Licorice, lollipops,chocolate and health fairs….

I attended a health and wellness expo last week to promote my business and share the methods I use to help people move better, feel better and get out of pain. I don’t participate in many events, but when I do, I always place a lovely basket of high quality dark chocolate at the edge of my table.

Just the thought of chocolate brings a smile to my face. And the smell! Is there anything more comforting than the smell of rich, dark chocolate wafting over you? Especially when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. As much as I enjoy getting out in front of the public, these big health expos make me incredibly nervous. I’m always afraid of feeling inept, or out of place.

As I organized my table, I set out my basket of chocolate. The heavenly aroma combined with the pretty wrappings began to work it’s magic. A few more deep breaths and I was home free. The other exhibitors were filling the room. One of them walked past me, so I gave her a bright smile and greeted her with a chipper, “Good morning!” She looked derisively at my table, sneered, and said, “Candy…..at a health fair! That hardly seems appropriate.”

Sheesh! I wanted to educate her on the many benefits of dark chocolate, but she didn’t seem interested in friendly conversation. She breezed past me to set up her table, which was across from me. To make matters worse, the nice young lady next to me was pulling out fresh produce and setting it out just a hair’s breath away from my chocolate.

My nerves started to kick back into overdrive, and the familiar feeling that I didn’t belong there threatened to take over. To pass the time and to avoid the condescending looks from my neighbor, I walked the floor to introduce myself to the other exhibitors. After all, if I was going down, I might as well go out in style.

I saw all kinds of people representing all kinds of businesses. I also saw bags of chocolate, bowls of licorice, and even a basket of gourmet lollipops. Yes, all at a health fair! Apparently I wasn’t the only one who felt it was okay to bring a few treats to the table, so to speak. Maybe I wasn’t out of place, and maybe I did belong there. My confidence started to return, along with my sense of humor and my incomparable stubbornness. I was ready for action.

It was a terrific event. I ran out of chocolate before the day was over. The gourmet lollipops were gone within a few hours, and so was the licorice. My next door neighbor never did run out of kale. And the lady across from me never ran out of opportunities to scowl as people walked past her with their licorice, lollipops and chocolate. I felt bad for her, because she didn’t seem to be having much fun, and she didn’t seem particularly happy. A small piece of chocolate might boost her spirits a bit.

Remember, everything in moderation. Including chocolate. And kale. It’s good for your health!

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP

Episode #16 You can have your kale and chocolate, too!

Are you ever confused about what to eat, what not to eat, what is going to kill you long before your time, and what is going to make you live forever? Do you feel guilty that you’re not following a kale-only diet and you prefer a piece of dark chocolate every now and then? Then this episode is for you!

There is so much conflicting information regrading nutrition, and a lot of crazy fads and bizarre beliefs that can actually be harmful to our health, let alone our mental and psychological well-being. There can even be a lot of public shaming surrounding food choices. Seriously, what’s up with that?

Download this fun and informative episode that helps clear up some of the confusion, and discover why it’s possible to have your kale and chocolate, too!

Seize The Day

A few days ago I woke up feeling heavy and sluggish. Gingerly I rolled over in bed, got up, and staggered toward the enticing aroma of fresh coffee brewing. Ahhhh, coffee! I followed it into the kitchen where my husband and 3 dogs greeted me with wagging tails and a cheery “Good Morning!” Easy for them to say.

Eventually the coffee worked its magic well enough for me to give everyone a pat on the head (including my husband) before going down to my girl cave to get some work done. I also had to clean the kitchen, get dinner in the crock pot, get dressed and head out the door for ballet class. I had a lot to get done, and I was in a crappy mood. I made sure I took my bad mood with me as I made my way downstairs.

But something funny happened. All of a sudden my creative juices began to flow. There I was, writing and working, working and writing. My mood began to shift and I felt lighter, and happier as I pounded away at the keys. Here’s one of my many deep, dark secrets–I can’t type. I never learned how. I’m a writer that can’t type and a physical therapist that hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. I giggled at the irony.

I glanced at the clock and got a shock. It was so late I would have to scramble to get dressed in time for class. Forget about cleaning the kitchen and making dinner. I was panicked about being late for class and agitated that I would lose momentum with my work. My bad mood returned.

As I ran around like a crazy person, I stopped cold. What was I doing to myself? I was exhausted, and it was obvious that my stress (as well as my bad mood), was purely self-inflicted. I went back into the kitchen, patted everyone on the head again (including my husband), and sat down to have breakfast with him. Surprised, he asked, “No barre today?” “No,” I replied. “I’m going to stay home, relax, and get some work done.” He smiled and patted me on the head.

