Archive for the ‘Recipes’ Category

Heart Healthy Foods: Savory Spinach Soup

Heart Healthy Foods: Savory Spinach Soup

By any definition of the term, spinach is a vegetable superstar. In addition to providing calcium and iron, it’s high in fiber and so low in calories that it’s virtually a “free” food on any diet. It’s also a great source of two nutrients from the carotenoid family that are the new superstars of eye nutrition- lutein and zeaxanthin.

Here’s one of my favorite recipes using spinach- it requires almost no prep time and zero cooking time, making it a winner from the point of convenience. And it’s a nutritional powerhouse. Hope you like!

Spinach Soup

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

Cook Time: None

Ingredients:

4 cups (120g) baby spinach, well washed and dried

1 cup water

2-3 cloves roasted garlic or 1 clove raw garlic

1-2 teaspoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed

pinch of sea or Celtic salt

1 ripe avocado, cut in half and pitted

2 tablespoons crushed dry-roasted hazelnuts, crushed raw hazelnuts, or lightly toasted pine nuts

In a blender, place the spinach, water, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. Pack the spinach leaves down and then blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.

Spoon the avocado out of its skin and into the blender and process again until smooth. Taste and add additional salt, garlic or lemon juice if necessary. Divide into 4 equal portions and garnish with the nuts.

by Dr. Jonny Bowden

Looking for more fast and easy recipes? Click here.
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Your Microwave’s Dark Side

Your Microwave’s Dark Side

By now, you probably know that what you eat has a profound impact on your health. The mantra, “You are what you eat” is really true.

But you need to consider not only WHAT you buy, but how you cook it.

Eating most of your food raw is ideal. But most of us are not going to be able to accomplish a completely raw diet, and we’ll end up cooking some percentage of our food.

Smart food preparation starts with high quality foods and food preparation and that means saying sayonara to your microwave oven. Need to sterilize a dishcloth? Use your microwave. But zapping your casserole is a BAD idea if you are interested in preparing healthy food.

Why the no nukes policy?

When it comes to microwave ovens, the price for convenience is to compromise your health. In this article, I will review what we know about the effects microwaves on your food and on your body.

Convenience Comes at Significant Toxic Threat to You and Your Family 

Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food, what most people fail to realize is that it also causes a change in your food’s chemical structure.

The first thing you probably noticed when you began microwaving food was how uneven the heating is.

“Hot spots” in microwaved food can be hot enough to cause burns—or build up to a “steam explosion.” This has resulted in admonitions to new mothers about NOT using the microwave to heat up baby bottles, since babies have been burned by super-heated formula that went undetected.

Another problem with microwave ovens is that carcinogenic toxins can leach out of your plastic and paper containers/covers, and into your food.

The January/February 1990 issue of Nutrition Action Newsletter reported the leakage of numerous toxic chemicals from the packaging of common microwavable foods, including pizzas, chips and popcorn. Chemicals included polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene. Microwaving fatty foods in plastic containers leads to the release of dioxins (known carcinogens) and other toxins into your food.

One of the worst contaminants is BPA, an estrogen-like compound used widely in plastic products. In fact, dishes made specifically for the microwave often contain BPA, but many other plastic products contain it as well.

Microwaving distorts and deforms the molecules of whatever food or other substance you subject to it. An example of this is blood products.

Blood is normally warmed before being transfused into a person. Now we know that microwaving blood products damages the blood components. In fact, one woman died after receiving a transfusion of microwaved blood in 1991 , which resulted in a well-publicized lawsuit.

New Study Confirms Microwaves Affect Your Heart

A recent study examining the effects 2.4 GHz radiation (which is the frequency of radiation emitted by Wifi routers and microwave ovens) on the heart was just completed. The study found “unequivocal evidence” that microwave frequency radiation affects the heart at non-thermal levels that are well below federal safety guidelines, according to Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University.

No longer can skeptics claim that microwaves produce no immediate biological effects at ordinary household levels!

There is also evidence that this same frequency of radiation causes blood sugar to spike in susceptible individuals and may actually be the cause of one type of diabetes.

Microwaving Also Zaps the Nutrients Right Out of Your Food

There has been surprisingly little research on how microwaves affect organic molecules, or how the human body responds to consuming microwaved food.

The handful of studies that have been done generally agree, for the most part, that microwaving food damages its nutritional value. Your microwave turns your beautiful, organic veggies, for which you’ve paid such a premium in money or labor, into “dead” food that can cause disease!

