Crunchy Summer Rolls with Sweet and Savory Dipping Sauce

Crunchy Summer Rolls

I’ve had a terrible case of snack attacks this week.

Chips, fruits, bagels, yogurt, granola…uh, chocolate covered pretzels. Sure, that’s not all terrible but when you’re eating almost every hour on the hour, it’s time to admit to yourself that things have gotten out hand.

Not wanting to slide back into old, unhealthy habits, I knew I needed a veggie detox stat. It’s what I always do when I feel out of sorts. I had a plan but there was one more hurdle.

This week included a killer schedule that had me running all over the place. Getting to play around with new veggie recipes just wasn’t possible for me.

So, on the menu for this Meatless Monday was a super fast, super easy, super healthy mean-green dish that could get me back on track.

These crunchy summer rolls? Perfection.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

A bit of prep to chop, grate, and grill your fillings is worth the effort. Trust me.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Forget the rice paper. Go for big, dark, leafy greens. Not only are they packed with healthy nutrients, they’re built to easily roll up whatever you want. How cool is that?

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Having attempted and failed to roll burritos and wraps in the past, I have to say this was simply done. There’s no way to screw this up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

Sweet and savory with a dash of heat? Sign me up.

Crunchy Summer Rolls

And bonus points for being so pretty to look at.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 red beet root, peeled and grated
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed and cut in half if thick stalks
  • 1 small cucumber, sliced in thin sticks
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 6 large mustard green leaves, washed and dried
  • ½ Haas avocado, sliced
  • Olive oil spray
  • Dash of salt and pepper

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 2 tbsps of warm water
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (or fish sauce)
  • 1 tsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • ¾ crushed red pepper (or sriracha sauce)
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsps grated carrot

1. Heat a grill pan and spray with oil. Once hot, place half the asparagus bunch in pan. Spray oil and sprinkle salt and pepper over the top. Grill for 3-5 minutes on each side and set aside with the rest of the fillings.

2. In a small bowl, dissolve warm sugar in water. Then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Allow the sauce to chill in the fridge.

3. Working with one leaf at a time, trim the stems. Place a small amount of each of the fillings in the center. Fold the bottom up towards the center, then tuck in the sides and keep rolling until the fit is snug with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with the rest of the leaves.

4. Place rolls on a serving plate with the dipping sauce and slice in half. Done!

Wasn’t that easy? You can customize this with whatever ingredients you want. I’m not a fan of tofu, but that would go perfectly here, as well as mushrooms, micro greens, or even quinoa.

The next time I feel that snack attack coming on, I can roll up one of these veggie bad boys. Problem solved.

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

Do you have a Meatless Monday recipe to share?

As always, please feel free to share your comments below or on FB and Twitter.

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Experiencing Orthorexia: One Year Later

wpid-textgram_1393418126.pngIt’s been a year since I sat down to write about my personal experience with disordered eating. I had just come off a miserable attempt at the paleo diet where I lost more than just weight. My inability to distinguish between a healthy awareness of what I was eating and an unhealthy obsession with every item of food that I purchased, led me into a downward spiral. It took time and the effort of good friends to pull me out of that wretched cycle, until I was finally able to see the harm I was doing.

I’ve since accepted that my relationship with food is complex. I have certain triggers that lie beneath the surface and sometimes they’re tripped whether I realize it or not. What helped me was learning more about my behavior and speaking out about it any way that I could. Luckily I had this platform to get the word out there about orthorexia, an eating disorder that I didn’t even know existed until I saw a lot of the symptoms match up with my habits. It was vital for me to share this information in the hope that someone out there would find it beneficial for themselves or for a loved one.

And so I’m back here to share this story again, for this year’s National Eating Disorders Awareness Week running from February 23rd through March 1st. I continue to have my ups and downs, but the breakthrough I made last year helped me to find strength in expressing these thoughts to those I trust most, before they lead to unhealthy behaviors down the road.

If you’re experiencing difficulties in your relationship with food or body image, I urge you to please seek help from a trusted friend, family member, and most importantly a health professional. I know how hard it is to admit those thoughts to yourself, let alone to someone else who may not understand where you’re coming from. Speaking out about it is the all-important first step to healing and recovery. Wishing you good health!

