Nicci Morris

Posts Tagged ‘Moderation’

Your Mind, Body And Spirit Know When It’s Time For A 21-Day Detox

In Food, Lifestyle, Love/Relationships, Spirituality on May 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm

We all have things that we feel are necessary for our existence. Beyond water, oxygen and food, we have physical and spiritual needs. It is important to meet them in healthful ways and on a consistent basis. When that does not happen, disorder can easily settle into your mind, body and spirit. I recently did a 21-day detox (no animal products, alcohol, yeast breads or any processed food) and I felt wonderful. There is a direct correlation between contentment and perceived success and the level of connection you have with what keeps you grounded.

There are three major things that ground me and keep me focused.

Walking with Bella does more than get my heart rate up and my blood flowing. It also gives me an opportunity to clear my mind and to commune a bit with my furry baby, the trees and the grass. There is something very zen-like about the rhythmic sound of my shoes hitting the ground… Bella’s leash jingling occasionally. On those walks, the sun and wind feel like old friends and I love to reconnect with them.

But my true exercise love is Bikram – or “hot” – yoga. This practice consists of 26 yoga postures done in a humid room heated to between 105-115 degrees. If that sounds like torture to you, please trust me when I say it is just the opposite. I use each 90-minute class to sweat out toxins, to increase strength of every muscle in my body (including my heart) and to release stress. For me, it is akin to a full-body massage in terms of how relaxed and balanced I feel after each practice. With each drop of sweat that hits my mat, I feel stress and worry leave my body. At times, the classes are so intensely cathartic that I weep as I move through the postures, grateful my face is already flushed and wet so not even I can tell the tears from the sweat.

I also do traditional gym workouts to mix things up a bit. Plus, there are times when I enjoy the buzz of working out with other people amid the whir of 50 treadmills and elliptical machines. But I am gentle with myself in the gym during a detox program.


This is now far more simple for me than I ever realized. The reality is I feel, look and generally live, act, react and think better when I eliminate all animal products (including eggs and dairy) and processed foods (soda, yeast breads, etc…) from my diet. When I explain that, people often say, “If I did that, what could I eat?” The answer is plenty. Did you know spinach contains protein? Quinoa, legumes (for those who can properly metabolize them – I, unfortunately, cannot), avocados and nut butters are rich sources of protein, just to name a few. Note that I didn’t mention tofu. While it is a great source of nutrition for those who choose meat-free nutrition, I avoid soy for my breast health as a result of my family history.

On my detox days, I remove coffee and tea (yes, even herbal and decaffeinated tea). The only thing I drink other than spring or distilled water is coconut water and vegetable and fruit juices and smoothies I prepare at home. I eat oatmeal, rice milk, fresh and cooked fruit and vegetables, lots of simple salads (like cucumber and tomato with a little olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper) and homemade soups. The first couple of days can be a little trying, but after that I feel so good that it’s easy to keep going.

As I have mentioned before, these two practices are unique yet I feel they are symbiotic. For me, both are necessary for clarity and a balanced mind. It is not about praying to or for anything in particular. The most powerful changes come into my life when I use meditation and prayer to turn the focus inward, not up to the heavens. The miracles multiply in my life when I focus on gratitude for what I have, not on asking for what I think I or someone else needs.

This time around, I am also cutting out television and social networking for 21 days. I would rather use the evenings during my fast to meditate, pray and catch up on my reading.

Toxins come in many forms if you consider it. They are ingested into us through food and drink, but they are also introduced into our minds and spirits through what we hear and what we see. If your mind, body and spirit are telling you (as mine is telling me right now) that it is time for a detox, do it. It’s only 21 days and it will fly by. I start today and I will do my best to track what I eat, drink and do these days in case it inspires you to do a detox when you are ready. As always, you should definitely check with your doctor before making any drastic lifestyle changes.

Give up the common things so you can focus on what you truly need most and be amazed by what uncommon goodness comes into your life.



Prepping for Thanksgiving

In Fashion/Style, Food, Holiday on November 19, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Photo by Evgeni Dinev /

The road from October 31 to January 1 can be tough for those of us who have to work a bit harder to maintain a healthy BMI. During this period, Smarties and minature candy bars beckon, egg nog and hot apple cider find their way into your glass, Grandma’s turkey and dressing magically appear on your plate, and pies haunt your dreams…

Hey… This is me. I get it. But we can make it through this and we can do so with grace and deliciousness.

