With everything going on in the news lately, this holiday season seems to be coming with an extra strong desire to hold my little ones tight and spend more time lazily squealing in delight as baby girl learns to walk (is there anything more precious??) and baking up delicious bites in the kitchen. So today I wanted to take it back to the basics, and talk about the things that are most important to me to live a healthy (and full and beautiful and fun) life.
1. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods
There's something so satisfying about giving your body exactly what it needs, when it needs it. Our body's innately know to crave and intuitively eat foods with the right nutrients for us, but our modern lifestyles often take over and over time we start tuning that out. The best thing you can do is start with the basics and eat real, whole, unprocessed foods. When I'm cooking my focus is always on the vegetable and protein first, and then adding some healthy fats (like coconut oil or grass-fed butter) for flavor and to make a satisfying, wholesome meal.
2. Eat locally and support local farmers
I remember listening to a Chris Kresser podcast that talked about how a head of broccoli loses half of it's nutrients within about 2 weeks of harvest, and the average time from farm-to-store was closer to 4-6 weeks. That was so eye opening to me, as I'd always tried to eat healthy, but never considered the nutritional difference between farmer's market broccoli and the grocery store kind. (Except a vague recollection of a lecture from nutrition 100 way back when.)
My family doesn't buy 100% locally, but I do realize that even if we're eating an "almost perfect" diet, there's still a lot that's missing because of our modern food environment and we try to make trips to the market and local farms whenever we can.
3. Know what you're eating
I think it's fair to say we all are just doing our best to live healthily. It's not realistic for me to grow my own food and only eat local, seasonal food 100% of the time, though I do make a solid effort! The thing is, even if you're eating like a nutritional rockstar, so many aspects of our modern culture make it really difficult to get all the nutrients we need.
To put it simply, commercial farming means we're asking a lot of our soil, in a short period of time. We use a lot of the nutrients in the soil quickly, without fully replacing them, and the result is our food today isn't as nutrient dense as it used to be. The reality is a great deal of our world suffers from food scarcity, and quite frankly, I don't think we can afford to scale back on the way we farm, but I do think it's important to recognize how much our food has changed.
We live in an incredibly fast-paced society, and demand a lot out of ourselves. Which means we demand a lot of our bodies. Anytime your body is in a stressed state, it needs an extra nutrient boost, and given what I just mentioned above, it's going to take a lot of fruits and vegetables to get there.
I love fruit. It's sweet and delicious and it's like candy from nature. When I studied food science in college, I was fascinated to learn about breeding. Yes, just like dogs, we breed our food, fruit especially. We take the sweetest and most plush and delicious and perfect and breed it with something equally fantastic. I love this. You love this. But the result is we get food that's perhaps not quite what nature had intended, much higher in natural sugars, and lower in healthy, sustaining nutrients.
4. Have a high-quality supplement routine
I firmly believe that food is the best medicine, and that a wholesome life starts with real, whole, unprocessed foods. But I also believe wholeheartedly that it's close to impossible for a variety of reasons (and some much more complicated than I've delved into today) to get all of the nutrients we need from food alone. Plus, life happens.
What to look for
Choose a pharmaceutical-grade, hypo-allergenic supplement that's committed to quality. Our family has been using Pure Encapsulations –– it's artificial additive free, non GMO, and gluten and allergy free and we've really been impressed with the quality of their products.
Establish a daily routine
I get asked a lot about what supplements I take, so I thought I'd share a little glimpse into my routine. This is so personal and has really been different for almost every client I've worked with, so talk to your healthcare team and determine what's best for you. I personally take a Pure Encapsulations multivitamin, omega, and magnesium daily, and occasionally do 1/2 a Best Rest (a melatonin blend–-I'm a lightweight ha!) to help with sleep at night. We also do Vitamin D drops for the whole family in the winter, and try to escape to someplace tropical as often as we can (wink, wink)
I hope this little peak into my "basics" will help you to reset and refocus around the holidays and allow you to spend less time worrying about what you eat and more time making memories around wholesome foods you love.
Thank you to Pure Encapsulations for sponsoring this post and supporting the education I'm able to do here with you amazing readers. For more information about their supplements, check out Pure Encapsulations.
I'd love to hear, what's one thing you're going to do this holiday season to focus on the things that really matter?
P.s. I love this candid photo of my son and I during this shoot. He was supposed to be at school, but was sick, and you don't send home a model, food stylist, photographer, and 200 props that are already sprawled across your living room floor when you have something this beautiful in the oven. So he watched and observed as mama worked, and I held him tight between shots. Such a beautiful reminder to me that at the end of the day, we care about being healthy because we care about the people we love. Thinking of you and your loved ones this week. xo. Shan
Chicken & Kuru Ragout Recipe
Ragout serves 4, add additional chicken breasts as desired.
Kabocha or yellow squash, 1 each
Kuru eggplant, 1 each
Plum tomatoes, whole, canned 28 ounces
Yellow onion, 1 half
Garlic, 3 cloves
Tomato paste, 2 tablespoons
Extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoon
Chicken breasts, 2 boneless skinless
Capers, 2 tablespoons
Fresh Mint, ½ bunch
Feta cheese, ¼ cup
Salt and pepper to taste
- Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper, and olive oil rub.
- Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to cast iron dutch oven pan. Heat stovetop over high heat until hot.
- Cook chicken breasts for 1 minute on each side. Remove from pan.
- Mince garlic and chop yellow onion, squash, eggplant.
- Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to pan and reduce to medium heat.
- Sauté garlic and onion until aromatic, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add squash and eggplant and sauté additional 5-7 minutes or until tender.
- Add whole canned tomatoes and tomato paste. Crush tomatoes into large chunks and stir all ingredients together into a ragout.
- Place chicken breasts on top of ragout, cover.
- Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked.
- Garnish with fresh mint, feta cheese, and capers.