Veggie recipes for veggie haters Part 2 – SOUPS

It’s a soup time of the year. Soups are one of the easiest, fastest, most convenient ways to sneak a LOT of veggies into your diet. I shared one of my favorite soups, Creamy Broccoli Soup, a while ago. This soup is SO AMAZING my sister Nora and I call it THE SOUP.

Velvety Vegetable Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushroom (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • ½ cups chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • 4 cups chopped vegetable asparagus, green beans, broccoli, zucchini or cauliflower
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (You can also use chicken broth or stock)*
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt/pepper to taste


  1. In a large stockpot heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, mushroom, and garlic, and saute five minutes over medium high heat.
  2. Add the vegetables and saute another 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the broth, scraping up any browned bits. Add the thyme, pepper, and salt. Bring to a low boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender. You may need to ad extra stock or water Remove from heat.
  4. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a food processor or countertop blender according to the manufacturer’s directions (vent the lid!)
  5. The soup can be cooled and packaged for freezing if you like. Chill well before placing it in the freezer. Store
Creamy Zucchini Soup
  • 9 cups zucchini, diced (~5-6 zucchinis)
  • 1 cup carrots diced
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4-5 cups vegetable or chicken broth*
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves OR 5 – 6 sprigs of thyme, leaves only (or 1 – 2 tbsp dried thyme). Also…experiment with other spices like dill.
  • 2 tbsp coconut or avocado oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

*packaged broth is fine but read the ingredients CAREFULLY. Many contain sugar, cane sugar, other sweeteners, MSG or MSG-like products (look for “yeast” or “yeast extract” for example). I have found some Trader Joe’s brands and some Whole Foods brands that do not contain these ingredients. READ the labels even at natural foods stores.

  1. In a large pot heat 2 tbsp olive oil on medium heat
  2. Add the minced garlic and diced  onion. Saute, mixing frequently, until fragrant and the onions start to become translucent.
  3. Add all the chopped zucchini and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth
  5. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat to keep a gentle simmer, and cover. Let the soup simmer until the veggies are tender
  6. Blend all of the soup until completely pureed. I like to use my immersion blender but you can use a regular blender or food processor (will have to blend in batches)

  7. While blending one of the batches, add  basil or thyme (or whatever spices you are using) an completely blend/puree into the soup.

  8. Add all of the pureed soup back into the large pot and bring the soup to a gentle simmer, uncovered. Cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

  9. If at any time soup too thick, add a bit more stock or water. If too thin, let cook down a bit more.

  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Veggie recipes for veggie haters (or for those who want to mix it up) Part 1: MAIN COURSES

I believe that green vegetables are pretty much the be all to end all when it comes to nutrition. Regardless of which diet you choose to follow, you must get in your green leafy veggies. There just aren’t ANY good substitutes or workarounds.

I can’t tell you how many of my clients complain that they hate veggies. They say they would rather eat sawdust than a piece of broccoli. Now, I love love love veggies (bordering on the obsession) and I LOVE the way they make me feel. But I also like to mix it up. So, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite ways to both disguise your veggies and give some variety for the veggie lovers like me out there.

Today, I’ll share two of my favorite protein-based recipes:

Sneaky Meatloaf or Sneaky Meatballs


  • 1- 1 ½ pounds ground meat (chicken, turkey, beef or lamb)
  • ½ cup grated or finely chopped carrots
  • ½ cup chopped onion (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder or 1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 cups chopped or grated vegetables (zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus, kale etc.)
  • Coconut or olive oil spray oil (for meatloaf only)
  • Salt and pepper to taste and spices (. Some ideas: dill, basil, parsley, herbs de Provence, oregano)

If you are making meatloaf:

  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. blend ingredients above
  3. spray oil a loaf pan
  4. scoop mixture into pan
  5. bake 45-60 mins
  6. may reheat in toaster oven or microwave

If you are making meatballs

  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. blend ingredients above
  3. place parchment paper on cookie sheet
  4. form 1 1/2 inch balls and place on cookie sheet
  5. bake 25-30 mins