What is Orthorexia? The Thin Line Between Healthy Eating and Unhealthy Obsession

Upon hearing the words “eating disorder,” it’s likely the images of an emaciated woman refusing food or another taking frequent trips to the bathroom to throw up are conjured.

We’re familiar with anorexia nervosa and bulimia through films, television shows, health class, or magazines. Modern technology now provides a new platform for these diseases with the creation of sites and profiles dedicated to ‘Anas,’ ‘Mias,’  and thinspiration ideals. Just do a quick search of these terms with a hashtag on Twitter and  you’ll see endless pages expressing the war with food out of a desperate need to be thin, raging daily.

You may know someone personally who’s facing their own battle with eating disorders and struggle with the obsessive addiction to be thin. Or maybe you’ve been down this road yourself.

However you’ve encountered eating disorders (ED) in the past, most people have heard of anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating in some context. Given the overwhelming statistics of ED related health concerns and the media coverage utilized to help educate the public about these disorders, its become part of our modern social discourse. Despite that awareness, many people become afflicted with anxiety and some form of disordered eating, especially within our environment that often provides conflicting ideas about food and health.

There are eating disorders aside from anorexia and bulemia that are relatively unknown but share the same foundation of obsessive control of food for the purposes of weight loss or management to the point of addiction. I had my eyes opened forcefully late last year when I discovered one form of ED that I’d never heard of before but would never forget: orthorexia.

I recently told a story about my experiment with the Paleo diet and how it triggered some of my negative behavior with food that I thought I’d overcome. It was during this time that I discovered orthorexia.

I was at work going through my news feed and came across this article from Runner’s World that grabbed my attention. It spoke about how a fixation on eating healthy, organic foods can sometimes cross a line when you become obsessed with the need to be absolutely “pure” in all of your food choices. I felt that the description of this disorder fit me like a glove, and so I did what I normally do while reading health articles: I self-diagnose and freak out.

Everything about this disorder seemed to make sense to me since I was in the throes of a diet crisis that hadn’t even reached its peak yet. My breakdown wasn’t due for a couple of months, but I’d already sensed something was off in my gut.

The idea that you could take something perfectly healthy like eliminating processed foods from your diet or reducing your sugar intake and pervert it by ruthlessly examining every item of food that crosses your lips to determine if it passes your own high standard of healthiness didn’t seem far-fetched to me. It’s this kind of obsessive analysis that goes on in my mind all of the time about everything, especially food when I don’t keep it in check, which I wasn’t last year.

I think what eventually forced me to admit that something was wrong was my level of anxiety. I couldn’t just get home and throw dinner together or quickly pick up lunch during the day. I had to painstakingly plan my meals out ahead of time and think through each item on my grocery list to see if it passed my personal ‘approved list’ of foods that I could eat. What was supposed to be a simple diet turned into a nightmarish process. And worse yet, I’d still experience guilt if I wasn’t committed 100% of the time or ‘cheated’ on one meal. How could I not see the similarities?

Courtesy: Athleanx
Courtesy: Athleanx.com

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, orthorexia nervosa  is an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating to the point that ‘purity’ becomes the goal and foods deemed impure are completely eliminated. The emphasis is more on quality than quantity and orthorexics go to extreme lengths to fiercely maintain a diet as natural and clean as possible.

Our nation is in the midst of a national health crisis with regard to the rates obesity and its associated health risks that constantly play out in the media on a daily basis. The focus on leading healthy lifestyles along with a movement towards going green with organic products and cutting out processed foods to be replaced by natural, all blend together to create a perfect storm for those susceptible to obsessive behaviors surrounding food. The sad irony is that in an effort to embrace a positive lifestyle change, some adopt worse habits that can be devastating and difficult to overcome.

Erin Sund wrote about orthorexia for AND and spoke with Dr. Marjorie Nolan about the disorder:

“Orthorexia starts out with a true intention of wanting to be healthier, but it’s taken to an extreme,” says Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Spokesperson Marjorie Nolan, MS, RD, CDN, ACSM-HFS, who specializes in working with eating disorder clients. “If someone is orthorexic, they typically avoid anything processed, like white flour or sugar. A food is virtually untouchable unless it’s certified organic or a whole food. Even something like whole-grain bread – which is a very healthy, high-fiber food – is off limits because it’s been processed in some way.”

