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June 13, 2024

Refreshing Drink Recipes to Beat the Heat

As the summer sun reaches its peak, staying hydrated is more important than ever. But who says hydration has to be boring? Here are some simple recipe

June 6, 2024

Fun and Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, light, and delicious snacks that not only keep you cool but also pack a nutritional punch. Here are some fu

May 30, 2024

The Surprising Link Between Texting and Better Eating

Ever notice how you just feel a little lighter after a laugh with friends, or a heartfelt conversation with a loved one? These kinds of positive socia

May 22, 2024

Uncovering the Hidden Sweetness in Everyday Foods

(The following article was written for the December 2020 issue of Get Healthy magazine, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. I’m sharin

May 16, 2024

Mastering the Art of Cleaning Produce

Last week I promised that I’d offer some various ways to effectively clean your produce. Before preparing fruits and vegetables, wash your hands wel

May 9, 2024

Navigating Pesticides in Produce

To buy organic or conventional produce? That is the question of the day. Organic produce, by definition, is grown without synthetic pesticides, synthe

May 2, 2024

Diverse Protein Sources for a Healthier You

Last week I covered the topic of how much protein we need in a day and dispelled the idea that protein causes kidney damage. In case you missed it, he

April 25, 2024

Is Too Much Protein Dangerous?

Twenty-five years ago, there was plenty of skepticism about protein. After all, bodybuilders ate lots of it—and they experimented with all kinds of

April 18, 2024

The #1 Nutrition Principle

“Red wine is better than white wine!” “Kale is better than spinach!” “GRAINS ARE EVIL!!” Ever feel like good nutrition is just too complic

April 11, 2024

Angelos Update and Green Thumb Time

If you’ve been following my blog for a few years, you may recall my weekly posts that were written comparing the size of my friend’s baby in utero

Refreshing Drink Recipes to Beat the Heat

As the summer sun reaches its peak, staying hydrated is more important than ever. But who says hydration has to be boring?

Here are some simple recipes that are low in sugar and offer a nice change of pace from water.

Cucumber Mint Sparkler

A drink that’s as refreshing as a cool breeze on a hot day, this delightful beverage combines the crispness of cucumber with the invigorating flavor of mint and effervescence of sparkling water. It’s light, refreshing and perfect for sipping on a lazy afternoon or serving at your next summer gathering. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedges (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Add cucumber slices and mint leaves to a pitcher.
  2. Fill the pitcher with sparkling water.
  3. Serve over ice cubes.
  4. Garnish with lime wedges if desired.

Watermelon Cooler

With the natural sweetness of watermelon, a hint of lime, and the freshness of mint, this drink perfectly captures the essence of summer in a glass.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups watermelon chunks (seedless)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Cold water or sparkling water
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  1. Blend the watermelon chunks until smooth.
  2. Strain the watermelon juice to remove any pulp.
  3. Add lime juice and a few fresh mint leaves.
  4. Dilute with cold water or sparkling water to taste.
  5. Serve over ice cubes.

Berry Infused Water

Say goodbye to sugary drinks and hello to a healthier, tastier way to hydrate. This vibrant drink not only quenches your thirst but also provides a burst of antioxidants and vitamins from the berries.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mixed berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)
  • Fresh basil or mint leaves
  • Cold water
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  1. Add mixed berries and fresh basil or mint leaves to a large jug.
  2. Fill the jug with cold water.
  3. Let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour to infuse.
  4. Serve over ice cubes.                   

Coconut Lime Refresher  

Take a “mini vacation” on a sweltering afternoon with this cool, tropical drink. It will quench your thirst, lift your spirits and replenish your electrolytes.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut water
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Sparkling water
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Ice cubes

Instructions:

  1. Mix coconut water and lime juice in a glass.
  2. Top with sparkling water.
  3. Add fresh mint leaves.
  4. Serve over ice cubes.

Cheers to a season of delicious sips and sunny days~

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

 “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” — John Lubbock

Fun and Healthy Summer Snacks

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy fresh, light, and delicious snacks that not only keep you cool but also pack a nutritional punch. Here are some fun and healthy summer snacks to enjoy under the sun:

  1. Watermelon Feta Skewers

Watermelon is a quintessential summer fruit and pairing it with feta creates a delightful contrast of sweet and savory. Simply cube watermelon and feta, then skewer them alternately. Add a sprinkle of fresh mint for an extra burst of flavor.

