A Friendly Helping Hand in the Kitchen

v haldeman photography

Hello! I’m Robin, Health Coach and Chef of Skip the Box. Are cravings or emotional eating making you feel out of control? Are you tired of feeling tired? Or perhaps food, your body, and you are not friends. If you’re looking to make a shift and want to try a different way, health coaching may be something to consider.

New Group Coaching Course: Cravings and Emotional Eating

I remember past Octobers, excited that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were coming up yet also terrified. How was I going to handle the excess of food? No joke — I’d sweat and plan and plan some more about what I’d eat at an upcoming event so I could have a “good day,” and it somehow never worked out. I’d give in to some treat that looked tasty or start feeling uncomfortable in a large group of people and then start to snack. I’d feel such a sense of “must have more!!!!!!” that by the time the day would be over, I’d be stuffed, feeling sick, fat, ashamed, and like a will-power weakling. I don’t know how many times I vowed “Tomorrow I will start a diet!” If I could go back to my younger self on one of those days, I’d give her a hug and throw out the idea: “Hey, today doesn’t have to be like this. Would you like to try something different?”

Imagine ending 2015 feeling healthy, happy, and rested, enjoying gatherings and treating yourself well. What would it be like to start 2016 without feeling like you need to go on a diet right now? If cravings and/or emotional eating are sucking your energy, I invite you to join me for an upcoming group course: Oh Sh** – They’ve Struck Again: Cravings and Emotional EatingLet’s end 2015 with a “now that’s how we do a year!” and high five!

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Hope you have a truly awesome day. :)

When the Bottom is All You Can See — A Ladder

It has been estimated that by the age of 67, a woman has spent about a year of her life thinking about weight and diet.

The calculations work out to 21 minutes a day, or almost 2.5 hours a week. Wow. Imagine what you could do with an extra 2 hours each week (nap, anyone?).

However, I think this daily average is way low, at least for me. I spent a decade struggling with disordered eating, five of those years with bulimia. I’m 33 now. I bet I’ve spent over a year already. And I’m so done with wasting that time.

I recently read an article about a woman’s experience witnessing her sister’s struggles with eating disorders, as well as her own challenges (My Sister is Dying). It is a heartbreaking, haunting, and somehow beautiful piece. When I read it, I felt it. I understood much of the pain, sorrow, loneliness, and helplessness.

Struggles with food are about so much but yet not really about food. They can suck you in to the point you don’t think you can ever climb out. The pit seems bottomless and so very, very lonely. And asking for help? Where do you even start, that is if you’re even ready? Maybe that is even harder than the day-to-day struggles.

Grace, beauty, and healing are possible – this I will never doubt.

Make no mistake that it will be a cakewalk with rainbows, unicorns, and butterflies. It may be harder than anything you’ve ever known. However, it also has the possibility of way more beauty than you’ve ever known.

For those who are in the depths of the struggle with disordered eating and aching for a different way, something new to try, I will be offering a group coaching opportunity beginning in October. There will be a teen session and an adult session; meetings will be virtual (with the possibility of in-person meetings depending on the location of participants).

If you or someone you know is interested, I invite you to join me. Please contact me with any questions. Holding space with you.

Avocado Banana Chocolate Mousse (Vegan & Food Allergy-Friendly!)

I came across an avocado chocolate mousse recipe on Food52 and couldn’t pass up giving it a try. It didn’t contain any of my son’s allergens (peanuts, dairy, and/or eggs) and I’ve had really good luck with recipes from Food52, so I figured at the very least it would turn out to be decent.

It did not disappoint! With a few small tweaks, it has now become one of the favorite desserts at my house. It is rich, smooth, and chocolaty, with a hint of banana in the background (and no, it does not taste like avocados). My son has asked for it every day for a week, and my stepdaughter declared it “Awesome!!!” after nearly licking her bowl clean. I’d call that a success. :)

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Avocado Banana Chocolate Mousse
Serves 2-4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Chilling time: 30+ minutes (can be eaten right after making but it’s even better cold)
Adapted from food52.com

6 oz (or about 1 heaping cup) chocolate chips or broken chocolate pieces (I used the allergy-friendly Enjoy Life Mega Chunks; you could use regular semi-sweet, milk, or dark chocolate chips/chunks if no allergies/intolerances)
1/4 cup milk (almond, coconut, soy, rice, cow — whatever you like; I used almondmilk)
1 t vanilla
2 avocados
1 ripe banana
Small pinch of salt (~1/8 t)
Maple syrup, honey, or agave to taste (I used ~2 T maple syrup)

1. Heat chocolate with milk in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until chocolate is melted.

2. In a food processor or blender, combine the chocolate/milk mixture with the remaining ingredients except the sweetener. Blend until smooth.