Heating food, in and of itself, can result in some nutrient loss, but using microwaves to heat food introduces the additional problem of the “microwave effect,” a phenomenon that will be discussed in detail later.

Nevertheless, some excellent scientific data has been gathered regarding the detrimental effects of microwaves on the nutrients in your food:

  • A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels remained intact.
  • A 1999 Scandinavian study of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a reduction in vitamin C.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • A Japanese study by Watanabe showed that just 6 minutes of microwave heating turned 30-40 percent of the B12 in milk into an inert (dead) form. This study has been cited by Dr. Andrew Weil as evidence supporting his concerns about the effects of microwaving. Dr. Weil wrote:
  • There may be dangers associated with microwaving food… there is a question as to whether microwaving alters protein chemistry in ways that might be harmful.”
  • Microwaving can destroy the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more potentially pathogenic bacteria .

Microwave Sickness

When your tissues are directly exposed to microwaves, the same violent deformations occur and can cause “microwave sickness.”

People who have been exposed to high levels of microwave radiation experience a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Insomnia, night sweats, and various sleep disturbances
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Swollen lymph nodes and a weakened immune system
  • Impaired cognition
  • Depression and irritability
  • Nausea and appetite loss
  • Vision and eye problems
  • Frequent urination and extreme thirst

Breaking Free of Your Microwave: A Few Basic Tips

Am I asking you to toss your microwave oven into the nearest dumpster?

Not necessarily. It can be a useful tool for cleaning. But if real estate in your kitchen is at a premium, it should probably be the first thing to go.

You really CAN survive sans microwave—people are living quite happily without one, believe it or not. You just have to make a few small lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Plan ahead. Take your dinner out of the freezer that morning or the night before so you don’t end up having to scramble to defrost a 5-pound chunk of beef two hours before dinnertime.
  • Make soups and stews in bulk, and then freeze them in gallon-sized freezer bags or other containers. An hour before meal time, just take one out and defrost it in a sink of water until it’s thawed enough to slip into a pot, then reheat it on the stove.
  • A toaster oven makes a GREAT faux-microwave for heating up leftovers! Keep it at a low temperature — like 200-250 degrees F — and gently warm a plate of food over the course of 20-30 minutes. Another great alternative is a convection oven. They can be built in or purchased as a relatively inexpensive and quick safe way to heat foods
  • Prepare your meals in advance so that you always have a good meal available on those days when you’re too busy or too tired to cook.
  • Try eating more organic raw foods. This is the best way to and improve your health over the long run.

 by Dr. Mercola

Thought you had to make popcorn in a microwave?  Here is an easy quick way to cook it on your stovetop…
 
Savory Popcorn
Popping the corn on the stove takes minutes and is much more delicious.  This is a new way to enjoy popcorn with heart healthy olive oil.   
 
1/4  cup           organic corn
                               coconut oil to cover bottom of pot
2      cloves        garlic, thinly sliced
2      Tbs           extra virgin olive oil or more
2      Tbs           pecorino romano cheese, finely grated
                             sea salt and black pepper to taste
1. Melt enough coconut oil to cover the bottom of a heavy bottomed medium
sized pot over medium high heat. Add corn and shake to cover with oil. Cover
and shake until popping stops. Pour into a large bowl.
2. In a small skillet, saute garlic in oil until it begins to brown, about 5
minutes. Drizzle over popcorn, sprinkle with sea salt, pepper and cheese.
Need more snack ideas, check out my Power Breakfasts and Snacks Cookbook.
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Should you eat veggie burgers???

Which Veggie Burgers Were Made With a Neurotoxin?

Many health-conscious consumers are being misled with every veggie burger that passes through their lips. Most are contaminated with hexane, a noted neurotoxin that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also classifies as a “hazardous air pollutant.

This chemical is not only used as a cleaning agent and solvent for glue and varnish, it’s also used to extract oils from soybeans, peanuts, corn and other seed and vegetable crops.

Makers of many soy-based burgers submerge the soybeans in hexane to separate the oil from the protein and reduce the amount of fat in the product.

If a non-organic burger contains soy protein isolate, soy protein concentrate, or texturized vegetable protein, it was likely made using hexane.

In their “Behind the Bean” report, the Cornucopia Institute calls “the widespread use of a toxic and environmentally damaging chemical, hexane, in the manufacturing of “natural” soyfoods such as vegetarian burgers, nutrition bars, and protein shakes” a “dirty little secret.”

