Memories of My Childhood: High Heels and Pizza

MerriamWebster.com defines compassion as a sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. Empathy is defined as the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another. I showed neither compassion nor empathy when my mother fell in the shopping store parking lot. 
As I turn for my mother’s response to a casual conversation, I find her on the cement floor. My mother, in her stylish clothes and makeup, could not get up. Certain situations trigger a kind of primal throw back into a world of harsh Brooklyn accents, Jewish guilt and a lot of screaming. 

Instead of asking if my mother was okay, I yell, in a shrill shriek that only comes when I am truly agitated, “Oh my God!!! Memories of my childhood” a few times so that everyone could turn and stare at us at least once to which my mother responds “Oh, please!!! I only fell once when you were little. Once!!” to which I counter argue “It was not once mom! It was several times right there in the middle of 86th street!” 

It continued like this for a while with my mother insisting that she only fell once and that she could not be the source of any traumatic, emotional scarring. Mind you, my mother is still on the floor gripping the shopping cart like a life line. I eventually help her up, but instead of mustering enough empathy to ask “mom, are you okay?” I aggressively ask why she would choose to wear high heeled shoes on a shopping day. 

Acting upon my own internal fear, my response was not reflective of the deep love and concern that I have for my mom. It was not compassionate or empathetic or even pleasant.
Mary C Lamia writes that “there are times when a past fear might re-emerge, even though the present situation does not truly warrant the need to be afraid. Although you may intellectually know that you are safe, your brain automatically prepares you for the worst…”1

So, I guess compassion was replaced, at least temporarily, by fear. Empathy replaced by mental preparation for the worst. It makes sense because in the world of Jewish culture as I know it, we are always preparing for the worst. From an extra jacket to a few granola bars thrown into a purse, fear can be a strong motivator of feelings, words and action. If we are lucky enough, fear forms but a small part of our childhood memories. Hopefully, we remember laughter, kindness, warmth, love and fun. Of these I am grateful to say that I have many. One of the best memories I have from childhood is the simplest. It was the day my dad taught me how to make pizza out of English muffins. I thought my dad was some kind of culinary genius. My mom would cook almost every night making beautiful, well balanced meals, but the English muffin pizzas stand out as a winner. I still make English muffin pizzas and find them to be a quick dinner for many clients and an easy snack for kids to make on their own. With a few simple substitutions, the English muffins of my childhood have become a healthy mealtime staple.

Quick Dinner English Muffin Pizzas

Ingredients:

Ezekiel sprouted English muffins

Organic tomato sauce

Organic shredded mozzarella 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Slice muffins in half and lightly toast 

Line a baking tray with foil and place toasted muffins on top

Spoon sauce and sprinkle cheese on top 

Bake until cheese melts to your desired consistency 

Add any fresh vegetable like spinach, onions or mushrooms 

You can also add antibiotic free sliced beef, turkey or soy “pepperoni”

   
   To happy childhood memories, easy dinners and acting with compassion,

Adina Kelman, C.H.C., A.A.D.P
1The Complexity of Fear

Are you experiencing anxiety, or is it fear? Post published by Mary C Lamia Ph.D. on Dec 15, 2011 in Intense Emotions and Strong Feelings

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/intense-emotions-and-strong-feelings/201112/the-complexity-fear

 

Advertisements

Things not to Try

If anyone does not remember reading my March 31st Even Superheroes Have Limits post, I will refresh your memory as I re-post my thoughts on tofu and chia seeds in order to highlight another popular food currently on the superfood scene. 

When tofu first came on the scene as a popular health food, I was amazed by its versatility. You could put it into soups, stir fries and burgers. You were able to bread it, bake it, steam and sauté it. Tofu could be made into cake, pie, chocolate, pudding and dressing. There was nothing that tofu could not do. I remember my husband’s initial distrust of a food that could be turned into so many different edible items. Despite his wariness, we bought it, cooked with it and embraced it. 

