Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Try this 5-Minute Healthy Breakfast: Smoked Salmon on Toast

Vitamin D is attributed to helping you achieve optimal health (see my previous post) and salmon is one of the few foods that has it naturally. Two ounces of smoked salmon has about 15g of protein and 120 calories. If you're watching your sodium intake, balance smoked salmon with lower sodium foods throughout the day.

I made this smoked salmon on toast breakfast last week in 5-minutes and it was refreshing, nutritious, and really hit the spot after my workout. I often eat this breakfast with slices of tomatoes, which makes it a bit heartier. Serve this with a side of fruit and you have a balanced breakfast!

Smoked Salmon on Toast with Cream Cheese and Fresh Dill

  • 2 oz smoked salmon
  • 2 tbs light cream cheese
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (I used seed, multi-grain from Whole Foods)
  • 1 slice red onion
  • 1 tbs chopped fresh dill (or 1/4 tsp dried)
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Fresh pepper
  • Optional: tomato slices


  • Toast bread. Chop fresh dill.
  • Spread cream cheese on toasted bread. Top with onion slices. Add smoked salmon.
  • Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper. Serve with lemon wedge and tomato slices, if desired.

Entertaining Idea: This is a wonderful brunch item to serve guests for a party. You can put out a platter of smoked salmon and garnish with lemons, red onion and tomato slices, capers, and fresh dill. Your guest can assemble their own creations. You can serve a variety of breads or bagels and move your toaster to the buffet table. Also serve fruit on the side like orange slices, strawberries, or melon. For beverages, serve with mimosas, coffee, and water with lemon slices.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Exclusive Interview: Mom of Two Trains for First Marathon and Shares Her Tips

Catherine and I have been friends for 8 years, since before her kids were born. Catherine amazes me with the grace of how as she balances a marketing career, a healthy marriage, being a hands-on mom to her two young children, and always staying committed to her health and wellness. Now taking it to the next level, Catherine is training for her first marathon with Team in Training this October in San Francisco. Her mother was originally concerned that she would push herself too hard, but when you talk to her, you realize that she's reaching new levels of satisfaction and personal growth and her family is extremely proud.

I asked her to share her training tips because so many people say that they can't find time for exercise. If training for a marathon isn't your goal, that's ok. Use her practical tips to find ways to train for a 5k run or simply balancing exercise in your hectic life. My goal in this blog is to always give you ways to balance healthy living goals with the constraints of time and money, your most valuable resources. Read on....

QUICK BITES: How do you find the time to fit in your training between your full time job and busy family life?

CATHERINE: Great question! A few years ago I would have said that there is no way I could find the time to train for a marathon having 2 kids under the age of 3. Now that the children are a bit older (3 and 5) it is easier. Also, my husband, Gerry, is a great supporter of mine. Getting the training in is hard but I get up every Monday and Wednesday mornings and head out to the gym for 40 minutes. I am usually there at 5:30am and I am back before the children are awake. Tuesday nights from 6:15 to 8:00pm I do track training…definitely not my favorite portion of the training but they say I need to do it to improve. Thursday nights from 6:15 to 7pm I usually run 4 miles and then on Saturdays I run my long run which is anywhere between 8 to 16 miles. I start at 7am and I am back before noon – so I still have time to have fun with my kids.

QUICK BITES: What is your psychological motivation technique when training is hard? So much of training is physical, but it can be a psychological battle too.

CATHERINE: What I am finding is that doing it with a team is easier than by yourself. So many times, when I know no one is waiting for me, I will have a tendency to flake on the training. With a team and friends training for the same event, and same cause, it makes it fun and helps you keep your motivation up. Also, when your 3 year old and 5 year old look at you in the eyes and say “Maman will run a marathon soon” it makes you want to keep going.

QUICK BITES: Are you eating differently to support your training efforts? For example, do you eat more calories? If so, do you calculate it or just "wing it?"