Veggie burgers made with hexane include:

  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • Boca Burger, conventional
  • Franklin Farms
  • Garden Burger
  • It’s All Good Lightlife
  • Morningstar Farms
  • President’s Choice
  • Taste Above
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Yves Veggie Cuisine

 “Products labeled ‘organic’ aren’t allowed to contain any hexane-derived ingredients, but that rule doesn’t apply to foods that are labeled ‘made with organic ingredients.’”

What are the Risks of Eating Hexane-Tainted Food?

Hexane is a known toxin, although most of the research is on exposure via inhalation, which is thought to be the primary route of exposure. The EPA reports:

“Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to high levels of hexane causes mild central nervous system (CNS) effects, including dizziness, giddiness, slight nausea, and headache.

Chronic (long-term) exposure to hexane in air is associated with polyneuropathy in humans, with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed. Neurotoxic effects have also been exhibited in rats.”

Beware: Hexane is Even in Organic Infant Formula!

One of these is a form of soy lecithin, which is produced using hexane and acetone, another toxic chemical. Outrageously, another example is a form of DHA and ARA oils that are commonly used in organic infant formulas! According to the Cornucopia Institute’s report:

“Other hexane-extracted ingredients that many industry experts believe should not be present in organic foods, especially organic infant formula, are algal DHA and fungal ARA oils.

These oils—nutritional supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids—are produced by Martek Biosciences Corporation by way of a process that immerses fermented algae and soil fungus in a hexane bath.

So if you eat non-organic or even some organic varieties of processed soy foods, you can be fairly certain you are also eating hexane residues. This chemical is also likely present in virtually every processed food that contains edible oils from soy, peanuts and corn (which would be the vast majority of processed foods on the market).

More Reasons to Ditch Veggie Burgers and Other Forms of Processed Soy

First of all, you probably know that I am not a major fan of non-fermented soy, which is the primary protein most of these burgers are made from.

Over 91% of soy in the United States is GMO, which means it is LOADED with pesticides because that is why it is GMO in the first place — so Monsanto can sell loads of their toxic Roundup pesticides to kill the weeds around the GMO soy, but the GMO soy survives as it can tolerate the pesticide. It is loaded with it when it is finally harvested.

When you add up all the health risks of processed soy, trying to find a hexane-free veggie burger becomes a moot point (unless you can find the rare variety that may also be soy-free).

The truth is that even without the hexane issue, any soy that is unfermented — soy milk, tofu, soybean oil, soy veggie burgers, soy infant formula and all the other processed soy products out there all belong to this category — is not a health food and in fact is not a food I would advise eating at all. This is true whether it is “organic” or not.

Unlike the Asian culture, where people eat small amounts of fermented, whole soybean products, western food processors separate the soybean into two golden commodities — protein and oil. And there is nothing natural or safe about these products.

Says Dr. Kaayla Daniel, author of The Whole Soy Story

“Today’s high-tech processing methods not only fail to remove the anti-nutrients and toxins that are naturally present in soybeans but leave toxic and carcinogenic residues created by the high temperatures, high pressure, alkali and acid baths and petroleum solvents.”

Dr. Daniel also points out the findings of numerous studies reviewed by her and other colleagues — that soy does not reliably lower cholesterol, and in fact raises homocysteine levels in many people, which has been found to increase your risk of stroke, birth defects, and yes: heart disease.

Unfermented soy products have been linked to everything from reproductive disorders and infertility to cancer as well.

Further, unfermented soy contains isoflavones that are clearly associated with reduced thyroid function. Eating unfermented soy products is likely the single largest cause of hypothyroidism in women.

Another major problem with unfermented soy is that it contains natural toxins known as “antinutrients.” This includes a large quantity of inhibitors that deter your enzymes needed for protein digestion. While a small amount of these antinutrients would likely not be a problem, the amount of soy that many Americans are now eating (and drinking in the form of soy milk) is quite significant.

The result of consuming too many of soy’s antinutrients is extensive gastric distress and chronic deficiencies in amino acid uptake, which can result in pancreatic impairment and cancer.

Unfermented soy is also loaded with phytoestrogens (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein. These compounds mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen, and have been found to have adverse effects on various human tissues.

