meal-plan

How To Plan 90 Days Of Dinners In 60 Minutes

I enjoy writing to you in the early hours of the morning. This quiet time is best for thinking about what is working in my life that could also help you feel a little healthier, happier and more content in yours.

Today, my mind wanders back to last Friday in Napa, where I was speaking with my sister-in-law about meal planning. If you remember, I used to be an avid meal planner, before the whole thing became a little time-consuming. Since then I have focused on one meal at a time, rather than a weekly menu. Flying by the seat of our dinner pants did suit our schedule for a surprisingly long time. But recent life changes — namely my pregnancy penchant for eating at 6 pm — have required us to go back to the tried-and-true meal plan concept.

Which is why my little tete-a-tete in Napa was such an eye-opening conversation. My sister-in-law, a spreadsheet whiz, decided to make a monthly meal plan to use on repeat. She created four weekly menus, with many nights following a similar theme, and has been repeating it each month.

Aside from the time she saves thinking about food, the benefits of this routine include:

  • Having a ready-made grocery list
  • Knowing how much food will cost each week
  • And not defaulting to cooking the same meal night-after-night.

I imagine that Steve Jobs would have like this method of menu organization. The billionaire computer genius may have been famous for creating Apple, but he also makes a fascinating case study of daily habits. Jobs’ uniform of blue jeans and black turtleneck wasn’t a fashion statement, but rather a statement of intelligence: limiting the number of (useless) decisions one needs to make every day leaves more brain power for thinking, conversing and deciding on things that honestly matter. The choice to wear a turtleneck or a button-down pales in comparison to figuring out how to create the most revolutionary tech company in history.

Decision fatigue is a real thing, and when it comes to healthy eating, it can be your downfall. Figuring out what to eat every meal of every day is exhausting, but not pre-planning is a recipe for living on takeout, packaged food or grilled cheese sandwiches. 

My sister-in-law’s strategy is excellent for anyone who wants diversity on their dinner plate without reinventing the wheel every single night. On the hour-long flight back from Sacramento to LAX, I actioned her suggestion and came up with 28 dinner recipes to repeat for the next three months.

(I used this same technique to pre-plan my prenatal workouts and can see myself getting addicted to Excel organization charts…Sorry, Nate!)

Interested in making your own batched meal plan? I hope so! Here’s a video that shows you exactly how to do it:

 

 

Until next week, stay healthy, happy and content.

 

With love,

People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

What To Do When People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

I recently had afternoon tea with a couple of close friends in Sydney. It had been about 8 months since we’d last seen each other, during which time I knew they had made some dietary tweaks. Being the curious health coach that I am, I wanted to ask them how it all went.

They told me that by making a few simple lifestyle updates — and bringing just a little more awareness to what was going on their plate — they’ve landed on a way of eating that makes them look and feel great.

I was thrilled! I love hearing that simple strategies bring great results, as that’s my philosophy through and through.

Yet as we chatted more about food, our conversation revealed a challenge that my friends had been facing. It was something that I’m also intimately familiar with and it rings true for many friends and clients who have chosen to shake things up in the healthy living department.

It’s been my experience that when you change how you eat – specifically, when you choose to become a more healthy eater – it’s not uncommon to feel isolated, teased or even ostracized by people that you know.

That’s why in today’s post I wanted to talk about how to handle this situation, as you may experience it too.

Let’s start with WHY “changing your diet” is such a touchy subject.

At its most fundamental level food is nothing more than a source of energy, vitamins and minerals. But we all know that it’s more than that.

Food is culture, family tradition, memories, and at the heart of many (if not most) social events.

This can make it a tricky subject to talk about.

You see, when you decide to change your diet it can send a message to the people around you that you no longer agree with something that you used to do. This wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the fact that what you’re changing is most likely something that they’re still doing. You’re upsetting the status quo, and they might see you as judging the lifestyle choices they’ve made.

In short, your personal development choices might make people uneasy.

Let me give you an example:

In 2009 one of my best friends was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and placed on a strict anti-inflammatory diet. Despite already being a healthy eater, this was a major lifestyle change (especially for someone who was only 21).