CATHERINE: I am working out 5 times a week, one would think I would lose some weight. Well, to the contrary, since I now have to include carbs in my diet, I have gained weight. I was one of these neurotic ones that would always try to avoid cards to stay slender….what I am realizing is that by doing so I completely deprived my body of carbs and now my thighs are hanging on to every calorie they can! I am definitely eating more calories and I need to! If I do not eat enough calories or hydrate myself correctly, I do not do as well during my runs. Funny you ask if I am winging it or calculating my calorie intake. Until last night, I was definitely winging it but I have now started calculating my intake and tracking it with the Calorie Count website.

QUICK BITES: What have you learned about yourself with this process?

CATHERINE: That I can do this! I can help a cause that is near and dear to me. I am raising money for the leukemia and lymphoma society (LLS) and meeting cancer survivors along the way that have benefited from treatments that were funded by LLS. I am proud of every dollar I raise and every mile I am run. I CAN DO THIS! I am not longer scared.

Follow me on my journey and help the cause. Visit my website today!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quick Bites Exclusive Interview: Cycle Instructor Dale Foster Shares Beginner Tips and Advice

Meet my cycle instructor, Dale Foster. He's 40 years old and in the best shape of his life. After cycling for 13 years, he decided to be a part-time instructor though he runs a local business. Dale regularly tells the class about his inspirational story of how he lost 100 lbs doing cycle class! So I asked him to share some of his valuable tips to the Quick Bites readers. If you're putting off trying a fitness routine like group cycle classes, you'll see it's okay to try. Listen up!

Quick Bites: As a cycle instructor, you must see a lot of people come and go. Why do you think people should stick with cycle versus other fitness routines?

DALE: I do see many people come to cycle class. I think people should stick with cycle class because of the high calorie, low impact benefits. You can work at your own pace and in time get gradually better and better.

Quick Bites: What do you think are the benefits of cycle for long-term health and well being?

DALE: I think the benefits of cycle for health and well being are: Increased Energy, Increased Calorie burn off of the bike. Your body continues to burn calories thought the day. Cycling is very low impact so there is not a constant beating on the joints.

Quick Bites: What is the proper form for riding the bike?

DALE: It is always important to come in early before a class starts and ask the instructor to help you set up your bike for proper fit. Comfort is the top priority! If you are not comfortable on your bike, it will not be very enjoyable. It is also important to pay attention to the instructor and follow their instructions on proper form during the class. One thing that I can suggest is to limit your time out of the saddle until you develop the muscles to support you when you're standing out of the saddle. Otherwise you can cause some strain in the upper back.

Quick Bites: Can you recommend equipment for cycle class? Keep in mind, if people are on a budget. Where can they can get the most bang for their buck?

DALE: I recommend some form of saddle padding. Sore rear ends are a common complaint. Bike shorts have a nice fit. I suggest going for 1/2-inch padding to cushion those tender areas, and also alleviate any chaffing. Shorts can be found at any of the sporting goods stores, or local bike stores or on line (MAKE SURE THEY HAVE THE PADDING). For a more economical choice, a bike seat cover can be purchased for under $20.00 at Wal-Mart or any other sporting goods stores. I use both. Not at the same time though!

Quick Bites: What tips can you give first-timers that are interested in trying cycle it for the first time?

DALE: Ride at your own pace. Don't overdo it the first few times. Take your time. Just relax and peddle through the class. It is not a race and have fun.

I hope you see that it's really not that scary! Thanks to Dale for his practical insights for beginners to indoor group cycle. I've been taking cycle class for a long time to keep fit and my asthma is in check (see my previous post about natural asthma maintenance). Now, I can run! I've never been able to do that before cycle class. But as Dale suggests, you can get better and better over time so these results didn't happen over night.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Are you making the most of your workout?

Feel like you are in a rut or not making progress in your workouts? Here is a quick survey to make sure that you are reaching your potential:

Assess your cardio routine:
Cardio before or after strength training? If you are looking to increase your cardiovascular endurance, do your cardio exercise before your weight training. You will be fresh and more likely to push yourself. When training for strength or mass building, cardio should be done after.
What is your intensity? Do a spot check of your heart rate every so often. Here is a reference of what it should be:
((220 – Age) - Resting heart rate) X % of desired intensity. I would recommend somewhere between 70% and 85% depending on your fitness level.

