. That’s how a lifestyle changes. What changes have I made, you ask?

For starters: I vowed to be more spontaneous. I’ve become very good at…well, at planning for the unexpected (I know). I thought this couldn’t be done here in New York City, but it has been working wonders for me. And it shows! I’m much more easy-going and “of the moment.” I’ve stopped making dinner plans with girlfriends four weeks in advance! Now I view a crammed calendar as a trap, unable to give. Especially when you just don’t feel like it.

I also recently moved. This has made a HUGE difference in my life. From a charming but dimly lit West Village apartment to a bright and spacious building along the Hudson. Water and sunlight do a body good. Some people don’t pay much attention to their living space, but to me it makes all the difference. Where do you collect yourself at the end of each day?

I’ve continued my studies in all things health and wellness, and I’ve been getting into some interesting studies on pH balances in the body. In both food and habits, it’s all about balance! A reminder that I don’t compromise life for diet, or diet for life. I take pride in being an educated consumer and eater, and I love being able to share it with my clients as well. In The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, David Kessler talks about the importance of being knowledgeable and aware into today’s world of highly-processed, taste-saturated food products. Especially if you suffer from uncontrollable emotional eating, like I once did.

One more thing: I decided to cut back on my blog postings. I’ll speak up for special occasions–like when I’m inspired, or have a really great recipe to share (I’ve been cooking up a storm in my new kitchen). If there is exciting news to share at The Whole Nut, then share I will. Of course, you can follow me on twitter for more frequent thoughts and tid bits, but from here on out I’d rather continue conversations in person! Wouldn’t you? I feel it makes such a difference.

And finally, on an even more personal note, I go in for surgery this Friday for the final fix. My elbow has healed wonderfully in the past four months, but a splayed fracture has left me unable to bend my left arm beyond 90 degrees. If you’ve seen me, you know how awkward this can look. And how limiting it can be.

So despite the pain and inconvenience of a fracture, the healing time has served me well. It forced me to pause, breathe, and take a look at everything going on in my world. Sometimes we feel like we’re doing everything right until we realize, well…a few tweaks here or there wouldn’t hurt. And even if we are doing everything right (which probably isn’t the case) there’s always room for improvement. Just looking at the bright side!

relaxing

PS. After all that, learning how to eat and take care of my body during a sedentary period has been a wonderful learning experience! As crazy as it sounds, I’ve come out of this feeling even better than ever. And it’s going to continue. Well, at least in 4-6 weeks :)

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1 comment September 22nd, 2010

the no-label-diet

Diet - di·et (noun) : the usual food and drink of a person or animal. The origin of the word comes from Old French diete, “regular food”, and Greek diaita, “way of living.” Think about your diet for a second. Does it consist of regular food, and is it conducive to your way of living?
diet rules
How did that simple idea–diet–become so misconstrued that it’s often thought of as a four-letter-word? It started when we were given instructions on how and what to eat. In 1984, the National Institute of Health recommended we eat less fat and more carbohydrates. And so it began. The first publicized push towards a standardized diet may (or may not) have lead to America’s obesity epidemic and obsession with dietary rules (read the New York Times article here).

You see, back in the 60’s and 70’s, scientists came to the conclusion that, in order to lose weight and stay healthy, one should restrict the consumption of fat. (then again, the 60’s also brought us the idea that sugar would help curb your cravings. Yes, a SUGAR diet. Can you believe that? Oddly, this is, more or less, what the low-fat diet came to be…) Meanwhile, 6 to 7 servings of “whole” grains (or processed sugars) each day for 20+ years led to a sharp rise in heart disease and obesity in our country. Maybe the rules advice given by the NIH should have come with an asterisk.

sugar diet

Contrast the low-fat craze of the 80’s and 90’s (Snackwells, anyone?) with the Atkin’s diet that fueled the low-carb breads and pastas in the early aughts. While it is true that good fat won’t make you fat, too much–or too little–of anything is never a good thing. It’s frustrating that these rules and dietary guidelines were put in place by a select few, whose own intentions may or may not have been compromised for political reasons (I’ll stop there).