Back then, anti-inflammatory diets weren’t really a big thing. Paleo and veganism lived on the fringes of society, and many people thought autoimmune diseases sounded a little woo-woo…a little “all in their heads”.

So one day my friend told our group that she would no longer be able to participate in our Friday night habit of drinking gin and tonics, and eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

That didn’t go down so well.

Without minimizing my own culpability — I can remember using the expression “you can’t even have one?” —  I can tell you that another member of our group (let’s call her ‘Z’) was absolutely shattered.

“What good is it to live in a world where you can’t eat ice cream?” she cried dramatically.

The next Friday night my friend arrived at our house with an apple, a carrot, a bag of nuts and a bottle of water. Z was appalled and couldn’t stop talking about how “dangerous” and “extreme” this diet was.

(Apples, it seems, can have that effect on some people.)

You see, by changing her own diet my friend was challenging the shared Friday night experience that we had come to know and love. Her choices made us all question if we should do things differently too.

To be honest, we weren’t even thinking about WHY she was making those updates (and in hindsight, offering to support her through the process would have been the preferred reaction), but we were only thinking about ourselves.  We didn’t like feeling guilty about our own choice to be less than healthy on Friday nights and it seemed to us like she no longer wanted to be part of the pack.

But the silly thing is, that wasn’t her intent at all.  She was just making the best decision for herself, and for whatever reason that made us feel uncomfortable.  I learned then and there that everyone is responsible for their own choices, and we all need to take ownership of our individual lifestyle decisions.

Since then I’ve been blazing my own healthy trail, which means that I’ve been on the receiving end of this kind of healthy living criticism, and while I don’t believe that people do it maliciously, after a while it does get pretty old.

So in the video below I’m sharing three strategies that you can use to minimize these sorts of experiences, which will allow you to eat what you want, when you want, without feeling judged OR making other people too uncomfortable.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch I’d love to hear from you. So stick around and join in the discussion at the bottom of the page.

What To Do When People Criticize Your Healthy Lifestyle

 

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Have you ever felt shunned for making healthy lifestyle changes? How did you handle it? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

 

With love,

make meal prep easier jennifer dene wellness

How To Make Meal Prep Easier (Your “Dear Abby” Wellness Qs Answered)

Here’s a potentially embarrassing confession: I’d get a real kick out of writing for the Dear Abby column. I love sharing helpful advice and thoughtful opinions from the comfort of my own living room…just ask my husband!

However, considering that it’s been almost seven years since graduating with my journalism degree, and Jeanne Phillips — the current owner of the “Abby” pen name — hasn’t yet reached out to me on LinkedIn, I feel that the time has come to take matters into my own hands.

So we’ll be trying a little experiment for the next month or so…

Every Wednesday I’ll dedicate a post to one simple solution or strategy that will make it easier for you to squeeze more healthy habits into your every day life.

I’ll get the ball rolling, but I’d love for you to join in the discussion (see details at the end of this post).

My mission is to help women get back in the driver’s seat of their own health and happiness, by making healthy living simple AND enjoyable. This series should help.

Now on to today’s question…

What is one thing that I can do this weekend to make meal prep easier (if I only have one hour to spare)?

Even an hour spent in the kitchen on the weekend will ultimately save you time and money  — and make it easier to stick with your healthy eating habits. It’s a great way to get a head start on your weekday meals.

If there was only ONE thing that I could get done each weekend, it would be to cook and freeze my grains and starches. Preparing foods like rice, quinoa and sweet potatoes during the week is time-consuming, and it doesn’t make sense to do it on a meal-by-meal basis.

Instead, one Sunday a month my husband and I bulk cook these staples, and freeze them in portion sized freezer bags or tupperware containers. Come a random Tuesday evening I’m thrilled to thaw a bag of rice, bake a piece of fish, and cook some veggies with a dollop of butter. While dinner would have taken an hour if we were waiting on the grain, it comes together in 15 minutes (and there’s less washing up).

What can you cook and freeze?