You don’t have to give up all of your favorites during the holidays. And although it’s a fun low-calorie novelty, ThinkGeek’s Thanksgiving Dinner Gumballs (left) probably won’t take the place of dinner next Thursday.

I’m down four pounds putting me at 175, still ten away from my preferred weight. I’ve gone back to cutting way back on “white foods,” decreasing portions overall, and I’ve increased cardio and weight training. Nothing else works for me. I’m hosting Thanksgiving so it’s basically planning two dinners: One for everyone else and what I’m going to allow myself to eat. I’ll likely have a plate of turkey breast, baked sweet potato, and greens…

Here are some great ways to cope with the holiday season and avoid holiday heft. Stick with me and you’ll be able fit into your clothes when you’re standing in your closet to figure out what to where to a New Year’s Eve party next month.

Avoid office snack traps

Work can be a minefield of fat-, sugar- and calorie-laden treats during the holidays. Whether it’s the homemade cookies or the sinfully delicious rum balls your colleague brings in every year, it can be tough to resist all of the goodies that crop up in cubicles and office kitchens this time of year.

Instead of being a double-fisted eater, be sure you have a pen or a book with you when you go survey the goodies. That will make it a little bit easier to resist puttng a cookie in each hand. If you do indulge, make it worth every calorie and only do it once. Have the wedding cookie, but not five. Enjoy a slice of pie, but make sure it’s not two or three servings.

Get creative with your workout

I know you’re busy and there are days when it doesn’t seem to be any time to juggle it all. But you can sneak in workouts throughout the day, even if you can’t make it to the gym. Do squats in your office while you’re on a conference call. (Yes, I’ve done that. Yes, people might stare. They’ll get over it and your rump will be fab.) Take an exercise ball into work and sit on that throughout the day. Doing so will engage your core, burn calories and even help you improve your posture.  When you go to the mall, park as far away from the store and powerwalk your way across the lot. Every step counts.

On the weekends or to prep for guests, crank up your favorite playlist and get moving while you clean. I think I burn more calories when I clean than I do when I hit the gym. If you weight 150 lbs, you can burn 238 calories mopping the floors in your home. Not too shabby.

Don’t overdo the drinks

Many people forget about all of the calories they consume in beverages. It’s as if they don’t think it counts if you don’t have to chew. One serving of egg nog can have 343 calories, 19 grams of fat and 34 grams of carbs (with 21 of those being sugars).

Go easy on the creamy, chocolatey drinks and stick to low-calorie options like wine spritzers, vodka (or gin) and diet cranberry ginger ale, or red wine.

Spoil your appetite

That’s right. I’m suggesting that you eat before you go to a holiday party or dinner party. Low-fat, low-calories options such as vegetable soups, crudite or whole grains can fill you up keep you from rushing the antipasti and dessert trays when you get to the party. (Avoid anything that will make you bloated though. You still want to look nice and feel comfortable.) Plan ahead and it will be easier to make healthy choices when you get to the party. It’s kind of like having the Debbie Downer with you when you go out with your girlfriends. Debbie is handy because she doesn’t mind watching your purse while you dance and she keeps the creepy guys at bay. A healthy, filling snack before you head out does the same thing for your waistline.

Do you have more tips to stay svelte this season? Comment and tell us what works for you!

Photo by Evgeni Dinev /

A once-a-year kind of treat…

In Entertaining, Food, Recipes on November 27, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Happy Holidays, all! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.

I’ve talked with many of you who feel that gaining weight is inevitable this time of year. But I am here to encourage you to not buy into that lie. I have managed to not only keep holiday heft at bay but to even lose a pound or two the last two years. It is feasible and you can do it too. If you implement The Zaftig Life mantra of “Moderation. Balance. Health.,” I know that you, too, can maintain or even lose a few pounds this season.