Examine your strength training:

Make sure that you are performing the correct intensity according to your goals:

Muscular Endurance: Intensity : 67% Reps: More than 12 Sets: 2-3 Rest: Less than 30 sec

Strength: Intensity: 85% Reps: Less than 6 Sets: 2-6 Rest: 2-5 min

Mass Building: Intensity: 67-85% Reps: 6-12 Sets: 3-6 Rest: 30sec to 1:30 min

Power:Intensity: 80-90% Reps: 3-5 Sets: 2-5 Rest:2-5 min

Vary your workouts by making sure you are changing things up regularly. Shift from focusing on endurance to strength to mass building/power every 4-6 weeks. It will help to keep your program fresh and help with adherence.

Get a post workout snack: You should eat a post workout snack within 60-90 minutes of the finish of your workout. When you exercise, you use glycogen to create energy. These glycogen stores need to be replaced with in specific time frame to increase their ability to aid in your next workout. A great snack is your favorite piece of fruit and a handful of raw nuts.

Maintain Hydration: Everyone has a different level of optimal hydration; Aim for 64 oz per day or if your urine is clear, you are probably hydrated!

If you feel like you are not moving forward with your workouts, enlist friends and family to help keep you motivated and set short term goals to keep your self on track. You can do whatever you set your mind to!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Scam or Fab? "As Seen on TV" Produce Saver Bags...

So what are these infomercial produce saver bags and are they a scam or fabulous? My vote - FAB and worth the money! I get produce saver bags from my organic produce delivery company for some items because it's a bonus they throw in for their customers. I never used them before last year when I started the service. Now I love them! So why are they worth the money?

First, if you're eating fresh produce in season, that means the fruits and vegetables are in abundance so you can buy more quantity for less money! This is great for your budget. But when you buy more, the green bags help you keep the produce fresh longer, rather than rotting from sitting on your counter. Sure, you got the green beans on sale, but if they go bad before you eat it, what's the point, right? That's why my delivery service includes bags. They sell them so if you try them, you're likely to buy more from them. But the company knows that it's a practical way to store the produce to keep longer. I get my produce delivered ever 2 weeks and make it last with the green bags. Here are some ideas....

Tips on using produce saver bags:
  • Re-use them as much as 7-8 times.
  • Rinse the bag and dry off inside and outside completely.
  • Store dry bags by rolling them tightly inside a large plastic container to help stay organized. Save until your shopping trip.
  • When you do your shopping, pull out the produce bags and place dry produce inside the dry Green Bags.
  • Store all produce in the refrigerator.
  • For delicate produce like slightly under-ripe pineapple, tomatoes or peaches, keep refrigerator in the green bag until 2 days prior to eating. Take only what you can eat right away and place on the counter to ripen.
  • You really only need to buy medium and large sizes. The large sizes are perfect for your leafy greens, bags of apples, lettuce and medium bags are great for everything else like tomatoes, herbs, peppers, etc.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wanted: Healthy Recipes to Serve Up on Quick Bites

If you're reading this blog it's because you're committed to good health and wellness, or at least trying to make better choices. I have been posting my original recipes or adaptations of tasty and nutritious foods that you can make in a snap. Now, calling on my readers to share in the fun! Send me your greatest hits of healthy cuisine like main dishes, snacks, smoothies, sides, and especially desserts!

So far, I've posted two Reader Recipes on the blog.

Salads are great side dishes for easy summer meals to go along side grilled burgers, fish, or chicken. Bring one of these to your next cookout or party and your family and friends will want the recipe.

I have two more Reader Recipes that I'll be sharing soon after I try them out: Homemade Healthy Chicken Nuggets (from Marilyn Dollar of Timber Creek Farms) and Salmon with Lime and Brown Sugar (from Scott Parmenter, my husband's uncle).