Sneaky Veggie Eggs – 1 serving


  • 1-2 eggs (may add egg whites for volume)
  • 1 small or ½ large zucchini grated (squeeze it a bit in paper towel to get some of the moisture out). May also use other veggies like finely chopped or riced cauliflower or broccoli, baby spinach, baby kale, asparagus, etc.
  • Spray olive or coconut oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Spices (feel free to experiment. Some ideas: dill, basil, parsley, curry, herbs de Provence, oregano)


  • Beat eggs and egg whites
  • Add veggies, salt and pepper and spices
  • Spray oil cast iron or non-stick ceramic omelet pan
  • Pour eggs into pan and scramble. May also make as an omelet (put veggies in right after you pour eggs into pan so they will cook)

Surviving the holidays with your waistline intact Part 2 – staying on course at parties

Nothing strikes fear in the heart of dieters over the holidays than having to to say no to a well-meaning host or hostess. And lots of us don’t want to miss out on some amazing meal or fancy cocktails. Therefore, a big part of planning for success over the holidays is having a strategy for parties.

We typically have 3 fears around events:

#1 Fear of missing out (FOMO)

Overeating and overdrinking are baked into (no pun intended) our culture – especially around holiday time. At almost all parties, people are walking around with fancy foods and glamorous-looking alcoholic drinks. When you stop overdrinking and overeating, you and almost feel alone because everything in our culture is almost against you.

But, before you take a bite of that cake or a drink of that champagne, stop ask yourself…why am I here?

Truly, you can eat or drink at home or ANY time so that can’t possibly be the reason to attend a party. Many of my clients tell me that alcohol and food makes parties more fun and believe that they are missing out on some amazing fun thing by not eating and drinking but, think about that for a second. Is the party really more fun or does it just seem fun? Think about little children at a party. They have a great time regardless of what food is served. Often times they are having so much fun they forget to eat. Isn’t that what a party is all about? Having fun with others?

Some of this FOMO feeling likely comes from our intense (and natural) fear of rejection

Most of us have a deep seated fear of being rejected if we act differently than others. As humans we are wired to fit in with the herd so this can seem a little scary. But ask yourself, is it true that people care deeply if I drink that glass wine? Are they going to want to be my friend if I eat the that brownie? Do you care that much what others consume?

And are you really missing out?

There will always be more food. The food will not run out. There will always be another opportunity to eat or drink or whatever. I promise.

#2: Fear that we can’t trust ourselves

Sometimes we are so worried about overeating and overdrinking that we either stay away from social events or stress ourselves to the point of overeating and drinking to push away the stressful thoughts. But, there is another way. In last week’s blog I discussed planning ahead. I recommend writing an eating/drinking plan 24 hours before each party or social gathering. If a plan is written you are much more likely to stick to it. Read your plan right before you get to the party.

#3 Fear of offending a host

I often hear from clients that they don’t want to “offend” their host. When a well-meaning host offers you something that is not on your plan, it’s really OK to say “no thank-you.”  Imagine, if you were a non-smoker, if your host offered you a cigarette, would you take it and smoke it?  Just because you are offered something, you don’t have to take it. Others will not suffer you don’t consume their food or drinks.

As a mentioned in an earlier blog post, if you assume that your host will be offended  – you are MIND READING. I believe most people don’t give a damn about what you are eating or drinking because they are likely thinking about what they always think about – THEMSELVES.

Remember, the purpose of a social gathering is to be social with people you enjoy. If you host sees you having a good time, they will not care if you are eating or drinking something in particular and, if they are temporarily bothered, they will get over it. I promise you. Simply say “no” or no thank you or “not right now. ” That’s it. It’s your body and it’s your choice.

Surviving the holidays with your waistline intact Part 1 – it’s all part of the plan

It’s starts with Thanksgiving and rolls all the way through to New Years. Yep, we are right about to go into FULL HOLIDAY MODE. Office parties, dinners, gatherings, family get-togethers and a seemingly endless supplies of food around the home and the office.

It can start to feel so overwhelming and out of control that we just give up and give in

And then we get into that cycle of eating more at home and gatherings and we get the “oh f*ck it, I’ll fix this after the holidays” attitude. We also may worry about food before going events which can cause feelings of stress which we end up buffering with MORE alcohol and more food. In the end, we feel so guilty, helpless and ashamed if we overeat that we stress ourselves more and then (you guessed it) eat and drink to deal with our feelings.

