Shades of Gray

Published on: 05/13/2020
Vegetarian meal with chickpeas, vegetables, pita

I have always loved the color gray. I still remember a gray Le Sports Sac I had in middle school, along with my favorite gray sweater and socks. I still love the color gray, but I have also found immense value in thinking in shades of gray. No, not the book or movie 😊but shades of gray in your thought process.

Most of us think in black and white, or all or nothing when it comes to our eating. We believe we have to be perfect to be successful in our desire to reach a certain weight or fitness level. Yet this way of thinking can actually prevent you from reaching your goals. Any small defeat feels like a catastrophe, and that is no way to live! So thinking in shades of gray can actually be a way to add brightness to your day-to-day thinking:

– Recognize — When you use the words “always” and “never.” We can not “always” avoid sweets, or “always” stick with one glass of wine. But we can do these things sometimes.

– Remind — That nothing you choose to eat is inherently bad. You did not “ruin your whole dinner” because you ate the side of pasta. Remind yourself to let it go and move on.

– Reframe — Keep your thinking in the experimental mode. If after your balanced dinner, you still find yourself longing for dessert, it is okay if you indulge. Ideally, you want to build a healthier lifestyle that is sustainable for the long haul. Find that middle ground…balance.

– Reflect — Learn when things do not go exactly as planned, and keep moving forward. No doubt you look back at other aspects of your life and realize how you might have done something differently and made a different choice. Well, when it comes to eating more healthfully, it is all about living and learning…and living.

– Change Your Script — Instead of telling yourself “I am never having pasta again,” try saying, “When I want some pasta, I will have some on the side, and mindfully enjoy, savoring the flavors. Smiling.

– Repeat — Progress, not perfection. Nothing worth achieving is easy, but it does not have to be devastating either.

The way you approach the conversation you have with yourself should be the same way you would have it with your closest friend…be just as kind. Be kind. Be curious. Be creative. Ask yourself how you could do differently next time. No judgment. Living and learning…and living. #stayhome #essentialworkers

Vegetarian versus Vegan-and the things in between
Another area of gray. Some people call themselves vegetarian but eat fish. Some people call themselves vegan but go to town (when that is possible) on Saturday nights, indulging in a tasty steak. The very definition of a vegetarian is in the gray: a person who does not eat or does not believe in eating meat, fish, fowl, or, in some cases, any food derived from animals, such as eggs or cheese, but subsists on vegetables, fruits, nuts, grain, etc. In some cases…so basically, you make your own case of vegetarianism. Perhaps that is why veganism became the rage — as it is much more black and white. The definition of vegan: is someone who eats no animal or dairy products at all. Whatever works best for you is what is best for you.

My theory remains: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much of anything. Diets that are heavy on plants, and lighter on meats, are better for our planet🌎. There is no need to label anything, but enjoying the fruits of the earth is bringing kindness to our planet, as well as to you.



This recipe calls for any whole grain you desire, along with lots of veggies.

1 cup uncooked farro
1 15-ounce can vegetable broth, low sodium + 1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon thyme
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and ripped into medium pieces
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon thyme, fresh
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (Especially if true vegan is your thing, go for the purest. As balsamic vinegar goes down in price, the addition of additives goes up.)
2 Tablespoons sunflower seeds
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, bring the farro, broth, and thyme to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, stir and cover. Cook for 30–40 minutes (unless you purchase the 10-minute farro :), checking on tenderness. Remove from heat and place in a medium-sized bowl.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for about 7–8 minutes, or until the onions are slightly browned. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the farro. Stir well.

Add the spinach, balsamic vinegar, fresh thyme, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sunflower seeds. Stir and heat through.

Once the spinach is wilted, place in a serving bowl. Sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon of sunflower seeds, fresh thyme and spinach. Makes 4 side servings or 2 main dish servings.

Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash


Spill the beans, specifically lentils, into a pot. Add any veggies you have on hand, and you will still come out with a delicious French lentil stew.

1 1/2 cups French lentils
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2–3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 red pepper, seeded and diced
1 fennel bulb, diced
1/3 cup tomato paste
1 bay leaf
2–3 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions, carrots, celery, pepper, and fennel until lightly browned, about 7–8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Cook another 2–3 minutes. Add the bay leaf, thyme, and lentils. Stir in 6 cups of water and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20–25 minutes, or until lentils are soft (but not too soft). Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Makes 6 1-cup servings.

Photo by Reinaldo Kevin on Unsplash

Make something out of not much:
Broccoli or cauliflower sitting around your fridge or freezer? Defrost if frozen, clean, and chop into bite-size pieces if fresh. Heat a larger non-stick skillet over medium heat. Sauté 1 teaspoon minced garlic (about a clove) and 1 tablespoon olive oil for about a minute. Add 1 tablespoon of miso paste (found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store) and 2 tablespoons of water. Add broccoli or cauliflower or whatever combo of veggies you have located. Sauté until crispy, about 5–6 minutes.

You can dance in a hurricane. But only if you’re standing in the eye.

~Brandi Carlile

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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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