Chia seeds may not be the new tofu, but that little seed is just as versatile. You can add it to your morning cereal, yogurt or smoothie, make it part of any grain or salad and can include it in any baked recipe from meatloaf to muffins. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, chia seeds are a high fiber, nutrient dense food. When soaked in water, chia seeds dissolve into a gel. Research suggests that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, keeping you feeling full for a longer period of time. They are an anti inflammatory superfood. The new superhero of the food world. 

And like all superheroes, chia seeds have a weakness. Chia seeds, when dropped, scatter across the floor like cockroaches when the lights turn on. They are almost impossible to vacuum at one time. Much like glitter and sand, you will find them everywhere, days after the original spill. The other side to chia seeds that no one mentions is that the same gelatinous consistency that keeps you feeling full longer, does NOT translate into pudding. For all you chia seed loving pudding makers, please give me a good recipe to follow.
I just made this chocolate chia pudding following a recipe which calls for 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 1 tablespoon cocoa, a pinch of salt and cinnamon and 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup.

I combined all the ingredients in a mason jar, shook to mix and refrigerated waiting to taste the dark, rich, creamy pudding pictured in the photos. The reviews of the recipe described it as “delicious and yummy”. I took it out of the refrigerator and its dull, sponge like appearance did not call to me as did the images in the photos. I tasted it. 

I need you to understand that I am the benchmark for all things tasteless, too healthy and, according to my family, just plain disgusting. I am a health food hedonist. Nothing is too plain or bland sounding, but there are no expectations low enough to make chia seed pudding good unless you enjoy the feeling of a cold cacao covered loogie slowly and suffocatingly oozing its way down your throat. In the lexicon of slang, a loogie is defined as a large slimy glob of spit, mixed with nose snot, that is formed by coughing up and hocking what’s in your throat (Urban Dictionary). And that is a pretty accurate description of my experience. After I finished gagging, I ate a piece of dark chocolate to get rid of the taste in my mouth.
Now matcha tea has come into fashion and I, like every other self respecting health food loyalist, view this green powdery substance as a gift from the superfood gods above. When I found this recipe for matcha coconut pancakes, I could not wait to try them. The recipe called for ⅓ cup coconut flour, 1 tbsp Matcha Green Tea Powder, ¼ tsp baking powder, 6 egg whites (¾ cup), ½ cup buttermilk and 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup.

I combined all the ingredients in a bowl and blended until well combined. Onto the griddle they went forming a beautiful, green circle. I ignored the protests of my children who complained that green pancakes were not their idea of a delicious breakfast. I touted the positive, tried and true advice of “not judging a book by its cover” and “not knocking it ’til you try it.” 

And then I tried it. 

And then I tried hard not to spit it out, but to swallow the earthy, grainy green, grain free pancake. It was hard. 

So now that matcha coconut pancake recipe sits next to that chia seed pudding recipe under the label of “things not to try again” along with the overnight buckwheat-sorghum-applesauce recipe that I tried a few months ago. Not everything great translate into everything great. Even super heroes have their limits. 

Adina Kelman, C.H.C., A.A.D.P.

   
  

 

Hallmark Holiday

I’m not one of those people who thrive on gushy sentiment. And I also despise clutter. For these two reasons alone, I hate Hallmark holidays and the space consuming cards that go along with them. And yet, when Mother’s Day rolls along, I’m pressured by expectations of what the day should be and feel like. I vowed this year would be different. I wouldn’t wait around for phone calls or gestures that wouldn’t come. I was going to go out, make plans, get my mind off of what should be. Thunderstorms were predicted, my high school sophomore was in the frantic throes of final exams and papers, my husband had to run into the office and dinner out for 8 people was downright expensive. So I found myself, at home, again, taking into consideration the demands of everyone else. I made a conscious effort to let go of the resentment and focus, instead, on gratitude. 