Drinking even two glasses of soy milk daily for one month has enough of the chemical to alter a woman’s menstrual cycle, and although the FDA regulates estrogen-containing products, no warnings exist on soy or soy milk. Soy phytoestrogens are also known to disrupt endocrine function, may cause infertility and may promote breast cancer in women.

Why You Want to be Very Careful With Veggie burgers

Given the fact that most veggie burgers on the market are made with processed soy and contaminated with hexane, I do not recommend you eat them.

You might want to try tempeh, a fermented soybean cake with a firm texture and nutty, mushroom-like flavor. Even though tempeh is a form of soy, it is a healthy form because it is fermented.

After a long fermentation process, the phytic acid and antinutrient levels of the soybeans are reduced, and their beneficial properties — such as the creation of natural probiotics — become available to your digestive system. It also greatly reduces the levels of dangerous isoflavones, which are similar to estrogen in their chemical structure, and can interfere with the action of your own estrogen production.

The vast majority of the soy sold in the natural food industry is most likely non GMO. Please be aware however, that this doesn’t necessarily apply to the oriental market. It’s possible that no one knows for sure. Unless you can confirm that the source of the soy is non GMO, would probably be best to avoid it.

Adapted from an article by Dr. Mercola

Here is a delicious way to enjoy tempeh…

 Tempeh Fajitas

Serving Size  : 4    

   1      oz            tempeh — cut into thin strips

   1                    small lime — juiced

   2      Tbs           tamari soy sauce

   1      Tbs           mexican seasoning

   1      tsp           coconut oil

   3      Tbs           coconut oil

   1                    medium red onion — cut into strips

   2                    medium zucchini — cut into strips

   1                    red bell pepper — cut into strips

   2                    cloves garlic — chopped

   1                    ripe avocado — cut into strips

                        organic greens

                        whole wheat or brown rice tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix lime juice, tamari, mexican seasoning

and 1 teaspoon of oil.  Pour over tempeh and marinate at least 30 minutes.

2. Heat skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons coconut oil.  Add

tempeh, saute each side for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn.

3. In a baking pan, add 1 tablespoon oil, red onion, zucchini, red pepper,

garlic and a dash of sea salt, mix well.  Place pan in oven and cook for 20

minutes or until vegetables are tender.

4. Fill each tortilla with strips of tempeh, some vegetables, avocado, some

greens and salsa.

For more recipe ideas, tap here.

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The trick to getting kids to eat their vegetables? Give them more…

The trick to getting kids to eat their vegetables? Give them more…

Getting kids to eat their vegetables isn’t always easy. But a new study suggests that giving them more may make them inclined to eat more.

Researchers from Penn State worked with 51 kids ages 3 to 5 in a daycare center as test subjects. For four weeks, the children were given increasing amounts of carrot sticks with a low-fat dip before they ate lunch, which consisted of macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli, applesauce and milk. During one of those weeks the kids received no carrots or any other food before lunch.

As the amount of carrots the kids were given increased, from 30 grams to 60 grams (about a half cup) to 90 grams, so did the amount eaten. Doubling the portion size of the carrots resulted in the kids eating 47% more. Tripling the portion size, however, didn’t further bump up consumption.

Eating more carrots did not result, however, in eating more broccoli — that stayed fairly steady through every test condition. The kids also ate about the same amount of the main meal regardless of how many carrots they had.

Maureen Spill, one of the study’s co-authors, said in a news release that the results could have some practical applications: “The great thing about this study is the very clear and easy message for parents and care-givers that while you are preparing dinner, put some vegetables out for your children to snack on while they’re hungry. Parents also need to set an example by eating vegetables while children are young and impressionable.”

By Jeannine Stein for the Los Angeles Times

 Here is a simple vegetable recipe to help you get your kids to eat more..

 Broccoli, Cauliflower and Carrots in Cheddar Cheese Sauce

2      Tbs           butter
1-2  Tbs           whole wheat pastry flour
1      cup           milk
1      cup           grated cheddar cheese
1/2  tsp           sea salt
                         Blanched Vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower  and carrots

 Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat.  Add flour and stir with a whisk for a few minutes.  Slowly add the milk stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until sauce has thickened.  When it is smooth add cheese and salt.
Stir until cheese is melted.  Pour over blanched broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and mix gently.  Serve immediately.
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Need more recipe ideas for meals your kids will love? Tap here.

Why is Wheat Gluten Disorder on the Rise?

Why is Wheat Gluten Disorder on the Rise?  

