Max is one week old

Ever since working with my first pregnant client,  I have observed how hard those first weeks postpartum can be for new mothers on a physical and emotional level. As such I had planned to not only document Max' growing up, but wanted to see how I felt week-to-week in those six weeks that are so crucial for healing but which are also without any support on the medical side and often any assistance on the logistical end if you live - like I do - in the US/ NYC without that proverbial village or your family close by. 

In comparison, women in Germany have access to a midwife that is assigned to them for six weeks to help them maneuver questions such as nursing, sleeping and self-care, whereas here, these services could probably be summed up in the work of postpartum doulas or babynurses who are difficult to afford especially as an entrepreneur that is taking a pay cut for the duration of their choosing, while recovering from childbirth. A friend in Germany who is in the same business as I am, was paid close to $2,000/ month for a full year of maternity leave. It makes me weep.

Anyway, I digress. We've made it to a week. Seven days ago, I was sitting in a hospital bed with an epidural in my back, had tracked some of my runners in the NYC Half Marathon and taken a nap. We even thought we'd watch a quick episode of "Call the midwife". But transition was fast approaching. I was on an IV of pitocin and they had broken my water... (*I can tell you my birth story in more frightening detail in person - I'll just focus on the positives here). Six hours later my doctor checked and it was time to push. 

I believe her exact words were: "I've only ever seen one woman push that child out in super fast pace of two contractions and she was an Olympic rower". Didn't she know who she was talking to? "Roma, this is not a competition..." Yeah, right. "I have to tell you that she tore BADLY!" Ok, maybe not two then. 

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Max came out 30 minutes later and he was perfect. Since then, he's taught me how to breastfeed him, we've passed the diaper test of soiling as many diapers per day as he is days old. He took a first sponge bath, gained an inch in length, met his pediatrician and managed to sleep through a friend's party as well as a few coffee outings. Some of my interactions with him feel incredibly intuitive, some others make me scratch my head. Like: how much can a little boy of 7.5 lbs possibly drink? 

As for my recovery, there are two things that hurt and are making moving around a little more difficult. One is the tearing that I couldn't avoid despite admitting defeat to the Olympic rower... The other is a self-inflicted (and self diagnosed) psoas strain, possibly from pushing. The latter occasionally robs me off breath and knocks the wind out of me. Both of them hurt laughing. Either will make it hard to resume running as a form of exercise in the foreseeable future. 

And you know what?

I.DON'T.CARE. I have just spent the most incredible week getting to know a person that we made. All we do at this point is dictated by his schedule and his needs. I have plans on the horizon and I have no doubts that I will get there. But how... that remains to be seen. 

One week in it is hard to believe that Chris and I were ever just the two of us. 

Athletes Corner: Julia Webb (runner, mother, wife, coach)

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I am very pleased to present a second person in my series of inspiring women. Julia Webb wears many hats, she is an accomplished runner, mother to Joanie, wife to Alan Webb (American record holder in the mile), and running coach. I first saw her pictures with hilarious captions on there Instagram account (@runteamwebb) and then read her blog posts on her website which center on topics such as exercise, nutrition, pregnancy and much more. I love how sincere Julia describes the ups and downs of being an active mom, before, during and post pregnancy. In the interview below, you can read more in-depth what her thoughts are on making time for exercise, fueling during pregnancy, scheduling a busy day and keeping motivation high even on days that feel 'off'. After speaking to Jessica in the last interviews, Julia is another example of how amazingly women deal with the added responsibilities of motherhood and how the physical demands of pregnancy can sometimes make you a stronger athlete postpartum. Thank you, Julia! 

How did you become a runner and what is your favorite distance?

I started running as a last resort to participating in a sport as a senior in high school. I never thought i’d ever become a “runner” as I saw it as boring, unathletic and something my mom likes to do. (she was never competitive, but always jogging throughout my childhood- my dad the stud basketball player and good at any sport he tried was my role model). My first “race” my mom successfully convinced me to run in was a local 5K the weekend before school started in fall 2000. Wearing a baggy sweatshirt, basketball shoes and no warm up, I got 2nd (21:15) to a coach who asked who I ran for. I explained this might have been my first 3 miles ever run in a row. My previous training was all geared toward basketball - lots of time on the court, regular time in the weight room and the occasional mile on the treadmill or around the school block to warm up for my lift. I had a miserable experience my sophomore and junior years playing basketball -despite my love for the sport and strong dedication, I had some major clashing with the coaches and lacked the power to be on our starting line up. We were a powerhouse but I didn’t have what it took, along with my lack of confidence, spiralling me into depression. I decided to quit before senior year but was desperately seeking a new athletic opportunity.

