Have you ever done a 30 Day Challenge? The idea of taking a month to try something new or change a habit has become very popular in the last few years. There are TED talks, support groups, and books dedicated to the topic. The claim is that it takes about 30 days to ingrain a new practice and make it habitual. However, there is also research to support the idea that many people take much longer than that to make lasting changes in their lives. I think the reason so many people are drawn to the idea of a 30 Day Challenge is because it sounds achievable. First of all, one month is a short enough length of time that we are willing to try, and if the habit doesn’t stick forever, well, at least we pushed ourselves for one month. In addition, calling the habit-forming experiment a challenge instead of a commitment leaves the door open to succeed even if we fail. A challenge asks us to try our best. A commitment makes us feel like we failed if we messed up one day. After missing one day in a challenge, we can say, “Well, it’s challenging. It is really hard. It’s only natural to make a mistake or two. Now I’ll keep trying to see how far I can get.” We set ourselves up for success, even if it is partial. It’s better to meet our goals 27 out of our thirty days than to never even try to change because we fear failing in our commitments.
A number of friends and loved ones are now trying to lose weight, eat more whole foods, or lower cholesterol. One of them, in an attempt to eat a more plant-based diet, has been trying to incorporate a new fruit, vegetable or nut/seed into her diet each week. For her, and for all of us, I’m starting a 30 Day Challenge to only post heart-healthy recipes. With Chanukah coming up in less than a month, this will be truly challenging! I would love for you to join me in this challenge by clicking on the little button on the right and following the Israeli Salad Facebook Page. I will not be able to have a new heart-friendly recipe posted on the blog every day, but I’ll try to post a new or old recipe or other heart-health tip on my page for the next month. If you have friends who would benefit from this challenge, feel free to invite them, too!
I’m kicking off the month with a heart-friendly snack, edamame. They are high in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, and other vitamins and low in saturated fat. You can read more about research on the nutritional benefits of edamame here. The need to pop the beans out of the pods also slows down the eating process, a recommendation of many diets. While processed soy foods have been getting a bad wrap lately, along with other processed foods, edamame, young soy beans, are totally unprocessed, fun, and delicious, in addition to being healthy. I first heard about edamame back in high school, but I recently got hooked on it after ordering a plate as a side dish at a local pizza place. A steaming bowl of edamame pods was served with fresh lemon wedges and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Definitely way better than french fries. Since then, it has become a favorite snack in my house. My kids don’t yet share my enthusiasm for eating edamame, but some of them enjoy opening the pods.
Look for edamame in the freezer of your local supermarket, near the other frozen vegetables. They are edible if they are just thawed, but best when boiled, steamed, or microwaved for 3-5 minutes. Serve with salt, and fresh lemon if you’re feeling fancy. Snack away to a healthy heart!