According to statistics from the University of Chicago, an average of one out of every 133 otherwise healthy people in the United States suffers from the digestive disease known as celiac disease (CD).    

Previous studies have found that this number may be as high as 1 in 33 in at-risk populations.    

Unfortunately, despite its rapidly increasing prevalence, it still takes an average of four years to reach a diagnosis if you’re symptomatic. This delay in proper diagnosis can dramatically increase your risk of developing other diseases such as autoimmune disorders, neurological problems, osteoporosis, and even cancer.    

What Causes Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease, also more casually referred to as wheat- or gluten intolerance, occurs when your body cannot digest gluten, a protein most commonly found in wheat, rye and barley. However, it’s very important to realize that these are not the only culprits that can cause severe problems. Other grains such as oats and spelt also contain gluten, and gluten can be found in countless processed foods without being labeled as such.   

“Gluten” comes from the Greek word for glue, and its adhesive properties hold bread and cake together. But those same properties interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients, including the nutrients from other foods in the same meal.   

The result is a glued-together constipating lump in your gut rather than a nutritious, easily digested meal.   

The undigested gluten then triggers your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, which can cause symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain.   

In more recent years it’s been shown that the condition can also cause a much wider array of symptoms that are not gastrointestinal in nature, further complicating proper diagnosis.   

Over time, your small intestine becomes increasingly damaged and less able to absorb nutrients such as iron and calcium. This in turn can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems.    

The rapid increase in celiac disease and milder forms of gluten intolerance is no surprise considering the modern Western diet, which consists in large part of grain carbohydrates.   

The resulting high-gluten, refined grain diet most of you have eaten since infancy was simply not part of the diet of previous generations.   

The Many Symptoms of Gluten-Intolerance 

In addition to nausea, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain, celiac disease may manifest clinically with an array of non-gastrointestinal symptoms, such as: osteoporosis, dementia, dermatitis, anemia, infertility, depression,fatigue and weight gain.   

How to Treat Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease 

The treatment for celiac disease or gluten intolerance is a gluten-free diet, which means abstaining from grains and any food that contains gluten. A blood test can verify whether or not you actually have the condition.   

 Typically, avoiding gluten for a week or two is enough to see significant improvement.    

However, in my experience, about 75-80 percent of ALL people benefit from avoiding grains, even whole sprouted grains, whether you have a gluten intolerance or not. This is because, typically, grains rapidly break down to sugar, which causes rises in insulin that exacerbate health problems such as:    

· Overweight    

· High cholesterol    

· High blood pressure    

· Type 2 diabetes    

· Cancer    

It is important to realize that there is a major difference between vegetable carbs and grain carbs, even though they’re both referenced as “carbs.” Unlike vegetables, grains convert to sugar, which is not something anyone needs in their diet in high amounts.    

The rising prevalence of celiac disease is clear evidence that we’re simply not designed to consume such vast amounts of starch- and sugar-rich foods so many now indulge in.    

In short, most people are consuming far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn (a grain, not a vegetable), rice, potatoes and Little Debbie snack cakes, with very grave health consequences. Yes, this even includes organic stone ground whole grains.    

Hidden Sources of Gluten

In order to combat gluten intolerance, it’s not enough to simply avoid grains. You must also pay attention to the quality of all the other foods you eat.  

Unfortunately, food manufacturers are not required by law to identify all possible sources of gluten on their product labels, so reading the label may not be enough.    

Gluten may still be hiding in processed foods like ready-made soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and various low- and no-fat products, just to name a few, under labels such as:    

· Malts    

· Starches    

· Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP)    

· Texturized vegetable protein (TVP)    

· Natural flavoring    

Celiac.com has a long list of label ingredients that typically contain hidden gluten.    

For helpful tips and guidelines on how to approach food companies for more detailed information about their ingredients, see The Gluten Solution site. They also offer more detailed information about the current state of gluten-free labeling legislation.    

That said, your best bet is to stick to a diet of fresh, whole foods (preferably organic whenever possible). Not only will you keep your celiac disease under control, but you will also experience numerous other benefits such as increased energy, enhanced mood, and a lower risk of chronic illness.    

Here is a simple gluten and dairy free recipe for almond cookies… 

Gluten/Dairy Free Almond Cookies   

Not only are these little almond cookies super fast and easy to make, you only have to keep a few ingredients on hand in order to whip them up on a moment’s notice! By the way, these cookies are delicious even if you eat wheat and dairy.    