After the race, I decided to show up for cross country practice. My first day I was amazed at how fun and easy the 5 mile run went by. A few weeks later at my first race, I put all my frustration from my basketball days into that competition, proving that I was good at something and gutted out a 7th place finish at a big invite. In complete agony, dying the final straight when everyone was kicking it in.. I ran a 15:40 4K time, beating my teammates by over 2 minutes. I found my sport. Something I was good at. I had never experienced anything to that degree, the nerves, pushing through the pain, being in complete control of my result. All I had to do was run hard and get from start to finish and the post-race high made it all worth the mid-race struggle. Not only the races, but the miles our team put into practice was the highlight of my day. From there I went on to run in college and have never lost my passion for the sport 15 years later. My favorite distance remains the 3000m steeplechase on the track. I love that its not as brutally long as a 5K on the track, but just 10 minutes of grinding and pain. The barriers add another challenge that favour my long legs and remind me of cross country, my second favourite event. I was fortunate to run it my freshman year (at UW-La Crosse)and with some great guidance in early steeple drill training, I was able to place 3rd at the national meet with a PR of 10:50. I finished 1st and 3rd, three more times at NCAAs and ended my college career with a 10:22 PR. Post collegiately I’ve run at three USATF Outdoor Championships (including a top 10 finish), a PR of 9:55 set when my daughter was 10 months old. I can’t wait to race it again, with my goal being- get on the 2016 Olympic Trials starting line with a 9 month old (currently pregnant).

Julia Alan Webb
Julia Alan Webb

You race quite a bit and not even a pregnancy (or two) can stop you? What is special about racing vs “just running to stay fit"?

I am addicted to racing! Some people like to go out with friends, others go out and dance... I get my high from racing! You can’t duplicate the energy and adrenaline the race environment provides. No matter what stage of fitness I am in (or condition - as in being pregnant), I don’t shy away from opportunities. I love testing to see where I’m at, using a competitive setting to push me to get the best out of myself. If I just ran to stay fit, I would definitely get bored fast. I need to mix up my training every 2-3 days with some form of speedwork. If I’m not sore a couple times a week, I better have a good reason! While I’m at it, why not reap the rewards of your fitness by doing a race.

You are also a mother, wife and coach. Could you walk us through a day in the life?

There are two versions of what’s normal in my current life - when my husband Alan is traveling and when he is home. It can be as much as 50/50 being a single mom (although, we try to travel some too when convenient). Currently I’m in the middle of a 6 week stretch when Alan is overseas training and competing in triathlon. Here’s a normal week day - 6:00 wake up , light breakfast, check emails, etc 6:45 2.5 year old Joanie yells “I up! I up! I up!” - the only baby phrase she has not dropped out of habit from when she first learned to talk 7:30 drop off Joanie at her “school” - 3 days a week has part time care 7:45 - Run / follow up w/ core/strength 2-3x a week. Once during weekday do quality workout. 9:00-12:15 - follow up emails, coaching, etc… and eat :) 12:30 - pick up Joanie 1:00-3:00 naps for Joanie, I usually crash for an hour (only have been since pregnancy started, since 2nd trimester just began, feeling less the need for the nap!). Clean house, chores, more time on computer 3:30 snacks w/ Joanie and play or grocery shop- lately been swimming in our pool every afternoon, core/yoga session w/ Joanie if i skipped in AM. 5:30 cook dinner, eat 7:30 start bedtime routine for Joanie (bath, stories, jump around and sing) 8:30 - bed time for Joanie 8:45 - catch ⅙ of a movie I’ve started on netflix, call Alan 9:30 - bedtime

On days she is at home, I will either run with Joanie in the stroller, head to the gym for the treadmill/bike/pool (and utilize their childcare) or occasionally get up before dawn while its cool to run 1000m loops around our gated apartment complex with her monitor audible outside our apartment. If she wakes up mid-run, will let her watch a show in her crib while i finish up or drag the stroller out.

Julia Webb planking
Julia Webb planking

You choose to keep a running and fitness regimen that puts many of us to shame. How do you (re)fuel and do you use nutritional supplements?

I definitely take advantage of eating lots of calories! Especially during pregnancy, I feel like I can burn through anything, but have to be careful not to have a massive meal at once or I get severe indigestion. So my go-to strategy has been to have something light before an early morning run (lately just started trying the product UCAN - a form of carbs/energy that should sustain me through a run - but typically I am starving 20 minutes in if that’s all I used, so have been adding a half energy bar = favorite is regular old Powerbar vanilla/chocolate or a GU as well). I always have a little coffee pre-run (no more than a shot worth of espresso now that I’m pregnant). Since its so warm here in Arizona, I have been running w a water bottle/sometimes with NUUN added, carry it a mile into the run, drop it in the bushes to access at some point. I can’t stand having a water belt. I stash candy or GU in my shorts for any carb needing emergencies :)

Post run hydration is key with an immediate source of carbs/light protein. (apple and rest of my energy bar for example) to tie me over while I make breakfast.

Breakfast - my favorite meal of the day - usually a massive bowl of oatmeal made with milk, with berries, bananas and nut butter added as a dipping sauce. Lunch - varies (and have food on my mind w/ different cravings all the time being pregnant) - fruit, either sandwich, salad, chips ; or pasta/salad or burrito ... Snack - fruit, dark chocolate, nuts or small bar Dinner - varies - tons of veggies, more fruit, rice/pasta/potato base and meat - (beef, chicken, fish, pork…) - typically take my prenatal or Proferrin iron supplement. Favorite cusine - thai food!!! Snack - cereal w/ milk

Julia Webb Nike Track
Julia Webb Nike Track

If you don’t mind me asking, how much weight did you gain in your first pregnancy and what was it like during and then getting back in shape?