Lots of things actually! We’ve had great success with the following, but I encourage you to experiment (note: these are listed in order of how long they take to cook): 

  • Beans (black, white, kidney, chickpeas…)
  • Lentils
  • Rice (basmati, white, brown and black)
  • Sweet potatoes (cubed and roasted)
  • Mashed potato or sweet potato
  • Butternut squash (cubed and roasted)
  • Quinoa
  • Pasta

 

TO COOK: Double or triple your regular quantity. Cook as normal. Allow to cool. Freeze in portions that are suitable for you and your family.

TO USE: Defrost in the fridge overnight, or use the microwave; heat in the oven, or use the microwave.

TIP: Start with the ingredient that takes the longest to cook — such as roasting sweet potatoes or boiling rice — and then move on to a quick-cook, like quinoa or pasta. That way everything should be done around the same time…roughly 45 minutes later.

Now I’d Love To Hear From You (Dear Abby…)

What are you struggling with in your health, fitness or self care / self love routine at the moment? What healthy habits do you see other people doing and you wonder — how do they do that? Nothing is too silly or too small!

Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll answer those Qs over the next couple of weeks.

Don’t like the idea of commenting publicly? Email info@jenniferdenewellness.com with the subject line: Q&A Post

 

Thank you for your energy, and making this community one that is positive, kind and purpose-driven.

 

With love,

HEALTHY WEEKNIGHT COOKING

Make Healthy Weeknight Cooking A Breeze

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved planning menus, organizing dinner parties and generally just daydreaming about food stuff.

At school I doodled appetizer ideas in the margins of my math book — calculus equations would morph into lists of fried zucchini flowers, smoked salmon blinis, and morsels of sweet splendor.

After class I would come home and pull down every cookbook from the shelf above the fridge, sit down with a cup of tea and a notepad, and get to work on organizing what the family would eat for dinner that week.

My suggestions regularly included things like:

Tuesday: 8 hour lamb ragu over polenta

Wednesday: braised quail with wild mushrooms

Thursday: spinach and ricotta stuffed conchiglioni with scratch-made marina sauce

By the time my mum got home from work I had the shopping lists made, the recipe pages marked, and I was ready to hit the grocery store and start work in the kitchen.

Oddly, Mum wasn’t as keen on whipping up a three-course meal as I might have thought, which always confused me as she loved food and cooking as much as I did. All she had to do was work an 8+ hour day, look after two kids, a dog, and a massive garden, pay bills, exercise, stay up to date on current affairs…I mean, what gives?

Fast forward ten years and the ball has dropped. I totally get it. The last thing that I want to do after a busy work day is spend hours in the kitchen on a meal that, to be honest, I may end up eating in front of an episode of Grace & Frankie.

(In hindsight my mum was actually a domestic goddess, serving up exotic stir-fry, handmade chicken pot pie, and incredible salads on a nightly basis.)

That isn’t to say that I don’t still spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about dinner parties and planning lovely menus, but my weekly rotation is a heck of a lot more simple than it used to be.

These days I’m happy with simple food, like baked salmon and veggies, chicken and rice soup, or tossing something on the grill.

Because as my mum knew, choosing food that is tasty, nourishing and quick to prepare makes it easy to consistently eat healthy meals.

With that in mind, try using these three tips this week, to simplify your healthy weeknight cooking routine. 

Make Healthy Weeknight Cooking A Breeze

Tip #1: Use one cooking method

You can boil, steam, roast, grill or serve raw…but don’t try to do them all at once.

Roast: In the same oven you can roast vegetables (zucchini, asparagus, tomato, fennel, sweet potato…) and cook a bit of protein (chicken, fish, tofu, lamb chops, meatballs…).

Steam: Use a large saucepan with a steaming insert to simultaneously cook rice, and steam greens and chicken or fish on top; squeeze with lemon and drizzle with sesame oil to serve.

Grill: Cut vegetables into thin strips, brush them with coconut oil and season to taste, then cook alongside whatever meat or fish you’re grilling; it’s also delicious to skip the meat and serve with grilled haloumi cheese instead.

Raw: Go vegan and make a chopped salad with any raw vegetables that you like, a can of drained chickpeas, and lashings of olive oil and lemon juice.

Tip #2: Cook once, eat thrice

Cooking from scratch every day is not time-efficient. 