The Zaftig Life is not about restriction. It is, however, about moderation. Instead of throwing in the towel from November to December and vowing to eat better in 2010, start today. Enjoy some holiday treats, but only in small amounts. You simply cannot indulge in cake, cookies, alcohol or turkey sandwiches every day (or even every other day) for a month and a half and not expect your pants to get tight. (Don’t even try to blame it on the dryer!) But you can make smart choices when it comes to food, beverages and exercise and still have delicious goodies while maintaining a healthy weight or even shedding extra pounds. And the good thing about the occasional treat is that you are less likely to go off on a fat and sugar bender when your cravings are out of control.

Yesterday I made a pecan pie with chocolate and bourbon. I know what you might be thinking… “That does NOT sound figure-friendly.” That’s because it’s not. It is well over 600 calories per serving. That is insane. But it’s also insanely delicious… I can (and I did) indulge yesterday. It’s full of butter, sugar, 90 proof bourbon, and has a ridiculous calorie count, but it’s a once a year treat. If you decide to indulge in this pie, I recommend you make it a once a year treat, too.

Photo by Nicci Morris

By Nicci Morris

Chocolate-Bourbon Pecan Pie

1 store-bought pie shell (I use and highly recommend Marie Callender’s deep-dish pastry shells)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup salted butter

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup bourbon (I used Ezra Brooks 90 proof)

1 teaspoon good vanilla extract (never use imitation)

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup pecan halves

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

In a saucepan combine sugar, corn syrup, and butter. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until butter or margarine melts and sugar is completely dissolved. Cool slightly (you don’t want to scramble the eggs in the filling).

In a large bowl combine eggs, bourbon, and vanilla and mix well. Pour cooled sugar mixture into egg mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in chocolate and pecans. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until set and crust is golden. If the crust starts to brown too much before the filling sets, fold pieces of foil over the crust while it finishes.



Recipe inspired by this version of the recipe on AllRecipes.

Zaftig-approved goodies…

In Lifestyle, Nic's Picks, Zaftig-Approved on November 13, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Zaftig-approved Goodies - by Nicci Morris

Whether you want to lose weight or you’re at the point in your Zaftig journey where you are maintaining your curves, the fact is you have to eat and you have to move to get the results you desire.  Getting to and staying at a healthy weight does not require deprivation and you don’t have to give up snacking. On the contrary, grazing throughout the day while remaining mindful of your nutritional and caloric intake can actually rev up your body’s metabolism. That means you’ll have better results, more energy, and you’ll feel and look better than if you were restricting calories too much. Bottom line: Eating and weight loss/maintenance go hand-in-hand.

Hence, this is the first installment of “Zaftig-approved” goodies. If a goodie is “Zaftig-approved,” you can count on a few things:

  1. You’ll probably like the way it tastes and it will be satisfying. No sense in eating something that’s full of empty calories, devoid of nutrition AND you’re still hungry 30 minutes later! Zaftigs don’t do the calorie wasting thing… We know better. While we’re never going to all agree on what’s delicious and what’s not, I know you’ll love most of the picks. (No, I won’t give you your money back if you buy something I recommend and you hate it. Keep your receipt, love!)
  2. I’ll tell you all about how and where to find the goodies. I hate when someone tells me how great something is and then I have to hunt down the brand to find the nearest retailer. Part of why I’m here is to share deliciousness with you, and I plan to do just that.
  3. Finally, because we know good health is all about balance and moderation in everything we do, Zaftig-approved goodies won’t always be food. A goodie is anything my fellow Zaftigs would find appealing (a great beverage, fabulous workout gear, dreamy shapewear, great walking/running shoes, a great deal at a gym, can’t-miss exercise videos or equipment, lotions, makeup, a book you can’t put down, etc…)

If you want to send me suggestions for items, please feel free to do so! And I definitely look forward to you guys weighing in with your own opinions of all the Zaftig-approved goodies to come!


Salts to taste…

In Food on November 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I love food. I love the holidays. Combine the two and I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve. It’s just a week after Halloween and I’ve already heard holiday music in the stores. Time to get shopping!

One of the cooler food-related gifts I’ve seen is this salt sampler in a beautiful bamboo box. It’s a collection of 24 salts from around the world. It’s a bit pricey at $114 (recession!), but the experience of all those different flavors could be worth it for the fervent foodie in your life.