Initially in my pregnancy I gained a good 8 lbs my first trimester and up to a total of 25 lbs by the end of my second (started at same weight I was before second pregnancy). However, due to severe indigestion and extreme discomfort when I ate to any level of fullness, I gained 0 lbs during my 3rd trimester. Obviously the baby continued to grow, but I must have lost some body fat. She weighed 7 lbs, 15 oz, completely healthy, although my midwife had me checked a few times because I was “measuring small”. Getting back in shape postpartum was not much of an issue. When Joanie was one month old I was back to looking “normal” for me. I held onto 10 pounds for at least 2.5 months, but then I went through a very stressfu l cross country moving experience, and baby Joanie picked up some severe collic which made my life very difficult w/ lack of sleep and digestion issues-- from month 3-6 I dropped an additional 18 lbs (was at lightest post high school weight ever- while continuing to breast feed) - all due to stress. I was also very frustrated with a debilitating hip injury I sustained during the beginning of my 2nd trimester, still not healed and it had been going on for over 9 months, where I was unable to run without pain. I realized how unhealthy my weight was after friends began to comment, and got myself back into eating more and thankfully got some support in helping Joanie out. I got back to my former go-to race weight of 125lbs. By 6 months, with some physical therapy I was able to run painfree and got back into fitness very fast with the help of my coach. Only 3 months in of regular run training and intense workouts, I was back to PR shape, only to eventually be even better - with a  more relaxed race day attitude, an even greater level of toughness my natural childbird experience taught me, elevated blood levels from the pregnancy. So, during my 8th season competiting at in the steeplechase, I dropped 20 seconds off my PR and also a good 10 seconds with only one attempt at the 1500m.

Julia Webb pregnant
Julia Webb pregnant

Do you work out with a team or coach? If not how do you stay motivated day in and day out?

Currently I am living in Arizona due to my husband’s triathlon training group, so at the moment I have been doing 90% of my runs/workouts solo. I don’t mind that I have complete control of what I’m doing now that I’m pregnant - so I can really read my body and not be tempted to go too hard to keep up with someone. In Beaverton, Oregon (our home), I typically meet up with teammates/friends at least 3-4 times a week, typically at Nike headquarters right by my house. Two of those sessions include hard workouts. I run for Bowerman Track Club and work part time as a run coach at Nike campus Sports Center when I’m back in Oregon. If it wasn’t for my teammates (Kristen Rohde, Karlee Coffee, Anna Connor) and my coach Jon Marcus - I would NEVER be able to reach my potential and push myself to the degree that I do during these sessions. I have been trying to really grasp the concept of recovery and backing off big time on my easy days. If I’m not fully rested going into harder sessions, I will be dropped in an instant. My motivation rarely ever wanes, I love being an athlete and constantly testing my limits, with my only desire to reach a higher level so I can justify living my life the way I do :) My husband is the true professional athlete in the family, so I always ensure that my needs are second to support him first. Until I have the opportunity to make any money in the sport, I will continue to see it as a hobby.

What physical activities do you do on *gasp* rest days?

Typically reserve the rest days for spending energy in the sun or playing with Joanie. I definitely try to move around on those days so I don’t feel like I’m missing out. The worst thing to do is sit inside all day if you’re “resting”. I try to pretend I’m a normal mom who doesn’t like working out. I try to remember to save the energy for the next day. Typically I take a full day off every 2-3 weeks. Getting a massage is also a great way to splurge on a day off.

What is your favourite indulgence (food or other things)?

Running :) obviously.. but outside of that, I LOVE coffee. Thankfully with pregnancy and living in a hot dry climate, my cravings have dramatically dropped, but still look forward to a daily cup of pour-over or coffee shop Americano. With pregnancy I’ll make a full strength cup but rarely drink more than 6 oz of it.

Have you had to overcome (running related) injuries? How did you do it?

Yes. Aside from a month long hip injury I sustained during over-stretching in a yoga pose during track season in college, I have had one serious injury to date and it was during my last pregnancy. It was probably one of the toughest things mentally I’ve had to deal with. I was running some pretty quick workouts feeling very strong and getting respectable race times in my first trimester of pregnancy #1 until I started noticing my right hip started aching right when my belly first started growing. I ignored it, thinking “I get aches and pains all the time, but this couldn’t be anything serious”. Ignoring it and running through it proved to be a terrible decision. Despite stopping all run activity, the pain worsened as the pregnancy went on. It took 6 full months postpartum to be pain free. I got all kinds of wrong answers during pregnancy, with doctors suspecting a stress fracture, etc.. I only realized post pregnancy it had to be a ligament or possibly a labral tear in my hip. Back in Portland after 3 months of no successful healing, I got exercises from my coach and saw a local physical therapy place for rehab and eventually it cleared up as I resumed training.

What advice would you give someone who is a running novice or looking to get fit later in life and particularly if they are mothers with a set of responsibilities, tight schedules etc.?

Create a time to workout in your calendar. No excuses as if you have to attend, block out the hour each day! My saving grace has been joining a gym with a childcare option. I have up to 2 hours to workout/shower for a very reasonable rate. Get support from your spouse, and if they are gone, find other moms who could possibly swap care to workout. Get a jogging stroller! Also another savior and offering me complete freedom to workout when I am without my husband. Starting as early as 3 weeks you can run with your baby (forward facing attachment) and weather conditions don’t apply (I’ve ran in torrential downpours - with Joanie nice and cozy under the rain cover, to negative temperatures (bundled up nice and cozy again!) . There are no excuses. If you work full time, run during your lunch hour or get up an hour earlier to fit it in first thing in morning (with coffee ready to be made, clothes laid out). Find a local running group that meets regularly to find same-level training partners and new workout friends. Sign up for a race to keep you motivated in training!