  1. Greek Yogurt Parfaits

Layer plain Greek yogurt with your favorite summer fruits like berries, peaches, and mangoes. Add a sprinkle of granola and a drizzle of honey for a satisfying crunch and touch of sweetness. Greek yogurt provides protein and probiotics, making it a healthy and refreshing treat. 

  1. Veggie Rolls

Use thinly sliced cucumber or zucchini as a wrap and fill with hummus, shredded carrots, bell peppers, and a slice of avocado. These veggie rolls are crunchy, hydrating, and full of vitamins and fiber.

  1. Frozen Grapes

A simple yet incredibly refreshing snack, frozen grapes are perfect for hot summer days. Wash and dry grapes, then spread them on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. They’re sweet, bite-sized, and fun to eat.

  1. Fruit and Nut Butter Boats

Slice a banana or an apple in half lengthwise, then spread with your favorite nut butter (peanut, almond, or cashew). Top with granola, chia seeds, and a drizzle of honey for added crunch and sweetness.

  1. Homemade Popsicles

Blend your favorite fruits with a bit of coconut water or juice and pour into popsicle molds. Freeze until solid and enjoy a refreshing, hydrating treat without any added sugars or artificial ingredients.

  1. Trail Mix

Create your own trail mix with a mix of nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and a few dark chocolate chips for a sweet touch. It’s perfect for on-the-go snacking and provides a balanced mix of healthy fats, protein, and carbohydrates.

  1. Caprese Skewers

Skewer cherry tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, and mozzarella balls. Drizzle with balsamic glaze for a classic and elegant summer snack that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.

  1. Chia Seed Pudding

Mix ½ cup chia seeds with 1 ½ cups almond milk (or milk of your choice), a touch of vanilla extract and honey. Let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. In the morning, you’ll have a creamy, nutrient-rich pudding. Top with fresh berries or a dollop of coconut yogurt for extra flavor. 

Tips for Enjoying Summer Snacks

  • Stay Hydrated: Incorporate water-rich foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and strawberries to help stay hydrated.
  • Choose Fresh Ingredients: Take advantage of seasonal produce for the best flavors and nutritional benefits.
  • Keep it Simple: Summer is all about easy and quick preparations, so choose snacks that don’t require much cooking or prep time.

Enjoy these healthy and fun snacks all summer long and relish the vibrant flavors and nourishment they bring to your warm-weather adventures.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“The road to enlightenment is long and difficult, and you should try not to forget snacks and magazines.” —Anne Lamott

The Surprising Link Between Texting and Better Eating

Ever notice how you just feel a little lighter after a laugh with friends, or a heartfelt conversation with a loved one?

These kinds of positive social interactions can directly boost your mental and emotional wellbeing.

But here’s a less obvious connection:

 Strong social connections might help us eat better, too.

That’s because loneliness is often a driver of emotional eating.

Having adequate social support lowers stress and maybe the incidence of angry-chip-eating or crying-into-a-bowl-of-ice-cream. 

But here’s the rub.

Even when people know that connection with others is good for their health, they might still be reluctant to actually pick up the phone.

Why is it so hard to reach out?

A University of Chicago study pointed to an interesting answer:

We undervalue how much people care about staying connected with us. 😔

When we consider reaching out to someone, we’re likely to have thoughts like, “She’s probably busy with her own life. I don’t want to bother her.”

Or, “I only have time for a five minute conversation and that’s not really enough time to catch up.”

Sound familiar?

But here’s the tragic irony: Most people are craving connection. They feel delighted and heartened when someone calls or texts to check up on them or chooses to confide in them.

And yet, many of us feel like no one cares to hear from us.

Meanwhile, we turn to the cookies instead of a trusted friend.

Why bring up this interesting little study?

Challenges with food and fitness aren’t always about food and fitness.

What looks like a food issue (overeating) might actually be a social issue (if overeating is triggered by loneliness and isolation). And that social issue might not be caused by a lack of connections per se, but by inaccurate assumptions.

If you struggle with emotional eating, dig a little. What else in your life gives you comfort and support—aside from food? 