In fact, it takes the same amount of time to roast one or two chickens, to bake multiple sweet potatoes, or to cook four cups of quinoa. You can even batch make salads and leave undressed until serving. (Cheeky salad!)

Leftovers become the saving grace of healthy eating during the week, so I recommend that you regularly plan to cook more than you need and reserve the rest for another meal; store in the fridge for quick assembly over the next couple of day, or freeze them for future use.

(We’ve just discovered that chopped and roasted sweet potatoes actually defrost really well…this was a very happy realization in my house, where the sweet potato currently reigns supreme!)

Tip #3: Keep it simple

The benefit of simple cooking is three-fold:

  1. It eliminates the challenge of meal planning and makes preparing food feel manageable, even for the novice cook
  2. You’ll save money on groceries as you’ll buy fewer ingredients and use them all
  3. And it helps keep you honest about what is on your plate and how much you’re eating

Your Challenge

This week I challenge you to keep it simple in the kitchen: choose one meal, one cooking method and use six ingredients or less. Make a double batch and repurpose it for lunch or dinner the next day.

Here’s What I’m Doing Tonight — Grilled Lamb Chops

  • Lamb loin chops
  • Zucchini
  • Sweet potato
  • Asparagus
  • Coconut Oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Cut the vegetables into 1/4” strips, brush with coconut oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Cook the lamb chops and vegetables until done to deliciousness. Serve.

Leftovers: slice leftover lamb and vegetables and toss it over lettuce for a lunch salad.

Let me know how it goes by leaving a comment below.

With love,

home cooking Jennifer Dene Wellness

Empowered women wear aprons: the necessary return of home cooking

Today we’re talking about home cooking and why you need to get on board, for your body, your wallet and the environment . If you commit to only one thing for your health this week, let it be this.

I am so very grateful to my mum for not only setting an incredible example of what it means to be a home cook, but for teaching me how easy and enjoyable it is to put food on the table. I’m also grateful to my Nan, who taught us that we should never serve more than we can eat, and always reuse your leftovers and wash your ziplock bags!

In fact, most of my favorite childhood memories are linked to the family kitchen. Dad’s famous spaghetti bolognese, Nan’s boiled potatoes with dollops of butter, Mum’s spinach and ricotta stuffed pastry, Mandy’s pavlova, Chella’s gratin…So many happy moments have been shared digging into a home cooked meal with people I love.

If it wasn’t for my upbringing I would probably find this whole healthy eating thing to be quite challenging; from an outsiders perspective it can seem rather daunting to know what to eat and how to prepare it. (This is especially true living in Los Angeles where fad-diets reign supreme and the number of ‘superfoods’ in your pantry acts as a status symbol.)

There has never been an easier time to find recipes, watch cooking shows, or learn how to prepare ingredients on YouTube, yet we’re living in an age where people are cooking less than ever before. Part of this may be due to time (we’ll get to that) or not knowing how to cook (we’ll get to that too). However, I can also see that simple home cooking has been elevated to something gourmet, putting pressure on busy women to not only get food on the table, but to make it look like a Martha Stewart centerpiece.

Home cooking shouldn’t be seen as something elitist, expensive or complicated; it should be simple, enjoyable and affordable.

Healthy home cooking also doesn’t mean eating an undressed salad, or a meagre piece of fish with steamed asparagus. Making food from scratch let’s you be in control of the quality and quantity of ingredients that you’re using. This let’s you cut back on sodium, choose the best quality fats and meats, and bulk out the meal with lots of vegetables. It’s more economical, much better for you, and puts things like pizza back on the menu!

A 2015 study from Johns Hopkins University found that people who cook at home (without consciously trying to eat healthier or choose low calorie foods), eat at least 140 fewer calories per day. While that may seem small fry on a single day basis, at the end of the week that’s 980 calories, at the end of the month it’s 3920 calories, and at the end of the year you’d be saving over 47,000 calories — that’s all without ever looking at a calorie-counting app.

(And yes, I did have to use my calculator during the writing of that paragraph. If we want to talk about other traditional habits that are going down the gurgler, my math would be one of them.)