Julia Webb Alexi Pappas
Julia Webb Alexi Pappas

How would you describe the emotional benefits of running, given that it is a sport that comes with a lot of highs and lows over time…

Aside from my year long injury, I have experienced much more of the upside on emotional benefits! Yes there are days which turn into complete disappointments, you just feel plain terrible, or go through a funk where you don’t want to get out there or complete the workout. But I always try to push through those bad times, knowing they will all be worth it. In my first trimester just recently, I felt absolutely terrible on most “easy runs”, especially if I didn’t get out when it was under 70 degrees in the desert sun . I would frequently look at the side of the trail and think, "wow that looks like a great place to lay down" and just have runs when I couldn’t wait to finish. But each of those runs, when I did finish, I would be so thankful I got it done, because my trusty runners high would set in, and make me feel I could take on anything the rest of the day (with a nap of course!). I am so thankful for this sport, but try to keep my perspective that it is a gift and can easily be taken away. I try not to get carried away in making it my all, and see my faith in God, family and overall health as #1.

Quick questions:

Athlete crush? Alan Webb - up and coming triathlete… American record holder in the mile ;)

Trail or Road? Trail! Have never done an official trail race, on my to-do list

Long runs or Speed Work? A combo of both - get the best of both worlds - I rarely do straight up long runs. Often my weekend long run is part of a grinding interval session!

Garmin or carefree? I have only run with a Garmin once during Hood to Coast and got made fun of by my old school coach. I prefer coaching athletes with a Garmin though, so i have a better sense of measure.

Solo or with company? With company!! I really miss my Oregon training partners !!

Summer Bean Salad

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Last week one of our friends couldn't pick up his CSA share and so he generously gave it too us! But as I was scratching my head over bok choy, lettuce, scallions and wax beans, it took a bit of creativity to make this summer bean salad. But it came out deliciously and the hubby almost polished off the whole thing by himself. You will need, one can of cannelini beans, 3/4-1 lb of wax beans, half bunch of red scallions, 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of EVOO, 2 tsp sugar or other sweetener, 1/2 tsp salt, 3 cups of lettuce.

If you have trouble with a bloated stomach when you eat raw onions, dice the scallions and put them in cold water for 10 mins. Meanwhile mix the vinegar with sugar and salt. Then add the onions and cannelini beans.

Bring a pot of slightly salted water to a boil, add the wax beans (trimmed and cut into inch size pieces), boil them for approximately 5 minutes, then drain under cold water.

Add the waxed beans to the rest of the salad, wash the lettuce and spin it before adding it to the bean salad. Season with salt and pepper.

You will probably want to start eating right away but if you can let it stand for up to 1hr so the dressing can permeate everything.

Vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, not paleo!

Enjoy!

Arugula Couscous Salad

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Another easy, breezy, beautiful recipe :) Arugula Couscous Salad with parmesan and a lemon dressing.

All you need is a cup of pre-cooked and chilled couscous. Then take 4 cups (a big bowl of it anyway) washed arugula. Grate a half cup of parmesan and mix it with the salad and coucous.

For the dressing simply mix 1/4 cup of EVOO, juice of one lemon and add salt and pepper.

Voila! #vegetarian #notvegan #notpaleo #delish

 

 

Mango Lassi Ice Cream

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When life hands you mangos, you have got to make mango lassi ice cream. Also because peeling mango and making it look presentable is tedious. It's easier to put it straight in the nutribullet and then try to (gracefully) eat the rest of flesh off the pit, while nobody is watching. The combination of yoghurt, chia seeds, mango and mint makes this recipe very fresh and healthy.

For 4 pop molds, add 1.5 cups of yoghurt to a blender. The amounts I used work well for the nutribullet but if you have a bigger blender, you could double or triple the amounts. Add 3 tbs of chia seeds and let the mixture sit for about 15-20 minutes until the seeds take on a gelatinous texture. Add the flesh of one mango and a handful of mint leaves (approximately 10). Blend the mixture with 4 ice cubes and fill it into the pop molds. Let them freeze over night.

Done. Ice cream for breakfast!

ENJOY!

The Watermelon Feta Salad you always wanted to make and never dared to try...

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You know how restaurants feature fancy watermelon salads with mint and feta. They are a fresh summer side dish, delicious and quick. You love all the ingredients, but somehow you never see yourself making it at home... So a few weeks ago, we started gardening on our little deck. One of the key ingredients I wanted were a few herb plants. I'm not great at landscaping and I've already forgotten which flowers go by which name. Ahem...

BUT: I got mint. And it is alive and kicking. So yesterday I made watermelon feta salad with mint. And it turned out delicious.

You need: 1/4 watermelon, cut into bite size pieces, 2oz feta cheese (or more if you like), black pepper, 3-4 tbs EVOO, 2 limes and 1/4 medium onion chopped very fine, one handful of mint chopped.

Toss the watermelon with the mint, juice of 2 limes and onion and let it sit. Add the EVOO, feta, pepper. Take a photo for Instagram and voila!

ENJOY!

