My Visit to Stone Barns

It’s been a dream of mine, well I mean something that I needed to check off the list, ever since I read Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate. I didn’t agree with everything he had to say, but I thought it was a start. I mean, what we’re eating, how we’re eating, and how fast we’re eating it is not sustainable. And if you think it is, take a look at the big picture.

What We Would Love to See, However, it's Not True in Today's Large Farming Culture
What We Would Love to See, However, it’s Not True in Today’s Large Farming Culture

American’s eat, on average, 210.8 pounds of meat including red meat, chicken,and turkey per year, per person. It may be lower than the all time high (ever recorded) of 220.2 pounds in 2004, but seriously, that’s still a lot. Do you know how many animals it takes to make that many pounds? Well according to Slaughterhouse, there’s about 500 pounds of meat per cow and about 40-45% of each slaughtered animal is used for meat. Which means, a single cow can be used to make over 2,000 quarter pounders and a typical American eats about 280 of those per year. (I know you’re most likely not eating quarter pounders, but give me a break on the math).

The point? All these animals that are being used for slaughter are not only living in horrible conditions (I won’t touch on that here, but you can look it up yourself), but they’re also responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from ALL transportation. Basically, all those lovely farts from those cute animals, are causing major problems for the environment, not just our health. There are some other great facts here if you’re looking for more information.

Ok, so what about organic? What if I’m a vegetarian? Vegan? Isn’t that helping the planet just a little bit more? Isn’t organic farming what nature intended? Yes and no. We all know that our ancestors were hunter and gatherers, searching for berries, wild vegetables, and then hunting the latest game, every single day. It wasn’t until 10,000 – 13,000 years ago that the domestication of animals first began. Yes, a long time ago. Then soon, villages began cultivating grains, figs in the Jordan Valley, and squash in Mexico. Keep going and soon the potato in South American began being harvested along with tobacco. Natural fertilizers were used and farmers really had to work with the environment. Droughts, torrential rain, and more.

Then came The Green Revolution, which increased agriculture production around the world, modernizing techniques and expanding the distribution of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The good part? Many lives were saved from starvation as yields increased dramatically. The bad part? It was also the start of rice, corn, and wheat providing 60% of the human food supply and monoculture.

monokulturaSo the question is this – we have a situation where people don’t know what to eat that will help save the world while keeping them healthy. Organic is a great option. Backyard growing even better. Buying in season produce from local farmers – right on. However, not everyone can do that and with issues like the California drought, what do people do when watering their backyard vegetables is in conflict with a ever decreasing water supply? And that’s just in America. The population of the Earth continues to rise and feeding everyone without using excess fuel, emitting large amounts of greenhouse gasses and promoting monoculture – can it work? I don’t know.

Stone BarnsBack to Stone Barns. Barber has made a name for himself as a chef that not only cooks with the seasons, but cooks with ingredients that are in season, locally to his restaurant, while also using techniques that promote using every piece of the land, preserving the land, feeding the land, and leaving it better off then when he stepped on it.

This beautiful and peaceful setting includes pasture raised pigs, geese, sheep, and chickens; a half-acre green house; bee hives; and a hilly vegetable plot. Take a walk by yourself and hop on any one of the tours. If you’ve got (a lot of) cash in your wallet, you can book a reservation at the famous Blue Hill at Stone Barns where Chef Barber creates dinners that are especially tailored the the diner and the season. (One day.)

 

The Greenhouse at Stone Barns
The Greenhouse at Stone Barns

As we enjoyed the tour, our knowledgeable guide continued to share Stone Barns philosophy that the system must always give back. That struck me. We take. We take the carrots from the ground, we take the eggs from the chickens that stomp and poop on the ground, and we take the water from the rivers, lakes, and streams. But, what do we actually give back?

I think that’s the answer to our problems in more ways than one.

What do we give back?

When we chop a tree down, do we plant another one in its place? When we dig up the soil to plant and harvest vegetables to nourish ourselves and our families, do we in turn take the time to put nourishment back into the soil? If we just took the time to give back, maybe we’d have a bigger appreciation for what we’re taking and we would only take what we needed to stay healthy and vibrant.

So when you’re confused about what to eat for dinner, what to feed your family, how those who are not as fortunate as you are are surviving, and how the planet will support the increasing population of people – figure out how you can give back to Mother Earth. It may not be The Third Plate, but it’s a philosophy that’s all encompassing.

