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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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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

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 complicated?

If you’re really confused on what to eat to lose weight and/or live healthier, try this ONE habit:

Eat mostly (or at least more) minimally processed foods.

Most people would define this as choosing foods close to how they’re found in nature. Whole foods—sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken, an apple—are a great example of this. Think of foods that you can grow in your garden. 

Why?

Reason #1: The greater the degree of processing, the more likely a food has:

👉Lost nutrition (fiber, essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, other nutrients)

👉Gained additives (sugar and/or refined starch, unhealthy fats, sodium, preservatives, fillers)

Reason #2: Diets rich in minimally processed foods are linked to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, depression and type 2 diabetes.

Reason #3: Because minimally processed foods also tend to be richer in fiber and protein, and lower in calories per volume, these foods make it easier for you to manage your calorie intake.

Minimally processed foods are more nutritious, improve health outcomes, and help you regulate your appetite.

There’s just one caveat:

It’s REALLY hard to eat ONLY whole foods.

Imagine a scale for food, from the least to the most processed. It’s not just black and white; foods aren’t simply ‘completely artificial’ or ‘straight from the earth or animal’.

Most are somewhere in between.

This is why your favorite health coach encourages minimally processed foods versus only limiting yourself to whole foods.

Look at the foods you’re currently eating, and just try to move along the scale, choosing foods that are slightly less processed than what you’d usually eat.

Plus, some processed foods are awesome.

Grass-fed whey or vegan protein powder.

Tinned fish.

Those little emergency to-go packets of nut butter you keep in your glove compartment. (Snack attacks are REAL.)

I keep single serving bags of Skinny Pop popcorn in my car.

By the way, cooking, chopping and blending are all forms of processing.

So, it’s not that processing is “bad.”

It’s just that ultra-processed foods—star-shaped cereal puffs, electric blue energy drinks, and pretty much anything that’s shelf-stable for over a year—are usually specifically engineered to make these foods too delicious, and thus easy to overeat.

GoMacro Macrobars

I recently came across these bars—yes, they’re a processed food and contain some sugar. However, as emergency snack bars go, these are pretty clean. They’re Gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, vegan, soy-free, Kosher. 

The regular size bars have 11 grams of protein, and the minis have 4 grams of protein.

It’s a better option than hitting a drive-thru and will satisfy your snack attack.

Pre-gardening Update

Clearing my vegetable garden of debris is taking me days and days and days…

A word of caution: Beware of plants that spread. I’m trying to dig up every speck of peppermint that found its way into the dirt.

Dill, spearmint and Lily of the Valley are a few more invasive plants that you may regret growing in your garden.

Wishing you a beautiful week.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

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 to various fruits and vegetables. I listed the health benefits of the produce of the week along with interesting ways to prepare it.

Produce baby, Angelos, recently celebrated his 3rd birthday. 

Believe it.

I recall that last year at his birthday party, a little girl was after him and he reluctantly left his food to go play.

This year, I had a tough time getting a picture with him because he was busy chasing the girls. Older girls, by the way.

Good luck with that, mom and dad.

What a difference a year makes.

Angelos is dealing with the potty-training ordeal, is constantly on the move, and always wants to get his little tools and help his daddy with whatever he’s working on.

He loves fruits, vegetables and fish, but will only eat beef when he’s dining with his uncle, not his aunt.

Interesting.

I’ve also had sources inform me (I have spies everywhere) that he’s fond of McDonald’s French fries. When his daddy tells him that they’re all gone, he asks to see the box to make sure it really is empty.

For the record, I have had no part in encouraging the French fry habit. I’m hopeful that he’ll one day outgrow it.

Angelos will learn more about fruits and vegetables since I gave him a color sorting play food set for his birthday. I looked for the set with the least number of fake donuts, hot dogs and French fries.

He’s come a long way since he was the size of an avocado.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Angelos!

Time to plan your garden

Although we are wise to not plant most annuals until May here in Northwest Indiana, it’s not too early to plan your garden.

Whether you have a small or large piece of land or a patio for pots, now is the time to figure out what you’d like to plant and prepare your area. 

Your Pre-Planting To Do List may include:

  • Clean up dead plants and debris.
  • Test your soil to determine pH and nutrient levels so that you know what materials to add.
  • Decide what you want to grow and where.
  • Clean and sharpen your garden tools.
  • If you like garden gloves (I do), do you need a new pair? I stock up at the Dollar Tree and I’m good for the season.
  • Some vegetables, such as peas, onions, spinach, and lettuce, can be planted in early spring as they can tolerate cooler temperatures. There are also a number of annuals that like cooler weather that you could plant in pots. Pansies are a favorite of mine.
  • If you have a pest problem, build a fence around your vegetable garden. For my tulips, I have found that a product called Animal Stopper is excellent. It’s a combination of essential oils and egg whites so it smells good, the bunnies hate it, and it works for 30 days even if it rains.

Anything you grow will be delicious and more fun to eat.