I love trying salt from all over the world. The difference in texture, salinity, color etc… all add to the cooking and dining experience. Salt is a vital part of your diet and necessary for proper metabolism. I find that using better quality salt results in the need to use less salt. So you get more flavor and less salt, which translates to more delicious food and less water retention, bloating and fewer issues with blood pressure…

My favorite salt yet? HimalaSalt, a brand of salt from (you guessed it) the Himalayas. It has an incredibly pure taste and a pretty pink hue. I also like that particular brand because the company supports sustainable sourcing. My advice: Keep an eye out next time you’re trying to get the max for the minimum at TJ Maxx. I often find HimalaSalt there and it’s far cheaper there than anywhere else I’ve seen it. Try it and give your palate a brand new taste experience!

Banana bread with a delicious twist…

In Food, Recipes on October 22, 2009 at 2:23 pm
I started making this a few years ago. I was using up old bananas to make a quickbread when I decided to add toasted hazelnuts and cocoa. I’m going to make some this weekend. It freezes great, too, which makes enjoying it in moderation easier! Yum…

Chocolate-Banana-Hazelnut Bread
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten (can use substitute, of course)
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 too-ripe-to-eat bananas, mashed
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped (or more if you like)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray the bottom and sides of a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan with a non-stick/flour spray. (Or you can, of course, butter and flour it.)

Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Let cool. In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the bananas, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Fold (don’t beat) the banana mixture into the dry ingredients until just combined. (Batter will be chunky. Don’t fret.) Fold in hazelnuts. Scrape batter into pan. Bake about 50 minutes, or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool.

And just try not to pick at the edges while it cools…

Smarter snacking…

In Food, Recipes on October 7, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Given the choice between sweet and savory, I’ll go with the latter every single time. So when I’m in the mood to snack, I often reach for something crunchy, salty and packed with umami.

How about baked garbanzo beans? I think of it as super-portable and poppable hummus. They’re perfect for on-the-run snacking or eating during a movie or a game. They’re delicious, simple and a more healthful way to satisfy your craving. So put down the potato chips and the pretzels and grab a handful of these instead. Oh, and I challenge you to eat just one handful…

Hummus Crunch
2 (16 oz.) cans garbanzo beans
Non-stick cooking spray (or you can use olive oil, just enough to coat)
Garlic powder to taste
Lemon pepper seasoning (regular or salt-free) to taste
Chili powder to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
Rinse and drain beans. Spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Spread the beans on the baking sheet. Give the beans a quick spritz. While the beans are still moist, sprinkle with seasonings. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, stirring every ten minutes or so for even browning.

What’s for dessert? Simply Thee Best Peach Cobbler

In Love/Relationships, Nic's Picks, Recipes on September 23, 2009 at 2:47 am

Photo by Suat Eman

Photo by Suat Eman

Some of my favorite childhood memories are linked to my maternal grandmother and the time we spent together in her kitchen. Dear, as my cousins and I call her, did lots of little things in the kitchen that meant the world to me, leaving an indelible impression on my budding little foodie mind. Like the time when she baked sweet potato pies for church, only to find (right as she was about to pack them up to leave) that the crusts on each one had been systematically pinched off. I didn’t even get in trouble. She just laughed her throaty laugh, kissed my crumb-covered face and playfully swatted me on my rear. But my favorite memories from her kitchen are the times when she would bake cobblers, fruit pies or tarts and use the leftover dough, filling and a miniature pie tin to make an individual version of the same thing just for me. I don’t think a child can feel more special than I did back then with my “Nicci pie” and tiny fork in tow.

My grandmother instilled within me a love for family and food and the many ways the two go hand in hand. Tonight I made a peach cobbler, inspired by the scores of deliciously simple recipes (and lessons in love) she’s given me over the years.

Fresh peaches are wonderful in this, but if that’s not an option, Margaret Holmes Osage Peaches are the perfect alternative. They are definitely one of Nic’s Picks. Once you have tasted a raggedy freestone Georgia peach, I doubt you’ll ever want a California cling peach again. This recipe falls squarely in the indulgent category and should be enjoyed sparingly. You cannot eat this all the time and live in Zaftig Zen.

I took pictures of it, but it is beyond difficult to make peach cobbler look good without professional lighting. Trust me when I tell you the pictures do it no justice, so I’ll spare you.