Enjoying Nature and Giving Back
Enjoying Nature and Giving Back
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About Last Night: My First Workshop on Our Relationship With Food

Last night I spent the night with four amazing women. We sat on our yoga mats talking about our relationship with food, how the power of grounding and mindfulness can help us become aware of our complicated feelings surrounding food – something that nourishes and binds us to the physical world.

whole life workshopLast night was the first workshop that I co-hosted with my good friend Holly. We met at yoga teacher training this past year and felt an immediate connection. Turns out, she also felt a calling to help others deal with their relationship to food. She’s an inspiring woman who currently helps others as a social worker and through her work with addiction and recovery. She’s an inspiration to us all and I’m beyond grateful that I can call her my friend and partner.

whole life workshopLast night we started something special. With just a small group of women we opened up to each other as we began a conversation about food. How do we feel about the food we eat everyday? Do we feel nourished by it? Is it just a necessity? Or is it just another action throughout the day that is on our mental “to do” list.

Last night we delved into our spiritual and physical self. How without one, we can’t have the other. We tend to separate them throughout our lives and it’s only when we connect them that we find our true self.

whole life workshopLast night we learned the true meaning of ahimsa, the first yama of nonviolence. Nonviolence to each other and to ourselves. Why do we always put ourselves on the back burner? Why do we not take care of our body? Is it because we’re disconnected to our physical needs of nourishment and support? Or is it because we don’t know how the relationship will work? Maybe it’s just like any other relationship – we’re afraid to get our hearts broken so we shut down.

Last night we learned how to take the first step towards recovery. How we all have our trigger foods and trigger situations. How after speaking about it with others and finding that others have similar issues makes us stronger to take that first step. To look at our situation with love, light, and understanding. How we can take the steps of relabeling, reattributing, refocusing, revaluing, and recreating to give attention to our relationship and ground down with intention.

whole life workshopLast night I learned that we are all connected. Our physical bodies allow us to feel Mother Earth, watch a beautiful sunrise, feel the wind on our face, taste the sweetness of a clementine, play with the dirt in our garden, and embrace each other. Our spiritual selves allow us to sense the higher connection with the world, with each other, and with our true self. It’s when we connect our spiritual and physical body that we can find true connections to each other and to the world that we live in. Our relationship with food is so much more than what’s for dinner. It’s what kind of life you’re living and really, you deserve a whole one.

After such a beautiful evening of stepping out on the path to find our true selves through our relationship with food, Holly and I will be hosting additional workshops that will continue to break this complicated relationship down. Allowing us to be the true version of ourself that lies within the heart of us all.

Check out our Facebook page Living the Whole Truth to stay updated!

And thank you to the Joyful Living Center in Eatontown for inviting us into their beautiful space.

Finally, thank you to the women and men who support us. We couldn’t do it without you.

As always, “bee” well,

Melissa

Top 5 Ways to Make Nutella a Part of a Healthy Breakfast – Just for Chrissy Teigen

Nutella The other day while watching one of my favorite daytime TV shows on DVR (The Chew!), one of my other favorite foodie celebs, Chrissy Teigen, happened to be on the show, talking about her love of food. Clinton Kelly then brought up some controversy that she had started with “Italian Hazelnut Spread” lovers. Teigen, in her very nonchalant way said that people need to just admit that they’re eating fudge for breakfast. No big deal, just admit it.

In honor of Chrissy Teigen’s comment, I thought of the top five ways Nutella could actually be considered worthy of a “healthy breakfast.” Because really, I’d do anything to have Nutella for breakfast everyday if it was actually healthy… and not like eating fudge at 8:00am on a Tuesday.

(Warning: This post is for those that have a sense of humor and know that a balanced diet equals a balanced life.)