Apart from your waistline, home cooking also saves time, money and food waste. This last point is absolutely huge! Did you know that the biggest source of CO2 emissions on the planet is food waste? And that’s not by the big industry players, but by the everyday person throwing away groceries that they don’t use, or leftover food that they don’t eat. This is really troubling and should make us all feel more responsible for how we treat our food.

So let’s talk about why you’re not cooking more often at home, and I challenge you to give it a go every day for this week.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 1: I Don’t Have Time

I don’t know about that. While I don’t have a scientific study to link to, I know how long it takes Nate and I to order food versus cook a meal at home. The latter wins for speed, hands down.

Going through the rigmarole of deciding where to go and what to eat, then ordering, picking it up or waiting for a delivery, unpacking things at home (discarding the packaging waste), reheating if needed…it’s a long process only to realize that it wasn’t even what we felt like.

On the other hand, the following meal takes about 15 minutes and will leave leftovers for lunch if I cook double:

Fill a big saucepan with cold water and some scrubbed, chopped potatoes. Boil the spuds until they’re soft enough to stick a knife into. Just before they finish cooking throw in a good handful of chopped broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain the lot, put it back in the saucepan (no heat) and add a good bit of butter, salt and pepper. Meanwhile, grill a piece of salmon or some lamb chops under the broiler, for 8 minutes or until done to your liking. Pop it all on a plate and enjoy.

But perhaps you really do believe that you don’t have time. In that case, I recommend downloading your free copy of my video series Take Back Your Time: Practical Lessons In Creating Time Freedom For A Healthy, Happy Life.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 2: It’s Too Expensive

This is one I hear all the time, but it’s just not true. Yes, making those ridiculous smoothie bowls that you see on Instagram would be expensive, but you also wouldn’t make them. It costs Nate and I about $20 to cook a big chicken curry with rice and greens (and yummy leftovers), but when we get Indian takeout we never walk away with change from a $50 note.

This is true even on the low end of the scale. To feed a family of four at McDonald’s (burgers, nuggets, fries and drinks) would cost you almost $28. For that same amount you could serve a whole roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and green vegetables. You’d probably have leftover chicken for lunch sandwiches, and you can even use the carcass to make homemade soup.

Plus there’s the very valid argument of investing in your health. So while these sweet potato brownies may cost more than opening a box from the supermarket, in the long run eating home cooked meals will save you a fortune in medical costs.

“Why I Don’t Cook” Myth 3: I Don’t Know How To Cook

That’s ok, it can feel overwhelming to learn new habits. However, cooking can be very simple and enjoyable. Start where you are and don’t try to be a gourmet chef — in my opinion some of the yummiest meals are the most simple). Buy a basic cookbook and learn one new dish each week; before long you’ll feel really comfortable in the kitchen. Challenge yourself to sticking to recipes that use 6 ingredients or less and you’ll be golden.

So what do you say, are you willing to cook at least one meal at home each day this week? I’ve thrown the gauntlet and would love to hear that you’ve picked it up, so please do leave a comment below.

Remember: healthy living is simple, eating well is not restrictive, and YOU CAN choose to create a body and a life that you love.

 

 

With love,

 

 

 

Healthy Holiday Eating

Healthy Holiday Eating: It’s More Simple Than You Think

The holidays are a difficult time for women who don’t have a healthy relationship with food. From restrictive eating to overeating, this time of year can create some serious food anxiety.

So in today’s post I’m sharing four diet-free, practical tips that will help you feel more confident at the holiday dinner table.

And the reason I can help is because I’ve been there too. For ten years I felt like I had only two choices when it came to holiday eating:

  1. Avoid eating foods that I thought were bad for me.
  2. Accept that overeating is part of the holiday tradition…and deal with the aftermath in January.

Perhaps you can relate.

But you know what? Both of those options stink. Restricting and overeating are signs of self-sabotage, not self-love, and they’re getting in the way of you reaching your ideal weight.

Fortunately, there’s a third choice:

(3) Eat what you want. Stop when you’re full.

Sounds easy, huh? It is, but it takes time. 

This holiday season you need to give yourself permission to eat. Eat what you want, just do it mindfully and slowly. Don’t be afraid to eat, but don’t be afraid to stop eating either.

