Recipe: Chickpea Salad with Kale and Carmelized Walnuts

Chickpea salad recipe photo

Last week, I found myself struggling yet again to answer a seemingly simple question: should I eat dinner at home or a restaurant? Maybe it’s because we’re faced with this decision every single day that it can be so difficult to answer. Obviously, some days are easier than others, if I’m meeting people out for dinner, or I’ve been planning a meal to cook at home…simple answer, right? but it’s the in-between days, the nights after work when there are some groceries in the fridge, but not necessarily ones that lend themselves obviously to a dish, or if I do want to cut down on costs and up the healthfulness of my meals, that the decision process becomes more complex.  Unfortunately, when faced with that list of factors, it is easiest to say – “I’ll just go out!” Because at least by eating out I would be cutting out the physical labor of making a meal.
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Being Happy and Healthy At Work

Healthy at Work Photo
Image Courtesy of startupstockphotos.com

Last week, I spent a few hours working at my local grocery co-op in the middle of the day. During that time, I had a range of people occupying the seats next to me. Now, I wasn’t trying to listen in on everyone’s conversations, but it became apparent very quickly that there was a theme to many of the discussions: just about everyone was focusing on work, and just about everyone was had a pretty negative story to tell.
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Personalized Medicine: Understanding your Ayurvedic Dosha

Meal for Vata Dosha
A satisfying meal for a Vata Dosha – lentils and rice with warm yogurt.

Isn’t it funny that even though all humans have 99.99% of the same DNA, we have such different preferences, routines, and needs? Perhaps you love a relaxing, grounding yoga practice, while your friend prefers to run ultra marathons…or you can’t stand the summer, while your sister revels in the heat. Despite our similarities, everyone feels best with a different set of routines and habits.
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The proof is in the peanut butter

Healthy LIfestyle Habits Photo
Image courtesy of picjumbo.com

How do you tell if a certain food or lifestyle habit is working for you? I am a scientist by training, so I love to run little experiments with myself when I’m thinking about switching up my diet or physical activity routines. I’ve previously talked about changing a lifestyle habit when I cut out my afternoon cup of coffee a few months ago, but I recently had an “a-ha” moment when I recently started to dig deeper into  my relationship with peanut butter …hopefully from this you can glean insight into how to run these little experiments with yourself and what to do with the results!

Steps for test driving a new lifestyle habit:

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iPhone Wallpaper: This moment is your life

iphone wallpaper 2 pic
Download the iPhone wallpaper here

Isn’t it true that the message you need is the one your receive?

The themes of presence and focus have been weaving their way into my daily interactions with family and friends, in my yoga and meditation practices, and in my work. After a few weeks of this…I realized that the world is trying to tell me something.
When I sat down and reflected on the lack of focus or presence, I realized that there are not large structural issues – I am truly grateful for everything I have in it. I love my relationships, my work, my yoga practice, cooking, biking….I am so glad that I am able to share my love of health and wellness with others, and that I have such a beautiful home life.

But I realized that though I am grateful for my life on a macro level, I don’t often meet each moment with gratitude.

I have not given the every day aspects of my life the care and attention they deserve. When I saw the following quote by Omar Khayyám, an Iranian mathematician and poet, I realized it was time to make another iPhone wallpaper to remind myself to focus and love the present moment. The full quote is:

Drink wine. This is life eternal.

This is all that youth will give you.

It is the season for wine, roses and drunken friends.

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.

In particular for me, “this moment is your life” is the reminder that my life is happening right now. Even in the mundane of typing, washing dishes, or commuting to work. At the moment I am doing these tasks…that is my life. The present moment is what is real, and I can and should treat the present with greater care.

 

If you could use a little reminder to respect and love the present moment as it is, please download this picture and follow the directions below! It has been a beautiful reminder for me to live each moment as I want to live my life. Enjoy!

To get the iPhone wallpaper:

Simply download this picture and save the image to the camera roll on your phone. Then, open your camera roll, select the photo and choose “set as wallpaper”. Note that you’ll need to resize the photo (zoom all the way out) to make it display correctly.

I am loving this makeover for my lock screen and homescreen, and I hope you like it too!

What does “this moment is your life” mean to you? Please share below!

  Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful day,   samantha attard sig
 


samantha attard happy healthy humanSamantha Attard, PhD, is the founder of Happy Healthy Human. Sam is a performance coach and yoga instructor who helps people eat, move, and live with intention. Learn more here.

Join the Happy Healthy family to get special invites, event discounts, and lessons on living with intention.


How many meals should you eat per day?

How many meals pic
A typical weeknight dinner – lentil salad with roasted vegetables!