1/2 cup Almond Butter    

2 cups Almond Meal    

6 Tbs Maple Syrup or Agave Nectar    

1 tsp Vanilla Extract    

Slivered Almonds, for decoration    

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.    

2. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to thoroughly combine.    

3. You can either roll the dough by hand into 1 inch balls and lightly press    

down with a fork or your fingers OR you can pat into a large square and cut    

into smaller 1-inch squares.    

4. Place the cookies on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet.    

5. Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden. The cookies will crisp as they cool.    

6. Allow cookies to cool and store in an airtight container.    

If you need more recipe ideas or help with a gluten free diet, please contact wendy@fitfoodcoach.com    

   

   

   

  

 

When a Great Body Belongs to Someone Else

When a Great Body Belongs to Someone Else

It’s easy to fall into the trap of critically comparing yourself to people who have reached their fitness goals. But depending on your outlook, you can get inspired, not frustrated, by someone else’s achievement.

Who hasn’t stared at someone with the fit, healthy body that we’d all like to have? But if you start critically comparing yourself to that ideal, it can have negative consequences on your weight loss and mental health.

Healthy Inspiration: A Role Model, Not an Ideal

“If you can look at somebody else and not be self-critical — look at their body and their achievements as an inspiration, that can be useful,” says Martin Binks, PhD, assistant professor at the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. “But if it’s a self-critical way of looking at people and thinking, ‘I’ll never look like that,’ that’s when it becomes more difficult.”

In other words, see them as a source of motivation, inspiration, and even advice on living a healthy lifestyle, but not as a physical ideal you have to reach. “You always have to keep in mind that your body is yours, and your shape is determined by your own genetics,” says Binks. “Look at the behavior as opposed to the appearance.”

Healthy Inspiration: The Right Attitude

“When we compare ourselves to somebody else, we are not honoring who we are. We’re not looking at who we are in our life and what we’ve done,” says Anne Wolf, RD, a registered dietitian and researcher at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, who has worked with patients dealing with obesity for more than 20 years. “When there’s a comparison, people either think ‘I’m better’ or ‘I’m worse.’ But we’re not better or worse — we are human beings with different gifts and people with different bodies.”

Wolf says that it’s important to recognize that everyone has a completely different body shape, different way of carrying weight, and even a different bone structure that affects the way we look.

Most important, says Wolf, is to focus on what you are doing to improve your body. Losing a percentage of your body weight, exercising regularly, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods — those are the guides to use to determine if you are giving yourself the healthiest body possible.

Healthy Inspiration: Help Reaching Goals

If you approach weight loss with a healthy mindset, you may find that looking to someone who lives a fit, healthy lifestyle or who managed to lose weight successfully will really help you. John from Fairfax, Va., found a healthy comparison within his own family, specifically his older brother.

“In a sense my weight loss was entirely due to comparing myself to other people,” says John, who at age 27 decided to take control of his weight and lost 70 pounds. “I saw myself showing the effects of age faster than the people around me.”

“My brother was a good role model for me,” notes John. “He lost a significant amount of weight, and it helped because I saw how it improved his quality of life and his overall disposition.”

For John, his brother was a motivating factor. “Part of the human condition means you’re always comparing yourself to others, appearance and otherwise,” says John. You can use the comparison to make yourself feel worse or to inspire yourself to be better.

By Diana Rodriguez at Everyday Health

Need help with the emotional side of eating and body image?  I can help!  Contact me at wendy@fitfoodcoach.com

Healthy Recipes for Spring’s Freshest Ingredients

Healthy Recipes for Spring’s Freshest Ingredients

You already know eating fruits and veggies will help you stay healthy, but choosing the freshest seasonal foods in your area will keep things inexpensive and eco-friendly. Seasonal eating is a cinch in the spring, when farms across the country showcase produce that can make any locavore proud. Pick out a few of the following foods the next time you hit the farmers’ market — your waistline (and your wallet) will thank you.

Asparagus

Come spring, asparagus are front and center in the produce section. These lovely green stalks are packed with folate (great for expectant moms), high in vitamins A and C, and rich in cancer-fighting antioxidants. Be sure to make use of these spears as soon as you see them — asparagus tend to lose flavor once they are harvested, so finding them at the market and cooking them up that night guarantees the best taste possible.

