Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A New Beginning and A New Direction

A warm welcome to all of my returning friends and to all my hopeful new readers. Over a year ago, I began an amazing journey, which enabled me to pursue my dream as a Chef, a teacher and a writer. Dreams have a tremendous ability to shift and force us to change along with them. Thinking and seeing clearly can enable ALL of us to see the future and not just dream about it; to reach out and take hold of what we want and desire.

As I began writing, I noticed a trend in my own thinking going towards being healthier, not just with food but with all the aspects of my life. As I explored this thinking and did some research, I discovered some things that had a fairly big impact on where I was in life.

 I wasn't even close to eating healthy and most people I know were in the same place
 Many of the items that I thought of as healthy were in fact full of chemicals that are anything but healthy
 I was missing a spiritual connection in my world, for me though, this did not mean any sort of organized religion
 I had forgotten the simple pleasure of taking a deep breath in the morning and focusing on who I was as a person
The stresses in my life had a signifigant impact on everyone around me, which in turn caused them more stress and anxiety
...and there were even more of these discoveries!!
While this was happening, I took a step back and looked at where I had started and began to think on where I wanted to be as I moved forward. As I often do when I feel a little perplexed as to my own thinking I did two things. First I went and bugged Amy who was patient enough to point out that what I wanted was to express these feelings through my writing and food. Then I went over to my handy laptop and started to browse around, looking for some sort of sign. Imagine my surprise when I found the answers I was looking for!! An old friend from high school, Sandra Keros had a link on her Facebook page to a school out of New York, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition or as it known IIN (a quick note here, I would place that pesky 'tm' next to the name of the school, but can not find a button to do so as I type, sorry IIN). While all this was happening, I had another group of friends step up and really show me some positive support right from my first thoughts of going back to school. Christina, Danny, Peggy, Shannon and Amanda all said that it would be a great step for me and wished me luck. I hadn't even officially signed up for school and even more people were offering support. All of this led me to begin my new studies at the end of the October.
It was during the first couple of weeks that I discovered all the thoughts in my head were not actually bad, they were my bodies' way of telling me that I needed to make changes and open myself up to a more natural and healthy way of living. We, meaning myself, other students and fellow Health Coaches believe and practice Primary Foods. The focus is on the development of a healthy person from the inside and the outside. Relationships, Physical Activity, Career and Spirituality are all part of the Primary Foods that make us who we are. We include teaching on healthy food choices as well, along with a philosophy that not every diet is good for every person. Just like everyone is different from the people around us, the practice of being a Health Coach is about treating people as individuals and working towards goals that are designed for that person.
Since joining IIN as a student, I have strengthened my thinking about being and living healthier while discovering so much about who I am and now look at food and where it comes from much differently. I took a more focused look at what I perceived as my problems and this is what I came away with.
I was not a coffee drinker but I did drink a pretty high amount of soda, full of refined sugars, caffeine and chemicals that my body didn't need. Since cutting back on the intake of soda, I have noticed that I have more energy, think clearer, have become less irritable. All of this is much to the liking of my family and I have been able to lose weight as a result.

I began to read the labels of the food I was pulling off the shelf and was surpised by the volume of chemicals and ingredients that I could not begin to pronounce. Since this started, I now cook with more of a 'from scratch' style and foods are left whole to allow the natural taste to come through.
Spirituality can be defined in many ways, for me it was best stated as 'An inner path enabling a person to discover the essence of his/her being'. For me this turned out to be a two step process. First I discovered my inner path through just watching the trees and nature in all its different forms, a rainy day to sun shining on the water as I walk along the ocean. Secondly, this appreciation for something as simple as nature has led me to stop my day for even just a few minutes to breathe. Each morning I climb out of bed and spend a few minutes outside on the deck, I close my eyes and take slow deep breaths focusing on my own energy. At different times in the day, I pause and take the time to center myself by doing the same exercise all over. I have found this to be great stress therapy and it allows me to then go back to what I am doing with more energy and focus. I feel that it is important for people to realize that finding your own spirituality can come in many forms and it doesn't need to be the traditional form of going to church. It needs to be about what you feel and which path you want to find.
Stress -  when you think about it...we all have some in one form or another. It can come at us anytime of the day and has the ability to throw us completely off our planned day. Through the changes I have already made which include the stuff I just mentioned, the levels of stress seem to grow less and less each day. I don't know when it will come get me again, but through understanding myself better I can now manage my stress and still be productive throughout my day.
I would invite everyone who reads this to take a few seconds and give some thought towards your own goals, hopes and dreams. Listen to what your body is saying and more than anything...stop, breathe and enjoy life along with some good food!
Speaking of food, I am a Chef and my world does revolve around good eating. I did some research on finding out ways to make things that were gluten free over the summer and came across some ideas that have been combined many times and in many different forms. This Asian Chicken Salad is colorful, and easy to make. The best part of this, add in as many vegetables as you want. Part of learning to eat healthier is combining foods and adding a new twist into the mix. As an example, remove the snow peas and add in broccoli, or you could change the seseame seeds into pumpkin seeds and chicken to shrimp!!
Snow Peas are not only rich in fiber, they are aslo
low calorie and thanks to Vitamin K...They
also promote bone health!
Asian Chicken Salad
3 Cups Chicken Breast, cooked and shredded
1/4 Cup Snow Peas, remove strings
1/2 Cup Red Peppers, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Red Onion, thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 Cup Figs, chopped into small pieces
1 Cup Tahini Dressing
(Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds and is gluten free)

Tahini Dressing
1/2 Cup Tahini
1/2 Cup Olive Oil, you can substitute sesame oil if you would like
1/4 Cup Tamari, make sure to read the label and verify that it is indeed wheat free. Soy sauce contains wheat products. Tamari may also be labeled as Gluten Free Soy Sauce
1/2 Tbs Fresh Ground Ginger
3 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 Tbs, Chopped Garlic
Sea Salt as needed

Did you know that Ginger soothes the stomach
and it also aides in the digestion of the food we eat
Take the Snow Peas and dip them into hot water for 30 to 45 seconds and then quickly shock them with ice water to stop the cooking. For the Carrots, dip them into boiling water for about 3 minutes and repeat the cooling procedure. The idea is that the carrots become softer but still maintain that satisfying crunch. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and toss together. Pour half of the dressing over the top and again toss together. Add more dressing according to your own taste preferences. When ready to serve, top the salad with a tablespoon of black sesame seeds.

Thats all I have for today!! I hope that everyone will join me as I begin my journey towards being a healthier person. I am always available to anyone who has questions or if you feel that a one on one coaching session might help you out. Remember to take those few moments for yourself and read those labels. Have a fantastic day!! Also don't forget to see my page over at Facebook, which can be found by clicking this link Kitchen Time With Chef Sean
-Chef Sean Pike


  1. I am soooo trying this recipe!! And you are definitely on a wonderful path. Keep up the good work :)

  2. I totally know what you mean about taking that moment and just enjoying what is around you. I really learned how to do that while taking yoga classes. And yoga is very spiritual for me. Wish I could do it more!