Red Lentils Recipe

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This red lentils recipe is so simple, I don't have much to say about it except that it is so yummy and was a total "what's left in the fridge" dinner. Red lentils with fennel. It may seem odd that we have fennel and lentils left over but it was that dire!

I really like fresh fennel. In Germany women give young babies fennel to help with colicky nights and even as an adolescent I always really liked that particular tea. So now I sometimes buy Yogi Tea Stomach Ease which includes it. I have also started using fresh fennel in recipes such as "The Chew's" braised short ribs with red wine and fennel and the middle Eastern dish with Kibbeh and fennel salad a la Ottolenghi that I featured here on the blog.

This red lentils dish is great by itself or as a side dish. All you need is one cup of red lentils for every 2 cups of water or (preferably) broth.

Bring the water/ broth to a boil, stir in the red lentils. Cut one fennel bulb in half and slice very thinly and add that half to the boiling lentils.

It will take approximately 30 minutes until the lentils are cooked, then you can sneak in a teaspoon of Turmeric for its amazing health benefits and: ENJOY!

xxR

 

Zucchini Onion Quiche

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This zucchini onion quiche is a nice vegetarian dinner for two. Not sure if it's technically a quiche or a pie but it tasted great. You will need: 3 eggs, 1 cup of grated parmesan, 1 medium onion chopped, 1 clove garlic,  salt and pepper to taste, 2 medium zucchini sliced, 1/2 cup EVOO, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 2 tbs baking powder, 1/2 cup of ghee or butter or another vegetable oil (whatever you do, do NOT use coconut oil. Trust me I tried...).

Mix the whisked eggs, parmesan, salt and pepper, zucchini, minced garlic, and EVOO. Then add the onion and the mixture of flour, baking powder and ghee (mix those three ingredients separately until smooth). The result will be a very unattractive weird "dough" that you can now refine with spices you like. I added some paprika and some everything spice. You could also add something like cayenne or maybe crushed red pepper flakes for some extra oomph.

Transfer to a pie dish or rectangular baking tray and bake for 40 minutes at 350 F.

Enjoy! And let me know what you think in the comments below or on Facebook. If you liked it, please share with your friends, too!

xxR

How to resist temptation

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Has the weather in the Northeast worn you down yet? The US and Canada started 2014 off with freezing temperatures and polar vortexes that kept us in their grip for a solid 3 weeks. Now that we learned how to bundle up for all occasions, we get more snow and more to come. We have had colder weather than the arctic, big snow falls, sleet, freezing rain and then some. Usually our response to this weather is to turn to comfort. More precisely comfort food.

For some it is the hot chocolate, for others, savoury dishes that seem too heavy in the summer but now hold a certain allure. We drink more and vegetables take a lot more preparation to make them hot and comforting, so they can land on the back burner.

I'm no stranger to the effect that gravy, creamy dishes and sauces, roasts, pies and other sweets hold in the winter. Exercising in the cold weather is harder too, so is motivating ourselves to even consider it when there are only limited hours of daylight.

BUT: here is how to resist temptation with a few shifts in your mindset.

  1. KISS: keep it simple, skinny! I talk about routine a lot and it is true. The more your mind and body know what is coming (or not) the more reliably they will keep you on track. For example, if you eat a wholesome healthy warm dish of oatmeal in the morning on six days out of seven, then you will be less tempted to grab a quick muffin, egg sandwich or croissant on your way to work. The same goes for exercise. If you plan certain classes ahead and pack your bag, you're sort of forced to go.
  2. KO the sugar! I'm not saying you have to quit sugar all together. Although, it is certainly healthier. But if you start paying attention to white sugar in foods that is hidden, that is half the battle won. The simple carbohydrates don't do much more for your body than providing it with quick energy. We all have enough stored in our bodies to provide the body with that. The other problem is that while your body is busy digesting the carbs, other components of your food, proteins and fat, are being stored. Try and find alternatives, like honey or grab a piece of fruit before eating the chocolate bar.
  3. REM: Rest.Eat.Me(ditate)-Time! Not in that order but you get what I mean. Sleep is important in combating temptation and resisting it. I'm a compulsive snacker especially under stress. And I don't usually reach for an apple. When you get enough sleep and eat your last meal long enough before going to bed and then supplement that with 15 minutes of quality time for reflecting, the chances are that you will be less frazzled and make healthier choices.
  4. DIY: do it yourself i.e. cook! We all lead VERY stressful, busy lives but especially in the winter, our choices for takeout can be dumb. When we prepare our own food, we know exactly what goes in it. It's a beautiful thing to cook, to savour the aroma of dishes, to share it with partners and friends and it prolonges the process of enjoying it, too. If you live alone, cook and then freeze things or have regular potluck lunches with colleagues so you can sample some of their food.
  5. Check your MO: as in moderation, as in fallback plan! We can't always resist temptation but we can limit the amount of indulgences that we give in to. The easiest is to not keep too many unhealthy food options around the house. Or have them in individual packs. When the urge is big, make it a ritual that you enjoy. Reward yourself, have a great experience and then move on with your day and week. For example, have one row of a chocolate bar, have a few spoons of ice-cream, eat a slice of pizza and please spare yourself the guilt afterwards. This may just be my humble opinion, but I'm pretty sure guilt will make you fat ;)

Now, all these tricks are for when you are at home. But we are no hermits. Whenever you are out in public and temptation arises, remind yourself of the awesome things that you have in store for yourself at home. When you go to a party, try and keep normal meal portions in mind, then increase them by a little because it's a special occasion but keep paying attention if you start to feel sluggish, heavy, bloated or tippsy. Chances are that is just the prelude of how much worse you'll feel the next morning...

