February 2014 archive

Girl Talk – The Strength of a Woman

Girl Ginngerbread

Girl Ginngerbread

This life is short…but it is too long to dislike every inch of our bodies. As women, we strive for more…to be everything to everyone. Be the best at work, the beauty at home, the best ear for friends’ calamities, and the knower of all things…and if you are a mom, forget it! This list goes on for days. When the dust settles and the noise quiets, what is left? Do you have an ounce of existence left for yourself? Often the little sanity that is left in our day is spent on self improvement strategies to be more, do more, and look better. Maybe if I start to make lists, or use that calendar in my iPhone, I will find 3 extra minutes in my day to tone those pesky inner thighs…and then I can fit into that dress I wore freshman year of college…I won’t look ridiculous…

Maybe a little farfetched, maybe not. The point I want to get across is that we as beings are never satisfied. In some ways that is a good thing, we can always be more, and why settle!? I get it, but are we happy? I certainly do not think that I can conquer the daily dilemma of being more and doing more, but I want to touch on the constant self improvement strategies that we all face. First of all…we will never measure up to perfection. Think about it. Let it swirl around for a moment. We undoubtedly compare ourselves to…perfect…so of course we do nothing less than fall short. We are human, and where is the beauty in that? I will tell you, there is a surplus of beauty to be found.

It is the smile of a woman that can radiate through the ground we stand upon and touch all others. It is the womb of a woman that nourishes life to an unborn child. It is the woman that can single-handedly hold a family together. It is a woman that can show love like no other. As we strive to eradicate our fat cells… It is those very fat cells that aid in estrogen production so that we may give life to another human being. Maybe it is those fat cells that are remaining from already giving life to another human being. Yet we beat ourselves up!? This makes no sense.

I certainly don’t want to promote excess weight as that is simply unhealthy, I just want our sex to begin to see all that we bring to the table naturally. We should do our best every day, and we do. When it comes to food choices I am sure we can always do a little bit better. Therein lies my philosophy. We do so much on a daily basis for everyone else and then we beat ourselves up at the end of the day for what we haven’t given to ourselves. I know that it is difficult when we are in the throes of chaos to consider our immortality but realistically we must. We cannot do everything for everyone when we have not done for ourselves. I am not talking about manicures and pedicures and massages on a weekly basis. We all know that this is precisely the definition of “unrealistic.” What we can do, is make the best choices for ourselves on a constant, regular, and consistent basis.

This means, make our food choices wisely. We have become masters of thinking before we speak, but let’s learn to think before we eat. Choose vegetables instead of dough and cheese. Choose light instead of heavy options that will only weigh us down. Choose rich, decadent creations only after we have made the best choices that will bring life to our beings…and let that decadence resonate through our bones. Enjoy the simple pleasures with every breath in your body and if it’s not worth it- simply pass it up. Life is not about diets and fitting into “those” jeans, it is about living each day enough to remember why you are here. We want to stay on this earth with a good quality of life for as long as possible. That is why we must redirect our attention from complaining about what we don’t have, to preserving what we do. This includes weekly exercise. Unless you are already a gym minded person, you won’t like to hear this…but again, just do the best you can on a daily basis. If you have a 1 hour lunch break, walk for 15-30 minutes outside. Find 10 minutes, 2-3 times a day, to get your heart pumping. Jumping jacks, marching in place, brisk walking, and dancing to some upbeat tunage are all ways to add some exercise to your day in short bursts.

If I haven’t lost you after reading the exercise recommendation, than you are most likely comprehending the underlying message of this article: Do a little everyday to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and if you are already overwhelmed, start doing a little every day! Be patient, be kind and love yourself, and never forget to take pride in the strength of a woman – starting with each imperfection. Woman Symbol

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No Excuse Breakfast or Lunch Frittata

Cooked in Sun

Cooked in Sun

This is probably one of the best recipe tools I can give you. The Frittata. What exactly is a frittata? It is an egg mixture that is first cooked on the stovetop and then finished in the oven. Kind of like a quiche, just without the 1500 calorie pie crust that it sits in, and way less work than an omelet. It is perfect for breakfast or lunch…great for those on a budget…and even better for those that are strapped for time.

The most important thing to learn is the technique. Saute your favorite veggies, when they are tender throw in a dozen eggs, and bake in the oven. IT’S THAT SIMPLE. I recommend dividing it into 6 portions, but if you are super hungry 4 is totally fine. I use whole eggs, not just egg whites because the yolks contain a plethora of vital nutrients including Vitamin D! Although new research suggests that the egg yolks themselves don’t have a major impact on cholesterol levels, if you are concerned leave a few yolks out.