But…it’s not as bad as you think it is

First, let me assure you that these worries and fears are somewhat overblown for most of us. The New England Journal of Medicine says that the average weight gain from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is a mere one pound. But, this may be little comfort for those of us who feel out of control or anxious come holiday time. So here’s what to do…

Step 1: Get some control by making a plan

First get super clear about what you want. Do you want to lose weight, stay the same or maybe even gain a pound or two over the holidays? Decide ahead of time, create a plan and then stick to your plan. 24 hours before each party or social gathering decide ahead of time what you will be eating and drinking and how much, write it down and stick to it.

The advantages of making  plan (and writing it down)

1. When you make a plan, you avoid drama. The constant back and forth drama of (“should I have the cake?/shouldn’t have the cake,” “should I have the wine or not?,”) may lead to anxiety which leads to overeating and overdrinking.

2. When you stick to a plan you build integrity within yourself. When you make a plan and stick to it you build trust with yourself, you show yourself that you have integrity. Creating trust in ourselves is such an important whether our goal is to lose weight, get a degree, save for a house or some other life goal.

3. If you write a plan down you are much more likely to stick to it.

What should I eat/avoid with my plan?

I’m not going to advise that you eat or drink one thing or another. I suggest that you make a plan and stick to it. Experiment. See what works. If you find that you aren’t happy with how you look and feel from the experiment, try something different the next time. One caveat – alcohol tends to lower inhibitions causing many of us to overeat and drink so I would suggest that you limit your alcohol consumption.

Next week I will discuss dealing with holiday food and drink pushers.

Step 2: Out of sight out of mind

If your house is at all like mine over the holidays all kinds of cookies and candy seem to magically materialize in the kitchen. Brain Wansink director of the Cornell Food and Brand lab ran a study on food left on countertops. His study found that women who kept cereals out on their counters were on average 20 pounds heavier than their neighbors who didn’t and women who left soft drinks out on counters weighed 20-26 pounds greater than those who kept these drinks off of their counters. My suggestion is to get that stuff out of your house or at least off of your countertops. Many diet coaches suggest that it’s ok to have that stuff around because if you have the “right” mindset you will avoid it. I say HELL NO…get it OUT. Sugar is so addictive to the brain, it might be hard to keep saying “no” over and over again.

Step 3: Accept that you might make mistakes

If planning for your diet success is a new skill for you, it takes effort in the beginning and you might make mistakes. Don’t dwell on your mistakes, just move on. If you overeat at one meal, just get right back on your planned program for the next.

Next week:  How to manage your diet at parties

Holiday parties are their own weird animal. I’ll talk about those next week in PART 2.

Which diet should I choose for weight loss?

There are probably over a hundred diets out there including Pritikin, Zone, South Beach,  Weight Watchers, Dukan, Atkins and Ketogenic (to name a few) as well as dozens and dozens of juice or shake-based diets. While each diet has its own positive and negatives, none of them offer us a magical formula to wellness and weight loss. The biggest problem I have observed with most diet plans is that they are not sustainable.

You might have tried at least one of these. And, you might have lost some weight. But…did you keep it off? If so, you are in the vast minority.

Most people who diet gain all the weight back and more

Over 90% of people who lose weight will gain it back within a year and the vast majority of those people will gain back MORE than they lost.  Not only is this a burden on our health but it is so incredibly demoralizing.

We might think that once we lose the weight we are home free

If only! Maintenance is more challenging for many of us than weight loss and requires its own set of skills. Remember…you keep your weight off the same way as you lost it. Most diets don’t work in the long run unless you can stick to them.