There are a lot of life’s lessons in this story. First, we have much more control over our mood than we think we do. All it takes is self-awareness and introspection to lower our stress levels and change the course of our day. Next, it’s important to laugh at ourselves and embrace our idiosyncrasies. Also, sometimes we need to pass on the barre, no matter how tempting it is. Finally,  everyone could use a pat on the head. And a belly rub. It’s good for the soul. Besides, it makes us laugh. Most of all, remember to seize the day, and take charge of your life.

Hallelujah Kale Salad

I have a love-hate relationship with kale. On the one hand, I love the incredible health benefits in this beautifully colorful but pungent vegetable. On the flip side, I don’t like to eat it. Period. End of discussion.

A few years ago, I used my stealthy ninja tricks to sneak more kale into my diet. I had started juicing, because I heard about the almost magical benefits of this latest dietary fad. One of my friends even assured me that her green juices gave her “super powers.” Hmmmmm….I thought to myself, who wouldn’t want that? And I started adding kale to my juices.

Since my martial arts class started at noon, it was always a challenge to figure out when to eat lunch. Eat too close to noon and you feel like you’re going to throw up. Which would certainly defeat your opponent, but there are better ways of doing that. Eat too early and you’re defeated by your own plummeting blood sugar. Having a freshly rendered juice before leaving for the dojo seemed to be the perfect solution.

Until the day when I was feeling exceptionally adventurous and put an entire bunch of kale in my juice before I ran out of the house to go to class. Class always began with a vigorous acrobatic warm up including a complex series of rolls, falls, cartwheels, etc.  After my first 2 rolls I realized I had made a serious error in judgment. I managed to keep it together (if you catch my drift) for the rest of the class, but I assure you, I never did that again!

Recently, a friend of mine shared her kale salad recipe with me. It involves “massaging” the kale to make it soft and tender. Always skeptical, I tried it in spite of my misgivings, figuring I could always put it in the composting if it was inedible. It was delicious! So good that I ate the entire bowl in one sitting, without the dire side effects I experienced from the kale juice. Halleluja! Kale really can be irresistible! So….here it is. My Hallelujah Kale Salad.

1 bunch green kale

1 ripe avocado

1 lemon

sea salt

Mash the avocado in a large bowl. Strip the leaves from the stem, tear into smaller pieces, and toss them into the bowl. Add the juice of half a freshly squeezed lemon and “massage” the ingredients together with your hand. Not only does it soften and tenderize the leaves as you work the avocado into the kale, it’s an awesome way to work out some anger issues. Not that I would know anything about that. (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes right now). Sprinkle sea salt to taste and mix together.

You might want to add a bit more lemon juice. I like things that are tart (like myself), so I actually use an entire lemon. During a creative streak, I tried adding ingredients like garbanzo beans, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, etc., but it didn’t quite work out. In this salad, the kale stands alone. Enjoy!

Introducing Cheryl’s Kitchen

I can’t believe that I have had a blog for almost 8 years and I have NEVER added a recipe or two. What’s up with that? I do love to cook, as long as I have the time. Otherwise I am running around my kitchen like a lunatic, totally frazzled with the age old question repeating itself in my head. Which is, “What’s for dinner?”

The reality that dinner was all on me hit me after I graduated college and moved to Denver when I realized that if I wanted to eat, I had to cook. I’ll never forget the first dinner I cooked for myself. Frozen fish sticks, frozen veggies, and pre-packaged rolls. I thought that was cooking. And I wondered why I was getting fat.

I am a totally self-taught cook, and I learned mostly through trial and error. And there was a whole lot of error along the way.Most mothers teach their daughters how to cook. At least they did during the era that I grew up. But, since my mom had 3 little girls in 4 years, things were a little different in our house. My oldest sister was responsible for helping my dad with the yard work and heavy lifting. My next sister got to do the fun stuff like helping my mom with the cooking, baking, and ironing.

And then there was me. I got to clean the kitchen and the bathroom. By myself. Lucky me. So, where my sisters at least got some parental interaction, I was left alone with my thoughts and a can of cleanser. I guess that’s where my fertile imagination came from.

I bought my first cookbook 40 years ago, and I still have it. Although, when I use it I modify the recipes so much that even the author wouldn’t recognize them. After all, I’ve learned a lot about nutrition as well as cutting corners over the years. I’ve also learned how to lighten the calorie count while maximizing flavor and nutritional value. But please don’t let that scare you. Not all of them are light and healthy, but I assure you that they all are tasty.

I hope you love my kitchen as much as I do. Welcome to Cheryl’s Kitchen!