If your social life feels a bit lacking, take the initiative to nurture and expand your relationships. You could even make a list of little social tasks to choose from whenever you get the urge to eat. Like:

📱 Text a friend

👯‍♀️ Schedule a walking date with a buddy

🧑🏽‍💻 Hope on FaceTime for a chat

💌 Go old school and write a loved one a note

It may keep you from hitting up the M&M jar and making them disappear.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“Why can’t I be comforted by kale? Why does it have to be chocolate?”—The Do It Program

Uncovering the Hidden Sweetness in Everyday Foods

(The following article was written for the December 2020 issue of Get Healthy magazine, a publication of The Northwest Indiana Times. I’m sharing my article now because I had a reader request information on added sugars in foods you’d least suspect and this article covers it.)

While health experts may not agree on every aspect of nutrition and diet, the one thing they do agree on is that limiting intake of foods with added sugar is beneficial for everyone. Added sugars are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. As I refer to sugar throughout this article, I’m not referring to naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruit or milk.   

The average American consumes approximately 17 teaspoons of sugar per day. The American Heart Association states that the maximum amount of added sugar in your day be 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons for men and 25 grams or 6 teaspoons for women. Kids between the ages of 2 and 18 should have less than 25 grams daily for heart health. To put this amount in perspective, there are 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola with no nutritional redemption.

The Downside of Added Sugar

It tastes so good and experts agree that sugar may be as addictive as cocaine. Excessive sugar consumption is associated with a variety of health problems including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cancer, high blood pressure, and cognitive disorders, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. It disturbs the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to inflammation and a weakened immune system.

Where Sugar Hides Out

Many of the foods and beverages where you are getting sugar are easy to identify: soft drinks, candy, cookies, assorted baked goods, sweetened drinks and frozen dairy desserts. Organic and “natural” foods are not exempt, so don’t be fooled. Organic sugar is still sugar.

There’s a long list of what might be considered as “healthy” foods that contain high amounts of sugar: cold and instant hot cereals, breads, granola and protein bars, meal replacements; “lower calorie” drinks including energy drinks, coffees and teas; condiments like ketchup, barbecue and tomato sauce, and bottled dressings; sweetened yogurts and kefir; frozen pancakes and waffles. Beware of foods marketed as “light” or “low fat” as those often contain higher amounts of sugar than what you’d find in the regular varieties.

Ways to Cut Back

While some people find that it’s easier to completely cut out sugar-laden foods and go “cold-turkey,” others do well to cut back slowly. The first step is being aware of what’s in your food, especially if it comes with a label. Check out how many grams of sugar are in a serving and decide if it’s worth it. Would you rather have a sugary drink or an amazing homemade chocolate chip cookie?

There are companies that make sauces, dressings and condiments without the high sugar content. While they may taste strange at first, you can train your taste buds to enjoy the true flavor of foods. If you’re a yogurt fan, try buying the plain, Greek variety and add a small amount of raw honey or fresh fruit for sweetness. Although honey is a sweetener, you’ll probably end up adding much less than the amount you’d find in the flavored varieties, and over time, you’ll be able to get away with only the fruit. Be patient with yourself during this process.

If you enjoy baking, it is possible to reduce the amount of sugar that the recipe calls for, and still produce a delicious product. You can reduce the amount of sugar in a cake recipe by 10%. Remove 5 teaspoons from each cup of sugar called for in the recipe. I’ve done this and found it to be successful. One that I’ve not tried is substituting unsweetened applesauce. It has a one-to-one ratio with sugar, so begin by swapping out up to half the amount. This allows for the best browning and texture. Experiment and adjust accordingly, as this may work best in quick breads, muffins, and cookies, rather than a traditional layer cake. Seek out recipes that call for lower amounts of sweeteners. Stevia is another possible substitute worthy of experimentation. 

I briefly mentioned naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and starchy vegetables. These foods offer nutrients, fiber, and protection from many of the same diseases that added sugar contributes to and are metabolized differently. For those of you wondering about artificial sweeteners, it’s best to avoid them. They are addictive and create health concerns as well.

As you practice limiting your sugar intake, it may seem like a huge challenge. Bringing the intention of consuming less sugar into your consciousness will help more than you think.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

America ships tons of sugar cookies to Denmark and Denmark ships tons of sugar cookies to America. Wouldn’t it be more efficient just to swap recipes?—Michael Pollan