Recognizing what we are grateful for can have a great impact on how we are able to handle difficult and uncomfortable situations. One study found that those who pay attention to experiences of gratitude are 25% happier than those who pay attention to daily annoyances. Being grateful or practicing gratitude is a mindfulness technique that allows us to let go of preconceived ideas of how things should be and enables us to look at the situation with, what is called in Buddhist philosophy, a “Beginner’s Mind.” Beginner’s mind calls upon us to undergo a situation without any preconceived ideas, as though it was the first time we were experiencing it. 

I always appreciate my family’s collective being, but looking at Mother’s Day with beginner’s mind let me appreciate the subtle details that I might have otherwise ignored. The hot cup of coffee that I enjoyed at breakfast. The absence of stomach viruses and colds and flu and germs in general among 4 children. The game of Banana grams played around the table in a house that safely sat within a town I loved. My 10 year old daughter’s card showing a child full of carefree happiness and health. The laughter and simple conversation that flowed among children not fighting. A phone call from my daughter at college. (I guess Jewish guilt does eventually pay off). I tried to focus on what was instead of what wasn’t. I tried to let the day unfold. Appreciation of what is can co-exist with disappointment for what didn’t happen, but not allowing the disappointment to ruin the present moment is a conscious choice. 

For this morning’s breakfast, I tried a recipe that I would have otherwise ignored because it involved more than one bowl, a hand mixer and the separation of egg yolks from egg whites. The results were edible, but disappointing – not the light and fluffy, crispy waffle I had hoped for, but a mildly sweet, grain and gluten free waffle that paired well with fruit. Still, I had tried something new. And then, in the middle of breakfast, my 13 year old generously offered to make our favorite waffles. I focused not on the extra dirty bowls that would result, but the love that came from that gesture. Gratitude for what unfolded, and not for what didn’t, didn’t make me giddy with happiness, but it offered a calm that made me feel content. It wasn’t the perfection that I constructed in my mind, but, as my mother says, it was good enough. 

Paleo Sweet Potato Waffle Recipe from paleonewbie.com 
Ingredients:

1 cup of cooked and mashed sweet potato (about 2 potatoes)

1/2 cup almond butter

1 tbs coconut flour

3 eggs, separated into yolks and whites

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp pumpkin spice

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tbs maple syrup (optional)

Instructions:

Preheat your waffle maker

Separate egg yolks and whites. Place egg whites in a small bowl and set aside. Add the yolks to your main mixing bowl (see next step)

In a mixing bowl, combine the yolk and all of the above ingredients (except the egg whites) and blend well with an electric mixer – about 3 minutes. 

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with electric mixer until peaks form – about 3-4 minutes

Now fold the egg whites into the sweet potato mixture until blended into the batter

Make on waffle maker.

Whole Wheat Waffles from 100daysofrealfood.com
Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1 ¾ cups milk (I use almond milk)

¼ cup oil (I used melted butter)

1 tablespoon honey (I use raw honey or Grade B maple syrup)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups whole-wheat flour 

2 teaspoons baking powder

⅛ teaspoon salt

Instructions:

Preheat your waffle maker

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, oil, honey, cinnamon, and baking soda until well combined.

Add in the flour, baking powder, and salt and whisk together just until the large lumps disappear.

Make on waffle maker.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

Happy Belated Mother’s Day to all. 

Gratefully,

Adina Kelman, C.H.C., A.A.D.P.

  

“I’m bored”


How many times have you heard “I’m bored” uttered carelessly from the lips of your children? When television, the Internet or the great, old outdoors fail to entertain, “I’m bored” usually results in me baking something slightly more time intensive than I care to make and often breaks my rule of discarding a recipe that requires more than one mixing bowl. These Crumble Crunch Muffins from www.halfbakedharvest.com served to keep my 13 year old busy for a good 45 minutes and well fed before school.