Although orthorexia is not officially recognized by the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders),  it is quickly becoming accepted as a new form of disordered eating that has similar effects on both the physical and mental health of those afflicted as anorexia and bulimia.

I am not a licensed professional nor a registered member of the APA or the AND. But I am an expert in me and what I’ve gone through personally with relation to food, and the point here is that any kind of obsessive behavior where you’re spending more time thinking about the food and its components and less time actually enjoying the meal, is not a good thing.

Initially, I found the very existence of a term that described my food issues satisfying with an immediate sense of relief as if I’d been “figured out.” There’s a name to what I’ve been experiencing and that makes all of this okay, I thought.

The fact is, no it really doesn’t make it okay. Giving it a name helps bring it out of the closet and raises awareness to others out there who might not realize that its unhealthy to be so excruciatingly detailed in their thought process about what’s on their plates. But that’s just step one and it’s harder to land on step two.

I don’t know if I’m orthorexic or if anything I’m going through qualifies as a classifiable disorder and really, I couldn’t care less. Tagging it as one thing or another doesn’t take away from the fact that I still have too many thoughts about food which make some decisions that are simple for others much harder for me. I don’t know why. I couldn’t tell you, but that’s where I am.

I’ve made a commitment to leading a healthy lifestyle and I believe I’m capable of approaching food with a positive frame of mind. What makes a difference for me is allowing myself to speak openly about my challenges and shed light on those dark corners so that I can stay on the right side of the line. I don’t think having a passion for healthy eating and living is a bad thing and it’s something I’m continually trying to understand each day.

The benefit I found from discovering orthorexia is that it opened my eyes to the negative habits I developed and it helped me begin a process of forgiveness and healing. I was able to acknowledge that it was real and that I wasn’t the only one with this kind of pressure. It’s all about choices and being honest with yourself about your intentions. That’s the power of knowledge and that’s my goal with this blog.

In an effort to keep that going and to share information that I think is vital for everyone to know, here is an infographic created by the non-profit National Eating Disorders Association who recently sponsored National Eating Disorders week February 24 through March 2nd. It was a massive campaign to help educate the public on the impact of eating disorders and learn more about services available for those in need of support and professional help. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) is another amazing resource if you’d like more information.

Courtesy: NEDAwareness
Courtesy: NEDAwareness
Courtesy: NEDAwareness
Courtesy: NEDAwareness

I am always staggered by the statistics for ED. It reminds me that these disorders afflict people of all backgrounds, races, and genders.  Shed any limited thoughts you might have about the face of ED and consider that it’s an issue that affects people from so many different walks of life.

Have you experienced similar anxiety about food and healthy eating? What do you think about classifying orthorexia as an eating disorder and treating it as a disease? Share your thoughts! I’m curious.

As always, keep paying it forward, now and always. Stay healthy. 🙂

Featured post

Breaking through the fourth wall in blogging

“How do you do it?”

That’s a question I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Recent posts and photos highlighting my weight loss led people to ask me what I did and how they can do it too.

I craft my responses carefully, taking the time to word my advice in a way that’s helpful and not trite or preaching. I write, delete, and rewrite each response several times because it matters to me, more than I think maybe the person asking the question realizes.

Where I draw the lines and how I offer my recommendations are all part of the responsibility I’ve taken on as a writer putting their life on the public stage. And I take that responsibility seriously. It’s not enough for me to bullet point a workout or share a recipe; there are strings attached to each of my stories because my health, my relationship with food, my overall well-being is personal.

There are times where I hesitate to cross boundaries that I’d thought I’d set when I started this blog less than a year ago. That pause usually comes out of fear of revealing too much of myself while I’m still in the middle of processing whatever issue it is I’m writing about. But the reality is I take pride in that honesty. Sharing my stories of disordered eating, job dissatisfaction, and an endless quest to find happiness allows me to connect, not only to you the reader, but to myself.

Writing about healthy living offers an opportunity to pull back that curtain and to break through that fourth wall to reach out and share that bond. They may not know it, but some of the readers I’ve had the pleasure of talking to outside of this blog, have done more to help me heal some of my wounds this past year than I would have thought was possible. This page has become an extension; an avenue where I can say what I need to say and work out my issues in a way that will hopefully gather readers around the topic and encourage them to chime in with their thoughts and keep the conversation going.

maya-angelou-quotes-on-writing

I’ve been lucky. My audience has been receptive and generous with their supportive words and overall positivity. Every time I post something that I think might cause some eye-rolls, the response has been overwhelmingly good which reinforces my opinion that it’s better to bare the truth because that’s what people relate to more often than not.