Email me your healthy favorites! I will cook it up at home and serve it up on Quick Bites for all of you!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reader Recipe: A Fresh, Easy Salad Perfect for Summer

Summer is the best time to use fresh produce and herbs because they're in season. In-season produce is usually more afforable, especially when it's locally grown. I get a biweekly produce delivery and have a wide variety of fruit and vegetables to work with so I'm always searching for easy salads. Also, using no-cook recipes help keep the house cool because you're not using the stovetop or oven.

Last night at book club my friend, Megan, brought a salad to share and it was so delicious, light, and fresh. She made it when she got home from work and before book club so you know it was really easy for her to whip up. You could serve this easy side with grilled burgers or chicken breasts.

Tomato, Cucumber, and Feta Salad (contributed by Megan Fitzpatrick)

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 1 large hot house cucumber or two small
  • 4 oz container of crumbled feta of choice
  • Coarsley chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste


  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Equal part extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Squirt of brown mustard
  • 1 tsp. crushed dried Italian herbs


  • Slice tomatoes in half and salt. Peel, slice in half, seed (with a small spoon), and cut into half-moons the cucumber. Place in colander or strainer with tomatoes. Rough chop the parsley.
  • Make the dressing and set aside. Add tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley to a bowl.
  • Gently stir in feta. Add dressing in preferred quantity. Stir gently. Serve. Reserve dressing separately if not serving shortly.

I estimate that you can make this salad in 15-minutes. Of course, everything is easier when you have a proper knife. Check out my previous post on reasons to buy a better chef knife and know how to use it properly.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Burrito Night! Made Possible without Unhealthy, Expensive Taco Seasoning Packets or Fatty Takeout

Having taco meat on-hand in the fridge is so easy and versatile so you can whip up quick meals when you don't want or don't have time to cook. Use ground turkey or ground chicken for the taco meat for quick dishes such as burritos, tostadas, tacos, enchiladas, or taco salad. All you need is to add a piece of fresh fruit or a green salad and there is your quick meal.

To do this, cook up a 1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey or chicken with seasoning (see below), and store it in the refrigerator for the even more quick meals in the week. Many kids love burritos and tacos because of the cheese and you can eat them with your hands! You can also add sauteed zucchini, mushrooms, or bell peppers to the taco meat for an even healthier burrito option.

Many people just get a burrito from a taqueria, but those are loaded with fat and calories. If you make yours own at home, you can control the quality of the ingredients and use leaner meat, light sour cream, etc. Also, many taco seasoning packets have MSG in them and the natural brands are a waste of money! All you need is a few spices that you can use for other dishes and keep in the pantry.

Quick Taco Meat (serves 6-8)

  • 1 + 1/4 pound ground turkey or ground chicken
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 jalepeno, seeded *or try poblano, if you want milder flavor
  • 2 tbs chile powder
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1 tbs dried oregano
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • 1 tbs garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper *reduce to dash, if sensitive to spicy foods
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Cooking spray or olive oil
Burrito ingredients - take your pick:
  • Low fat natural refried beans or canned black beans
  • Light sour cream
  • Shredded cheese (such as Cheddar, Monterrey Jack, etc)
  • Salsa
  • Green/black olives
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Sauteed mushrooms, bell peppers, or zucchini
  • Preheat a large skillet on medium heat. Finely chop onion and jalepeno pepper.
  • Spray skillet with cooking spray or drizzle with olive oil. Add onion and jalepeno. Cook for 2 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add ground turkey or chicken to the skillet. Use the back of the spoon to break apart the ground meat. When the meat is almost cooked through, add salt.
  • Add spices (chile powder, cumin, oregano, cayenne) and tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes on low heat.
To make burrito:
  • After you add spices to the meat and it's cooking on low. Open a can of refried beans and warm in the microwave. Pull out all ingredients so your family can build their burrito the way they want it.
  • Smear the beans on first. Add ground meat, then layer cheese. You may want to warm up for 30 seconds until the cheese melts. Then add the cold ingredients such as olives, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, etc.
  • Fold two opposing sides inward from your hand, then roll the open sides to close in tightly. That's it! Serve immediately.
Need a visual on burrito folding? Check out these tips on folding burritos.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Power Breakfast for a Busy Day Ahead: Steelcut Oats