A very simple way to avoid weight-gain and stay healthy is to avoid diet trends altogether. By choosing foods to best suit the needs of your body and lifestyle, you will rid yourself of restrictive, impossible dietary rules. You’ll also rid yourself of a diet label. People often ask me which diet I follow. I don’t give a straight answer–how can I? I tell them I eat what I like (this is usually met with disbelief). Or that I stay away from packaged foods. Or that I maintain a dairy and meat-free diet, but I can be tempted by cheese and especially prosciutto on special occasions. I call it–ready?–my diet.

A good diet should have variety. It doesn’t necessarily need to be organic. Veggies should be plentiful (leafy greens especially), good fat present, with grains and protein rounding it out. Sweets on occasion. Chocolate, well, maybe regularly. And processed junk foods? Never (if it can be helped). Figure out for yourself where meat and dairy fit in. Cater to your needs and learn to feed your body, not your cravings. Every body is unique, therefore your diet should be unique, as well.

What’s the difference, you ask? Well, the right diet will actually help curb cravings and insatiable appetites. When we eat real, whole foods that we actually enjoy, we stay satisfied without compromising our energy. As I’ve said before, it takes time and it takes practice, but choosing the right foods makes a huge difference in the way we feel.

When I discovered how to eat for me, I no longer had to worry about the rules. So what do I do now? It’s easy: I follow my own (even if I make them up along the way).

Think about it: what “regular” foods make you feel your best? What would your no-label-diet consist of?

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25 comments July 28th, 2010

building stronger bones

True or false: milk builds stronger bones. Unsure? Well, as it turns out, milk may not be the key to strong, healthy bones. When I broke a few bones back in May, I did my fair share of research on bone growth and milk was not on the top of my list. Or on my list at all. So what’s the best way to get calcium in our diets?

strong bones Truth is, most of us get plenty of calcium. You can imagine my surprise when my orthopedic specialist made that exact comment as I hounded him for his opinion on my list of natural supplements (I was prepared to argue with him if he said I needed dairy in my diet in order for my elbow to heal properly). He even shrugged off the idea of a calcium supplement! Needless to say, I won’t let those “Got Milk?” ads persuade me.

Instead, I turned to non-dairy foods high in calcium. Almonds, dark leafy greens (especially with kale), legumes, tofu, sesame seeds, asparagus and cabbage are all chock-full of it. Chamomile, chicory, fennel seed, flax, parsley and peppermint are spices that further contribute to healthy blood, bone, and tissue growth. kaleA diet low in these calcium-rich foods can lead to arthritis, increased cholesterol, eczema, hypertension, and of course: osteoporosis.

This part is important: vitamin D and vitamin K help our bones to absorb the calcium. Without these vitamins, bones become brittle. It’s not calcium that weak bones lack–it’s the vitamins! The best place to get vitamin D is through natural sunlight, though salmon, sardines, oatmeal, oysters and sweet potatoes are all good sources. Vitamin K can be found in broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, oats, asparagus, rye and cauliflower.

Magnesium is just as important (hello, dark chocolate!) which is why you’ll find calcium-magnesium supplements in the health food stores. It also helps with the absorption of calcium. As long as you’re getting a well-balanced diet (heavy on the greens!) and exercising regularly, chances are your bones are healthy as can be.

While you’re adding in important vitamins and good, calcium-building foods, be weary of excess sugar and fat in the diet, which can weaken bones. How? These unhealthy foods actually block the absorption of calcium, as does phosphoric acid, an ingredient commonly found in sodas! Not good. My doctor was also quick to point out that blood thinners also inhibit calcium absorption.

Still convinced milk is the solution to osteoporosis and weak bones? The Harvard Nurses’ study (which followed nearly 78,000 women for 12 years) showed that increased intake of calcium from dairy products was associated with a higher fracture risk. Furthermore, several other similar studies have found that dairy calcium does little to benefit our bones. Yikes!

Though I indulge in dairy on special occasions (mostly in the form of cheese), I certainly do not rely on it for healthy bones–or anything, for that matter! (but that’s another post) In other words: I count on milk for strong bones as much as I do heels on cobblestones (based on my experience, this isn’t very much).

How do you maintain healthy bones?

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53 comments July 13th, 2010

patience is a virtue

Living in Italy helped me develop patience; breaking a bone in Italy helped to test it. Yep, I suppose unpredicted events can be a true test of character! There’s nothing like an emergency situation to find out what you’re made of. In this case: a broken elbow (and arm). Pazienza at the hospital in Rome. Patience while typing with one hand. And LOTS of patience when trying to tie my shoes. (cooking? no chance)

Santo Stefano di SessanioOver two weeks ago I had the honor of attending a good friend’s wedding in the tiny, medieval town of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. About two hours east of Rome in Abruzzo, this beautiful village–with some structures dating back to the eleventh century–is made up of stone and nestled alongside the Apennine Mountains. The evening was magical, and I was having a hard time containing my excitement.

