Shame on you!

A chick is bornEvery crack is also an opening… begins the lovely poem by Mark Nepo. It was read out loud at grown-up sleep-away camp in Albuquerque where I, along with 24 other eager beavers, worked on the shame carried deep within. Lovingly dubbed “Shame Camp” by last year’s attendees, each of us met our internal shame carried by the parts of us that were wounded as young ones by an unintentional – or perhaps intended – event involving an adult. In our little, uninformed minds and purest of hearts, we made meaning about words or deeds that felt wrong, painful and shameful so that we could survive with the hurt, fear, guilt and worthlessness we felt afterwards. In so doing, we unwittingly locked away our vulnerable and sensitive feelings so that we felt safe and held within our internal system. At times, adults let us down and as humans, we have the capacity to survive most anything.

Perhaps you were one of us whose teacher expressed dislike for us. Or were teased by the pretty kids about wearing glasses or being a geek, or separated from the group by an adult leader because you couldn’t contain your affection for another classmate – you were bothering them and they deserved peace. Maybe it was bigger, a molestation or emotional and physical abuse. I wonder if you were forced to be the grown-up to care for an alcoholic or unemotionally involved parent. Maybe you felt hungry and weren’t fed because you were a picky eater and Mama didn’t believe in catering to such. In any event, we questioned ourselves. Do they like me? I think they hate me. I must’ve deserved that. This is too much for me but I have to keep doing it. I have to keep my mouth shut – I can’t tell. I don’t know why that happened – it was bad – that means I’m bad.

Until we take time to explore and listen to their stories, every time we shift behaviors to make change in our lives, whether it’s food changes, decreasing our alcohol intake, or polishing up our job skills, we stir up the sadness, worry, and frustration of our tender and younger parts that hold these mistaken beliefs formed in error. Changes lead them to believe their world is crashing around them, and they get even more excited and frenzied in their behaviors exhibited through us, now adults – binge eating, drinking, wayward sex, over-spending, isolation.

The deep inner work at adult sleep-away camp was intentional. Go inside, go deep, with compassion and curiosity, and see who needs your attention. Which part(s) of you is hurting, aching to be held, loved, noticed, seen, heard and understood? When our parts are witnessed in a loving, hopeful way, and they get to know you and you them, they lose their charge. They turn over their burdens and rest in your care. Your heart is big enough to hold each and every little part of you that exists (see tomorrow’s blog for Liz Gilbert’s story about her own parts). For now, enjoy A Chick Being Born.

A Chick Being Born ~ Mark Nepo

When in the midst of great change, it is helpful to remember how a chick is born. From the view of the chick, it is a terrifying struggle. Confined and curled in a dark shell, half-formed, the chick eats all its food and stretches to the contours of its shell. It begins to feel hungry and cramped. Eventually the chick begins to starve and feels suffocated by the ever-shrinking space of its world.

Finally, its own growth begins to crack the shell, and the world as the chick knows it is coming to an end. Its sky is falling. As the chick wriggles through the cracks, it begins to eat its shell. In that moment – growing but fragile, starving and cramped, its world breaking – the chick must feel like it is dying. Yet once everything it has relied on falls away, the chick is born. It doesn’t die, but falls into the world.

The lesson is profound. Transformation always involves the falling away of things we have relied on, and we are left with a feeling that the world as we know it is coming to an end, because it is.

Yet the chick offers us the wisdom that the way to be born while still alive is to eat our own shell. When faced with  great change – in self, in relationship, in our sense of calling – we somehow must take in all that has enclosed us, nurtured us, so when the new life is upon us, the old is within us.


Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Pumpkin muffinsStart your day with these hardy and filling muffins bursting with flavor and mellow sweetness from nature’s own maple sugar. Great afternoon snack, too. 

Yield: 12 muffins



  • Muffin liners
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour (can substitute whole wheat for 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 15 oz can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place muffin liners in muffin tray and spray each liners lightly with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Mix dry ingredients from the flour to the cloves in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir pumpkin, almond milk and vanilla extract together in a smaller bowl.
  4. Whisk eggs together in another small bowl just until well blended. Mix eggs into wet mixture.
  5. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until batter is smooth and well combined. Scoop batter into prepared muffin liners until rounded (batter is thick enough to do this.
  6. If desired, sprinkle tops with granulated sugar or bake as is in preheated oven until toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool before removing from muffin tray.

