Wednesday, November 11, 2009


by Patti McCabe, Certified Holistic Health Counselor

I have worked as a Production Stage Manager for a long time, and I know all too well the challenges we face in the theater industry (onstage and backstage) with eating on the run and trying to keep up our energy levels through long days of auditions, rehearsals, and performances. The trouble we get into is that we are often looking to artificial sources of energy to keep us going through the day. Caffeine, sugar, junk food, processed foods. These all give us something in the moment, but how long does it take for the rush to wear off and leave you craving for that next fix? And if we know this to be a problem, how do we break the cycle?

The first step is to start to understand the benefits of whole foods. Most people have heard about the concept of simple vs. complex carbohydrates, but they can’t really describe the difference. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap in recent years, but the truth is not all carbs are created equal.

Simple carbohydrates have short chains of sugar that break down quickly in the body. Your body works overtime trying to burn up this extra sugar it doesn’t need. This is what causes that all too familiar sugar rush, but once it’s burned up we are left to simply crash. Even worse, the excess sugar gets stored as fat. Simple carbs include processed foods, white flours and breads, cakes, cookies, etc.

Complex carbohydrates have long chains of sugar that are bound within the food’s fiber. The sugar releases more slowly into your blood stream, giving you sustained energy and leaving you feeling full longer. Complex carbs are those found in nature like vegetables and whole grains.

So let’s start with whole grains, which are an amazing source of essential enzymes, vitamins B and E, iron, and dietary fiber. They are also cheap (especially if you purchase from the bulk section of your grocery store) and keep very well in the fridge to have on hand for a variety of delicious, inexpensive, quick to prepare meals. All things I know are important to us when working on a budget and always on the run!

A personal favorite is Quinoa, which is one of the fastest cooking and healthiest of all the grains. It contains all eight amino acids, making it a complete protein. There are many amazing ways to prepare quinoa. I love starting the day with a healthy, hearty breakfast that I know will keep me full and energized for a long time. Try trading in this recipe for your usual sugary cereal or donuts and feel the difference!

Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
(Adapted from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition)

Yields 1-2 servings

1 cup pre-cooked quinoa
1/2-3/4 cup milk or dairy alternative (depending on the consistency you like)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other nuts/seeds)

• Place prepared or leftover quinoa in a sauce pan.
• Add milk, honey, cinnamon and raisins.
• Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the cereal thickens slightly.
• Garnish with nuts or seeds

Patti McCabe is a Certified Holistic Health Counselor who specializes in working with the performing arts community. She received her training at the Institute for Integrative NutritioLinkn in New York City and is accredited through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. She leads workshops on health and nutrition, and offers both individual and group counseling services in person and by phone. More information at and

1 comment:

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