Top 5 Ways to Make Nutella a Part of a Healthy Breakfast – Just for Chrissy

  1. Nutella – Banana – Whole Wheat Toast – Flax Seeds : This lovely combination just highlights the hazelnut spread and glosses over its nutritional downfalls by adding lots of fiber thanks to the banana and whole wheat toast. Top with those brain saving omega-3s from the flax seeds and it’s a win-win.With this combination, no one will even notice that you put a little fudge, I mean Nutella, on your morning breakfast.
  2. Nutella Smoothie: When you blend up ingredients like fruits, some greens, hemp protein, cholera, and maybe even some tofu, no one will have any idea that you actually loaded up on the Nutella by 2:1. Just make sure the smoothie is green (you’ll look like you’re on your A game walking into work), but remember, don’t let anyone smell it because you’ll be quickly outed and then the jig will be up!
  3.  Nutella – Peanut Butter – Berries – English Muffin: This might be my favorite, especially if you’re going strong that morning with a long run. A slight variation on #1, but with a little more oomph on the nutritional front. Spread the Nutella on the bottom of the english muffin, top it with a bunch of peanut butter, than lots of berries, and no one will have any idea that you’re fiber rich breakfast actually packs a big sugary punch.
  4. Nutella – Oatmeal – Almonds – Pumpkin: This fall favorite will be your trick or treat all year long. Make a nice bowl of steel cut oats, sneakily add in a tablespoon of Nutella, then top with almonds and pumpkin puree. The key is to mix in the Nutella and not layer it on top, we’re trying to look healthy here!
  5. Scrambled Eggs – Avocado – Salsa – Nutella: No, not all together! When you wake up, take a spoonful of Nutella – no additions necessary – ingest. Then make your eggs, avocado and salsa and there you have it – a healthy breakfast that’s worth every single hazelnut calorie. (Just don’t let anyone see you spoon the Nutella right out of the jar… that’s definitely not healthy, but remember no one can judge if no one sees you!)

nutellaAs for me, I do love Nutella, but I tend to not eat it for breakfast. I will have it occassionally if I happen to go out for breakfast and that Nutella French Toast dish is just calling my name. It may be fudge, but it’s Italian fudge and they’ve been eating it since the 1940s… it can’t be that bad right?

My tip, just eat in moderation. And just admit to yourself, yes it is chocolate, but adding a bit to your morning breakfast in lieu of that chocolate hazelnut latte will most likely save you a few calories. Everything in moderation, right Chrissy?

Cooking With Love

I talk a lot about recipes and living a healthy life in this blog – very important parts of a healthy life, but not the full picture.

This past weekend, I lost a friend who lived life to the fullest. She  loved what she did and even more, she loved the people around her. She was a fixture in the community, always supporting others, however she could. Her passion for life was infectious. I remember being on the phone with her talking about an idea I had and after hanging up the phone, I was so so fired up  – her passion had ignited my passion.

Smiling!
Smiling!

This woman also happened to be the owner of  a well-known restaurant for over 20 years. A restaurant that brought Cajun food to the Jersey Shore in a way that only she could put together. Yes, the food is delicious, but I’m pretty sure the main reason people kept coming back because it was like walking into someone’s house as they greeted you with open arms, a warm smile, and a big pot of spicy jambalaya.

Not only was she an amazing cook, she was also a talented writer. Her words would captivate you as she told the stories of the countless characters that she had brought to life (check out some of her writing here.) I remember walking into the restaurant a few years back when she told me that one of her short stories was published. She was so excited and received such positive reviews. She also published her first cookbook “Sittin’Bayou Makes Me Hot” featuring stories and recipes that will warm your heart and your kitchen.

After hearing that she had left this world, I looked through past photos of us, most of them featuring big dorky smiles. (Most of the photos that others have shared share the same resemblance – she was always smiling!) I then sat down and read through her cookbook, eventually stopping on the cover where she had written:

photo 2-3

That was her. Always telling you to cook with love and live with laughter.

My point in this post is not to make you depressed, but to point out that living a healthy life is so much more than the food you put in your body and the time you spend exercising. I’m not an expert, but I know that when I’m eating well, exercising, practicing mindfulness, and being around loved ones, sharing joy and love, that’s when I’m at my best. That’s when life is at its fullest. We tend to get so caught up in the diet crazes and new exercise fads, and that’s all ok, as long as we remember that there’s so much more to our existence. We are social beings, beings that need to love, need to be loved, and need to share. Yes, we can be a little selfish sometimes, and that’s ok, it happens to everyone. We just have to remember that life is worth living and sharing and food is such a big part of that.

The thing is, when you’re living with laughter, cooking with love and spending time with loved ones, that’s when food becomes medicine. Yes, eating a healthy diet packed full of vegetables will keep you moving and grooving, but the love that you experience with others and the zest for life that comes with those experiences is what truly will keep you healthy in the long run. After all, how else can you explain how your Grandma’s chicken noodle soup made you feel better? It’s not just the ingredients that matter, it’s how you put them together too, just like in life. It’s not what you do to live, it’s how you live that makes the difference. 

Give your loved ones a hug today and remember to live life to the fullest. Tomorrow isn’t promised, yesterday is gone, we only have today. 

Love,

Melissa

 

Take the Leap

“The first step is a leap of faith, every leap after is one of knowing.”