After celebrating with the bride and groom at dinner (which was to-die-for! The chef created the meals using local ingredients that the area is known for, like lentils) we began to move about on the candlelit streets. One wrong step, and my heel was caught between two cobblestones. Falling backwards, I grabbed a hold of another girl and down we went–onto my elbow (which didn’t quite hold up under all the weight).

The next 12 hours or so proved to be quite an adventure. Fortunately, I had the help of some amazing friends and boyfriend (who wins an award for all his continued support) to ease the pain and get me to where I needed to be. broken armThis included a cappuccino stop after my discharge from the hospital, which is where this lovely photo to the left came from (it’s hard not to be in good spirits while enjoying a cappuccino in the eternal city- I mean, come on now).

A few days later, I was back in New York and taking yet another round of x-rays (fun). Three fractures. Two right on my elbow. So after two full-body MRIs (more fun) and much thought, I opted to go the non-surgery route. I have faith that I will be healed.

So, now what? For starters, I want to make sure my body is well taken care of. As soon as I could, I ran slowly walked to my local health food store and stocked up on some healing goods. You should see my stash! My kitchen counter is my medicine cabinet. Foods and vitamins to help my body to heal and rebuild (goji berries! vitamin k! magnesium!). And of course: rest. I find that it is hard to rest when it’s an order, and the sudden absence of exercise can make me a little stir-crazy. But I’ll be back (I told my trainer).

I’m not quite sure when things will return to “normal” so for now I’m taking it day by day. I do consider myself to be very fortunate, and (all things considered) so far so good. So what if getting ready for bed takes 30 minutes (and thank goodness for those little hand-held flossing devices). And 20 minutes to write a quick email? No big deal. Months of physical therapy? Well…all good things take time.

So while I patiently wait for my bones to become whole again, I’m going to make the most of what I can do–and that includes staying patient and joyful. Getting frantic and upset is no good for anyone, broken limbs or not. Remember: good health starts on the inside.

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29 comments May 25th, 2010

kale and ricotta salata salad

I have a confession to make: I don’t love salads. Or, I should say: I don’t love making my own. I have a few go-to salad spots here in the city (Sacred Chow being a favorite), but for whatever reason I have a tough time mixing one together on my own. And since I make 80% of my meals at home, a true salad may only come about once or twice a week.

You see, what I really wanted was a crowd-pleasing salad that I could boast about. A salad that’s delicious as well as nutritious–especially now that it’s warming up. Lucky for me, I discovered this gem of a recipe.

I happen to follow Kim Severson, a writer, and Ruth Reichl, a food critic (among other things) on Twitter. The other day, Severson mentioned an old salad standby from the days of Gourmet: the Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad. A few minutes later Ruth chimed in and suggested she try adding in toasted pine nuts and golden raisins, marinated in balsamic vinegar. It all sounded really, really tasty. (Though, as I jotted this all I down, I couldn’t help but feel like a weirdo listening in on someone else’s conversation. Awkward.)

kale saladI looked down at my notes: nutrient-packed, alkalizing green? (Kale) Check. Make it the star of the show? Check. Short ingredient list? Yes. Healthy, delicious and filling? Oh yes. Salad success! The only compromise here, for me, is the ricotta salata. But every now and then I’m willing to make an exception.

I think it’s worth noting that I maintain a meat- and dairy-free diet 95% of the time. So I hesitated. Then I thought: oh what the heck. It’ll be a treat. Ricotta salata is the pressed, dried and salted version of the creamy ricotta we all know and love. Similar to feta, but not as dense. And it really does make the salad! An exception indeed.

Below, is my version of Gourmet’s Kale and Ricotta Salata Salad.

