The Healthy Fields of Life

Published on: 11/09/2022
Woman looking at stairs in forest, pondering changing her habits
We all have many wonderful intentions to form new healthier habits and rituals, whether food-related, exercise-related, and the many behaviors in between. But most of us kinda suck at it. Honestly😃 — and no judgment — just fact. Why is it so hard to stick to the changes we want to make or even start to make?

​First of all, we are humans. Being human is amazing, but it is filled with imperfections. This is what us humans. We have a lot of road blocks in our way when it comes to embracing new habits, many of which we cannot change. But we can walk around them. Not just a light stroll of course, but an intense Jalen Hurts kinda squat and push (even if you are not an Eagles fan, you have to give #1 the credit he deserves!) Why so much effort? Because there is so much intensity pulling us the other way. It is common for attempts to alter eating, exercise, and other health-related habits to fail not simply due to a lack of willpower or lack of knowledge, but because of the strength of specific circumstances and triggers to elicit learned responses — or more simply put, our habits.

Think about when you have been on a roll with making yourself a balanced breakfast every morning. But then your schedule or someone else’s schedule in your household changes, and you are thrown off course. Getting back on course is hard, harder than it was to start on the new course, which was actually not easy to do either. Hard stuff. As a result, the next thing you know, you are skipping breakfast again and then starving and overeating by lunch. Humans frequently fall back on their habits. Despite our greatest efforts to change behaviors, habits can keep us acting the way we always have. But, there is hope for change🙏🏽!

​Focusing on the habits we want to change (versus a singular food or food group) and the new ones we want to form can lead to positive results in maintaining our desired behavior change(s). We have chatted about this before here, our triggers — our context. Those situations we find ourselves in where we feel like we are squatting 600 pounds (Jalen Hurts reference again, in case you missed the link above😉) and it calls for our whole self to take part in the situation. Do I walk away? Do I share my struggle? Do I avoid the situation completely? It is easy and human to feel weak when a trigger is pushing against you. This is where habit discontinuity comes into play. Say whaaaat🙃 ?

​Simply put, we need to figure out how we can reduce or avoid the situation or environment or stimulus that has previously shown potential or we know has potential, to throw us off course. There is research out there suggesting to avoid these situations completely, but I do not find that to often be realistic. Instead, have a plan that works for YOU. And practice it — again and again. Every success is achieved by practice. For example, when you are out with friends who drink more than you, have a plan with yourself before you go, i.e., I will have two glasses of wine at the most and switch to sparkling water. When you have coworkers or family who you know love to order apps and dessert, decide which one you really want to enjoy a mindful portion before you are in the situation. You could even type your plan into your phone, with a reminder alert when you are in the moment. It will not always go exactly as planned, but keep practicing. Empower YOU💪🏼.

You are the one who gets to make the final decision and choices. Habit formation occurs by repeating a behavior in a consistent context until it has become automatic, establishing a direct link between the context and the behavioral response such that, eventually, the mere perception of that context automatically triggers the behavior. It is not easy, but the more you practice, the better you will get at it. The less strength and effort it will take, for you to most often, choose you.

​Here are three of my favorite new recipe creations that are balanced, nourishing, warming the heart and soul, inspired by you.

TAHINI SALMON
I had a recent discussion with a client who shared her love for tahini. However, she was feeling guilty about consuming too much of this nutritionally dense, yet calorically dense, sesame seed paste. Here is one recipe we created to enjoy the full flavor of tahini, but balanced with other ingredients to create a delightful and light dish.

INGREDIENTS

4 6-ounce salmon fillets
1 Tablespoon tahini
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional toppings: fresh thyme or rosemary

​PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse and pat dry salmon fillets. Cover baking sheet with nonstick foil. Place salmon fillets on baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix tahini, garlic, lemon juice and oyster sauce. Cover salmon evenly with sauce. Bake for 10–15 minutes or until salmon is cooked through. Broil on high for one extra minute and remove from oven. Top with freshly ground peppers and fresh herbs of your choice. Makes 4 servings.
NOT YOUR AVERAGE CHICKEN ENCHILADAS
There is something about these, that I keep making them and making them and making them. They are such a tasty, easy, make-ahead if desired, family-pleasing meal. There are many variants of enchilada recipes from various countries. You can make them your way — vegan cheese and protein, shrimp instead of chicken, corn or whole wheat tortillas, heavier or lighter on the spices and toppings. Just have fun with this recipe and enjoy!

​INGREDIENTS

1 16-ounce jar of salsa (mild, medium, hot, fresh or jarred)
14–16 ounces shredded chicken (3–4 chicken breasts or thighs, skinless**great way to use leftovers)
1/3 cup plus 1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder (Mexican-style is great, but either works)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
8 8-inch tortillas (corn, whole wheat, spinach, etc.)
12 ounces enchilada sauce (authentic brands suggested, ie. Rosarita©️, Las Palmas©️)
1 cup shredded reduced fat Monterey Jack and/or Cheddar cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
Optional garnishes and toppings: fresh avocado, plain fat free Greek yogurt, reduced fat sour cream, fresh lime slices

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the salsa, chicken, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of the mixture into each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into prepared baking dish. Pour enchilada sauce evenly on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and broil on high for one minute, or until cheese is lightly browned. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and any other suggested optional garnishes and toppings. Makes 4–6 servings.
ZUCCHINI BROWNIES
Before you yuck my yum :), this was a client request. She had mentioned loving these when someone made them at work all the time and wanted a recipe. Of course the traditional recipes out there contain a lot of sugar and oil, so I did my best to reduce the excess fat, sugar and white flour, yet still create a dessert that provides you with nutrition AND a moist and yummy delight. I do not often bake with sugar substitutes, but this worked really well here. I suggest freezing in single portions, as they only maintain their shelf-life for a few days. They should be consumed warm, so microwave for 10–15 seconds, check for doneness, and gracefully indulge :). My family loved these à la mode, with a dollop of frozen yogurt on top🍧😋.

​INGREDIENTS

1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup sugar substitute for baking (ie. Splenda)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups shredded zucchini, NOT drained — the more moisture, the better
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 Tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
nonstick cooking spray

PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a full sheet of parchment paper in a 9×13 inch baking pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine applesauce, sugar substitute and cocoa. Hand mix well until it forms a wet sand (this will get a little heavy to mix). Add shredded zucchini, vanilla extract, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix until well-combined. Stir in a half cup of the chocolate chips. Pour into prepared baking pan and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips. Bake for 25–28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of the pan. Lift with parchment paper to remove from pan and cool on counter. Slice into 18 servings. Remember to serve warm!
🦃Holiday tip🧡: We are heading into the holiday season, with Thanksgiving on the horizon. I do not often share holiday recipes, as it seems that would be all my blog is about 😊. But I would love to share some holiday cheer, cheering on each of you: Approximately how long does it take for your body to recognize it is full? About 20 minutes! Sensations of fullness are not immediate, thus we need to slow ourselves down so we feel full before we eat more food. Why this question? Because sometimes it is the most simple of habit changes that can render the biggest results. Slow down🦃.

Different people, different backgrounds, different ideals… We walk in different doors at the beginning of the day and we walk out of different doors at the end of the day, but when it is time to go out on to the field, we all go through the same door.

~Scott Rolen, Philadelphia Phillies-1996–2002 …here is hoping we can all play together on the field of life…
For comments, thoughts, requests, or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: amy@rebelliousrd.com or visit me at rebelliousrd.com.

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With a longstanding dedication to healthy cooking and eating, I promote nutrition with a rebellious twist: the belief that perfection is not required for success on your wellness journey. 

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