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Hi there, Stephanie.

I just had one of the best weekends I have had in a long time! I had the great pleasure of going to Atlanta to celebrate my best friend's graduation from her MBA program. On top of getting to see her in her cap and gown, six of her friends (including me!) spent the weekend at a nearby lake catching up with her and each other. After all, she's been crazy busy building a business while earning her graduate degree and the rest of us are spread out all over the country.

It was such a fantastic few days! We stayed up well past our bedtimes. We laughed until our bellies hurt. We reveled in each others accomplishments (I'm telling you, they are a hugely successful group of women, personally and professionally!). And we discussed various struggles, offering sympathy and help as we could. One friend summed it up best when she said we were leaving "physically tired but emotionally refreshed".

As if all of that wasn't more than enough, we also ate really, really well!

I knew we had thoroughly planned our meals, taking various food allergies and sensitivities into consideration while also aiming to eat generally healthy food. But I didn't realize just how delicious it was all going to be! I mean, some of us like to cook, but none of us are chefs! :)

We started with cedar plank grilled wild Coho salmon with grilled asparagus and a grilled peach and blackberry salad. Yes, lots of grilled components as that was the easiest thing to cook on!

For breakfast on Saturday we had an amazing sweet potato, onion and green apple hash topped with fried eggs (runny yolks of course) and a gorgeous fruit salad with mint and lemon juice (not picture, unfortunately!).

For another meal, we had sot tacos and lettuce wraps with mahi mahi, chicken and beef for filling with slaw, salsas, avocados two ways, crema and limes to dress them. As you can see, we made sure there was a little something for everyone.

What a wonderful weekend feeding our hearts and our bodies!

My hope for you is that, as the weather continues to turn warmer and the social calendar gets fuller, you realize that you don't have to derail your efforts to eat healthfully in order to enjoy the summer! With a little planning, you can eat delicious, satisfying and nutritious food while basking in the glorious warmth of love and friendship. Speaking of...

What I've been watching: What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness.

"Good relationships keep us happier and healthier."

That's the main point of this 13 minute TED talk by Robert Waldinger, in which he describes the results of a 75 year research study on happiness. That's right, for 75 years they followed a group of men from the poor part of Boston and another group from Harvard to determine how they would fare emotionally, mentally and physically based on a whole host of inputs.

What they found is that committed relationships between people who support each other, especially in the hard times, is the key predictor for happiness and health. Not cholesterol numbers. Not fame and fortune. But knowing that at least one person would always be there for them made for a good life.

After my weekend with that group of amazing women, I can tell you that I definitely feel happier and healthier!


What I've been reading: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

I have always loved Barbara Kingsolver's work beginning with one of my favorite books of all time, The Poisonwood Bible. Now, in this memoir / journalistic investigation called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Kingsolver takes us on a year-long journey with her family in which they vowed to eat only food they had grown themselves or could purchase from other farmers in the immediate vicinity.

Clearly, I am not able to follow in her footsteps and eat only home grown food. And it's not just that I live in Manhattan, but rather that I can't keep a plant alive to save my life! That being said, this book educated me and made me think.

In addition to describing the life cycle of plants and what eating in season is all about, Kingsolver explains where synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides come from (oil and natural gas), how bizarre our food chain is (we export 1.1 million tons of potatoes and import 1.4 million tons... of potatoes!), and why health care costs so much (one of every three dollars spent on health care is paying for the damage caused by our bad eating habits). And she does all of this in her easy reading style, so you don't feel totally weighed down by the journalistic nature of the material.

Plus, it's a fun read and you'll find yourself cheering for them to make it to the end. And, hopefully, like me, you'll find yourself wanting to further develop a meaningful relationship with your food that feeds your body and your conscience.

Have a great week,

Stephanie Dunne, MS, RD, CDN
P.S. I know I didn't get any new blog posts written in the last two weeks (it's been a little hectic around here). But stay tuned as we're moving on from gut health to talking about detoxification!
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