Roberto Made Me a Meal I Couldn’t Refuse

Hey you! I decided to do things a bit differently today, and give a restaurant review. Last night I ate the most deliciously simple meal at a Colorado Springs establishment. For those of you who don’t live in Colorado, you’re going to be so jealous! However, stick around. I hope you find some key aspects to look for in terms of the nutritional quality of a restaurant by using this place as an example.

The place to which I am referring is called Basil and Barley. I half-expected to walk into another run-of-the-mill pizza joint; but that is not what I found. This authentic Neapolitan atmosphere is upscale yet relaxed and affordable. I felt so cozy and welcome from the second I walked in.

I ordered what could be construed as a fairly basic salad, but it was absolutely perfect. The salad was rife with dark, fresh spring mix (leafy greens) and it contained fresh figs, freshly shaved parmesan cheese, and several other superbly nutrient-rich ingredients. I know most people post pics of their beautiful meals…but this one was so good I didn’t even think to take a picture until I was DONE. Here’s my empty bowl to prove it:

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I didn’t order pizza, but I sat at the bar and got to watch countless pizzas being created right in front of me (the kitchen is an open-view style). The oven was imported from Naples! When I talk about eating “healthy,” the main aspects tend to always fall back to quality and quantity. Am I eating foods that have been minimally processed? Am I eating mostly vegetables each meal? A place like Basil and Barley capitalizes on scratch-made, high-quality ingredients for their food. I know that because a) I spoke with the owner (see photo below, isn’t he adorable?) b) I watched at least 20 pizzas be hand-crafted with incredibly fresh ingredients and c) my meal was DELICIOUS.

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So, for those of you who don’t have this lovely establishment nearby (it isn’t a chain, sorry), you can find places that are near you that exemplify the same key points. Fresh ingredients, menu items that are rich with vegetables, whole grains, minimally-processed meats and other protein-rich foods, and no pre-shipped, ready-to-heat-and-eat meal items are what we are looking for.

And, if you’re on your way through Colorado Springs, be sure to make this a point of interest. It’s barely a jaunt from Interstate-25 on your way through!

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Oh – and if you’re wondering if this is a sponsored post, it’s not. I just was truly inspired (and beyond satisfied with my experience) and wanted to share it with you. Perhaps it can be a barometer through which you measure your nearby eateries. I do not receive anything, monetarily or otherwise for this post. But…who knows…if you DO eat at Basil and Barley, please tell them lettucetalk.blog referred you. Maybe I’ll get a free cannoli! (Which by the way, I did try a scratch-made cannoli here, and it was amazing.)

xoxox

Casey

PS – Comment below if you try this awesome restaurant!

Chorizo Made Me Do It.

Confession: I ate terribly today. Actually, I’ve eaten terribly this week. Healthy habits will ebb and flow. The key to optimal health is your resiliency from the slippage. In other words, making poor nutritional decisions once in a while doesn’t destroy our health; continuously making poor nutritional decisions does.

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Here’s my raw, honest food diary for today. Drumroll please…I had a 16 ounce latte (half the syrup, thanks) for breakfast in lieu of healthy, chewable, real food; then for lunch I had a gut-bomb of a chorizo-egg-cheese burrito at our local authentic Mexican dive. I know, it sucks. I let emo-eating get the best of me. I chose my fav comfort foods thinking they would cheer up a sucky couple days. However, unsurprisingly, I ended up feeling worse. Why do we do that? Why do we consume things that make us feel so physically/mentally unwell? Well, we seem to mind-dump these feelings in between our gut-ache and the next time we make the same. exact. choices.

I’ll now share with you my top two strategies for getting my shit together after a nutritional nightmare of a few days.

First, it is the recovery that matters. Often when we go rogue in terms of food choices, we have a tendency to be “all or none” about it. We tend to think “well, the day is shot; might as well keep it [making bad choices] going.” Wrong. It’s never too late to recover the day to some extent. After eating that huge burrito for lunch, I honestly felt like I could go the next 2 weeks without eating. What a cinder block of food in my gut. Blah! But, I had a beautiful kale/Brussels sprouts/cabbage/pumpkin seed/craisin/sunflower seed salad for dinner. I don’t want to be all dramatic about it, but I already feel better and that was an hour ago. It’s not about trying to “detox” the day (that’s not how it works), but rather hitting the reset button and jamming some much-needed nutrients into my veins.

Second, it’s forcing yourself to lock this memory into your rolodex (do kids these days even know what a rolodex is??) so you can make better future decisions. In other words, really sit and take a quality assessment on exactly how you feel. For me, I have a raging headache (something in chorizo really gets to my skull), and I feel bloated and super tired. I knew that was going to happen today, but forged ahead with poor decisions anyway because I’m a flawed human. However, more often than not, I have success practicing what I call the “10-second rule.” The 10-second rule entails forcing yourself to truly think about the food or beverage you’re about to consume before you consume it. Think about how you are going to feel after you have it. Think about how it either helps or harms the progress you hope to make with improving your health, losing weight, etc. Really, really, think about it hard for at least 10 seconds before making a choice. You might just find that it increases the success rate on passing up the junk.

