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Progress Not Perfection is the Key to Healthy Eating in 2016

  • January 3, 2015
  • by Emily C. Harrison MS, RD, LD of Nutrition for Great Performances.

Progress Not Perfection is the theme for my work this New Year with all my dancers at the Centre for Dance Nutrition. We dancers are experts at setting high expectations for ourselves and for always aiming to achieve that elusive ideal of perfection. But I’ve seen this backfire again and again with regards to nutrition and food choices. We don’t have to throw in the towel just because we had a bad day of eating. We don’t have to be perfect in our daily dietary choices to have a healthy life and to maintain our dancers bodies at the peak of athleticism.

So this year, don’t set yourself up for frustration by aiming to eat perfectly.  Nourish your body and mind by allowing yourself to make steady progress by introducing one new food that you would normally not eat, by making one smarter choice per week, by replacing just one fast food choice for healthy home made food.  Step by step, day by day you will see change happening in your body, and it will be change that lasts.

Think outside the box with these new recipes for some quick and easy foods that might not be in your current rep.  All recipes are gluten free and dairy free and can be made in 5-10 minutes.

Antioxidant Salad

Dancers (and the general population) don’t get enough Vitamin E which is integral for cell membranes, is influential in neurological function, and decreases oxidative stress.  (this recipe serves 4 people)


½ cup chopped or sliced almonds (16.5 mg vit E)

¼ cup sunflower seeds (12.3 mg vit E)

2 cups chopped spinach (5 mg vit E)

drizzle olive oil and apple cider vinegar as a topping.


Combine all ingredients and top with a drizzle of dressing.

Savory Crispy Tempeh

Tempeh is a protein packed product made from cancer fighting soy beans. It’s common in Asian and Indonesian cooking and is a good source of calcium.


1 package of regular tempeh, cut into little pieces like mini cubes

1-2 Tbs Olive oil

½ cup chopped herbs such as rosemary, sage ,thyme, and basil (can add the spice blend Za’tar if you want to get fancy).

½ tsp sea salt


Saute the tempeh cubes in the olive oil on medium high heat.  Olive oil doesn’t usually like high heat so the tempeh will get very browned and a little crispy (which is good).  Toss in the herbs and sea salt for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Blend well and serve alone or over pasta, or over a salad.

Coconut Curry Chickpeas with Swiss Chard

Swiss chard is kale’s easy going, laid back cousin.  While kale’s flavor can be a little strong, swiss chard is mild, soft in texture and works well in so many different dishes (and smoothies). Turmeric and garlic have strong anti-inflammatory anti- cancer properties.


1 cup precooked chickpeas (or ones from a tetrabox package)

1 tsp coconut oil

¼ tsp curry powder

¼ tsp turmeric

1 bunch chopped Swiss Chard

1-2 cloves of garlic


Sauté all ingredients in the coconut oil until the greens have wilted a little bit.  Serve warm with rice or potatoes. 

Creamy cilantro and avocado dressing

My clients tend to worry about dietary fats, but this recipe includes only heart healthy fats that are a source of vitamin E, and the avocado is high in fiber.  This is delicious over a salad or as a replacement for sour cream on tacos or burritos.


1 cup fresh cilantro

juice from 2 lemons or limes

1-2 cloves of garlic

1 whole avocado (remove pit and skin)

splash of apple cider vinegar


Blend everything in a blender and serve cold.

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