Ingredients (I changed a few from the original recipe)

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
  • 1 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 cup mashed sweet potato 
  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips 
  • Crumble:
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 3 tablespoons cooked quinoa
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoon flour
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into chunks

Instructions

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a muffin tin with liners.

To make the crumble. Add the brown sugar, pecans, coconut, 2 tablespoons quinoa, cinnamon and the flour to a bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, a fork, or a pastry cutter, work the butter into the dry ingredients until large heavy crumbs are formed. Set aside

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, quinoa, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and sugar.

In another smaller bowl whisk together the coconut oil, mashed sweet potato, greek yogurt, eggs and vanilla.

Pour the wet into the dry and mix until just combined. Stir in the dark chocolate.

Spoon the batter into 12 muffin cups and then top with equal amounts of crumble. Bake for 5 minutes at 425 degrees and after 5 minutes reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Bake another 20 minutes.

This recipe made about 16 muffins. Although we weren’t crazy about them hot out of the oven, what a difference a day makes. Once cooled, we didn’t taste the quinoa and these mildly sweet muffins proved to be a quick, easy, and filling.

Happy Baking,

Adina Kelman, C.H.C., A.A.D.P.

A Life in Balance

   

  

           

When my husband is sometimes right

It’s not often that I admit when my husband is right. There was that time back in 2002 when our third daughter was born and he kept reminding me to stop leaving items that need to be brought downstairs on the actual stairs. I don’t know why I continued after his countless warnings because I was the only one transferring said items. Everyone else simply glanced at them and passed right on by. So the intense pain and blood that followed from me stepping on a Pretty Pretty Princess crown did not compare with the damaged pride I felt knowing that my husband “had told me so.” What was worse was his examination of my foot later that evening. A man of few words, his surprised and unbelieving “Oh” when assessing the damage caused from a very well made plastic crown said a lot. So I limped around for a week, soaking my foot in hydrogen peroxide twice a day which reminded me that, yes, sometimes my husband makes a valid point.

There were other, more trivial times too when I’m sure my husband was right about some things. Like how to match a pot with the right size burner or where the hazard lights are in my car or the knowledge that a stubborn refusal to follow GPS when you have no sense of direction will most definitely get you lost and stuck in New York pumping your own gas. But those instances eluded me when Father’s Day rolled around and my husband suggested that we purchase a waffle maker. Despite my objections of not needing a waffle maker and not wanting yet another item to store and clean, we purchased a beautiful double-sided, stainless steel model from Chef’s Central. That purchase makes at least the second, major time my husband has been right over the course of our marriage. Our waffle maker, which has survived one move and many breakfasts, desserts, birthday parties and late night desserts, sits atop our kitchen counter as one of our most used possessions. I recently found a very simple, gluten-free recipe (http://comfybelly.com/2009/01/waffles/Recipe) from Comfy Belly (www.comfybelly.com) which has proved quick, easy and delicious.

Almond Flour Waffles
Ingredients:
1 cup of almond flour (or other nut flour)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla
2 tablespoons of honey (or other sweetener)
1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon (optional)

I used almond flour, 2 tablespoons grade B maple syrup and about a 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Instead of placing the dry ingredients in a bowl to blend separately, I added all the ingredients, both wet and dry, together and blended with a fork. I added chocolate chips and poured half of the batter onto one side of my waffle maker using the remaining half of the batter for the other side. This recipe made 8 triangular waffles on my waffle maker.

IMG_3304.JPG

IMG_3303.JPG

IMG_3302.JPG

To delicious waffles and spouses that are sometimes not entirely wrong,
Adina Kelman

Portion Control

For many of us, the transition from a processed diet to cleaner, whole food choices typically results in, but does not always guarantee, measurable weight loss. While the elimination of junk food and the incorporation of whole foods, fruits and vegetables is always a proven, essential ingredient to improving health, it does not always ensure that we shed those unwanted pounds. Granted, not all calories are created equally – 250 calories of broccoli versus 250 calories worth of cookies is going to have a very different effect on your body. The quality of your food definitely impacts any weight loss efforts, but mindful portion control plays a key part.