A sustainable nutrition plan…

  1. fulfills your nutritional needs
  2. includes a LOT of green veggies – I recommend at least 4-6 cups per day. (Note super low-carb diets may have you limit your veggie intake. You might want to consider modifying this.)
  3. is affordable (ex. if you are doing a diet with a lot of shakes and prepared foods, will this affordable to you in the long run?)
  4. doesn’t separate you from your family and other people (separate meals might be ok at first but how sustainable is this?)
  5. allows for the occasional treat or gives you some flexibility around weddings, parties and vacations etc.
  6. is based on whole, unprocessed, REAL foods that you don’t need to order from special places
  7. doesn’t require that you constantly count calories (often inaccurate and usually not sustainable)
  8. is flexible enough that you can learn to make good choices that support your weight goals

While we are discussing this diet or that diet we are missing the point

While we debate endlessly about Paleo vs. vegan, Weight Watchers vs. Jenny Craig, etc., we are missing what I believe to the MOST important factor in any diet: GREEN VEGETABLES. Everyone want to talk about carbs and sugar and protein but veggies are so un-sexy. In my opinion that is ALL we should be talking about. How many we eat, how often we eat them, how we prepare them.

Why are they so important?

Vegetables are a great source of fiber and carry major nutrients such as Vitamins A, B, C, D and K as well necessary minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium zine, iron and iodine. But, they are also the bearers of phytonutrients – natural chemicals that help to protect that particular plant against bacteria, viruses, bugs etc. and they’ve been shown to help protect us against chronic diseases. The nutrients found in dark leafy green vegetables are associated with cancer prevention and heart health.

No matter which diet you adapt (and the science world cannot agree on this), unless you have some kind of medical condition the precludes eating veggies, start eating them at every meal.

  • Try to get your a cruciferous green in at least 2 times per day (ex. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, cabbage, mustard greens and brussels sprouts)
  • Rotate in other non-cruciferous veggies like asparagus, mushrooms and peppers

Do you hate veggies?

You have two choices: either decide to learn to like them (if I managed to learn to like black coffee I think you can get used to veggies) or find a way to sneak them in. There are loads of resources online and look out for my upcoming blog on veggies dishes for veggie haters.

What exactly is a healthy diet?

This is a question I get frequently. And, it’s a good one that typically comes from people who want to eat better and maximize their health. If you ask 5 nutrition experts you will likely get five different answers.

My initial answer is:

a healthy diet is any diet that you can sustain (stick to long term) that fulfills your nutritional needs while keeping you at your goal weight.

But, there is problem here

We have no way of knowing with certainty that our diet is fulfilling our nutritional needs even if we do a lot of (potentially expensive) vitamin, amino acid, DNA, etc. testing. We could judge this by how we physically feel but so many of us don’t even realize how fatigued we are or how much joint pain we’ve been having until we improve our diets and feel so much better.

Here are some general guidelines

  • Eat veggies (try to get them in at every meal) especially cruciferous(ex. broccoli, cauliflower, kale, collards, cabbage, mustard greens and brussels sprouts) and rotate in other non-cruciferous veggies like asparagus, mushrooms, salds and peppers
  • Eat protein (but not a Fred Flintstone sized piece). 3-4 ounces (about the size of a deck of cards should suffice).Image result for fred flintstone meat
  • As much as possible, stick to good quality fish and organic meats and eggs.
  • Use spices that have been shown to have health benefits (like oregano and turmeric).
  • Eat fats like avocado and olive oil. Make sure you get fat at each meal (many foods like salmon and beef have fat built in). If you are fat-phobic, read my post here about fat.
  • If you are eating complex carbohydrates, stick to whole grains (like brown rice, quinoa, farro, wheat berries, millet) or starchy vegetables such as squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets and fruits such as berries and apples (avoid juice).
  • Reduce or avoid foods that might cause inflammation, chronic disease, addiction and block our ability to judge hunger and satiety like dairy, sugar (and artificial sweeteners), flour (and for some grains in general) and alcohol.
  • Eat foods in an close to their natural forms as possible. Stick to one ingredient foods (foods that have only 1 ingredient on the label).
  • Reduce/avoid foods that are packaged or processed (even so-called “healthy” snacks/meals like bars, protein powders, gluten free baked goods, etc.)
  • Schedule treats for yourself on a regular basis and stay committed to only having what was planned.
  • Avoid eating between meals. This is useful for weight loss/maintenance but also to avoid the inflammation that occurs with overeating.