If you read this blog, there's no secret that I love, love eggs. Yes, I wrote LOVE twice because that's how much I love eggs...But, I enjoy oatmeal for breakfast a lot. Unfortunately, instant oatmeal varieties in the grocery store are loaded with sugar and strange dried fruit. It's so easy to cook oats on the stove top that I'll make it even during the work week while I'm getting ready.

Here is a photo of my breakfast today, which will give me enough energy for my workout and errands this morning. My power breakfast is steelcut oats, cooked with pumpkin pie spice and vanilla extract, and topped with honey, fresh blueberries, slivered almonds and lowfat milk. Blueberries are an antioxidant and are high in fiber, but low in sugar.

The entire breakfast is 350 calories, 7g fiber, and 12g protein. Eating whole grains gives you longer, slow-burning energy and stamina to help you through your activities.

  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking steelcut oats
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 tbsp slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup lowfat milk
  • Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. When water is boiling, add steelcut oats. Reduce heat and add oats. Stir. Cover and simmer for 7 minutes.
  • Check oats after 3 minutes. Stir in pumpkin pie spice and vanilla. Cover. After full 7 minute cooking time, let stand for 1 more minute (covered).
  • Rinse and drain blueberries - or better yet, do that when you buy them and store them in an airtight container to use them faster.
  • Serve oats in a bowl and stir in honey. Add blueberries, almonds, and top with milk. Now, you're ready to eat.
Now, I'm off to the gym. When you try this, let me know what you think with the energy you get from this power breakfast.

Update after my workout: I ran for 30 minutes on the treadmill and did a 40 minute strength training workout and went grocery shopping and I feel great. I think the breakfast was the perfect fuel!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Spotlight on a Pantry Staple - Fresh Lemons

Lemons are a versatile citrus fruit that not only helps you get your vitamin C, but also brightens your food. Lemons ideal for health and nutrition because they aid digestion, diabetes prevention, and immunity boosting. Lemons = Super food! I always have 2-3 lemons on-hand in my pantry as a go-to ingredient that I can use in a assortment of dishes. Lemons are a staple for lighter cooking because their fresh, acidic flavor complements fish, salads, and sauces.

Grate it! The peel contains the essential oils so to get a higher impact lemon flavor, grate the peel with a handheld grater, such as a microplane. You can use the grater for other foods like garlic, ginger, or cheese. Use lemon zest as an accent ingredient.

Sprinkle lemon zest on top of frosted vanilla cupcakes, soup, cake batter, seafood, or salads. A little goes a long way, so use it sparingly.

Juice it! Use a handheld lemon press to squeeze the lemon juice to help strain the seeds. Just cut the lemon in half and juice it. I recommend juicing a lemon in a small prep bowl in case some seeds get through. The last thing you want is to bite into a bitter lemon seed!

Use freshly squeezed lemon juice as a quick salad dressing with olive oil (1/2 and 1/2 proportion), to drizzle on Italian soup, marinade for seafood, with sauteed spinach, or for making pesto.

Slice It! Place sliced lemons in a water pitcher. Add ice and then water. Serve this at dinner parties or brunches. You can even add a few sprigs of mint. Lemons water is refreshing for a spring and summer day.

Quick Tip: If you're using both the lemon zest and juice in the same meal, it's easier to grate the peel first and then juice next.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Reader Recipe: High-Fiber, Easy Lentil Salad Can be Your Next Meal or Side Dish

Lentils are a power food because they're packed with nutrition - high in fiber, protein, iron, and folic acid. This Lentil, Beet, and Snow Pea Salad is a good balance of flavors with the sweetness of the beets (I used golden beets), the earthy flavor of the lentils, and the crunch from the snow peas. The feta adds a salty punch. One main dish serving of this salad has 15g of fiber and 27g of protein to keep you satisfied.