3. Check; add sweetener of choice to taste and blend until smooth again.

4. Divide into bowls and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge if you can wait that long. While it is best cold, it is still awesome right after being made (and that is when it is typically eaten at my house). So if you can’t wait, it will be okay. :)

What the F*** Should I Eat?

To say food can be a personal issue is an understatement. Besides its basic function of fueling our bodies, food can be used as a way of celebrating, a means of showing love, or a way of numbing pain, among others. Diets are a dime a dozen, each providing support for why it is the one to follow with ways to prove it. We hear from food activists and lobbyists, as well as about “Big Food” versus locally-grown and organic. Add to that messy situation food sensitivities, allergies, and intolerances. What the f*** should anyone eat? But the basic need for food remains — everyone has to eat to live. So, what do we do?

There is a lot I don’t know. I do know it’s not my place to tell someone else what is right for them. Life can be a complicated and complex journey, and I certainly don’t know all of the ins and outs of the lives of others. Heck – some of the time I’m lost in my own! While do I think some foods are more healthful than others, I don’t know if there is a “one size fits all” diet out there. And even if someone is eating all of the “right” and healthy foods but for the wrong reasons (yeah, I’ve been there), the negative energy that may accompany each meal probably isn’t a good thing.

In my own journey, I’ve slowly been shifting the way I eat to a more whole food, plant-based diet. Am I a vegan? No, but I lean that way. Do I always eat whole, unprocessed foods? No, not 100% of the time, though I try to do so as much as possible. Do I always buy organic, local, etc.? No, though when it is feasible I do. If I had to describe my diet, I would say it is one of moderation (or at least that is what I aim for!).

I’ve found that I don’t do well when I try to cut something out entirely (no sugar today = wait, all I want right now is a cookie and I will feel like a bear until I get one!!). However, I know that I feel more vibrant, awake, and alive when I eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, and as I’ve become more aware around what I eat and how I feel, I find myself tending towards things that serve me inside and out.

I recently read a post that resonated with me by Luke Jones on Health Room about why he eats a whole food, plant-based diet. I also appreciate many of the things Lisa Leake shares on 100 Days of Real Food. There are so many other wonderful resources out there, and I think having access to so much info is great. What may speak to me may not speak to you and vice versa. And at the end of the day, I think many of the resources have a very similar underlying message about making changes to improve the health of each one of us as well as our planet – just slightly different routes to get there. :)

On that note, I’ll leave you with the link to an awesome dish I recently made: Quinoa with Carmelized Butternut Squash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts. It is vegetarian as written; if you want to go vegan, skip the cheese and butter (add more EVOO).

Dessert Tonight: Almond Butter Brownies

While getting dinner ready for my kiddos tonight, I really felt like having dessert too. I didn’t have anything already made and wanted something I could make quickly. Bingo – almond butter brownies from foodbabe.com. The batter is easy to throw together with ingredients I typically have on hand, as well as avoids the no-no items on my son’s allergy list (peanuts, dairy, and eggs). So, it is a winner in my house frequently.

The picture doesn’t do the brownies justice but it is what I could get before they were devoured. Yes – we ate them straight out of the pan while they were still warm. :)

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Happy Wednesday!


Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowls

Thai chicken quinoa bowls: one tasty lunch or dinner. My husband is not a huge quinoa fan and he liked the recipe, which tells me it is really good. And it’s quite quick to make — bonus!

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Notes: Since my son is allergic to peanuts and eggs, I substituted almonds and almond butter for the peanuts and peanut butter, respectively, and skipped the egg. I used water instead of chicken broth since I didn’t have any on hand and also added two thinly sliced bell peppers along with the coleslaw mix (to use up some older peppers in my fridge). If you don’t have edamame handy, peas would be a great substitute.

Resolutions, Kale, and Spaghetti Squash

I can’t remember the last time I really made New Year’s resolutions; I was never very good at sticking to any I did make and got discouraged easily. I’m usually way more successful when taking baby steps throughout the year. It’s funny — I used to scoff at baby steps and think only leaps would do until I realized I was rarely (if ever) successful at making any significant and sustained changes through leap attempts. :)

I recently read some tips for resolutions on foodbabe.com and appreciated what Vani the Food Babe had to say. If you’re looking to make some changes in 2014 and want to try something different, perhaps one of her suggestions will resonate with you: http://foodbabe.com/2014/01/08/resolutions/

While I don’t have any specific resolutions for 2014, I am always looking to try new and eat more vegetables. And coming into this year, this remains true. If you’re looking for new ideas, here are two dishes I recently made that I will definitely make again:

Kale and Apple Salad with Walnuts and Blue Cheese
Spaghetti Squash with Maple Syrup and Shallots

Happy Wednesday!

