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carol@inkwellcoaching.com

Crown Point, IN

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February 18, 2021

One of the Healthiest Fruits on the Planet

We are on week #33, counting down with my expectant friend. As some of you know from experience, she is getting pretty uncomfortable. My prayer for he

February 11, 2021

Fun with Jicama

At week #32, baby is a jicama in size. That’s right, a jicama. Starts with a J and sounds like an H. Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with pa

February 4, 2021

Sumo, Coconut, and the Birth Month

If you’re an orange lover, I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS! The Sumo are here. Sumo oranges, that is. I wrote about them last year. If you missed that

January 28, 2021

5 Reasons Why Your Snack Bar May Not Be Your Friend

In a recent conversation, the topic of cereal/granola/protein bars came up. They appear to be a healthy snack, especially for a very busy person who i

January 21, 2021

Getting Back on Track

Baby size at 29 weeks is a butternut squash. And, like last week’s eggplant, butternut squash is technically a fruit. Since I wouldn’t care to eat

January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

Got Joy? Share Joy

Are you feeling joyful today? If you are, why? Is there a way you can share it?

These are loaded questions, so let’s explore some thoughts on the topic.

I know people who are grandparents. When I ask them anything about their grandchildren, their faces light up like a sky of fireworks on the fourth of July. They beam with joy.

When I listen to the symphony, as the conductor and musicians are playing the composition, they exude a joy I can see, hear and feel.

If you’ve ever watched a chef prepare a dish, whether in person or on television, he or she exudes joy while creating the beautiful, delicious meal. Then, when that first bite is taken that we have no way of sharing…WOW! I want that!

Now I’m going to push the envelope: is there some part of living in a healthy way that brings you joy?

  • Maybe you love going to the gym, and your friends there are fun. Joy.
  • You thought you hated eggplant, until you stumbled upon a recipe that was simple and intriguing, so you tried it AND liked it. Joy.
  • When you go out to eat and you remember your rule about taking home a box with some of your AMAZING meal so you have leftovers for lunch the next day…Joy.
  • Gardening is a nice hobby that keeps you moving and agile. The flowers and vegetables are a great benefit. Joy.

Now, how can you take a slice of your fitness joy and share it with a friend, spouse or colleague that may be stuck? Perhaps they are having some life challenges and feeling bad—bad about their life, their lack of motivation, and their absence of JOY.

Ideas:

  • Try a new recipe and have them over to dine with you.
  • Share your most motivating workout song with them.
  • Call them and make a plan to do some activity together—golf, walk, tennis, coffee. (Sometimes you have to start really small.)
  • Go to a “new” restaurant and find the two healthiest items on the menu and split them. Remember your rule about the box going home.
  • Check out one of the farmer’s markets and buy a vegetable that scares you—just a little. Find a recipe and make it together.
  • Start a dinner club that eats together once a month and try “healthy” recipes from various countries. We used to do this years ago and took turns hosting. We ate well and it was really FUN!

So today, zero in on your joy and then think of a way to share it. Even if it seemingly has nothing to do with fitness, you will help somebody feel better.

Whatever you come up with, the world will shine a bit brighter because of it!

“To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.” –Mark Twain

Fruits and Vegetables Made Easy

‘Tis the season of Farmer’s Markets and an abundance of fruits and vegetables grown locally. Well, almost. In winter, it can be such a challenge to find a tasty tomato or strawberry.

June is the month in Indiana for homegrown strawberries. July is for blueberries and corn on the cob, and August is the month of peaches. I realize corn on the cob does not really count as a vegetable, however it is a wonderful vehicle for butter and salt. When it’s amazing, and we live in the heartland, we enjoy it.

Here is a real eye-opener: Eating at least 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day may help lower your blood cholesterol. There are numerous substances in food that have cholesterol-lowering properties. Many are found in vegetables and fruits. Mother knows best, again. Now I know why she made me eat those stinkin’ green beans! (I like them now.)

Of course, there are many other reasons to increase your intake of vegetables and fruits. Among them:

  • They are alkaline producing, which can help to preserve bone mass and muscle tissue.
  • They are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients.
  • They contain lots of water to help you stay hydrated.
  • Because fruits and vegetables have a high water and fiber content, they’re low in calories relative to their volume. Consuming them on a regular basis can result in a higher volume of food intake. A high consumption of low calorie density foods can help to control overall food intake and manage body weight. In other words, when you fill up on fruits and vegetables instead of other foods, it can help you lose weight. Sweet!

If your goal is to reduce body fat, the ratio of vegetables to fruits should be 5:1. To maintain your current numbers, the ratio is 3:1.

I will admit, 10 servings of these wonderful foods do not quite make it on a daily basis with our family. We can do better, so we practice. I enjoy growing a few vegetables among all the weeds, especially tomatoes. Give it a try, even if you only have room for a couple pots on a patio. (Less to weed then!)

Another thing I like to do is bring home a “new” vegetable and then figure out a tasty way to prepare it. I challenge you to do the same. If you get stuck, shoot me an email and we’ll figure it out together.