You can buy cooked lentils and beets in the produce section of grocery stores like Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. My friend, Anissa, gave this recipe that she created and now her friends and family request this dish all the time! She suggests experimenting with different oils like sesame. I made it for lunches this week and brought some in for my friend at work. She loved it!

In my version, I experimented by adding crushed garlic and Dijon mustard in the dressing. If you add mustard, skip the salt in the salad. You can also try adding a bit of honey to the oil and vinegar and chopped fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, or oregano.

Lentil, Beet, and Snow Pea Salad with Feta (Serves 6 for side dish; 4 for main dish) by Anissa Khalid


  • 1/2 pound snow peas
  • 1 (17-ounce) package steamed lentils (Trader Joe's or Whole Foods)
  • 1 pouch cooked beets (Trader Joe's) or 1 lb fresh, roasted (see my post)
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (try the Italian seasoned feta)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions (optional)


  • Blanch snow peas (can do ahead). Wash and trim snow peas. Add water to saucepan and bring to a boil. When water is boiling, add snow peas and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and run under cold water bath in a strainer and set aside. Keep in the refrigerator, for later, if needed. Cut snow peas into ½ inch pieces or leave them whole. Cut beets in bite-size pieces.
  • In a medium bowl add vegetables and lentils, then mix. Add oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and feta.
  • Taste salad for seasoning. You may make adjustments to the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper you should be set. Don't taste without the feta because it is salty!

Nutritional details:

A lunch portion of this salad is 350 calories, 9g (mainly from olive oil), 47g carbs, 16g sugar, 15g fiber, 17g protein, 67g chol, 1,257mg sodium. *This has a lot of sodium so to balance, eat reduced sodium the rest of the day.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

This Vegetarian Pasta Casserole will Satisfy Hearty Eaters; Save Leftovers for Lunches or Busy Nights

You know about my love of pasta from a recent post. I enjoy pasta by eating it with lots of vegetables. I made this for dinner last night and when I took it out of the oven, Aaron gasped and said it looked good so I thought I should share it with you. It's a veggie pasta casserole with a homemade lighter cheese sauce. I based it off of a Cooking Light recipe from 2000. I wanted to boost the vegetables and flavor because of the reviews it got online. My version has a head of cauliflower and a bunch of fresh spinach. I served it with a mixed green salad.

The pasta casserole was hearty so meat eaters won't miss the meat! Each serving is about 1 1/2 cups with 375 calories and 22g protein. We ate this for dinner and I preportioned the remaining 4 servings for the fridge so we can grab and go later in the week. It's a great way to avoid takeout or frozen meals on those busy nights!

Cauliflower, Spinach, Cheese and Pasta Casserole (6 servings)

  • 8 cups water
  • 6 cups cauliflowerets (1 1/2 lbs) cut in small pieces
  • 8 ounces uncooked small shell pasta
  • 3 cups lowfat milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 head spinach, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 cups finely chopped onions
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed and divided
  • 1 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cups grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (or smoked mozzerella)
  • 3 tablespoons bread crumbs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon thyme (or 3 tsp chopped fresh thyme)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared Dijon style mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped

  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling water, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid; set cauliflower aside. Bring cooking liquid to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook 7 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.
  • In a preheated large sauce pan, drizzle a bit of olive oil. Add chopped onions and 1 clove minced garlic. Cook 2 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh spinach and season with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted. Remove spinach-onion mixture and set aside in a bowl. Use this saucepan to make the sauce.
  • Melt butter in saucepan. Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour to melted butter and stir with whisk for 1 minute, then add milk to saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in thyme and remaining garlic; cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheeses, nutmeg, mustard, and pepper. Combine cauliflower, spinach, pasta, and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Spinkle bread crumbs on casserole evenly over cauliflower mixture.
  • Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Add freshly chopped parsley when it is out of the oven.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My 3-week Observations with the Food/Health Journal

On my journey for balancing a healthy lifestyle, I have one priority now, which is to reduce my body fat. I say that I have one top priority goal because, I recently went to the doctor and my physical revealed that I'm very healthy - blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, thyroid, etc. See even healthy people need to go to the doctor! That leaves only one thing to get me ready for pre-baby shape - losing body fat.