This recipe is perfect for lunch with a side of mixed greens and tomatoes or breakfast with your oatmeal or fruit. It reheats very well so it is literally a thoughtless addition to your weekly menu! With TONS of super bioavailable protein it is a great low-cal meal that won’t leave you begging for more.

No Excuse Breakfast or Lunch Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1 Teaspoon Olive or Coconut oil
  • 1 Small Red Onion
  • 5 Cups Swiss Chard
  • 12 Large Eggs
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ Teaspoon Pepper
  • 3 Scallions
  • ½ Cup Part Skim Ricotta Cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Sautee Swiss chard and onion in oil
  3. When tender, add eggs
  4. Top with scallions and dollops of ricotta cheese
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the center is no longer runny

Notes

Nutrition Facts: 198 Calories, 13g Fat, 5g Saturated Fat, 2g Fiber, 16g Protein, 52% Vitamin A, 25%, 13% Calcium, 12% Iron

http://tastefulwisdom.com/excuse-breakfast-lunch-frittata/
Swiss Chard and Onions in Pan

Ricotta added Cooked in Sun

 

 

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What’s All the Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia Hype?

chia_seeds

Chia seed heart      Remember those commercials from the 90’s when a kid and his adoring mom would spread that chia seed paste over the clay dog and watch in shear amazement as the seeds bloomed into a full on thick coat of fur right in front of their eyes? Cha-cha-cha-chia! Over and over it would repeat…but what happened to those little guys? Well apparently, they are still being sold, but a greater share of the chia market is now in supermarket and health food stores. Chia seeds are being sold at a premium price, and consumers are ripping them off of the shelves faster than you can say, “Cha-cha-ch”….okay, I’ll stop. So what is all of this chia hype? In fact, what are chia seeds in the first place? They are very small black and white seeds that are actually a member of the mint family. Grown in Mexico, the seeds have an ancient history. Legend has it that Mayan and Aztec warriors would carry these seeds with them as a concentrated source of energy to get them through long journeys. Apparently the word, “chia” means, “strength” in the Mayan language. These mild-tasting seeds certainly are concentrated with nutrients, so it is truly a believable tale. When placed in a liquid, chia seeds can absorb up to twelve times their weight. As they expand, they begin to have a somewhat slimy, jelly-like texture. In theory, if you eat chia seeds mixed in a beverage or smoothie, they will expand in your stomach and keep you more full for an extended period of time. This feeling of fullness will inhibit you from eating more, and you will in turn lose weight by simply eating less. This is essentially how the little seed has been touted as an amazing weight loss aid. Unfortunately, at this time science does not agree. Although there is not an abundance of research available on chia seeds and weight loss, the few studies that have been conducted showed no weight loss benefit from consuming chia seeds. Myth busted!
Now that is not a reason to throw chia out the window. These little gems have truly earned the hype that they are receiving- just not on the weight-loss front. They are filled to the brim with excellent nutrition. Let’s take a look at the nutrient make up of just one ounce, roughly two tablespoons:

  • Fiber: Nearly 12 grams of dietary fiber. This reason alone makes chia a superfood. Unlike flaxseeds, chia seeds do not require grinding to receive full benefits as they can be completely absorbed by our body. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends adults consume between 25 and 38 grams of fiber daily. Although the average American consumes only about 15 grams per day. Chia seeds are an excellent and super easy way to boost your fiber intake.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 4915 mg of Omega-3 Fatty acids. What does that mean? Good health! We always hear about getting in our omegas, but the fact of the matter is Omega-6 fatty acids are everywhere and the Omega-3’s are harder to come by. Many experts believe that it is beneficial to change the ratio of fatty acid intake to reduce the Omega-6 intake while increasing our Omega-3’s. With a 3:1 Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio, this seed is a great starting point.
  • Macronutrients: Many don’t know that macronutrients are simply Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat-no more, no less. The chia seed is the perfect example of a stellar macronutrient composition with 4g Protein (16%), 9g Fat (36%), and 12g Carbohydrate (48%). This is a mean source of energy.
  • Calcium: The National Institutes of Health recommend adults (both men and women) consume 1,000 mg of Calcium per day. In just one ounce of chia seeds you will obtain 179mg of this bone building mineral. That is 18% of your recommended daily intake in just two measly tablespoons!
  • Antioxidants: Chia seeds undoubtedly a great source for antioxidants as they contain a mixture of these free-radical fighting champions. Antioxidants reduce the overall inflammatory load in our systems and fight disease and premature aging. Need I say more?