I heard this today during yoga and felt the need to share. During that instant, it applied to the split I was attempting to do, but after class, it was the thought that I could continue to succeed, do what I love to do, and help others. It’s a saying that can really be applied to anything that you’re afraid of attempting, whether it’s applying for that job that you really want, telling someone you love them, or starting a new routine.

most+things+are+difficult+quoteThe steps and choices we make in life aren’t always easy. However, do we really want to be on our death bed and think of the “what ifs” or would we rather think of the “oh wells.” For me, I really would rather say oh well, I guess I really screwed up that time instead of asking myself what if I did that, what if I went there, WHAT IF?

Once you take the first (which is most of the time, absolutely frightening) step, you’re more comfortable moving forward because you’ve got “Mr. Momentum” on your side now. When we overcome our fears, we realize that there wasn’t that much to fear in the first place. The entire time that we were telling ourselves that we couldn’t do it, we can’t make it, we’re never going to succeed, was just our fear telling us that we couldn’t do it. It wasn’t reality. We had never tried it! How would we know if we could succeed? Even if we had tried it in the past… that was then, this is now. We’re different. The circumstances are different. The world is different.

Remember, Albert Edison made over 1,000 mistakes before he invented the light bulb.

Now that you’re following your dreams, it’s almost like a worn in pair of jeans that fit you so well. With every single step forward, you’re more comfortable in your actions, with who you are, what you do, and how you feel. It’s like you were meant to act this way and that’s because you were.

dont-give-upSince it’s the beginning of the New Year, I’m sure many of you are writing down resolutions to lose weight, eat well, and get healthy (and as we’ve seen from the past that many people often lose ground in February). The first act of getting healthy is difficult for many, but a lot of times it’s “staying on track” that becomes even more difficult for some people. You may know that you want to eat well, but those tray of french fries are just way too tempting. So maybe you did take a leap of faith in exercising and trying out new recipes, but was it for the right reason? We won’t be able to really realize our hopes and dreams if it doesn’t come from within instead of what we think others think.

A lot of the time, people tend to focus so much on how they want to change their look instead of thinking about how they want to FEEL. Looks are passing, how you feel on the inside is lasting. Do you want to feel vibrant, strong, energetic, smart, powerful, and full of life? Then think of that as your goal instead of losing 20 lbs which is far less satisfying in the long run.

Yoddler_297_LargeYou can do it. Write down how you want to FEEL in 2015 and make the leap of faith to get there. Once you start the journey towards following your heart, every step thereafter becomes one of knowing.

Bee Well,

Melissa

P.S. If you’re looking for someone to help you start your journey towards the REAL YOU, contact me below! I’d love to help you start (and end) the New Year in the best way possible – by following your heart!

 

A Healthy Holiday Detox

The holidays are great. It’s a time for baking your favorite cookie recipe that was passed down through generations. For me, I bake kozlocki – aka little bites of heaven – a Polish cookie filled with jam. It’s so good. And my holiday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make pierogis from scratch. I also go overboard cooking intricate dishes that I wouldn’t normally waste my time on. But, that’s what the holidays are for! Of course, there are also the libations – beer, wine, champagne toasts, and fancy cocktail drinks. But, now… as my friend said yesterday “if I look at another stuffed mushroom I’ll throw up.” My sentiments exactly.

IMG_1382
Cookies for days….

 

IMG_1384
I swear they’re my kryptonite

So now that your body has been thoroughly stuffed over the past week (ok month) and you’ve probably not been keeping track of your workouts, it’s time to give yourself (and your body) a break and hit that reset button!

In order to “reset,” we need to focus on the three main systems that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes: circulatory, digestive, and lymphatic. Your circulatory system pumps blood and oxygen through your body, carrying waste products away from cells while your digestive system separates the nutrients from the waste and your lymphatic system collects fluid throughout the body where anything harmful such as bacteria or other contaminants are removed before being returned to the bloodstream. Our goal is to help all these systems function at their optimum levels so you can ditch that sluggish feeling you’ve been harboring since last week!

First things first – get “it” out of the house! Don’t tempt yourself by keeping a big pile of cookies on the counter or a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy in the fridge. It’s getting cold, you’re hungry, and it’s there, of course you’re going to go for it instead of the kale salad that you could make. So do yourself a favor and just get rid of all the “excess” lying around your house and by “excess,” I mean all the “food stuff” you would only have around this time of year.