So three weeks ago, I started my online food and health journaling again after feeling my clothes get a bit tighter, (see my post). I did it religiously for many months and successfully shed some pounds. When I stopped in January, I started gradually slacking on my portion sizes.

The online food journal that I use is the free tool The Daily Plate. I enter in my food intake and exercises daily and manage my personal "balance sheet" to see my total nutritional breakdown for the day. I really like statistics so I find this really cool! I entered in my current weight and loss goal (1 pound per wk) and it automatically calculates my target calorie allotment for the day.

After the first 3-weeks, I'm noticing some cool things...
  • I'm eating LESS! Knowing that I have to document everything that I eat and drink (wine, beer, margaritas, etc), I'm more cautious about my portion sizes now. I notice that I'm going back to the computer to login my meals so that I can see what I should eat more of for the day, especially at night.
  • I'm exercising MORE! When I exercise, I log in the activity and it shows how many calories I used and adds to target calories I need to eat like a financial balance sheet. I like to workout 5 days a week anyway, but logging it really keeps me motivated not to miss or I might do something extra on day 6.
  • These 2 factors = weight loss! I'm focusing on losing a little at a time because I'm not making dramatic changes because I already eat a healthy, organic whole food diet. Besides slow weight loss is ideal for maintaining it long-term.

I will keep checking in with you on my progress. Now, I'm challenging you to join me in this effort if you have the same goal. Send me your comments and feedback as we take this journey together!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Practical Reasons to Purge Your Closet of those Pesky Skinny Jeans!

What a strange adulthood phenomenon…keeping those “skinny jeans” in the back of your closet or bottom of your drawer to see if you fit into them in the future. Yes, those are the jeans of your personal ideal size that you aspire to be one day again. I have friends of all shapes and sizes that do this. I suspect that even guys do this, too! Last night, I was with 3 girlfriends and all of us confessed to have our own pair of skinny jeans for the hope that one day they will fit us. But what if we do fit into those jeans one day? The reality will set in that you have accomplished your goal and worked hard to achieve the giant feat of getting back to pre-baby, pre-marriage, pre-life-craziness and you model them in the privacy of your home and gasp…go in public with out-of-style jeans! See that’s the problem. Jeans are a wardrobe staple now, but they need to be updated for cut, style, and rinse. Unless you want to be spotted around town wearing the dreaded “Mommy Jean” – the high-waist taper-leg, light rinse disaster, you need to update your wardrobe for something flattering and comfortable!

Practically speaking, you don’t want to look like a fool wearing 5, even 10-year old jeans! There are a myriad of options for every size and shape person! Even if you’re on a budget, if you wear these coveted pair of stylish denim jeans once a week for the next year and they cost you $150 to buy, that’s still only $2.88 per wearing! If you’re on a tight budget, go for more versatile styles that have a darker rinse (more flattering) and can be dressed up with nice leather shoes (and pumps for the ladies) or dressed down with casual shoes and shirts.

The most important thing is to always love yourself and feel confident every day, regardless of your size and shape. Taking pride in your physical appearance is essential both professionally and personally. If you’re not convinced, add TLC’s What Not to Wear to your Tivo list. Those folks that get the makeovers are usually putting themselves last or suffering confidence issues. People that look “put together” are less distracting and more ATTRACTING, which helps with landing the job, promotion, date, and keeping the marriage interesting.

Just think of all the SPACE you can regain in your closet if you’re harboring more than just 1 pair of skinny jeans! Living in a cozy condo in the city, space is a premium and I intend to use it wisely. My husband is a much bigger fan of purging than me so he encourages me to just purge! Donate the clean, lightly worn clothes to charity and turn the rest to rags or just throw it away.

Now look, there’s a 1-hour project that has a big payoff.