Nutrition: One Size Does Fit All, Size M (Moderation)

Many people ask me to articulate my “diet” or approach to nutrition & eating so that I can pass it on to them.  As I stood in line at the Whole Foods today and saw the magazines calling out to those waiting: 
Go Paleo!  Go Gluten Free!  Go Vegan!
I realized that my philosophy of eating is one of looser rules, of more “yes” and less “no”.  What I DO know is that whenever anyone has told me NOT to do something, NOT to go somewhere, or NOT to eat something, that is when I want to DO, GO and EAT.  So instead of restricting, the best way for me to articulate my approach to nutrition is moderation.   It is not a sexy term and doesn’t win headlines, but moderation will certainly never go out of style.  As such I aim to add a diversity of fresh, whole (and whenever possible) organic foods to my/my family's daily life without omitting entirely the foods/beverages we love.  

Moderation to me means eating well-portioned and balanced meals 90% of the time and enjoying the absolutely best quality versions of your favorite foods 10% of the time.  Let’s say that german chocolate cake and salted caramel ice-cream are your all-time favorites.  If you consume them every day, their negative effects (sluggishness, weight gain, spike & drop in blood sugar, inflammation, etc) will outweigh their positive TREAT benefits/nature.  Consider leaving such treats for a specific weekend meal. 

A healthy framework and structure to the nutrition of your day & week is essential for success and smooth running of the exceptionally built machine called, your body!  However, ruling out entire food groups or macronutrients (proteins/carbohydrates/fats) is a short-term and unsustainable practice that almost always backfires negatively.  One great practice is hacking your favorite comfort food, or finding a healthier way to make it so that you still enjoy it.  The internet is such an immense resource for this.  You can go to EatingWell.com and type in the dish you'd like to make to find a healthier version, or you can invest in a great cookbook.  I love both of G. Paltrow's cookbooks, "It's All Good" and "It's all Easy".  Her recipes are delicious, accessible and simple to follow.  

I love to cook.  I know that this is not the same for everyone, but I do credit myself for encouraging and inspiring many of my clients to start exploring (and low-and-behold enjoying) cooking in order to see and feel real changes in their bodies and health.  I am not, however, a short-order cook.  This means that the in the time I have, I must be able to make a delicious and healthful meal for myself, my husband, our two children (plus any guest that may randomly show-up) and ideally have leftovers for one or all of us to take for lunch the next day.  This comfort food recipe is one I’ve made for years and it never ceases to please all the picky eaters.  It is a great way to get the following in:

1. Lean protein
2. Lots of veggies without struggling with the kids
3. Creamy, comfort food deliciousness

CHICKEN and DUMPLINGS

total time: 45 mins, makes 4-5 servings

1.5 lbs of boneless chicken breast
2 Tbs EVOO
4 large carrots, thinly sliced
3-4 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium onion chopped
1 box of chicken stock 30 oz
1 tsp of fresh or dried rosemary
1 cup frozen peas
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Dumplings:
1 cup whole wheat or white flour (use gluten free if intolerant)
1 tsp baking soda
4 tsp butter
1/2 c milk or soy milk (or water)

1. Heat a dutch oven (I love Le Creuset) on medium-high until hot with 1 Tbs EVOO.  Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks and season with salt & pepper.  Add your chicken and brown for 2-3 minutes.  Transfer chicken to bowl, reduce heat to medium.  
2. Add remaining 1 Tbs EVOO to pot and add carrots, celery and onion.  Cook 5-7 minutes.  Add broth, rosemary and 1 cup water: heat to simmering.  
3. In small town, whisk flour, baking soda and 1/2 tsp salt.  With fork, cut in butter until mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until dough forms.  Don't overwork dough to avoid TOUGH dumplings.  
4. Stir chicken into simmering broth, cook 2 minutes.  Sir in peas, cook 1 minute.  Transfer chicken and veggies to large bowl with slotted spoon.  
5. Drop dough into pot by teaspoons.  Cover + simmer 5 minutes.  Uncover and simmer 3-5 minutes more.  
6. Spoon dumplings and broth over chicken + veggie mixture.  Divide among bowls and garnish with parsley.  Serve & enjoy!

*Want to change the recipe up from time to time?  Replace the rosemary with curry & cumin and the 1 cup of water with 1 can of coconut milk.  

Try it and tell me what you think!  Happy Cooking!