Ok now that you’ve gotten rid of the goodies, drink some water. Every time you want a cookie, drink a glass of water. Every time you’re craving that delicious pierogi with sour cream, drink a glass of water. You get my drift. With all of the heavy and sugary laden foods that we’ve been consuming, our body is craving water, especially while we’re sitting in heated houses (the dreaded dry heat!)

Fresh Red Beets
Beets – Nature’s liver cleanser

So now that you’re running to the bathroom every 30 minutes, let’s get you eating some detoxifying foods. Try adding some beets to your diet, filled with magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium they help your liver stay in tip top shape. Ginger is another liver cleanser, spiking your metabolism while flushing out waste. You can also add some sweet pineapple to your morning smoothie, providing you with a good dose of bromelain, a digestive enzyme that clears out your colon. You can even add a dash of cinnamon to your yogurt that’s full of calcium, iron, and manganese which helps you process fatty acids while keeping your blood sugar stable.

You’re drinking your water, eating your veggies, and now you’re going to get your sweat on! Head to the gym, get outdoors, or take a yoga class! A body in motion stays in motion and a body that’s been lying on the couch eating cookies, will continue to lay on the couch and eat cookies. I know the first step is hard, but once you get back in your workout routine, you’ll look forward to it. Try and head to your favorite yoga studio or practice some detoxifying poses at home to help promote digestion. Here’s a little sample of a great detox yoga flow.

high-lunge-twist-400x400
Twists are great for stimulating the digestive system

At the end of the day, rest up in a mud, clay, or epsom salt bath instead of going for that cookie and glass of wine. These minerals will help draw out toxins from the body, helping your muscles rest (and your mind!) Add some arnica oil to help soothe your muscles even more.

Don’t wait until 2015 to get going, give 2014 everything you’ve got for a fresh start in the new year! And if you’re looking for someone to be accountable to, give me a call. I’ll help you stay on track so that your goals will become your priorities. Instead of “dieting,” I’ll help you live.

Bee Well,

Melissa

 

 

Water, Water, Everywhere!

Yes, I know it’s been a while. Too long. I’m sorry about that. I’ve neglected my blog and should pay for it, but alas, I can only get mad at myself. The best way to fix it is to just write! Stop delaying and just do it. Anyway, that’s my pep talk of the day. For now, I want to talk about something that I “prescribe” to my clients the day I meet them.

Drinking warm water with lemon, first thing in the morning.

Something so simple, natural, and holistic will become something that will change your life. I promise.

I can see you shaking your head in disbelief through the computer screen. But, I came prepared. I knew there would be doubters, so let me give you five reasons why adding warm water with lemon to your morning routine will help you look and feel better, instantly.

  1. I find that the warm water and lemon “gets things moving” in the morning, and science backs me up there! Lemon contains pectin fiber, super beneficial for colon health and also a known antibacterial agent (think of all those ‘lemon’ scented cleaning products.)

    When Life Gives You Lemons, You'll Be Happier!
    When Life Gives You Lemons…
  2. Beat the common cold this winter! Lemon also helps balanced your body’s pH by creating an alkalizing effect in the body. A balanced pH in your body will help you fight infections by keeping your body alkalized instead of acidic, which is a breeding ground for anaerobic pathogens. When you have high levels of hydrogen, that bad bacteria stays inactive. Lemon is also an excellent source of Vitamin C which protects the body against immune system deficiencies.
  3. Lemon helps strengthen the liver, providing energy to its enzymes, helping them dilute. Toxins are flushed out and it encourages your body to produce bile, which aids in digestion.
  4. Say goodbye to aches and pains! By drinking warm water and lemon in the morning, pain and inflammation in the joints and knees will be reduced because of the diminishing amount of uric acid. When you have a build up of uric acid in your body, it deposits like broken crystals throughout your joints. But, when your cells and joints are lubricated, you’ll feel better!
  5. And say hello to gorgeous skin! We all know that drinking enough water throughout the day will help your skin stay supple and soft, however, did you know that it will also help reduce wrinkles and acne?

So there you go, five reasons for you to boil some water first thing in the morning, add a squeeze of lemon, drink, and then go on with your day. It’s best to spend a few extra dollars, if you can, on organic lemons if you’re planning on putting the lemon into your drink. Or just squeeze the lemon and toss the rind in the garbage if you’re buying conventional.

Also, always be sure to brush your teeth after you drink your lemon water since lemon can ruin the enamel of your teeth (which is why you’re diluting it in water!)

And once you drink your warm lemon water in the morning, be sure to keep drinking water throughout the day. Remember that when you are thirsty, your body is already dehydrated!

Until next time, ‘Bee Well,’

Melissa