 

Most of us grow up learning that there are three meals. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with perhaps an afternoon snack thrown in. Eating 2-3 times per day is the traditional eating structure for much of world, but there is a scientific literature suggesting that higher meal frequency, i.e., “nibbling” throughout the day, is associated with lower weight than eating infrequent, large meals (a great review of this literature can be found here). But as we’ve discussed before, there’s a difference between what you “should” do for your health, and what actually works best for your body and routine.

 

So how many meals is best for your health?

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Your best morning routine

Best morning routine workbook picture

Morning routines get a lot of press. Everyone has an opinion about how you should start your day.

We’re supposed to exercise, but also get our creative energy flowing by doing the most important work of the day! Or, it probably is best to separate ourselves from work by meditating, taking a walk, relaxing with a coffee, and…don’t forget that breakfast is the most important meal of the day!….I’m ready to go back to bed just reading that list.

The result of all these opinions about what we “should do” can turn into morning anxiety – we want to make the best use of our time, but instead, we end up thinking about all the things that we’re NOT doing but feel like we should. I hate morning anxiety, particularly because morning is my favorite time of day! I get a delicious cup of coffee, the world is a little quiet, it’s nice and cool even in the summer…there’s so much possibility. But I have decided: it’s time to take back our mornings! Because the best morning is not the morning where you do all of the things you “should” be doing.

The best morning is one in which you are doing whatever supports your priorities and goals. Same as your noon, afternoon, evening, and night.

In this post, first I discuss how to build your best morning routine. Then, I include a handy workbook you can download to keep you on track with your best morning routine. Even if you’re happy with your morning routine as it currently stands, I invite you to read through the article before you use the workbooks, so you can check in with your morning routine and ensure it is still fitting your needs. I’ve found that I sometimes hang on to routines that aren’t serving me anymore, so it’s a great idea to make sure your morning routine is still working best for you.

Ready to get your best morning routine? Let’s get started!
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Getting vitamins from food and supplements

getting vitamins from food and supplements pic
Image courtesy of ods.od.nih.gov

Hello! Today we’re finishing our series about getting vitamins from food and supplements. Over the last two weeks, I’ve told you about why it would be best to get vitamins from from dietary sources or from supplements.

Today, I’m going to put it all together and give you actions you can take to start the best vitamin or mineral supplementation program for you.

Getting vitamins and minerals from the best sources:

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Reasons to get vitamins from supplements versus food

Vitamins from food versus supplements pic
Image courtesy of thekitchn.com

Today we continue our conversation about a heavily debated topic: “Should I be getting my vitamins from food or from supplements?”

Last week, I discussed some reasons why getting your vitamins from food versus supplements could be beneficial. To recap, consuming your vitamins through food versus supplements may be best:
1. If you have a varied, whole foods diet without large dietary restrictions or special needs.

2. Because the combination of chemicals within food (versus isolated like in supplements) may be important for vitamin absorption and efficacy.

3. Because vitamin supplements are not well regulated, and there are contamination and labeling concerns for many supplements currently on the market.

However, there are a host of reasons why it would be better to get vitamins from supplements versus food:

1. Poor food combinations can actually hinder absorption of essential nutrients.

2. The vitamin composition of foods is far from consistent: it varies according to soil quality, plant source, food processing, and cooking method.

3. If you have a specific dietary restriction or deficiency that needs to be remedied, supplements may be a more efficient way to attain normal vitamin levels.

Let’s look at these reasons to consume vitamins from supplements versus food one at a time. Continue reading…


Soaked granola that tastes good

Soaked granola Header

Healthy food can carry a bad wrap. The most common complaints I hear? That it’s bland and unsatisfying (as if we’re all eating raw tofu without anything on it). In contrast, I’ve actually seen good-for-you, plant-based food that’s more flavorful, inventive, and delicious than a more traditional Western diet. (See Heidi Swanson’s, Jess Murnane’s, and Claire Ragozinno’s recipes for some prime examples).

The one area where I have found the healthy alternative to be lacking is granola. Though touted as a healthy alternative to pre-packaged cereals, granola can actually be less than angelic: many granolas have a large amount of oil and sugar on them, and granola in itself can be drying and hard on your digestive system because of the raw oats, dried fruit, and unsoaked nuts and seeds.

For my digestive system, the most troublesome part of eating traditional granolas are the raw oats. My belly just gets bloated and unhappy with all that roughage, and mixing in dried fruit just exacerbates the problem. A great way to make digestion of granola easier is to soak the oats, nuts, and seeds before you bake them. But the majority of soaked granolas are pretty ugly and pretty bland (you can google this for yourself). I decided it was time to give soaked granola another try, with an emphasis on making sure it was a delicious alternative to regular granola. The results were a rousing success!! (It was even approved by my boyfriend). If anything, I even prefer this granola to the regular type because it is full of clusters, has a great flavor, and keeps my tummy feeling good.

