Finding Inspiration in Napa!

Beauty is abundant in Napa Valley

Beauty is abundant in Napa Valley

Hi everyone! I just returned from a 4 day conference in Napa Valley, called Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. This conference is a collaboration between the Culinary Institute of America and the Harvard School of Public Health. We sat in sessions focusing on the science of health and then how to translate that science into the food that is on our plates through cooking demonstrations and a hands on workshop. It is not very hard to be inspired by the beauty of Napa Valley. It is also easy to get inspiration being surrounded by healthcare professionals and amazing chefs who are committed to improving the lives of others through healthy food. I feel reinvigorated with new motivation and commitment to health for me and my family and for my clients. 

Pictured below with Chef Lars Kronmark. I love how he teaches, 'recipes are a guide!" In the past I would not have made this if I did not have every single item. I did not have the chilis at home so I sprinkled some cayenne pepper for a little heat. This recipe I created with my group in the hands on kitchen session I attended, highlights a whole grain in the brown rice and just enough animal protein. You can add any additional vegetables or greens to your preference. I made this at home since returning and used bok choy, baby bok choy and Lacinato kale. Use what you can find in the vegetable crisper. Easy on the fish sauce and additional salt if you are watching your sodium. I did not even use the ham and it was great. The fried shallots are so yummy! 

There was so much information, too much to share in one post. So here are some of the highlights which will be expanded upon in future posts along with some of my most favorite recipes from the conference!

  • The mediterranean diet with it's emphasis on vegetables, whole grains and unsaturated fats, in particular olive oil, has many benefits for our health. 
  • The type of dietary fat we choose is important. A recent study from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health showed lower mortality in those who ate more unsaturated fats and higher mortality in those who ate more saturated fats. Read more here
  • In order to eat more vegetables we need to make them delicious and craveable, not just a steamed side of something on our plates.
  • Home cooks eat more healthfully and eat fewer calories than those who dine out.
  • Mindfullness is very important to our overall health and affects our food choices positively when we can be mindful. Conversely, when we are not being mindful with our food, it can have negative effects on our health.
  • Exercise is great of course but it is only a subset of the greater big picture of "activity." Many of us need to work on becoming more active and therefore less sedentary, instead of focusing only on "getting exercise."
Walking back to my car one afternoon.

Walking back to my car one afternoon.

As I was walking back to my car at the end of the conference I started thinking about the 4 days spent here. Funny thing, even though I truly enjoyed my time away, conferences like this can be overwhelming. Because of the sheer amount of information and ideas presented, it can be hard to know where to start when applying to daily life. It's tempting to take all of these recipes and try to add them all in over the next two weeks. A better option is to pick one thing, one idea, one recipe and start there. So I think I will do that! Wanna join me?

** Blog content may not be applicable to your condition. Please discuss individual nutritional needs with Brenda during scheduled visits.