Adapted from (October Oatmeal Pumpkin Muffins)

Each muffin contains 186 calories.


Nutty and nice

Whole grainRead health and food magazines. ‘Eat more whole grains’ is the charge. Although nutrition experts recommend increasing dietary fiber, grain confusion and carb-phobic attitudes prevent whole grain intake from being achieved. Why the whole grain buzz in the first place?

First, let’s debunk the fear of carbs. Dieting mentality and the influx of specific eating patterns like high protein, Paleo and gluten-free diets have given carbs a bad rap. Broken down into food examples, fruits and vegetables are mostly carbs as are refined and whole grains. Carb-rich fruits and veggies offer loads of cancer-preventing antioxidants. Inflammation is the foundation of all disease and refined grains contribute to inflammation. Refined grains have been modified to remove bran and germ and offer little nutritional value. Examples are white flour used for cookies, cakes, breakfast cereals, and snack foods like pretzels and crackers; white rice, white breads, and regular pasta. Whole grains protect against stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity, inflammation-driven negative health conditions but also lower blood pressure and promote dental health.

Whole grains contain the complete bran, germ and endosperm and are fiber-filled vessels of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, some protein and healthy fats. Common whole grains include quinoa, bulgur, farro, brown rice and oats and can be used to create tantalizing dishes.

If you want to reduce risk of disease and maintain an optimal weight, consider ditching refined “carbs” like sweets, pastries, bagels, crackers, and muffins and toss more fresh veggies and fruit along with whole grains onto your plate. Here’s a delicious start on that journey!

Quinoa, Cauliflower, Cranberries and Nuts

Frozen, pre-cooked quinoa and prepared chopped cauliflower make this an easy weeknight meal!

Quinoa, Cauliflower, Cranberries and NutsIngredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable or low-fat chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion, finely copped
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachio nuts (or chopped almonds or walnuts)


  1. To cook quinoa, rinse with water and drain. Combine with the vegetable broth in a small pan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet and saute the onions over medium-low heat until soft and translucent.
  3. Add the cauliflower pieces and water. Cover and cook 5-7 minutes over medium heat until tender.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa to the cauliflower followed by the remaining ingredients. Toss together and serve.



Up the ante with veggies

Fritta and Veg Crunch SaladA goal of mine as a dietitian ‘that the Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommends‘ is variety. Not only does food diversity ensure an abundance of vitamins and minerals, it keeps boredom and dinner ruts at bay.

Epicurious has a brilliant chart for upping vegetables, flavor, and zing into several protein-rich frittata recipes (crustless quiche). The one pictured is brimming with zucchini, mushrooms, shallots and garlic. Alongside is a chopped veggie crunch salad – just make it up as you go along. Finely chop broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots, then toss in golden raisins and sunflower seeds. Toss well with a homemade coleslaw or mayo and lemon-type dressing.

This mouth-popping combo makes getting 3 cups of veggies in one day accessible. It’s easy prep and tantalizing, like fireworks in your mouth.




Vegan tomato soup to chase winter’s chill

Vegan Tomato Soup


  • 1 medium sweet yellow onion
  • 6 tablespoons Earth Balance
  • Two 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 46-ounce tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable broth powder
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sherry or white balsamic vinegar, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups cashew cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 cup chopped watercress


  1. To make cashew cream, soak 1 cup raw cashews in enough water to cover for an hour or longer. Drain, place cashews in a blender or food processor, add ½ – 1 cup water and pulse until blended and creamy.
  2. Dice the onion. Melt the Earth Balance in a large enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven (a large soup pot works too), then sauté until soft and translucent.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and tomato juice, sugar, and vegetable broth powder.
  4. Top with freshly ground black pepper, increase heat to a near boil, them remove pot from heat.
  5. Add the sherry, cashew cream, basil and watercress. Stir until the watercress wilts.
  6. Serve the soup with hunks of warm, crusty French or Italian bread spread thickly with Earth Balance!


Good Measures