I know this might be a different approach for you, one that may make you a bit anxious. Here are four techniques that you can test out to get you started:

Decide What To Eat

Have you ever eaten something only to realize that it wasn’t what you wanted? When this happens you feel full but not satisfied, which can lead to overeating and feeling guilty. So instead of rushing in to eat what’s on offer, stop for a moment and consider what you really feel like.

Prepare To Eat

Want to know my secret to enjoying treats without gaining weight? I put them on a plate or in a bowl. This keeps me portion-aware and makes the whole eating thing feel more official. Seeing food before you eat it also triggers the release of the digestive enzymes that are crucial to digestion. Pre-dinner snacks and dessert are best eaten from a small plate, or at least a napkin.

Just Eat

Don’t overthink it – this isn’t rocket science. Eat without distractions, chew your food properly and place your silverware down between mouthfuls. Also, remember to breathe.

Stop and Reflect

In French Women Don’t Get Fat Mireille Guiliano writes that she eats half of her plate then stops for a while to check in with her appetite. If she’s still hungry she eats a bit more. If she’s satisfied she stops. I like this idea and thought you might want to experiment with it too.

Most importantly, try not to make this into a bigger deal than it has to be. Food is just food, there’s always more of it, you can eat what you want, and you can stop when you want.

You really can. And I never thought I’d be the one to say that.

Wishing you a safe and happy holiday season.

Warmly,

JDW Signature

How To Stop Overeating Halloween Candy (And Other Holiday Treats)

Is the thought of a kitchen filled with Halloween candy giving you the heebie-jeebies?

Are you feeling frustrated, and helpless, about your annual binge on fun-sized bars?

Perhaps you’re thinking of boycotting “Trick Or Treat” this year, just to avoid the temptation…

I get it. Those mini chocolate bars have a way of getting themselves eaten, and the guilty feelings that follow are as horrid as a Wes Craven movie. But that’s not going to happen this year. 

In today’s post I’m sharing the tricks that I use to avoid bingeing on treats. Read on for three strategies that you can use this year to stop overeating Halloween candy (and avoid holiday weight gain).

Halloween should be scary for the movies, the costumes, and for your husband’s terrible attempt at pumpkin carving. But, for many of us, the real fear comes from premonitions of uncontrollable candy binges.

Memories from last year — snacking on Snickers and crunching on Kit Kats  — is enough to induce the ghost of a belly-ache. Not to mention a wave of pre-emptive guilt; your assumption is that it’ll happen again.

And it’s not only Halloween night that causes concern; that leftover loot has a way of making eyes at you from across the kitchen counter all week long. 

If you have, or have ever had, a problem with over-eating, emotional-eating, food-addiction, or sugar-addiction, then being faced with an oversized bowl of bite-sized candy is a recipe for disaster.

Since you can’t rely on willpower to get you through Halloween night, let alone the whole holiday season, you’re going to need a strategy. So let me break this thing down, and make it as simple as 1, 2, 3…

How To Stop Overeating Halloween Candy

Tip One: Buy Yourself A Real Treat

Have you ever declined dessert at a restaurant or dinner party, only to go home and raid the cookie cupboard? When it comes to food, willpower can only take you so far, which is why deciding NOT to have any treats isn’t always a smart move.

But that doesn’t mean giving in to the wrong temptation.

The problem with Halloween candy is that it’s just downright crappy. Unless you’re giving out organic, Fair-Trade, single serve dark chocolate bars — thereby killing your “cool status” with the neighborhood kids — the stuff that you’re sharing is low in quality, high in sugar, and often made via third-world child labor (1).

Normal Halloween candy is wreaking havoc on your blood sugar, messing with your metabolism, and generally making you feel pretty bad about yourself. It’s simply not worth the splurge.

(P.S. Have you grabbed your copy of my Boost Your Metabolism Guide? It’s free! You can grab it by clicking here.)

If you’re going to indulge, then I recommend doing it properly! Buy yourself a small, high quality treat, and savor every mouthful. Whether that’s an expensive chocolate bar or a ridiculously beautiful pastry from your local bakery, eating something decadent should feel sensuously satisfying, and be an event to be (fondly) remembered.