For some, portion control does not come naturally, especially when growing up in a Jewish or Italian home. To the Jewish or Italian mother or grandmother, food is love. More food is more love. It is as engrained an idea as the belief that spitting three times will protect a child from all things evil. This firmly held conviction applies whether a parent is feeding a child, adult, guest or stranger. This was never so clearly illustrated as it was the time my Midwestern husband, at that time my fiancé, sat down to eat with my Jewish, New York family. My mother was serving five people so needless to say that there was enough food for twenty. But the pivotal scene ensued when my grandfather had finished eating and said some thing to the sound of “I’m full – that was delicious.” As quickly as a trained, stealth operative, my mother, without missing a beat, instinctively responded with “Have more.” The fact that my grandfather notoriously overate and paid for it afterwards, trying to find the right color pill to alleviate his indulgence, had little impact on my mother. My grandfather, having danced this dance many times before, engaged her in a battle he was sure to lose.

“No, no, I’m full”, he responded.
“Daddy, have more. I have plenty”, my mother countered.
“No, I’m good”.
My mother stands and says “HAVE MORE!”

Usually the rest of the family continues to eat, ignoring the craziness that we are so accustomed to, but my husband’s fork was down, mouth slightly open, eyes agaze, incredulously taking in all the details of this foreign, tribal interaction.

“I can’t” my grandfather insists at which point my mother turns to my father and forcefully says “Reuben, give my father more!” I think my father rose and sat a few times with each of my mother’s commands and my grandfather’s refusals, until my grandfather and father did what they were supposed to do. My dad dutifully heaped another serving onto my grandfather’s plate and my grandfather loyally and happily finished it.

Standup comic Ray Romano says that the only way to turn down a Jewish or Italian mother’s offering of more food is to shoot them dead. Not a grazing because that only angers them, but a clean shot. So when you grow up with this mentality, it’s hard to pass on seconds.

Tips on turning off the auto-pilot switch
Center yourself
Center yourself with a glass of water before each meal. As you drink, think about changing your pace, slowing down and relaxing into your meal. This will allow you time to access how hungry you are and to thoughtfully choose some healthy options instead of grabbing for the quickest fix.
Eat without distraction
Once you have chosen your snack or meal, sit down and enjoy it without distraction. No eating in the car or in front of the television. Throw away the magazines. Bag your worries on the shelf until you are done eating. Make the enjoyment of the meal your focus. Geneen Roth tells a story of a monk that advises his disciples “When you eat, eat. When you read, read.” One of the monk’s students later finds the teacher eating and reading and challenges him on the advice that he seems to have broken. The monk wisely responds “When you eat, eat. When you read, read. When you eat and read, eat and read.” Meaning, do what relaxes you while you dine, as long as you can stay present to the experience.
Stay present
Staying present to the experience means noticing the smells, colors, textures and tastes. It means slowing down long enough to thoroughly chew, enjoy and embrace the gratitude for the riches that surround us. Experiment to see how mindful you are by counting the number of times that you chew your food. Joshua Rosenthal of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition suggests chewing 50 times before swallowing. That’s a lot of chewing, but it’s a fun experiment to see how quickly you are really chowing down what’s in front of you.

Mindful eating is about staying present before, during and after a meal. It’s about coming off auto-pilot and not reacting with the rushing urgency that dominates the typical, American day. It takes practice and commitment and, if you’re from a Jewish or Italian background, a hell of a lot of willpower. It’s not the magic pill or formula promised by so many diet programs, but it’s the key to long term weight control.