But the reality is that not everyone out there is going to be your biggest fan or your greatest supporter. There are always opposing viewpoints to yours that will challenge you and make you question your priorities. This is true in the real world, especially when confronted with issues like body image and food. So too is it true in the online world where people often unleash their views harshly and without reproach.

Two posts published last week managed to remind me that when you take that brave step forward and share your personal thoughts on diet and exercise, not everyone will agree. In fact, some people go out of their way to make you feel bad for taking that step and tear you down instead.

The first was written by Cassey Ho, a mega-popular fitness blogger of Blogilates.com, who has won a slew of awards and has thousands of followers she dubs her “popsters” with an infectious enthusiasm in each of her fun (and challenging!) pilates videos. Despite her massive success, Ho still faces self-doubt and fears about her body and how it’s perceived by the public. She spoke about this fear after receiving hurtful comments from readers who asked where her “thigh gap” went and how she ate herself “fat” after her bikini-figure competition last year.

cassey ho bikini npc
Cassey Ho after months of physically demanding training for her figure competition last year.
Photo courtesy: blogilates.com

Ho could have ignored the comments and continued posting her daily workouts without pause. Instead she chose to address those readers in her post, Ashamed of Gaining Weight, by speaking openly about how they made her feel. She didn’t point fingers or lash out, but she did reflect on the impact weight gain has on her role as a leader for her followers that turn to her for motivation and guidance on their own fitness journeys.

While reading her article, I could feel her internal conflict and the complexity of her position. Her choice to focus on what made her happy emotionally, even at the cost of another fitness competition and the risk of further criticism, earned an enormous amount of respect from me as both a writer and as someone who shares a similar burden when talking about weight and fitness. You can break through that fourth wall and reach out to the audience by putting yourself out there, but ultimately you have to be true to yourself and what works for you. The same goes for every person seeking good health and optimal living.

The second article was written by Winnie Abramson. In a piece titled,  An Open Letter to Everyone Who Eats, Abramson followed up with critics of her original article detailing why she gave up the Paleo diet. This struck home for me given my own troubles with Paleo last fall that led to a post featured on my page.  I was nervous telling that story, but soon felt reassured by others who told me that it was more important to stick to what worked for me.

Abramson, however, received the bad with the good. Some chose to poke holes at her story and accuse her of being a quitter. It prompted her to write this follow up and vent the frustration of having to defend a point of view that was meant to express a personal choice and not a castigation of those in support of a Paleo lifestyle. It brought me back to where I was when I worked on my post and where my thoughts about dieting led me as a writer trying to figure out what kind of story I wanted to tell.

I thought about how I felt as I sat down to write how maybe I was setting a bad precedent of sharing what I considered to be “failures.” I didn’t give paleo that strict effort that so many do and I felt that it didn’t give me the authority to write about my own experience. I worked through that reluctance, published anyway, and remembered something I said months before.

You don’t need to be an expert to sit down and write.

You don’t need to hide your story because that’s what gravitates people towards you.

People connect with the person behind the words; the words are merely a vehicle.

I carry those lessons with me each day. That even though I run the risk of offending someone one day with my writing, I won’t allow that to stop me from sharing the story. Part of what makes blogging so special is that ability to connect and circle back; a link between blogger and reader that allows for both sides to connect in what can be a profound moment. The “I TOTALLY know what you mean!” effect that lasts beyond the initial reading and digs its way into your heart and mind.

Both Abramson and Ho made me realize how personal that connection can be and how much it can hurt too. But with that pain comes the realization that those of us who choose to write about our healthy lifestyles and the steps we take to get here are doing so for a reason. Criticism offers us a space to reflect on where we are on our paths and to see beyond the hurtful words to get to the heart of what’s causing that critic to lash out in the first place. With the fourth wall down, we can ask you “why?” and then we can offer healing.

It’s a valuable lesson that reminds me why I chose to do this. I’m willing to face the bad with the good because I feel that there are things I need to say. I need to say them for myself. I need to say them for the person looking for the “how.” I need to say them for every person who doubts the power of their voice.

The curtain will always be pulled back for better or for worse.

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