Ingredients
1 bunch of Tuscan (lacinato) kale
1 big shallot, finely chopped
Juice of a good-sized lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup of olive oil
1 cup ricotta salata, coarsely shredded
1/2 cup golden raisins marinated in balsamic vinegar (a few hours)
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Instructions
Trim the leaves of the kale above where the stems become thick. Stack the leaves in a pile (or several if it becomes too thick), roll them like a cigar, and slice it thin crosswise.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the shallot, lemon juice, salt and oil. Go light on the salt until you taste the salad. The ricotta can be salty. Toss the dressing with the kale, raisins, and pine nuts. Mix in the ricotta salata, taste, and adjust seasoning (if needed). Serves 4.

The sweet, marinated raisins go so well with the slightly salty ricotta! The pine nuts add crunch, and nice dose of healthy fat and protein. It’s well-balanced mix. (I was sure to have some quinoa on the side for whole grains) In the future I may consider adding in chickpeas just to boost the protein count.

So that’s it: my new salad. I told my boyfriend this will be my “party salad.” You know, for when a delicious (but healthy) crowd-pleasing side dish is needed, I explained. What’s great is that this salad gets better with time: a night or two in the fridge works magic. Perfect for a busy schedule.

(with all this ricotta talk, perhaps I’m gearing up for my Italy trip later this week, where I’m bound to sample a bit of ricotta fresca. I will be on vacation, after all…)

What makes up the perfect salad for you?

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4 comments May 4th, 2010

the power of positive friends

In a world of facebook friends and social networking, it’s easy to lose touch with our real friends. You know, those friends who really know us (and still like us). Even if they forget our birthday (it’s okay! there’s always next year!).

Living thousands of miles (and continents) away from many of my friends, staying in touch can sometimes seem like a chore (there, I said it). I am guilty of letting months go by without even a single email. And sadly, for some reason, it’s totally excusable (what with all the chaos and pressures of modern life). But then I think back to my long lost friends, and hey–I like them!

So, on Sunday night, after cleaning up around the apartment and getting myself ready for the week ahead (by making a giant vat of steamed brown rice), I decided to call one of my dearest friends who lives out in California. I like her. A lot. This girl knows me well and has seen me through my many transformations over the last decade. Talking with her is good for me. Our friendship is good for me.

After catching up on weekend details, we began to talk about friends in general. What makes up a friend. And how some friendships can carry on long after their expiration date–to the point where you don’t even know why you’re friends with the person. This is unfortunate. And sad. Friendships should be a positive and uplifting experience in ones life. Friendships should stay strong (despite time and distance) and help you to do the same. Sure, we all go through hard times when a friend’s support means so much–but that’s why we’re here!

Last year the New York Times featured an article, called What Are Friends For? A Longer Life. It’s no doubt good friends have a positive impact on our lives (as should be the case). But aside from the feel-good aspect, the article takes it a bit further with a few examples and claims: “friendship has an even greater effect on health than a spouse or family member.” These positive relationships help support both mental and physical health. So, are you surrounding yourself with real, loving friends?

I believe my friends influence me in so many positive ways–in so many areas! My closest friends are a varied bunch. I used to think this was odd, but after some thought I realized they all reflect a different side of my multifaceted personality. And these bright and beautiful ladies help me to grow and nurture each and every aspect of me and my life. After all, if you are what you eat, isn’t it true of the company you keep?

And I say all this after a weekend in DC visiting my sister and another dear friend. I declare this spring to be one filled with good friends! April was a blend of new and old friends me who mean so much to me- even if we see each other once a year (I included pics below!). And in the coming weeks I’ll be spending time with more friends, abroad and local, celebrating an engagement, traveling, and toasting a wedding–the moments when it’s good to be a good friend.

camille

Camille in San Clemente (in NYC)

kelly

Kelly in Austin (again, in NYC)

nora

Nora in NYC

sharon

Sharon in Washington DC

As much as my nearest and dearest friends mean to me (and do for me), I try to be the best friend I know how to be–after all–they are my friends and I want to contribute to their lives in a positive way! And as I practice in every area of my life: quality over quantity.

So whether new or old, near or far, surround yourself with those who help make you a better you!

What do you think? Do you think friends play an important role in our lives? In our health? Do those around you have a positive impact on your life?

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43 comments April 27th, 2010

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Alexandra Bricker, HHC


As a Holistic Health Counselor I love helping my clients lose weight, reduce stress, boost energy, conquer cravings & find balance naturally. Free yourself of restrictive and unsatisfying diets by creating a balanced & healthy lifestyle to support your goals.

To find out more, email me at alexi@thewholenut.com, or learn more by visiting www.alexandrabricker.com.

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