Daily habits that help with weight loss

In a previous post I discussed the habit of always sitting when eating and taking one bite at a time Today I’ll cover some other habits that have helped my clients feel more in control. I find that when people start losing commitment with their health and weight goals these habits are often the first to go:

  1. Pick a day and time to write a shopping list and food plan (as loose or detailed as works for you). PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR. I doubt that this will take more than 10 minutes total.
  2. Log your food. A study by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine said that people keeping a food diary six days a week lost about twice as much weight as those who logged less frequently or not at all.
  3. Weigh yourself at least once per week and put it in your log. Keeping track of your weight is not about how you “feel” in your clothes – it’s all about the data baby!
  4. Never eat while driving, on the phone or actively doing work.
  5. Work up to adding veggies at every meal. Focus on: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage. Also: spinach, zucchini, asparagus, salad, peppers, tomato, herbs (fresh or dried). Hate veggies? Look out for my upcoming recipe series on veggie dishes for veggie lovers.
  6. Plan your treats – pick a day (or if it’s vacation or a special event like a wedding), and decide what you will or will not eat – ahead of time and write it down.
  7. Study menus and buffets like you are studying for a test. Prior to eating out, review the menu and decide ahead of time what you will eat. With buffets – do the “buffet tour” by circling the entire buffet ahead of time before putting food on your plate.

Stop feeling guilty (doesn’t work) and press RESET (works)

When you make a mistake or lose commitment whether it’s your diet, your exercise regime, your relationships, work or whatever do you feel an overriding sense of guilt and failure? If so…ask yourself “is this guilt going to help me get to my goals?” You will likely notice that the guilt spiral is not getting you the results you want because:

  1. Guilt is no substitute for action
  2. Guilt is a stressful feeling

…and what do most of us do when we have stressful feelings? Go for a jog? Meditate? HELL NO…we want to shut up those feelings immediately so we EAT OR DRINK  to make those yicky feelings go away.

Here’s the solution: The Magical Reset Button

How to do it:

  1. Recognize you’ve gone off track (remember a 300 calorie mistake is much better than a 3,000 calorie mistake)
  2. Reset RIGHT NOW. Just get right back on track this minute
  3.  ask yourself why you lost commitment in the first place. Did you have a “F&*$ it” moment (oh well, I already ate the bagel I might as well keep going with the waffles and the ice cream)? Were you in a social situation and didn’t want to stick out? Were you eating to avoid yicky feelings?
  4. Ask yourself “what might I do next time if I am in the same situation?”

and I am now giving you UNLIMITED RESET BUTTONS!

The blessings of shin splints (or how I stumbled into Nature Therapy)

I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with running. The love part: feeling mentally great after a run as well as the fitness and health benefits. The hate part: debilitating shin splints that lasted for days afterwards. If you have never experienced shin splints the best way I can describe them is to imagine someone tearing your shin bones out of your legs.

Ever the problem solver, I tried different shoes, prescription orthotics (shoe inserts), physical therapy and had queried every trainer and fitness teacher I could for a solution. And then 10 years ago- I gave up. I switched to other forms of exercise that didn’t cause shin splints. Recently, a dear friend who is an ironman/marothoner/super athlete suggested that I try trail running. We have a reservation near us so I started trail running and my shin splints decreased by about 80-90%.

But, that’s not even the best part…

I discovered the amazing power of being in nature…it feels AMAZING!

Nature is therapy

There is a Japanese practice called Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) which involves specific walking and relaxation practices. Shinrin-Yoku belongs to a larger category of Nature Therapy. Nature therapy is basically getting outside, away from cars and houses ideally in a wooded area. Studies on this practice show benefit for lowering blood pressure, improving sleep and lowering stress, anxiety, depression and anger and improving clarity and concentration.

Will it make a difference to you?

Only one way to find out – try this:

  1. find as natural an area as you can in your community (like a forest, the woods, a preserve or a park)
  2. before you enter the natural area, take stock of how you are feeling emotionally and physically
  3. start walking (or running) and listen to the sound of your feet on the ground, the birds in the sky and the other natural sounds around. Try to do this for at least 15-20 minutes
  4. after your walk or run, pause and check in – how do you feel now physically and mentally?