Tip Two: Do You Really WANT More Candy?

Food should make you feel good: physically, mentally and emotionally. Overeating food that doesn’t tick all three boxes is a sign of self-punishment, not self-love.

The “Want Test” is something that I share with my clients when it comes to eating treat foods. You can eat anything you WANT, in the amount that you WANT, if you’re eating from a place of self-love, emotional clarity, and epicurean delight.

Feeling guilty about eating often leads to overeating; you may have had the thought of: “I’ve already blown it by having some, so I might as well have the rest…” In doing so, you’re telling your body that (a) it doesn’t deserve a little treat from time to time (it’s not good enough / thin enough / fit enough to warrant anything special); and (b) that your body is basically a trash can, a place where unwanted food gets tossed. 

This is why one donut leads to five, or two chocolates leads to ten; and it’s what holds you hostage to the food that you eat. In the past, that way of thinking has seen me empty a box of cereal or polish off three bowls of ice cream; not exactly actions that speak self-contentment, are they?

The “Want Test” puts you back in a position of power by choosing what, and how much, you eat.

If you find yourself starting to unwrap another piece of candy this Halloween, take a moment and ask yourself:

  • Do I really want this?
  • Why do I want this?
  • Do I want this for my taste buds (will it taste any better than the last)?
  • Do I want this for my body?
  • Do I want this for myself emotionally?

As you answer these questions remember that there is ALWAYS more food, you can always have another treat tomorrow, and your decision making is more powerful than your sweet tooth.

Tip Three: Discard The Leftovers

The morning after Halloween is when reality hits you  — last night’s sugar binge, and overeating food that you didn’t actually want, feels pretty ordinary the following day. The morning brings with it that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, and the negative self-talk that yells: I can’t believe you did this again.*

You’re left with no choice but to get the leftover candy OUT OF THE HOUSE.

Here’s what not to do:

  • Don’t take it to work (you still have access, and your co-workers might not feel so thrilled)
  • Don’t try to hide it for later in the holidays (come on, we all know that doesn’t work)
  • Don’t stand in the kitchen eating it while trying to come up with a solution.

Here’s what you can do:

Throw it out — in the outdoor trash if you have to do. Worried about waste? Don’t be. Worry about your health. My mum taught me that it’s wasted food anyway, if you eat it but you don’t want it.

*Of course, hopefully this year you can wake up to a bright and sunny morning feeling totally at peace. You implemented tips one and two from today’s blog post, and you DIDN’T eat too much candy. Well done you! But don’t be a hero; get that leftover loot outta there.

I hope that these three strategies can help you tackle Halloween, and the entire holiday season, with a sense of calm. Trust in your body and, no matter what happens, remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you continue to tweak your healthy-living routines. 

With love,

JDW Signature

How To Store Fruit And Vegetables | Jennifer Dene

How To Store Fruit And Vegetables For Maximum Shelf Life

As a health coach and keen home cook I’m regularly asked for simple tips that make healthy living easy. One of the first suggestions that I give is to spend 30 minutes in the kitchen each weekend to prepare fresh produce.

Knowing how to store fruit and vegetables correctly will not only extend the shelf life of your produce, it also makes it a breeze to eat healthfully during the busy week.

Here are three reasons why I do this every weekend:

  • It may sound lazy but I hate washing fruits and vegetables every time I cook. Having clean produce in the fridge makes it easy to munch my way to good health.
  • Knowing how to correctly wash and store your fruit and vegetables will keep it fresh for longer, saving you time and money.
  • The time spent up front will save you hours during the week. If I spend about two hours each week on Sunday Prep, I will have a healthy dinner on the table every night in 30 minutes or less (including washing up).

In today’s video I’m sharing 6 storage tips that will keep your produce fresher for longer, and help you to eat more fruit and vegetables every day.

(Think you don’t have 30 minutes to spare on the weekend? Get my free audio training: Take Back Your Time To Create A Body & Life That You Love. Click here to learn more)

Tip #1 Invest In Storage Containers & Ziploc Bags

Airtight glass storage containers come in handy for storing “crunchy” produce such as radishes and snap peas, as well as chopped vegetables and leftover meals. Plus it’s oh-so-satisfying to stack them neatly in the fridge. 