I should also add that there are 138 calories in one ounce of chia seeds. So is there a downside? There are some drug nutrient interactions to be aware of. Chia seeds may interact with certain blood pressure medications and blood thinners, so please ask your doctor before gorging! There have also been reports of allergy to chia seeds. This is somewhat rare, but take special caution if you are allergic to mustard or sesame seeds. Oh and speaking of allergies, those of you with egg allergies (or simply don’t eat eggs) can actually substitute chia seeds for eggs in baking! You must first make a chia gel that is 1 part chia and 6 parts water- you probably want to blend this mixture in order to avoid big black seeds throughout. One tablespoon of this gel will replace one whole egg in baked goods. I couldn’t resist the temptation to make this post a twofer. Here is a super simple recipe to turn you on to chia seeds! Who could pass up a delicious desert that packs crazy amounts of protein (10g), fiber (16g), and calcium (45% recommended daily intake)!?!

Cha-Cha-Cha-Chocolate Chia Pudding

Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • 1/3 Cup Chia Seeds
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey, more or less to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Pinch of Sea Salt

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to a blender.
  2. Blend until very smooth.
  3. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.
  4. Enjoy!

Notes

Nutrition Facts: 284 Calories, 15g Fat, 1.8g Saturated Fat, 0mg Cholesterol, 277mg Sodium, 16g Fiber, 10g Protein, 18% Vitamin A, 26%, 45% Calcium, 17% Iron

http://tastefulwisdom.com/whats-cha-cha-cha-chia-hype/

 

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Fiesta Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos

Fish Taco Edited

Fish Tacos were one of the first entrees that I ordered when my husband and I were first dating years ago. I loved them! …Such a departure from greasy ground beef in a heavy “Mexican” sauce. He thought the idea of fish in a taco was absurd and subsequently made fun of me every time we returned to the restaurant. Back then, if you didn’t live in southern California, fish tacos were a rarity, but now they can be found all over! Unfortunately, many restaurants fry the fish to add crunch and to possibly mask the taste of the fish itself. I have come up with a fabulous recipe that is healthful, flavorful, and fun! Now my husband is the one regularly ordering the fish tacos from my kitchen!

Fiesta Fish Tacos

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yield: 6 Tacos

1 Taco

Ingredients

    Mahi & Marinade:
  • 12oz Fresh (or Frozen and Thawed) Mahi Mahi
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Pinch of Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • ¼ Cup Cilantro Leaves, Chopped
  • Red Cabbage Slaw:
  • ½ Head of Red Cabbage, Shredded
  • 1 Cup Low Fat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 4 Chipotle Peppers with Adobo Sauce
  • ½ Cup Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon Honey
  • Remaining Ingredients:
  • 6 Whole Wheat Tortillas
  • Store Bought Salsa (optional)
  • ½ Cup Cilantro Leaves for Garnish and Flavor

Instructions

  1. Begin by mixing together lemon juice, salt, pepper, chili powder, and cilantro leaves for the mahi marinade.
  2. Place fish in an air tight container, pour marinade ensuring that every inch of mahi has contact with the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  3. Shred cabbage or chop very finely. I prefer to use the shredding attachment of my food processor.
  4. In a food processor, combine yogurt, chipotle peppers, honey, and cilantro. Process until smooth.
  5. Add as much of the yogurt sauce as you like to the shredded cabbage. I tend to like it on the wet side to almost act as a sour cream or crema.
  6. Refrigerate slaw as fish is cooking.
  7. Grill or pan sear fish. Two 6 oz filets are usually perfect at roughly 4 minutes per side.
  8. Assemble tacos. It is fun to bring all ingredients to the dinner table and allow everyone to make their own tacos.
  9. If there is remaining slaw, it is great on sandwiches and in salads to add a flavor punch of crunch!

Notes

*Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce are found canned in the ethnic food aisle of your grocery store. They are quite spicy so use with caution, but the flavor they add is incomparable! To lessen the spice sting, remove the seeds from each pepper before adding to the food processor. Remaining peppers can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or two or in the freezer for a few months.

Nutrition Facts: 227 Calories, 3.8g Fat, 1.3g Saturated Fat, 38mg Cholesterol, 413mg Sodium, 5g Fiber, 18g Protein, 18% Vitamin A, 42% Vitamin C, 15% Calcium

http://tastefulwisdom.com/fiesta-fish-tacos-3/

 

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Immune-Boosting Power Foods to Help Ward Off the Flu

The flu 3

Flu 2

After being laid up on the couch for the third day in a row, I decided it was time to get up and start writing. It is day three of what seems to be the flu, although I did get a flu shot (not that it’s completely effective) so I am not quite sure. Today is the first day that my temperature is nearly normal, and my aches and pains have subsided enough for me to sit upright and type this. I feel pretty silly because just last week I was bragging to some friends, who were just getting over their colds, about how my healthy eating and daily green smoothies have kept me in fighting form…leave it to me to stick my own foot in my mouth…well turns out, I wasn’t doing everything possible to keep the flu from knocking down my door. Because nutrition plays such a vital role in maintaining our immune health, I thought it is appropriate to give you some important tips to both help prevent illness and aid in a speedy recovery- even if I didn’t follow my own advice, I definitely won’t let it happen again.