I feel very lucky that my grandmother passed the good-cook gene on to me and that I can share it with you. And I consider myself exceedingly blessed because I can still call her and thank her for it. In fact I think I’ll do that right now…

Simply Thee Best Peach Cobbler


2-29 ounce cans of Margaret Holmes Osage Raggedy Ripe Peaches, drained and sliced

1/2 cup peach juice, reserved

1 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon good vanilla extract (it makes a world of difference)

¼ teaspoon lemon extract

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into tiny cubes


2 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

½ cup shortening

4 tablespoons ice water (temperature matters)

1/3 cup melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

For the filling:

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients except for butter. Mix gently and set aside.

For the crust:

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut shortening into the flour mixture. When you see it has a mealy texture, gradually add ice water, stirring, just until the dough holds its shape. Roll out on a floured board. Cut half of it and tear it into two large pieces.

Pour the filling mixture into the prepared baking pan. Dot the filling with the remaining butter. Tear one of the halves of the dough into 8-10 smaller pieces and tuck them into the filling. Take the other half of the dough and tear it into 4-5 large pieces and lay on top of the filling. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.

*Yes, you could cheat and use a prepared pastry dough… I’ve done it. The filling is so good no one will care.


What’s for dinner? Curry Parsnip and Apple Soup

In Food, Lifestyle, Recipes on September 18, 2009 at 1:09 am

I eat according to the seasons. Food is never more delicious — or more affordable — then when it’s in season. As the days grow shorter and cooler, I crave hearty, spicy foods that warm the soul and the belly. This soup does just that. And it’s incredibly affordable, using simple and inexpensive ingredients to create bold flavors in this nutrient-packed recipe.

You can make this delicious soup even more luxurious by adding a splash of cream at the end. Or you can make it fat-free by leaving out the oil and the butter and using vegetable stock. Remember: It’s all about moderation.

Parsnip soup 1

Photos by Nicci Morris

Tonight, I served it with buttery grilled cheese sandwiches, stuffed with Havarti and thick-cut bacon.

Parsnip soup 2

Curry Parsnip and Apple Soup

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 large sweet onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound parsnips, chopped

2 medium Granny Smith apples, chopped

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 heaping tablespoon curry powder

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons butter

5 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock can be used)

Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Optional garnishes:


Apple chips

Sour cream

In a deep pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, parsnip and apple. Sauté mixture until everything is soft and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add spices and honey. Pour in stock and cover. Simmer until parsnips are tender, about 10-12 minutes.

Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Add your garnish of choice. Serve with crusty bread or a sandwich and a salad for a complete meal.


Nic’s Picks: Heaven on a spoon…

In Food, Nic's Picks on September 16, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I love pomegranate. I love Greek yogurt. So (follow along with my logic for a second here) that means the good people at Chobani Greek Yogurt must love me. Why else would they make Greek yogurt and flavor it with pomegranate?


I adore this product because Chobani stirs actual pomegranate arils and puree, not some sort of artificial taste or color, into the dense, rich, non-fat yogurt. The juicy little seeds were an unexpected but most appreciated boost of antioxidants. You can chalk my shock up to the scores of fruit-flavored products (many of which manage to not contain fruit at all) that fill the store shelves all over this country full of sugar addicts. At just 140 calories, this yogurt is great for a quick breakfast (alongside a slice of whole grain toast or with a spoonful of high-fiber cereal stirred in) or as a snack anytime. And it packs a whopping 14 grams of protein! Let me go over that again, in case you missed it…

140 calories

0 grams of fat

14 grams of protein

Not too shabby (unless, of course, you’re vegan)… Click here for information about where to buy Chobani Greek Yogurt.

Greek yogurt has become extremely popular as word has spread about this delicious way to get protein and cut the fat. And the beauty of it is the dense, rich texture and wonderful flavor tells your palate into thinking you’re indulging even though you’re not.

Chobani threatens to steal my heart with the pomegranate flavor, but my love for Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt still burns bright. I have yet to find another brand that can beat Oikos’ texture. Velvety and beyond creamy, it’s easy to love.  And I can’t get enough of their simple, straightforward flavors, especially the vanilla. A serving has just 110 calories, 0 grams of fat, and 15 grams of protein. Nice…  Click here for information about where to buy Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt.