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Blog

Filtering by Category: Food

VIDEO: The Trick to Creating Permanent Change: Losing the Weight for the Last Time

Danika Brysha

There's a certain high that comes along with a great weight loss and feeling better about ourselves... and a very clear low when our diet eventually fails us and we gain the weight back. By this point, most health-conscious individuals recognize that diets don't work.  The key is making realistic lifestyle changes that have no end date in sight.  So if diets don't work, what can we do in order to create lasting change? I've got your back!  Check out my latest video on creating permanent changes and the trick to losing the weight for the final time.  And a bonus, this tip helps in all areas of life whether it's addiction, a job we don't like, a bad relationship, or just an overall desire to step yourself UP in the game of life.

Things That Have Been in my Mouth: Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing

Danika Brysha

Another delicious meal has driven me straight to the blogosphere. I was craving a salad for lunch (that sentence was about as recognizable as Arabic for me a few years ago) and I was somewhat bored of my usual olive oil-balsamic-salt-pepper dressing.  I'm traveling to Costa Rica in a few days for a yoga retreat so I'm holding off on going grocery shopping and trying to make use of what I already have in my fridge.  Enter this new salad dressing concoction! And it is DELISH! My mom didn't really cook much growing up- leave it to me to point this out on MOTHERS DAY- but really, she didn't.  We were always on the go so I ate a lot of fast food- pizza, McDonalds, bagels, Taco Bell.  As a result I never really learned how to cook.  As I got older and started caring much more about what went into my body, I was forced to teach myself... and honestly it is super easy. The number one concern I get from people wanting to eat healthier is that they think they can't cook.  I promise you, you can.  Pick a recipe, cook it, and then you can forever use it as a starting point to make your own varieties and mix up flavors and ingredients.

I've been eating super clean for over four months now and essentially follow the Whole30 program, which is quite similar to Paleo.  My diet consists of organic fruits and vegetables, eggs, fish, and meat that is hormone/antibiotic free and properly fed/raised, and healthy fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, and raw nuts. If it doesn't fall into one of those categories, I don't eat it.  Period.  I've learned so much about our food industry and I think that we desperately need to get away from all the processed foods, chemicals, and added sugars we are filling ourselves with these days. I don't count calories, fat, or really anything. I eat when I'm hungry and I try not to when I'm not. Four and a half months later, 30lbs lighter, and more vibrant, happy, and energetic than I've been in my entire life- I am living proof of how powerful nutrition can be.  Food is most certainly the best medicine. And I am most certainly in this for life.

I often miss those creamy Caesar and Ranch dressings that I used to eat before I realized what was in them, and I've found the secret ingredient to get back that comforting consistency without the poison.  Cashews!!

Ginger-Garlic-Cashew-Dijon-Jalapeno Dressing Recipe (Paleo, Whole30, and Life-Friendly)- Makes about 4 portions for meal-sized salads

1-3 Organic Garlic Cloves (I'd aim for 1, I used 3 and the Garlic was a little overpowering)

1 1/2 tsps Organic crushed Ginger

1 small jalapeño pepper chopped- seeds/center removed

1/2 cup soaked raw cashews- You must soak these or the dressing won't have the same consistency- Just cover them in water and soak for about 6 hours... or if you're me three weeks because I forgot about them.  I recommend making a double batch so you can use them for other things

3 tbsp Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

3 tbsp Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dijon Mustard

Salt, Pepper, and Red Chili Peppers to Taste

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor, magic bullet, or whatever fancy apparatus you have that I can't afford. Store excess in a glass jar or tupperware in the fridge. I don't know how long it can stay there. I don't work for the FDA.  I'm surely thinking about it though. 

Arugula Salad with Avocado, Pear, and Cherry Tomatoes (Amounts are for one meal-sized portion)

1/2 bag Organic Arugula 

1/2 Organic Pear

1 cup Organic Cherry Tomatoes- halved lengthwise

Freshly Ground Pepper

Toss arugula, pear and cherry tomatoes in dressing with your hands to coat evenly.  Arrange on plate and add avocado across the top because it will look prettier that way in your Instagram photo.

Enjoy!!

Practicing Vulnerability: Journals Unedited

Danika Brysha

In the last couple months, I have been journaling every day.  I absolutely love to write and when I do, time stands still. It has been the first time that I've been able to really make sense of my thoughts and to truly access that deeper level that has been buried or numbed for so long. Most of my blog posts take fragments from my journal and are edited to suit an audience but every now and then I want to share with you the dialogue that comes straight from my heart.  My journal entries, completely unedited.  Here is what came up this morning...

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Date: Friday, April 11th, 2014

Time: 12:30-1:30pm

Location: NYC- Meatpacking District: random table and chair outside Gaslight

I decided to stop and sit in the action of the city to do this morning's journaling.  With the exception of the cigarette smoke that's reaching my health bubble, everything is pretty perfect.  I just had a casting at Milk Studios so I'm looking pretty top notch as well. I like being alone in a big city occasionally.  All sorts of energy passing by as I peacefully sit here and write.

I want to feel like New York is as magical as if I was sitting in the middle of Paris or Barcelona.  And it is!  It can just be hard to recognize when you feel like it isn't going anywhere.  When you live here it is really easy to take for granted the fact that I'm living in the most beautiful part of the most amazing city in the world.  How lucky am I?!

I really don't need much to make me happy.  Getting good sleep, getting up and ready for the day, and getting out into the world is so fulfilling.  What I'm doing right now is what I hope to be doing forever.  And its so great to know just how little I really need to be happy. A journal, a pen, a roof over my head, food to eat, and love and support around me.  I could really make that a reality anywhere.

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It's truly a great day in NY.  The first since I've moved here that was really suited to sitting outside and writing.  I have a feeling that Spring will be when I fall madly in love with this place.  As I've been spending more time out and about, meeting people and being present, I'm reminded of how many wonderful people are out in this world.  It's a true shame that we don't get to meet all of them but I trust that the universe brings together the right ones. 

I've been really wanting to be my true, authentic self more lately.  I notice that I still wear a lot of masks and that I want nothing more than to totally strip myself of them in all arenas. The thing is, I know I'm a beautiful, passionate person worth of love and I truly believe that I'd find even more support and much deeper connections if I could just find a way to cut out all the bullshit.  All of the caring what people think, trying to please everyone, and anything I do that suggests I'm trying to be something that I'm not.  I know I'll get there.  I've already come so far and I know it's just a matter of time.  I'm just going to try to be more aware of when I think I may be faking or trying too much and to make some positive shift.

(My friend) Julia is staying with me and she's just so real. So able to be vulnerable and not concern herself with what I think when she tells a story.  She seems to just be really in tune with herself which I admire.  For so long I numbed myself to all my emotions so I can't expect to start feeling and being completely in tune with them right away.  It all takes time.  It's a journey much like mine with food.

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I'm beginning to get a lot more comfortable with being hungry.  I've found that now that I've told myself that being hungry is ok, I'm a lot less frantic about the concept.  I can relax and live more, knowing that I don't have to plan every move around my next meal.  Knowing that food will always be there and that I won't starve.  It feels really freeing.  And I think that's gonna be the key to being able to tune out the thinking about food all day thing.  Because when I know its ok to be hungry, I can forget to worry about it and in turn focus on living fully during the remainder of my days.  When its not a constant concern, I'll be able to forget about it- which for me is the ultimate goal. 

To only think of food and eating when my physical body tells me it needs fueling.  That would be a true cure for me.  The goal of all of this.  To take all the power away from food and to view it strictly as fuel. 

Be someone who "forgets to eat" or who finally views eating as another normal daily task like going to the bathroom or sleeping.

Something we think about when our body alerts us to its necessity and that we don't think about when it doesn't. That's how I define being cured from food addiction.  That's the END!

I think I've always had a hard time determining what the goal was.  What to strive for at the very end of all of this.  What I can tell people to expect when they can finally conquer all of this.  Being the kind of person that can have a box of Cheez-Its go stale in the cupboard or find a bag of peanut M&M's that have expired in your pantry.  

And fortunately through all of this I've managed to become super passionate about health and nutrition as well.  Thinking for so long that they were two completely related concepts but really they're quite different.  I'm glad my comfort eating led me to thinking nutrition was the answer because though I'm realizing that it isn't, I managed to gain an extreme love and passion for quality, real, whole foods in this process of self-discovery.  And that is truly invaluable!