To presence, gratitude and appreciation of all the loving grandmas out there in the world, happy dining during this holiday season,
Adina Kelman

Choosing Bug Free Yogurt

There have been many studies showing that milk is not essential to building strong bones. The idea that milk robs the bones of calcium to neutralize its acidic effect is the belief of numerous holistic practitioners. In fact, a new Swedish study found that drinking three or more glasses of milk each day increased the risk of bone thinning and fractures. Other studies show similar results, including a 12-year Harvard study of 78,000 women. I, personally, am not a milk drinker. Just as I am planted somewhere in between the anti-gluten camp and the “eat-all-you-want-gluten-is-not-an-issue” side, I too fall somewhere between the “dairy is evil tribe” and the pro-dairy supporters. Call it indecision if you will, but I don’t like extreme rules when it comes to food. And more importantly, I believe that you should get the most bang for your buck from any chosen food item. Why drink milk when you can have the triple benefits that a good quality organic Greek yogurt can offer. In one 8 ounce serving of Greek yogurt, you not only get 25% of the recommended daily value for calcium, but a whopping 23 grams of protein and probiotic, live yogurt cultures to boot. Now, that’s efficiency!

So, How to Choose the Best Yogurt?
Ingredients
Your yogurt should have only two ingredients: organic cultured pasteurized milk and live, active cultures. That’s it, except for cream if you are choosing a 2% or whole fat variety. Yogurts, like Dannon Fit and Light or Yoplait, contain unnecessary additives that are typically detrimental to good health. For example, many clients that I see tout the fact that Dannon Fit and Light has only 80 calories, but in those 80 calories you will find ingredients like fructose, cornstarch, sucralose, malic acid, potassium sorbate, acesulfame potassium (a known carcinogen) and, if you get Bluberry flavored yogurt, the added benefit of carmine, a red food coloring extracted from the dried shells of the cochineal beetle. Who wants or needs that from a yogurt?!

As long as you are choosing an organic yogurt, I think that the fat content should be based on personal preference that takes into consideration your daily caloric needs and how it tastes. I tend to favor a 2% fat yogurt. It’s creamy enough that I do not need to add a sweetener, but doesn’t have the caloric load of a full fat yogurt. My personal favorite is Wallaby Organic of California, which makes a great line of delicious, clean products.

Active Yogurt Cultures
All yogurt starts by adding two types of bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus (collectively known as acidophilus) to pastuerized milk. As this warms, the bacteria converts milk sugar (lactose) to lactic acid and results in a gut healthy, fermented product. If you choose yogurt from a company that heat treats the yogurt following fermentation, required by the FDA to be labelled as such, any live cultures are killed and you are left with an inferior food. As Dr. Weil advises, check the labels for the words “active yogurt cultures,” “living yogurt cultures,” or “contains active cultures.” Avoid products with the words “made with active cultures” as all yogurts are initially made with active cultures.

Go Greek
Greek yogurt has a higher protein content than its traditional counterpart because it is a more concentrated product. After fermentation, the yogurt is strained to remove liquids, resulting in a thicker, more protein-dense yogurt. A higher protein content generally results in longer satiety, easily taking you from one meal to the next.

A Newbie Health Food Junky
If you are new to the world of yogurts without sugar or artificial sweeteners, you can add a few drops of organic stevia, raw honey, brown rice syrup, or any of the many natural sweeteners available at your local market or health food store. This allows you to control the amount of sweetener you add. As you clean out your diet and become accustomed to foods that are less sweet than the mass marketed, overly sweet products that line our supermarket shelves, you can begin to reduce the amount of sweetener that you add to your yogurt. Whether you choose to keep your milk mustache, reduce or entirely eliminate the amount of milk that you drink, yogurt makes a healthy addition to any diet.

Dip Tip
Yogurt is a great way to cut the calories and increase the protein of many spreads. Add organic Greek yogurt to guacamole and enjoy the health benefits without the caloric load of a traditional mix. Yogurt also mixes well with peanut butter, cinnamon and a touch of stevia or natural sweetener. My kids love dipping carrots, celery and apples into this peanut butter yogurt dip. Be creative with what is a relatively neutral base and enjoy the many benefits that yogurt has to offer.

Adina Kelman