I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments how you resist temptation. Pass on this article if you liked it and come on over to Facebook and like my page.

Have a wonderful rest of your week!

xxR

Baked Rolled Oats - Pecans & Blueberry

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Just tell me in the comments if you are already over my rolled oats recipes? But these are baked rolled oats! As you may have gathered by now, breakfast is my favourite meal of the day, closely followed by lunch/ brunch. I'm not that crazy about dinner, because big meals usually make me very sleepy. I'm known for falling asleep on my friends' couches after dinner parties. Not my proudest moments. But also occupational hazard, I may add.

This dish will be done in 45 minutes and you can eat it for the next few days.

You will need 2 cups of rolled oats, 2 cups of almond milk, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon, 2 tablespoons of melted butter or ghee, 1-2 cups of pecans chopped and 1-2 cups of frozen blueberries and 2 bananas. Maple syrup is optional.

Butter a medium sized baking dish and line the bottom of it with bananas. In one bowl mix the oats, half of the nuts, baking powder, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add the almond milk, maple syrup and the butter.

Sprinkle 2/3 of the blueberries over the bananas, then evenly coat with the oat mixture. Pour the liquid ingredients on top and give it a little shake to make sure the milk runs in between the oats. Sprinkle the remaining pecans and the blueberries on top.

Bake the dish at 375 F for approximately 40 minutes, enjoy the beautiful smell and then devour!

Let me know if you like it!

xxR

PS: The beautiful serving spoon was a gift from my in-laws. I love the South African designer Carrol Boyes.

 

 

***Recipe adapted from http://www.lottieanddoof.com/2011/04/baked-oatmeal/

Tasty Tuesdays: Sweet Potato Frittata

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For Tasty Tuesdays this week, I present to you what has got to be the easiest recipe ever. And it's delicious sweet potato, too. I have adapted this recipe from this original one, here. You will need 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly, one bunch of spring onions (chop the white and light green parts only), 2 Tbs butter or ghee, grated Gruyère cheese, 6 eggs, 2 Tbs milk.

Melt 1 Tbs of butter or ghee in a big oven proof pan or dish. Add the sweet potato in several layers. Sautée them and gradually add the spring onion. Cook both until just soft, season generously with salt and pepper, and remove from the pan. Whisk the eggs with the milk.

Melt the 2nd Tbs of butter or ghee in the pan, making sure that you coat the sides, too. Add the potato/ spring onion mixture back to the pan, then immediately add the egg. Move the pan left to right to ensure that the egg mixture runs into the areas between the potato slices. Let it cook until the egg is just set, then transfer under the broiler.

Cook the frittata under the broiler until the egg is set, then sprinkle (as much) cheese (as you like) on top and let it brown. Voilà!

I personally thought the frittata made for a light vegetarian dinner that didn't need anything to go with it. But you could always serve it as a side dish or bring it to a party or brunch and make your friends very happy!

I hope you like it.

xxR

 

Super Easy Recipe for Dinner: Rice with Pomegranate

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This is a super easy recipe for dinner, especially during hectic weeks: rice with pomegranate. I know it sounds odd but it is such a flavourful dish, you will want to eat it every day! Boil 2 cups of rice that you like (I like Jasmine rice, wild rice or pilaf) according to instructions on the box and let it cool slightly. In the meantime, de-seed the pomegranate. It's nice to use them fresh and you find them everywhere right now (at least here in New York). There's a tutorial on the Huffington Post on how to de-seed a pomegranate like a pervert. Or you can buy the seeds :)

I like to use the whole pomegranate and mix the seeds into the rice. Season with 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, juice of 1/2 lemon and if you enjoy dairy, 2 tablespoons of Lebanese Labneh (strained yogurt). It's my new obsession, my friends call it the Lebanese ketchup and it's very healthy. I have used it previously in my Quark Dessert. Season the rice with salt and pepper.

This dish can be enjoyed by itself or as a salad by adding greens like kale. You can also use it as a side dish for roast chicken.

PS: I took this beautiful photo from Pinterest because my result didn't look quite so pretty...

I hope you enjoy it!

xxR

Colourful Kale - Tasty Tuesday

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Who says, fall and winter have to be drab? They can be colourful like in this pepper and kale dish. As a child if you had asked me if I liked the idea of having this as a side for dinner, I wouldn't have been thrilled. Today I like it a lot. It's easy, there is an abundance of kale and with the right spices it turns into a very satisfying dish. And here is how it goes: Wash the kale and shake dry or spin in a salad spinner. Heat 1-2 Tbs of EVOO and roast 2 cloves of garlic in a pan (don't dice them) until they release aroma without burning them.  Then add the kale little by little, letting it wilt down just enough to add more. Once the whole batch is in, season it with salt and pepper to taste and start adding one sliced pepper (ha! see what I did here? From pepper to pepper...). Red, yellow and orange peppers will give the dish a sweeter taste, than the green one and I personally like that. As soon as you see the pepper softening sprinkle some coconut flakes on it and you can add Chinese five spice too (1/2 teaspoon). Finish it off with freshly squeezed lemon juice right after you take it out of the pan and toss it. ENJOY!