Danika

Things That Have Been in My Mouth: Carrot and Broccoli "Spaghetti" with Meat Sauce and Sweet Potato Fries

Danika Brysha

Get your mind out of the gutter.

So I just made something for dinner and my mouth/body fell in love to the point that I felt almost sinful not sharing the recipe with you guys immediately.  Like, I want you to eat this for dinner.  And cover your body in it.  Or maybe I was just really hungry and it wasn't that good but there's really only one way to tell.

This is technically my first recipe post but as many of you know via my Instagram FoodFlashMob (@danikabrysha) I've been cooking up a storm since I began my journey to health a few months ago.  I've been wanting to share recipes with you and so let's cheers our tea and ice waters to the start of something awesome.

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Now, just a few notes.  I mainly shop at Trader Joe's because I like my money, so most of the ingredients I use are from there.  Also, I don't measure anything... because who has time for that?  Really I just don't have a dishwasher in my NY studio apartment that I pay way too much for, and this gal is not about to wash an extra tablespoon for nuthin'.  So if you have more specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments and I will not hesitate to answer you.  Unless I'm really busy.  Like on Pinterest or refreshing my Instagram feed or something. I also keep a lint roller close by the stove at all times. I just feel safer that way.

Everything I eat is free of dairy, grains, added sugars, additives and hormones, legumes, and all that junk that holds us back from functioning at our optimum level. And our goal here in my cyber universe is to help you be your best self ever as I continue my journey to be mine.  I try to buy all organic as far as produce goes but it definitely isn't the end of the world if not.  For meats, I make sure they are free of hormones, humanely raised, and fed proper feed.  For beef, that means organic and grass fed.  Cows are so stuck up.

I didn't plan on writing a blog on this but when my mouth felt that warm, salty, meaty explosion I sprinted (ok, I didn't sprint) to my computer to shout on mountaintops.  Enough banter, more beef.

Grass-Fed Meat Sauce (Makes about 3-4 Servings: awesome left-over with just about anything expect probably fruit...)

1 Package (1lb) Organic Grass-Fed Ground Beef from TJ's

Extra Virgin Olive Oil- If I had to guess I'd say 2 tablespoons)

3/4 red onion chopped

4 mushrooms (I think they're button, whatever that means) chopped

5 cloves of garlic chopped finely

10 cherry tomatoes- halved lengthwise

1 green bell pepper chopped

1/2 can (3oz) of TJ's organic Tomato Paste (comes in a 6oz can)

Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder, Oregano, Basil, and lots of Red Chili Flakes if you like to spice things up

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Organic Carrot and Broccoli Spaghetti (Makes about 2 servings)

One bag of TJ's Organic Broccoli and Carrot Slaw

1 tbsp Coconut oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste

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Organic Sweet Potato Fries (Makes 2 servings)

2 small to medium organic sweet potatoes

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

Salt and Pepper to Taste- (cinnamon and unsweetened shredded coconut are great additions too)

Sweet Potato Fries: Preheat the oven to 400.  Chop sweet potatoes in half length wise and cut into skinny fries.  Toss with melted coconut oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until some of the fry ends turn black. I like them crunchy. And this is my blog so thats how you're eating them.

Meat Sauce: In a large pan, sauté (fancy for "mix with plastic spatula I got at Target for $1") olive oil, bell peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes on medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until soft-ish.  Add whole package of ground beef by breaking into pieces and then continuing to break with spatula.  Mix meat in will with veggies and oil. Add spices to your liking- I love salt and red chili flakes so I went heavy on those but about 1-2 teaspoons of most of the spices should do. Cook until browned and add half a can of tomato paste and mix in well.  Let meat sauce simmer on low heat for however long it takes to get everything else ready- anywhere from 8-20 minutes is great.  Clearly this is a very serious recipe.

"Noodles": In another large pan, heat coconut oil and add full bag of carrot and broccoli slaw.  Mix with coconut oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Saute for about 5 minutes until soft and noodley where you're like "woah, are those noodles or vegetables?... I guess I'll never know".

That's it! I'm not going to tell you how to arrange this on your plate because I like to believe that the people I surround myself with, i.e. you, know how to do such a thing.  If you don't, maybe send me a private message.  We'll have more to talk about than food aesthetics.