Foods to Prevent Colds and the Flu:  

  • Garlic: This strongly stinky bulbous plant contains a compound called, allicin. Allicin is known for its antibacterial and antifungal qualities, and is credited for protecting garlic from pests in nature. A British study found that those taking garlic extract for 3 months were 66% less likely to catch a cold. Garlic is also thought to lower the risk of stomach and colorectal cancer. Aim for 1-2 cloves per day. Eat it raw if you can tolerate it, or use it in your recipes.
  • Oysters: These slippery nuggets are full of zinc. This mineral is proven to either shorten the length and severity of a cold or prevent the contraction of a cold altogether. Those that ingest zinc on a regular basis may catch fewer colds per year. I recommend getting zinc from food sources as supplement forms have side effects such as nausea, poor taste, and some have reported permanent loss of smell with zinc nasal sprays – and it can be toxic if taken in large quantities. Food sources of zinc include: beef, oysters, crabmeat, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, cocoa powder, and chickpeas.
  • Tea: Researchers out of Brigham and Women’s Hospital found a scientific basis for the centuries old belief that tea has beneficial properties. They found that black, green and oats oolong teas have high concentrations of the amino acid, L-theanine. Lab tests found that gamma T-cells (immune cells) treated with L-theanine multiplied significantly more than those not treated. This allows for an increase in disease fighting properties. When researchers compared tea drinkers to coffee drinkers, they found that those drinking 20 ounces (broken into 5 small servings) of tea per day had nearly five times the amount of disease fighting proteins in blood samples.
  • Oats: Who knew that morning bowl of oatmeal would contain a form of fiber called, beta-glucan, that is potent enough to ward of the flu. This complex carbohydrate compound travels to the small intestine where it will signal specified white blood cells to activate immune boosting cells and antibodies. This leads to greater disease-fighting potential.  Beta-glucans are also known for decreasing the risk for cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol levels, and even decreasing the risk of certain cancers. Oats, barley, and certain mushrooms such as shitake and maitake are rich in beta-glucans.

 

Okay, so you (like me) did not do everything in your power to avoid the dreaded cold or flu, and you wound up in bed, with a 101 degree fever, killer sore throat, major body aches, and virtually no energy…keep reading.

Foods to Aid and Ease Cold and Flu Symptoms: Chicken soup

  • Chicken Soup: Not just because it is a comfort food to nearly everyone, or because it is downright delicious, turns out chicken soup is much more than that. Research shows that it actually decreases the movement of inflammatory cells into the bronchioles. Why is this important? Because those wretched cold symptoms are often caused by the buildup of these inflammatory cells in the bronchioles. As chicken is cooked in water and broth is created, protein is broken down into more simple forms. One of these simpler forms is the amino acid, cysteine. It is said that cysteine appears very similar chemically to the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. Warm chicken soup relaxes the chest and allows mucous to flow more easily. It is also a good way to take in more fluids, so drink up that broth!
  • Honey: Known for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, honey is perfect for a sore throat. It can actually help kill bacteria in the back of your throat as it creates a soothing effect in its place. Add a spoonful in hot tea, enjoy it alone, or mix it into whatever you can think of to relieve that painful throat. Just remember honey should not be given to children under 1 year of age.
  • Spice:  By adding a dash of hot spice to your foods, your airways will open and you will temporarily breathe easier. Think cayenne pepper, horseradish, and wasabi. Add some hot sauce to your soups, or enjoy a spicy salsa. Spicy foods are known to boost the immune system and even offer healing effects. So find ways to incorporate spice into your life especially when you are under the weather.
  • Orange Juice: If you know me, you know that there is rarely an occasion in which I believe a store-bought orange juice is acceptable…well, welcome to that rare occasion. Although orange juice is virtually a sugar beverage in which little fiber is offered, it is also a liquid that is loaded with Vitamin C and other nutrients to aid in immune health. When we are really sick, we rarely have an appetite. Therefore by drinking juice, we are getting the glucose and fructose (sugar) that our body needs to function as well as much needed liquids. Dehydration is all too common with colds and the flu. It exacerbates the already ugly and uncomfortable symptoms. So here is your one and only opportunity to buy that orange juice. Go for it!

In reality, we can try as hard as possible to stave away that nasty flu, but sometimes it is just inevitable that we get sick. This is certainly not the time to beat yourself up for not doing everything under the sun to fight it. It can, however, be a good time to reevaluate your situation. Maybe you are working way too much, or not sleeping as much as you should, or maybe it is time to add that grapefruit to your morning regimen. But for now: sleep, drink fluids, rest, and repeat! The flu

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