Peach Pancakes - Tasty Tuesday

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I love peach... and pancakes ... you may say, why is she making a sweet dish again. Well it's because: why not? You can make your own salad but to get creative with healthy options of otherwise over-sweetened uber fatty dishes that you order when you eat out, is harder. So here's a little help. For these pancakes I used fresh peaches from the Farmer's Market. They are succulent and big and ripe these days so you don't need much additional sugar. Also making the pancake dough from scratch is easy and you know what goes in it exactly. Substitute yoghurt for milk and I used 50/50 white flour and whole wheat. One egg, some spices... delish!

Ingredients are:

1 large egg 1 cup Yogurt (I used Ronnybrooks maple vanilla) ½ tsp vanilla 2 Tbsp sugar (or less) ¼ tsp salt ¼ tsp ground cinnamon 1 pinch ground nutmeg (or not - or try cardamom, it's really good for you) ½ cup all-purpose flour ¼ cup whole wheat flour 1 tsp baking powder ½ tsp baking soda butter, for pan 1 peach peeled, halved, pitted, and sliced into ¼” sliced Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 250 F and set a baking sheet inside. Combine the egg, yogurt, vanilla, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Stir until completely smooth. In a separate bowl, combine cinnamon, nutmeg, flours, baking powder, and baking soda. Whisk together. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Heat a skillet to low-medium heat, and melt a Tablespoon of butter in it. Scoop about 1-2Tbs of batter into the pan (this will look like a very small amount), and place a round half slice of peach on top. The pancake will flatten out and be about the size of the peach when fully cooked. Cook on this first side for about 3 minutes, or until the edges are dry and the middle is bubbling, then flip and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Place cooked pancakes in the oven until all the batter is used. Serve with maple syrup or topping of your choice.

Tasty Tuesday: Plum Tart Recipe - Zwetschgendatschi

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This is an all time favourite recipe and my biggest challenge. A plum tart made from a yeast dough. Also know as "Zwetschgendatschi". It turned out ok, I used half whole wheat flour and half regular, added very little sugar. Too little for my husband's taste but the plums were delectable. Ingredients:

- 2 cups of all purpose flour or whole wheat and white flour 50/50

- 4 Tbs sugar - I used brown sugar but caster sugar is fine

- 1 package dry yeast

- 0.5 cups whole milk

- 1 egg

- 3 Tbs butter (soft)

- lemon rind from one lemon

- cinnamon and sugar

- 2- 2.5 lbs plums

Combine the flour and yeast in a bowl, add the butter, milk, egg, sugar and lemon rind. Combine by hand or with a dough attachment to your kitchen machine until you get a dough that doesn't stick to your hands anymore. Let it sit and rise to about double its size for approximately 30 minutes.

Knead the dough through again and then roll it out thin on a cookie sheet. I pressed it into a cake pan. Layer with the plums cut in halves or quarters with the flesh up. Spread some sugar and cinnamon on top and bake in the pre-heated oven at 350 F for about 35-45 minutes. YUMM!

Dieses Zwetschgendatschi Rezept ist der Knaller! Wir hatten so schoene Pflaumen hier am Wochenende dass ich nicht wiederstehen konnte. Ich habe halb Weissmehl und halb Vollkernmehl verwendet  und braunen Zucker. Ich habe ausserdem 4 Essloeffel Zucker verwendet statt 40 gramm. Hier koennt ihr das genaue Rezept nachsehen! LECKER!!

Tasty Tuesday: Kale & Coconut/ Grünkohl & Kokosnuss

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A simple yet yummy recipe as a side dish or a main course. I like to buy the kale pre-washed and bagged and make a big batch of this. Spread the kale out on an oven tray after massaging it in some sesame oil. Set the oven to 300-350 F and bake for about 15 minutes. Make sure to check on it and maybe toss some more in between. Towards the end add some coconut flakes. I use Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Take the mixture out of the oven and toss in about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or more if you like it. Enjoy!For an extra kick and some grains you can add some cooked barley and have a delicious vegetarian dish. Ein sehr einfaches und extrem leckeres Rezept das man als Vorspeise oder Hauptspeise geniessen kann. Ich kaufe den Grünkohl gerne vorgewaschen in der Tüte und verarbeite die ganze Tüte auf einmal. Verwende Sesamöl und massiere es in den Grünkohl. Richte die Blätter auf einem Ofenblech an und backe sie bei ca. 180 Grad für etwa 15 Minuten. Achte darauf dass die Blätter nicht anbrennen. Gegen Ende kannst du die Kokosnussraspeln hinzufügen. Ich verwende hier in den USA Trader Joe's Roasted Coconut Flakes. Nimm die Mischung aus dem Ofen und mische sie in einer Schüssel mit ca. 3 Esslöffeln Soja Sauce oder ein wenig mehr falls du das magst. Lecker! Für einen extra Kick und ein ganzheitliches vegetarisches Mahl, kannst du noch gekochte Gerste hinzufügen.

Tasty Tuesday: Donut Peaches/ Donut Pfirsiche

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Donut peaches are a beautiful summer fruit for breakfast. They are high in fiber, vitamin A and C and antioxidants. Think: healthy digestion, skin and heart. Donut Pfirsiche sind im Sommer eine wundervolle Ergänzung zu einem gesunden Frühstück. Sie enthalten viele Ballaststoffe, Vitamine A und C und Antioxidantien. Folglich verbesseren sie unsere Verdauung, das Hautbild und den Herzkreislauf.