You’re a human. So am I. We are inherently flawed, and we’re programmed to do what feels good rather than what’s always the right thing to do. Practicing quick recovery and the 10-second rule can strengthen your resiliency muscle and gradually improve your habit reconstruction. It is a journey that doesn’t have a clear destination. Embrace that. Try harder, don’t get too down when you get off track (like I did). Get to it.

xoxo – Casey

Ps – Have you read my book yet? Check it out here!

Is Sodium Against us and PhosFORus?

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Nope and nope. Both sodium and phosphorus are essential for survival. Just a teensy glimpse into sodium’s pretty important jobs includes maintaining your body’s fluid balance and transporting nutrients across cell membranes. Just a couple of the things phosphorus is best known for include producing energy and building bones. Are we getting too much of these nutrients? There is more to the story than what you might think.

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Sodium, which you may know from its most famous role, table salt, has become a word to be feared by us, especially with regard to blood pressure (BP). The thing to know is that while too much salt can be detrimental to our health, so can too little salt. Yeah, yeah…most would argue that too little salt is unheard of in our Standard American Diet. However, the BP-raising amounts determined by many studies to be “excessive” are also far outside what the average person consumes.  Furthermore, not much (if any) evidence exists to support the stringent recommendations for the masses to restrict sodium to 1500 mg/day or less.

Furthermore, is sodium guilty by association? When we take a look at observational data, we see that those who consume too much sodium tend to have high BP. But just as often, those who eat too much sodium are doing so by way of heavily processed, packaged foods and/or fast foods; AND they aren’t eating much in the way of vegetables or fruits. Many processed, packaged, and fast foods contain high amounts of phosphorus in various forms because it can be a useful preservative. Many types of soda, especially cola, are also a huge source of phosphorus in the diet.

Therefore, in what could be considered a “poor diet” consisting of very few (if any) fruits or vegetables and lots of packaged/pre-prepared/fast foods and soda, sodium and phosphorus are almost always consumed in excess of recommended amounts. Additionally, excessive phosphorus intake has begun to enter the spotlight as a contributor to heart disease. Eating or drinking too much phosphorus tricks your body into deteriorating your bones, which is NOT GOOD. So is it the sodium that’s harming us, or is it the phosphorus? Is it both? Is there more to the story? Yes.

Many of the most famous “diets” such as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean eating style have proven to help people reduce BP and improve many other risk factors for heart disease. The thing is, they seem to do so independently of sodium or phosphorus counts. Why/how do diets like DASH or the Mediterranean eating style improve BP and heart disease risk? Among the many attributes of the DASH diet or the Mediterranean Eating style, both of these ways of eating largely emphasize a significant increase in whole vegetables and fruits.

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When we shift focus toward increasing nutrients and antioxidants via whole vegetables and fruits (rather than ordering salt-free French fries), a number of risk factors will naturally improve:

  • BP often goes down thanks (in part) to increases in potassium aiding in the fluid regulation mechanisms in our body and also from antioxidants in the fruits/veggies helping to soften and widen our arteries.
  • Weight improves because we are eating less (despite a potentially larger volume of food thanks to veggies!). A loss of weight also can improve BP by decreasing the work the heart has to do to pump all that blood through the body.
  • Cholesterol is often improved because of a decrease in omega-6 fats (often prevalent in processed/packaged/fast foods), coupled with an increase in fiber from all that produce.
  • Physiological processes can begin to work more efficiently. Without adequate magnesium, for example, insulin cannot be used properly in our bodies. Guess what has magnesium? Vegetables.
  • Energy levels. The top contenders for the factors most likely to promote jubilance instead of fatigue are:
    • Sufficient hydration
    • An adequate amount of good-quality sleep
    • A regular, consistent meal pattern
    • Balanced meals
    • Getting enough vitamins/minerals from WHOLE FOOD SOURCES, not supplements

Here’s the deal:  eating all the same crappy foods in “salt-free” versions WILL NOT IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH.  Salt-free French fries are not suddenly a salad, and low-sodium soy sauce is not suddenly “healthy.”  However, please don’t lose sleep over counting anything, including sodium or phosphorus.

IF you eat a Mediterranean style diet rich in fatty fish, lean meats, lots and lots and lots of vegetables, healthy fat, some fruits, whole grains, and calcium-rich foods, you will most likely be consuming the proper amount of sodium and phosphorus. You will also likely improve about a million aspects of your health and well-being. Don’t forget to drink lots of water, limit sugary stuff, and be as active as you possibly can no matter what that entails for you.

Love ya, mean it.
xoxo – Casey