Perfection is the Enemy of Progress

Sometimes I imagine a sign in my office, just above the door, that says “Perfection is the enemy of progress.” I think about this a lot, especially when I see people who are hard on themselves, who discount small efforts as insufficient, or who describe themselves as lazy, or incompetent, or unfocused. They are none of these. If anything they are precisely the opposite — hard-working, goal-directed and applied — but they tend to believe that if they can’t give it their all, there’s no sense trying because there can be no chance of success.

But it is not true that you need to do yoga at least a couple of times a week in order to benefit. And it’s not true that you need to start running 2 miles every day to be in shape or call yourself active. Just as you probably don’t need to scrub every last bit of sugar from your diet to consider yourself a healthy eater.

What is true, in both an abstract as well as a mathematical way — which is why I like thinking about it this way — is that whereas 10 minutes is twice 5 (and I seriously hope that there is no objection about that), 5 is infinitely more than 0. Going for a walk, no matter how short or long, is so very much more than not walking at all.

Increasing your activity level is about doing a little bit more than you used to. It’s about going slowly, so you don’t injure yourself and end up right back where you started. It’s about finding more opportunities to move, even if they are small. You’re not training for the Olympics, you’re just trying to move.

Do the math!


YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lilah & the Banana Muffins

My friend Lilah sent me this recipe for banana muffins earlier today. Even though she really doesn’t care for bananas, she said “I have to tell you, I loved these.” She said she’s planning to make batches to feed her kids for breakfast on schooldays. I like that idea. You have to assume, of course, that she’s planning to make enough to eat a couple more after they leave. I like that idea, too. And just so you know, there’s a version of this recipe (check out Debbie Reichert’s blog) that’s been posted more than 600,000 times on Pinterest.

2.5 cups old-fashioned or gluten-free oats
1 cup plain greek yogurt or coconut milk yogurt, Greek-style
2 eggs
½ cup raw honey
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 Tbsp. ground flax seeds (flax meal)
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ripe bananas, peeled and broken in half
1/4 c. walnuts, chopped coarsely
dark chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line 12 muffin tins with silicone or foil liners.
2. Place 1 cup of oats plus all of the other ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Add second cup of oats and blend until smooth. Add final one-half cup of oats and blend, once again, until batter is smooth.
3. Divide batter among cupcake liners, and sprinkle the tops with the chocolate chips and walnuts. Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
4. Allow to cool on wire rack for a few minutes, and then share the love! These are amazingly delicious, warm or cool. And yes, Lilah, I think they will make a fantastic breakfast for your kids. They would probably be really good with some peanut butter spread on top, too. Warm and slightly melty. Ohhh…

The Best New Health App in Town!

This past year, I met Adam Baratz, a twentysomething who was talking about his idea for the new app, Betchyu. And this past week, I am thrilled to report, Betchyu launched! The Betchyu team is everything you’d expect — young, hard-working, creative, smart, entrepreneurial, and ambitious. These guys have cracked the code for motivation. Way to go, Adam and team! Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Grace’s Cabbage Soup

You know how sometimes, rarely, you meet someone whose friendship becomes so valuable to you that one day you realize that you have become family? And you know how it takes you by surprise, the transition, because it is so seamless that you don’t even know when it happened, but suddenly there it is and it could never have been any different. Continue reading

Celebrations & Libations

This week has been a celebration, consisting of one wonderful meal after the next at my parents’ small farm in northwest NJ. Lots of people talk about how to add more vegetables to their meals, but here at the farm my folks are walking the walk. Eating vegetables is what they do. Our dear friend and neighbor Grace waxes about where to get the best green beans, broccoli, or early corn. The asparagus and strawberries are gone now, she reminds us wistfully, until next year. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Lebanese Potato Salad

This past weekend I had the great pleasure of collaborating with a friend on a collection of recipes for a beloved young couple starting their married lives together. Many of the recipes came from my friend’s mother and her grandmother, who came to the U.S. from Lebanon many, many years ago. So in honor of my friend, and the culinary heritage that she has been so lucky not just to inherit but to perpetuate, here is a recipe for Lebanese Potato Salad. Continue reading

Sugar for Breakfast?

Breakfast cereals have a praiseworthy origin.  They were invented by health spa owners offering an alternative to the usual breakfast of the time: eggs, coffee, and meat, usually beef, bacon or sausage. Coincidentally, the invention of breakfast cereal also provided an economical use for the crumbs that fell to the bottom of the bread ovens at the health spas. The word “cereal” simply means grain, and is derived from Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture. We’ve gone a long way from that origin, but unfortunately it’s been in the wrong direction. Continue reading

YOUR HEALTHY PLATE: Black Bean Salad with Quinoa

You can’t go wrong with this one-pot meal. Eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Take it to a picnic, a potluck, a brunch, or your own kitchen table. For folks with dietary restrictions, it’s the perfect dish to bring to a celebration or gathering when you’re not sure there’ll be anything there you can eat. Make a big batch on Sunday, and see how long it takes to disappear from your refrigerator. Continue reading

Eggs, Simplicity, and the Ruhlmans

It was quite an amazing week! It started with a visit with Michael & Donna Ruhlman, along with their generous gift of a copy of Egg: A Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient.

The Table of Contents alone scrambled my brain! Wow–check this out!:

Whole/Cooked in the Shell
Whole/Cooked out of the Shell
Whole/Cooked out of Shell/Blended
The Dough-Batter Continuum
Separated/the Yolk
Separated/the White
Separated but Used Together

Michael Ruhlman makes you think about ingredients in a  way you never have before. Continue reading