Despicable Carbs?

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I recently read this article about what athletes should eat in lieu of pasta and 5 yummy healthy things were listed. They provided antioxidants, essential oils, fiber and many other things. The thing they couldn't do is give athletes valuable energy that you need when you train for several hours each day. In this day and age where many people want to be fit and look young, many train hard and need to fuel their bodies to sustain energy and avoid turning their bodies against themselves. I know what I'm talking about as I have witnessed what can happen when you lose weight from all the training and feel like there is no amount of food to remedy that. Your blood sugar drops, general crankiness sets in and you are tired a lot. And if this continues for a long time, the body starts attacking itself. Some of the results are not necessarily visible immediately. It starts with less energy so the risk of injuries goes up, i.e. you are tired you become sloppy, you fall. Longer term issues can mean conditions such as osteoporosis, especially in women, which "only" becomes a problem when you're older.

So why is it that we condemn pasta (and rice and potatoes) so much? Do we fear weight gain? Or has the wellness industry put a stigma on them?

For some sports under close supervision of doctors, athletes carb-load. The shorter chain sugars are consumed to increase performance and give muscles essential energy during a half day or day of intense work. All energy bars, gels and drinks are essentially made from the same thing but somehow when we glue those to our handlebars it's less bad than eating a bowl of steaming (whole wheat?) pasta. A lot of Asian countries live on rice and in many African countries big portions of meals consist of maize (e.g. South African pap and Kenyan ugali) and people are for the most part slim.

I've told many people the very strict meal plan I used to be on before major events and it's no fun eating the same thing every day for approximately 10 days but boy was I happy that aside from healthy salads and lean protein there was a good pasta dish at the end of the day that ensured I would wake up refreshed. I am a no fun when I'm hungry, all the above mentioned symptoms kick in.

Where am I going with this? Back to YOU! Us as individuals.

Cake

With a gazillion options in what to eat and drink we have become less intuitive about what we need and enjoy. A healthy body will regulate the amounts of food too. There's a balance between full and hungry and the occasional indulgence is no big deal. So, listen to your body (the gut feeling- no pun intended) to be healthier, more frugal or if you eat more one day, balance it out with exercise the next day.

And in all of this remember that being a fit, healthy person is a state in which YOU lead a fulfilled enjoyable life. It should not be a chore.

I dare you to try it. Now go have a piece of chocolate.

xxR

Tasty Tuesday: Strawberries on Toast/ Erdbeer Toast

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Instead of more sugary jam or marmalade options, today I chose to use the fresh strawberries I still had in my fridge. What a yummy result! For people with lactose intolerance I would suggest substituting dairy-free options like a nut butter or ghee. An Stelle einer zuckrigen Marmelade, habe ich mich heute morgen mal für frische Erdbeeren auf meinem Toast entschieden. Was für ein leckeres Resultat. Und schön anzuschauen auch noch. Für Leute mit Laktose Unverträglichkeiten empfehle ich anstatt des cream cheese, eine Mandelbutter oder Mandelmus zu verwenden oder das indische 'Ghee'.

5 Ways To Lead A Balanced Lifestyle

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Let's be honest. How many of us really lead a balanced lifestyle? What does balance actually mean?

My clients (and friends) often ask me this question and my first response is always that it can mean different things for different people and striving for that balance is an ongoing process. But there are a few things you can remind yourself of daily to make the process easier:

  1. Allow yourself to eat everything in moderation. We all know that starving ourselves or following every new diet neither makes us happy nor helps us maintain a healthy weight sustainably. Indulging in our favorite chocolate or savory treat now and again won't cause us to put on weight if it is an exception to our otherwise healthy lifestyle. I believe an 80/20 per cent rule ensures that we don't feel deprived.

  1. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you. Our lifestyles are often busy. Stress is the number one culprit that leads to issues with our weight, insomnia and adrenal fatigue and just makes us generally unhappy. Having good friends who help us maneuver through difficult situations, people to talk to and supportive partners, is key to dealing with the things life throws at us.

  1. Meditate. I have to remind myself to keep a regular meditation practice and when I do, it is so worth it. As much as meditation is introspective it also allows me to take a step back and assess situations more clearly with less emotional attachment. Keeping a journal for ideas that pop up during meditation has proven useful, too. Sometimes it's my most creative time of the day!

  1. Exercise or get moving. It is no secret, that physical exercise releases endorphins and a really good yoga class will leave you relaxed and ready to take on the world. I personally believe that if exercise is a part of your life that you enjoy and look forward to, rather than dreading it, it will lead you to making healthier food choices and other good decisions in our life. Just a stroll after dinner, now that the weather is warmer in the Northern hemisphere, has a calming effect and can keep you away from continuing to eat in front of the TV.

  1. Switch it off! Move away from your phone, laptop and television for a while. We are exposed to technology almost 24/7 so we need to make a conscious decision to stay away from social media and virtual communities to make room for enjoying the outdoors, having a meal in nice company without our phone on the table and allowing our other senses to kick in. When is the last time you've spent time sitting in the park watching your surrounding, listening to birds and smelling the flowers?