Growing our own food also helps us appreciate our farmers.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“Gardens and children need the same things – patience, love and someone who will never give up on them.” —Nicolette Sowder

Tips to Get Past the Springtime Slump

Lately, I have this great desire to take a nap every afternoon around…well, anytime between 2 and 5.

What is the deal with THAT?

Can you relate?

One day I did my best to overcome my sleepiness by taking a walk, in between torrential cloud bursts.

Today’s choice is a couple squares of 85% dark chocolate and a cup of green tea with a splash of honey.

Could the fact that I haven’t seen much sun have something to do with it? 

Oh, and there’s the recent time change that always messes with our circadian rhythm.

Some of you may be experiencing seasonal allergy symptoms with itchy eyes, runny nose, headaches and just feeling lousy.

A couple days ago the temps were in the high 50’s and today it’s snowing/raining/slushing from the sky and I need my heavy winter coat.

My guess is that my sleepy state is a result of many recent shifts in Nature, with more to come in the days ahead. Since what we resist persists, it’s best to welcome spring appropriately and conform with a few dietary and lifestyle changes.

Try whatever resonates with you and see what happens. I’ll be trying these too.

Tips to Help You Feel Energized

Lighten Up: Winter diets are often heavy and rich to counteract the cold. As spring arrives, it’s time to switch to lighter foods. Incorporate more fresh vegetables (like asparagus, carrots, beets, kale, green salads) and legumes into your meals. Enjoy rice bowls and broth-based soups. Opt for light and astringent fruits like apples, pears, kiwis, cherries and berries. Incorporate warming spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin and black pepper to stimulate digestion.

Limit Caffeine and Sugar: While it might be tempting to reach for a cup of coffee or a sugary snack for a quick energy boost, try to limit your intake as they can lead to energy crashes later on.

Wake Up with the Sun and Get Outside: Sunlight can help boost your mood and energy levels, that is, if it isn’t covered by clouds for days and days. Whenever possible, enjoy some sunlight—ideally outdoors–for about 10 minutes during the first 30 minutes that you’re awake.

Shorten Your Feeding Window: Most people consume food from the time they wake up until just before going to bed, giving them a daily feeding window of about 15 hours. As long as you don’t have a health condition that would be aggravated by making a shift, try shortening your feeding window. For example, try eating during a 10–11-hour window of time, say from 8 or 9am until 7pm. If this feels too difficult, shorten your feeding window slowly to determine what works best for you.

Hydrate: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and support your body’s natural detoxification processes which are heightened in the spring.

Honey: Use raw honey as a sweetener (in moderation) as it has warming properties and helps to balance the body.

Stay Active: Find a physical activity that you enjoy, whether it’s walking, cycling, yoga, or gardening, to keep your body moving and reduce feelings of lethargy.

Hopefully these tips will help us better navigate the days ahead with increased energy, mental clarity and calm.

If all else fails, take a 20-minute nap.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

I hope this spring brings you
Colors that touch your heart
Creative ideas that surprise yourself
Clarity to quit what’s not working
Courage to move on from the past
Confidence to go with your gutAuthor unknown

The Miracle of Breath and Easter

Today while I was busy breathing, doing my best to focus on my breath and not what I would blog about this week, I was flooded with a thought that shows up each time I practice.

While I have some level of control over my breath, I know that I am not really in charge. Were it not for the Divine, Creator, God, Spirit, Supreme Being, breathing me, I would cease to exist. 

Not that this hasn’t struck me before.

Perhaps the older I get, the deeper the strike.

When I think about all that we put our bodies through daily, year after year, I am amazed at how much they can take and still keep going. Still breathing.

We are miracles.

Albeit miracles with a few aches and pains, depending on the day.

Today, in the busyness of your life, make time to sit quietly and focus on your breath. Feel deep gratitude for your body—and the Divine–for keeping everything together so that you exist.

Easter Blessings

For Christians, Holy Thursday through Easter (or Pascha or Resurrection Sunday), is the most holy time of year.

When I was a little girl, my mother and grandma would gather the specially prepared Easter foods in our baskets. We would then go to church on Holy Saturday morning to have the foods blessed.

Beautifully decorated eggs, pascha bread (a sweet, egg-rich round bread made especially for Easter), Polish sausage, nutroll, chocolate bunnies, lamb-shaped butter, beet horseradish, ham, all blessed with holy water, prayers and lots of incense.

It felt a bit like penance because lots of other grandmas had their baskets filled with delicious (smelling) foods and we couldn’t eat any of it until after Mass on Easter morning.

Although the contents of my basket are a bit different, I still carry on this tradition today. 

Food connects us, invokes memories, comforts during tough times, helps us celebrate everything.

If you celebrate Easter, and even if you don’t, I hope your Pascha Sunday is filled with your favorite people and foods.

May you enjoy the blessings of spring and new life.

Much love,
Health Coach Carol

“You are here. You are loved. God is good. And that’s enough.”—Brandon Heath, from his song That’s Enough