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year! I hope January is going splendidly for you.

As 2013 finished up and 2014 began, I spent a lot of time reflecting on my own personal journey over the past decade. Following a struggle with depression and bulimia during college and the years after, I’m truly grateful to be in a healthier and happier place today. With the support of my husband, extended family, friends, and two wonderful life coaches (Maripat and Jeanne), I’ve been able to move along the road to recovery and heal my relationship with my body and food (baby steps!), as well as learn a lot about myself. Thank you to so many for their love and support.

Along the way, I discovered a passion for cooking and whole self wellness. After much thought and deliberation, I made the leap into a new career and launched Skip the Box. I love what I do and am excited to have the opportunity to do it.

Moving into 2014, I’m excited to share more and expand Skip the Box’s services. If anything I do is able to make someone else smile, provide a little support during a challenging time, or make another feel a little less crazy, that makes me smile.

So on that note, I’ll share a quick link to a tasty treat to kick off the new year: fruit scones. Play around with other fresh or dried fruits; my family is partial to dried cranberries. For those looking to go the vegan route, try substituting coconut oil or a buttery vegan spread for the butter. I make them with coconut oil and have gotten rave reviews. :)

I wish everyone a very joyful and joy-filled 2014!


The Simplest of Cookies (Vegan)

I found this cookie recipe a few months ago through a friend; she and her toddler had made them and said they were tasty. Since they didn’t contain anything my little guy couldn’t eat and he likes to help me in the kitchen, I thought we’d give the recipe a try. While it ended up he was more interested in the measuring cups and spooning the mashed banana out of the bowl than actually eating the cookies, I really liked them and thought they could be a nice change at breakfast instead of my usual bowl of oatmeal. So, I now make them periodically for me. :)

They are best hot out of the oven. I can’t tell you how they taste the next day since I’ve always scarfed the entire batch down in the same day. I call them “Breakfast Cookies” since, let’s be honest, they are different from your typical sugar, butter, etc., cookie. But hey — that doesn’t make them any less tasty and who doesn’t like the thought of eating cookies for breakfast?

The Simplest of Cookies

Breakfast cookies
Makes 10-12 cookies
Total prep and cook time: 25 minutes
Adapted from The Burlap Bag

Banana: 1 large (riper is better; I’ve also used 1 small or 1/2 large AND 1/4 C unsweetened applesauce, which is very good too)
Oatmeal: 1/2 C (quick cook oats make cookies with a better texture, though you can use the old-fashioned variety if that suits your fancy)
Cinnamon: 1/4 t
Salt: 1/8 t
Mix-in of your choice: 1/4-1/3 C (I really like using dried cranberries; you could use whatever you have or want (e.g., raisins, nuts, chocolate chips) or leave out altogether)

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease baking sheet well and set aside (don’t forget to do this – you will not enjoy trying to get the cookies off the pan and then washing the pan later!).

2. In a bowl, mash the banana with a fork.

3. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until combined.

4. Spoon mixture by heaping tablespoon full onto the baking sheet (cookies won’t spread so you can put them close together).

5. Bake for 15-17 minutes (if using any applesauce, you’ll need to add a few extra minutes).

6. Remove to a cooling rack or directly to your plate (if you’re like me); enjoy!

Slow Cooker Pork Western Shoulder Ribs

Country-style pork ribs were on sale this week, so I bought two packages. While not technically ribs (in case you’re wondering — actually pork shoulder), they are still tasty and melt-in-your-mouth when cooked low and slow. I’m making them for dinner tonight; they’re currently in the slow cooker and the house smells great. With rice, cut veggies, and hummus, no one will leave the table hungry!

Pork shoulder ribs

For the ribs, I’m using a recipe of Mike V’s from DadCooksDinner; I also like his BBQ spice rub and am using that too. These ribs are really as easy to make as the recipe states. Now granted I already had the spice rub made this time around, but even if I had not, it still would have taken less than 15 minutes to throw the rub together and get the ribs seasoned and into the slow cooker this morning. I love meals that actually are this easy and quick. :)