As I approach 50, I’m focused on taking care of myself now more than ever. From lowering stress levels and making sleeping a priority to leading a healthier, more active lifestyle, I aim to feel my best in every way. Incorporating good nutrition and regular exercise into my daily life are essential to a healthy lifestyle so I am embracing both these days and quite enjoying it, surprisingly!
Today I want to share a few healthy eating ideas I learned about by taking the Clean Eating Chef Series at Ramekins Culinary School. I also want to tell you about my new home gym!
Clean Eating Chef Series
The Clean Eating Chef Series included three evening classes, meeting once a week. The series was divided into breakfast, lunch and dinner categories.
The class was taught by Chef Hollie Greene and Mary Sheila Gonnella. Chef Hollie is founder of Joyfoodly. She is a cooking instructor, Wellness in the Schools consultant, and a Professional Expert for the California Healthy Kids Initiative. Chef Hollie’s website is chock full of healthy recipes and lots of food prep and cooking tips, many of which are shown in short videos.
Mary Sheila Gonnella of Occidental Nutrition is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and Educator who focuses her practice on helping people suffering from problems relating to high blood sugar. She also incorporates Ayurveda into her nutrition consulting and is an expert in fermentation.
The class was designed as part demonstration and part hands-on instruction.
For the demonstration portions of the class, students could easily watch Chef Hollie and Mary Sheila at work on overhead tv screens.
We were each given a packet with all the information and recipes we would be learning about that evening, as well as a work station and apron for the hands-on portion of the series which included prepping, cooking on portable stove tops and eating! It was quite fun!
Healthy Meal Ideas
The three classes were packed full with information and recipes. We made a lot of food each night. For the breakfast class, we focused on dishes that would not raise blood sugar, satiate your appetite, give you energy, nutrition and sustenance and taste great!
The first dish we prepared was Breakfast Pho. Pho (pronounced ‘fuh’) is a Vietnamese broth-based soup. Mary Sheila and Chef Hollie showed us how to make our own Immunity Broth – either in a pressure cooker or a crock pot – using chicken bones, spices, seaweed, and vegetables. Once the broth was cooked in their pressure cookers and drained off, we each had a bowl. We chose what ingredients to add to our Breakfast Pho. Hard-boiled eggs, black rice and Russian kale were just a few of the foods we could add.
The Breakfast Pho was tasty and comforting and full of nutrients.
We also made Avocado Bowls. We started with a halved avocado then picked the foods we wanted to top it with from an array of choices that included walnuts, sauerkraut, roasted Delicata squash, Gomasio (sesame seeds and dried seaweed) and a seed mixture. I now have this dish for breakfast – usually just the avocado, sauerkraut and Gomasio – at least three mornings a week.
One of my favorite segments of the class was learning about Ayurvedic spices from Mary Sheila. She talked to us about our Dosha, the three Ayurvedic body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each body type is helped by certain spices. Mary Sheila created spice blends for each Dosha that we could select and take home. Based on the descriptions, I think I am Pitta. I took the Pitta blend home and sprinkle it on my meals from time to time.
Another fun hands-on dish we made is Nori Hand Rolls. The finished dish looked somewhat complicated to me, but they were incredibly easy to make!
We were given a bamboo rolling mat, nori (dried seaweed sheets), a plate of prepared veggies and tofu, some small bowls of aioli and pesto that we made in class earlier, and nutritional yeast. Chef Hollie showed us where to place the food items – as you can see from the photo – then how to roll up the Nori into hand-held rolls. I’ve already made these at home a couple of times. They are fun to make as appetizers for guests or even with your guests.
Chef Hollie also showed us how to properly cook chicken breasts on the stove She then turned the cooked chicken breasts into a delicious chicken salad she loaded into roasted Delicato squash halves. So tasty and satisfying. I was stuffed!
The series included how to make sauerkraut too. Mary Sheila teaches her clients and students about the digestive properties of fermented foods. It’s fascinating!
I have not made my own sauerkraut at home yet, though it really is so simple. The most important part of preparing sauerkraut for fermentation is mashing it up. It needs to be almost liquified. This takes time, patience and muscle. Maybe I will incorporate it into a future workout!
There were so many other dishes we learned how to make in this series. I wish I could tell you about all of them!
If you’re in the Bay Area, consider taking one or more of the classes Chef Hollie and Mary Sheila will be offering this summer:
“Easy Weeknight Farmer’s Market Dishes” is a hands-on class on June 1st taught by Chef Hollie Greene
“Shopping + Cooking Smart for Back to School Meals” is also with Chef Hollie Greene and hands-on on August 3rd.
“Fermentation 101” is taught by Mary Shiela and is hands-on. This class is on July 6th.
My New Home Gym
Late last year, my husband asked me almost every day what I wanted for Christmas. I kept telling him I have everything I need and not to worry. But gift-giving is something we all enjoy and I knew he wouldn’t agree to a gift-free holiday season.
I thought about it and one day I told him I wanted a treadmill. And that I wanted to put it in our formal dining room. I thought for sure he wouldn’t want to give up an entire room in our home just so I could have a treadmill, but he surprised me and said it was a great idea. I was elated!
I shopped around online, read reviews, checked measurements, cost-compared and finally found one I liked: the Sole F80 Treadmill. I could not be happier with my Christmas gift!
I have spent countless years trying to implement a consistent exercise routine that I actually enjoy, and now it’s finally happened. The treadmill arrived on December 18th. Since that day, I have used it between 3 and 6 times per week for no less than 30 minutes at a time. I made an agreement with myself when it arrived that I will never spend less than 1/2 hour on it, once I hop on, and I will use it at least three days per week. Right now I am using it three times per week for one hour. I walked/ran 12 miles last week!
I bought a shelf that straps into the treadmill dashboard. It holds an iPad and even my laptop so I can watch Netflix and read blogs.
Since we sacrificed an entire room in our house for the treadmill, I figured we may as well make it a full home gym! I bought a BOSU Pro Balance Trainer that I use for balancing, crunches and lunges. A foam roller for stretching my back and rolling on my IT band. And I brought the old recumbent bike and my free weights in from the garage.
I also bought a weight bench. I knew I needed one when I was doing bicep curls while sitting on our coffee table!
For the last couple of months, my hormonal issues have subsided (yay, no more hot flashes!), I sleep better, have more strength my lower body and I feel clear-headed on most days. I am also less cranky and my emotions are steadier.
Eating well and exercising really do affect your wellbeing and it doesn’t take years to feel and see the results. I am grateful to have these tools and valuable knowledge to help me continue to improve my health and overall wellbeing.
Disclosure: The Clean Eating Chef Series class at Ramekins was complimentary. All opinions expressed here are my own, as always.