And Voila!  A delicious Paleo, Whole-30 Approved, fancy looking meal that won't have you heading to bed or the toilet immediately after.

Let me know if you'd like to see more recipes or if you made this one and what you thought of it!

I love you.

Danika

Food as Comfort

Danika Brysha

I just woke up from a short, very much needed nap and felt an overwhelming lure to eat.  Quite zombiesque, I went to the kitchen and began shoveling some assortment of fruit into my mouth.  A box of raspberries, a carton of blueberries, blackberries, and a handful of grapes- non-organic... ballsy, I know.

It was temporary comfort and I acknowledged quite quickly what was happening.  I had still been physically full from a big lunch I had had an hour before and it was clear to me that this yearning or hunger was coming from a different place.  I acknowledged it and did my best to be present in the binge.  I knew that when I was eating and I wasn't hungry, I was actually eating to fill some void.  To find some comfort for something within me.

And just a note- my binges didn't always look like the example listed above.   They used to involve $45 at the Taco Bell drive thru, 5 spoonfuls of raw cookie dough, bags of Funyons, Munchies Mix, and Flavor Blasted Goldfish, a full Hawaiian pizza, Heath bars and Peanut M&M's- and much more. The memory is so clear.  I've shifted the foods I keep around to be much healthier after educating myself on all the chemicals, hormones, and additives in most of our foods today. So, though the food types may have changed, the emotional connection is exactly the same.

I continued... eating a Chocolate Coconut Lara Bar followed by a Fuji Apple with probably 3 servings of Raw Almond butter sprinkled in cinnamon.  Upon the last bite of that apple I was physically stuffed, slightly uncomfortable, and now on top of the discomfort I had felt that originally led me to food- I had added the feeling of guilt.

The biggest challenge that I've been facing lately is deciphering between my hunger for sustenance- the physical growls and pangs of an empty stomach and a body that needs (healthy) fueling- and that of my hunger for something more.  I've used food as comfort for as long as I can remember and I'm very aware that at the core of finding my way to a super healthy relationship with food, is the ability to recognize the difference between these two hungers- and to act accordingly.  When the hunger is not physical, the answer is not food. Healthy or otherwise.

On this particular day, I am very tired.  I have been quite consciously focusing on getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night lately, but I'd made an exception.  Last night something really magical happened to me.  I sat down and started writing in this journal after years of only writing directly on my computer (technically typing).  I'd always wanted to start journaling again like I often did in the single digit years of my life, but it always just seemed unproductive and like work.

I'm not sure what it was that made me take an actual pen to paper, but from the second I started writing I felt a rush of pure passion come over me and the next thing I knew, it was four hours and almost half a journal later of my thoughts and feelings and ideas before my eyes.  I couldn't stop writing and I got completely lost in the words.  For the first time since childhood I felt like I was able to directly stream words from my heart to the paper without the process of overthinking that comes with the usual pitstop in my head- the writing for an audience and critical self observations.  Time just completely stood still and I felt like I had rediscovered this passion that I had known all along was within me.  The next thing I knew, it was 5AM and my eyes were burning but my soul was in one of the calmest most serene states I had felt in ages. As if I'd just emptied layers of emotions I'd numbed over time.

Which brings me back to the point that I am VERY tired today and rather than listening to what my body really needed- sleep, I turned to food instead.  But when I use food in this way, I am in reality just covering up the problem instead of solving it.  Much like many prescription drugs do today, I was treating the symptoms rather than the cause. Food is a drug. It's real yo. Except we can't quit cold turkey. Mmm, Turkey.

But then something clicked and I paused in my place. It's ok to not be perfect all the time. To seek comfort in something outside of us.  The best thing we can do is pause for a second, be completely present, and show compassion towards ourselves.  Shift the thinking from being guilty, "cheating", or lacking willpower to making the conscious choice that though you may know that what you're doing is not the answer, it is what you need at this time.  And when you pause to accept that you are eating to comfort and you are consciously choosing to do so, then you'll find that the "craze" and feeling of powerlessness diminishes even faster. You'll quickly gain back control and you can then stop when you've had enough. It is important in that very moment to be kinder than usual to yourself, and then move forward having learned something from the experience, and with a new sense of power and ability to cope when you're forced with it again.