The more colors and variety, the better. Have fun with this. Buying local produce helps support those who live in or near your community, is fresher than produce coming from another country, and has a higher nutrient content. What’s not to like?

For those of us who live in Indiana, the arrival of Farmer’s Markets is simply another reason to be glad it’s spring!

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.” – Doug Larson

Choosing Wisely

Sometimes we attend luncheons or dinners, and the fare offered is rather limited. Perhaps, as I wrote in my blog last week, we feel like we are using up our 20% of the 80/20 rule. But maybe, just maybe, we can get by unscathed. Here are my tips on how to make choices that are just a little bit healthier, so you can save your 20% for another meal! (Friday night pizza?)

I’ll give you a couple of scenarios so you get the general idea. Let’s say you are at a business luncheon with buffet options:

  • Tossed green salad with several dressings
  • Rolls for sandwich making or as a side
  • Thinly sliced roast beef with au jus
  • Italian sausage
  • Hamburgers
  • Sliced tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, etc. to dress up a sandwich
  • Assorted drinks: water, diet soda, regular soda, unsweetened ice tea, coffee
  • Assorted fresh fruits
  • Brownies (you can tell by looking that they are NOT AMAZING)

For this blog’s sake, pretend summer is just around the corner and you may need to put on shorts or a swimsuit. You are committed to cutting back on breads, sugars, and want to eat more vegetables. Here’s how you make this lunch part of your 80% instead of 20%.

Begin with a GENEROUS helping of salad. Choose the least amount of dressing you need to add flavor without distracting from the taste of the greens and other salad components. An oil and vinegar based option is typically a better choice than thick and creamy, since you need more of the creamy types to go around.

Next, if you make a sandwich, add more vegetables to it. Maybe you could even make an open-faced sandwich and use a big piece of lettuce as a topper, instead of eating the entire roll. Or, skip the roll totally and you have the meal concept: main dish with side salad. The best drink option is water, then the tea or coffee. If you select soda, you will get more than your day’s maximum of sugar, and the chemicals in diet soda are not good. Enjoy your natural sugar from the fresh fruit.

If you typically bypass the salad, eat the sandwich and drink a soda, practice switching just one of those options. Slow and steady…

The brownie…it’s not amazing, so skip it. Save up for a treat you will REALLY enjoy later.

When you attend a sit-down dinner and the food is plated for you, you get what you get. However, these are usually pretty standard: salad, soup, protein (beef, chicken, fish), vegetable (green beans, broccoli, or cauliflower) and starch (baked potato or pasta). Can you tell I’ve been to lots of these? If the chicken is fried, removing the skin is a good move. Avoiding fried foods as much as possible is preferable. Rolls are almost always present and may certainly be skipped in case the dessert IS AMAZING! (I have been known to eat the bread when the main course is not the best or if it is rather skimpy. There are times…)

This is simply a matter of making choices that are a little better than you may have made a year ago, or six months ago. It depends on your personal health and fitness goals and what works for you. Bon Appetit!

“The doctor of the future will no longer treat the human frame with drugs, but rather will cure and prevent disease with nutrition.” ― Thomas Edison

Why 80% is an “A” on my Scale

When I was in school, an “A” was earned with a score of 90% to 100%. There wasn’t much room for error. When I practiced pharmacy, the range of error was even less, as you can imagine.

When it comes to eating in a way that serves you nutritionally, I like the 80% rule. It works like this: eat nutritionally sound foods at least 80% of the time. The other 20% is “room for error” or “cheat meals” or whatever term suits you. 

Reality check: life does not always allow us to carry out our perfect plan for fitness, food, and the way we think things ought to go. We have very little control. However, we can usually control our food choices and how much we move.

80% is realistic. The 80/20 rule allows for those special times with friends, holidays, birthdays and “because I had a tough day” days. 80% gets us past the ALL or NONE way of thinking, which only sets us up to fail miserably.

Here’s how it works: 80% of the time make sure you eat the proper amount of lean protein, vegetables, carbohydrates and good fats.

An easy way to know how much you need:

  • Your palm determines your protein portions.
  • Your fist determines your veggie portions.                            
  • Your cupped hand determines your carb portions.
  • Your thumb determines your fat portions.

The recommendation is that women have one of each of those with most meals. For men, the recommendation is two of each with most meals. This guideline assumes you eat 4 times a day. Easy.

Let’s do the math. Eating 4 meals a day means 28 meals a week. So, following the 80/20 rule, if 22 or 23 of those meals are on target, you’ll most likely stay on track.

This takes into account Sunday brunch, the birthday celebration at work on Tuesday, “because it rained” on Wednesday (this person doesn’t live in Northwest Indiana where it has rained everyday for at least a week—that person blew it BIG time), pizza sounded really good on Friday night, and the hot dog at Home Depot called to you on Saturday.

I’ve had days when I never saw a vegetable and the carbohydrates ruled the plate. It happens. Life happens. Eat well most of the time and you’ll probably reach most of your health and fitness goals.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” –Charles M. Schulz