Tip #2 Store Leafy Greens & Herbs In A Punctured Ziploc Bag

Fruits and vegetables emit an odorless, colorless gas called Ethylene that triggers the ripening process of produce. Leafy greens are particularly sensitive to Ethylene gas and will quickly wilt when shoved in the refrigerator next to other produce.

Storing greens in bags protects them from the gas emitted by other produce, and the small holes allow the Ethylene emitted by the greens themselves to escape. Using this one trick allowed me to keep a head of bibb lettuce fresh for over two weeks!

I actually filmed a video exclusively on washing and storing leafy greens. You can watch it here.

Tip #3 Wash Thick-Skinned Produce

You might not think to wash the inedible skin on produce like lemons, avocado, pumpkins and melons, but every time cut into these fruits and vegetables you are taking the dirt and chemicals from the peel and slicing them directly into the flesh. 

Tip #4 Store Asparagus In A Glass Jug

This tip goes for anything that has a tendency to wilt, including herbs, baby carrots and scallions. Sticking the ends in a glass jug with an inch of water will keep this produce crisp and crunchy.

Tip #5 Keep Tomatoes & Stone Fruit On The Bench

I never refrigerating tomatoes or stone fruits. This isn’t to prolong their shelf life — they will continue to ripen on the bench — but it will make them taste a lot more vibrant.

Tip #6 Don’t store your potatoes and onions together.

Potatoes produce a LOT of Ethylene gas and onions are super sensitive to the stuff, so storing these two veggies side by side will quickly turn your onions brown and soft.

It’s been fun to be in the kitchen with you today! See you again soon.

With love,

JDW Signature

 

Sugar In Healthy Food

How Much Sugar Is In The Healthy Food You’re Eating?

Do you know how much sugar is in the “healthy” food that you’re eating?

It’s probably much more than you think.

“There is often loads of sugar in healthy food, or at least food that we’re told is healthy.”                 Click to tweet.

But just because a product label claims to be “healthy”, “organic” or “natural”, it doesn’t mean it’s actually good for you. 

Terms like healthy and natural are not strictly regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), which makes it easy for shoppers to be misled. In fact, often the least healthy foods make the grandest number of claims.

Take a box of Kellog’s Raisin Bran for example. The bright packaging is covered with claims such as: heart healthy, a good source of fiber, made with whole grains, rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, made with real fruit…

But the proof is in the pudding, and this cereal has 17g of sugar per single (one cup) serve. Pudding indeed.

And cereal isn’t the only offender. Many products carrying the “healthy” label are loaded with added sugar.

Today’s video is for you if you’ve been trying to:

Eat better • Sleep better • Have more energy • Reduce mood swings • Reduce belly bloat • Lose weight…

Why? Because reducing your sugar consumption will help you get there. But in order to reduce how much sugar you’re eating you first need to know exactly where the sweet stuff is lurking in your fridge and pantry, how to find it, and what to choose instead.

In the video below I’m chatting with you about:

  1. How to read nutritional labels and ingredients lists to find out how much sugar a product contains
  2. Highlighting some of the main sweet offenders
  3. And to wrap up I’ll show you how to swap these products for healthier alternatives

Once you’ve had a chance to watch, I’d love to hear from you.

What healthy food swap will you be making this week, to reduce your overall sugar consumption?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

You can download the cheat sheet that I mentioned, by clicking the image below.

Cheat Sheet- Hidden Sugars - July 19, 2016

Just to recap, here’s your task for today:

  • Set aside 15 minutes to read the nutritional labels and ingredients list on the packaged food in your fridge and pantry.
  • Discard anything that you find from the “high offender” list, and make a note to buy the low sugar alternative at the store tomorrow.

Thank you so much for joining me here on Jennifer Dene Wellness. Together we can create a bright, healthy and purpose-filled future for ourselves, and the women that come after us.

With love,

JDW Signature

P.S. Don’t forget to download your free PDF. Here it is.
P.P.S Sad to think about breaking up with cereal? Don’t be! Make my low sugar bircher muesli recipe instead >>>