The secret to delicious soaked granola?

1. Enough salt.
2. Draining the oats after soaking and before baking.
2. Enough (but not excessive!!) sugar and oil.
3. Baking the granola way longer than you think you should, and breaking up the granola as you bake it.

Soaked granola pic 2The result – amazing delicious granola that keeps your mouth and belly happy.

First – Why soak oats and nuts before you use them for granola?

I feel like I am talking about this all the time, but it’s a message that bears repeating: Soaking grains is important because they contain phytic acid, which inhibits the absorption of important vitamins and minerals and proper digestion of these grains. Incomplete digestion in the stomach is what ultimately leads to bloating in the intestine. Luckily, most grains have a naturally occurring enzyme, phytase, which breaks down the phytic acid, so you can keep that bloating at bay. How do you activate the phytase enzyme and reach digestive bliss? Just soak the grains (usually 8-24 hours) before you cook them!

Oats are a special case because they don’t naturally contain enough phytase to break down the phytic acid, so you have to add some wheat or rye flour while you soak the oats to get rid of the phytic acid.

Nuts on the other hand, contain enzyme inhibitors in their skins that similarly block your body from properly digesting and absorbing all the nutrients they have to offer. For nuts, soaking them in salted water for ~8 hours neutralizes those inhibitors. For all the information you’ll ever want or need on soaking grains, legumes, and nuts, please see Sally Fallon’s amazing book, Nourishing Traditions and resources on from the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Soaked Granola that Actually Tastes Good

A small note: there are a lot of parts to this recipe, but don’t be alarmed! Each step is fairly simple, and like all granolas, there’s a lot of latitude – feel free to experiment with different oils, sugars, nuts, and seeds to find the perfect granola for you!

Ingredients:

    2.5 cups rolled oats
    1/4 cup rye or wheat flour
    1/2 cup chopped almonds
    1/2 cup sunflower seeds
    1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
    1/4 cup sesame seeds
    1/4 cup flax seeds
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/4 cup sorghum syrup (you can substitute honey or maple syrup!)
    3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
    1/4 cup olive oil

The night before bake time (or ~24 hours before):

    1. Combine oats and wheat flour in a bowl with water. Make sure the water comes 1-2 inches above the oats because they will expand!

The morning of (~8-12 hours before):

    2. Combine chopped almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl with water. Once again, make sure the water comes 1-2 inches above the nuts and seeds.

1 hour before bake time:

    3. Drain the oats/flour mixture using a fine mesh sieve (or cheese cloth). Let the oats sit in the sieve above a bowl or pot for 1 hour to drain the excess water.

At Bake time:

    3. Preheat your oven to 300 F.
    4. Drain and rinse your nuts/seeds, and combine them in a large bowl with the drained oats.
    5. Add cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and flax seeds.
    6. In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, sorghum, and olive oil, just heating to combine them all together.
    7. Stir the wet ingredients into the nuts and oats until well combined.
    8. Lay out the granola on a baking sheet, spreading it evenly across the pan.

Baking!:

    9. Bake in the oven for ~ 1 hour, then take your granola out of the oven and cut into squares (like you were cutting brownies). Flip all the squares over and put back in the oven for ~1 more hour.
    10. Flip the squares again, and use a knife (or your hands) to break up the granola into smaller pieces. The great thing about this granola is that you’ll DEFINITELY have clusters, and you can choose how big you want the clusters to be!
    11. Turn the oven down to ~200 F and keep in the oven for about another hour.
    12. Take the granola out and taste it – is it still soft and squishy in the middle? If it’s still really soft, consider breaking up your clusters more, and keeping it in the oven at that 200 F for another hour or two. When the clusters are a little soft in the middle, similar to a cookie, then you can turn off your oven. I leave the clusters in the oven overnight to harden. What you’re looking for is crispy crunchy granola, so you can store at room temperature.

After a night in the (turned off) oven, I store the granola for up to 3 weeks in mason jars!

In this form, you get a crunchy, delicious snack that’s great for when you’re on the go. I love that this granola has big clusters, which makes it much more portable than other granolas. In milk, with yogurt, with fruit, or dried, it tastes awesome. You can also add dried fruit after cooking if that’s your jam. Endless possibilities.

Would you give soaked granola a try? Your stomach will thank you! I’d love to hear what you think about this soaked granola that ACTUALLY tastes good!!


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