Asparagus Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette 

4 servings

  • 1  pound fresh asparagus
  • 2  tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2  tablespoons dry sherry or orange juice
  • 1  teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 1  teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed
  • 1/2  teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6  cups torn mixed salad greens
  • 1  tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Directions

Snap off and discard woody bases from asparagus. If desired, scrape off scales. In a covered medium saucepan cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water for 2 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Transfer asparagus spears to a bowl filled with ice water; set aside.

For dressing, in a food processor bowl or blender container combine rice vinegar, dry sherry, sugar, tarragon, mustard, salt, and pepper. With processor or blender running, slowly add oil in a thin, steady stream. (This should take about 1 minute.) Continue processing or blending until well mixed.

To serve, drizzle about half of the dressing over the greens; toss to coat. Divide greens among 4 salad plates. Pat asparagus dry with paper towels; arrange on top of greens. Drizzle asparagus with remaining dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Beets

Beat cancer and heart disease with this phytochemical-rich vegetable. But don’t forget about the leafy greens attached to those bulbous bottoms. When steamed or sauteed (just like spinach or Swiss chard), beet greens yield tons of vitamins and nutrients.

Beets With Blue Cheese and Walnuts 

6 servings

  • 2  tablespoons apple-cider, balsamic or red-wine vinegar
  • 1/3  cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4  cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/4  cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1  shallot, minced
  •   6 to 8 medium-size beets, tops removed
  •   Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  •   A few handfuls of torn arugula leaves

Directions

Heat oven to 400°F.

Wrap beets individually in foil, twisting the ends, and place on a baking sheet. Bake 60 to 90 minutes, or until a fork easily pierces the flesh.

In a small bowl, combine the shallot, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Let stand for at least 5 minutes; whisk in olive oil to make a vinaigrette.

Remove beets from oven and unwrap them. When cool enough to handle, peel off the skin with your fingers or a small knife. Slice into wedges or 1/3-inch-thick rounds and place in a serving bowl.

Add vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly. Top with cheese, walnuts and arugula leaves. (To save time, beets can be roasted the day before, refrigerated, then reheated.)

Strawberries

The list of health benefits you reap from strawberries is lengthy (they are a great source of potassium, fiber, and antioxidants, to start), but here’s some important food for thought: Strawberries are often grown with the use of strong pesticides, so it’s best to purchase the organic variety (look for the USDA seal on packaging). Or buy them from a local farmer — small farms are more likely to use less-invasive farming techniques.

Spinach

While it’s very common to consume spinach from a frozen package or from a can, spring puts fresh spinach center stage — and for good nutritional reasons. The quicker the vegetable is eaten after being harvested, the more the nutrients are retained. So, for a Popeye-sized helping of vitamins K (which helps keep blood healthy), C (which strengthen immune function), and A (which keeps vision sharp), toss a few bunches of fresh spinach into your basket.

Broccoli

Studies show that eating large amounts of cruciferous vegetables like broccoli may help stave off age-related decline in memory. Go for bunches that have firm stalks and green florets (the richer the hue, the more concentrated the nutrients).

Marinated Broccoli

  • 2  cups broccoli florets (from 1 small broccoli crown)
  • 2  scallions, minced
  • 1  tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2  tsp. sea salt
  •   Small pinch crushed red-pepper flakes

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a plastic container; shake well. Marinate at room temperature for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Carrots

Put down the vegetable peeler when cleaning off your carrots, as these beta-carotene-rich beauties hold tons of nutrients in or just below that outer layer. Simply scrub the dirt off and enjoy. Little known fact: The baby carrots found in stores don’t hold as much nutritional value as larger carrots because the skin is removed during processing. In this case, bigger IS better.

Roasted Salmon with Carrots, Molasses, and Chili 

2 servings

  • 1  pound carrots (usually 1 bunch without the greens)
  • 2  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2  tablespoon molasses
  •   pinch cayenne
  •   Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2  fillets salmon, 4 to 6 ounces each
  •   Chopped fresh herbs, optional, for garnish
  •   Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Peel the carrots and slice them on a bias (this is prettier than coins and no more work) about 3/4 inch thick.

In a large bowl whisk together 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, the molasses, cayenne, and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the carrot slices and toss well. Spread the mixture out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring once or twice, until golden and tender, 25 to 30 minutes.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper and rub with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil. Place the fish on a small baking pan and pop it in the oven with the carrots during the last 10 minutes. The fish is done when it’s opaque on the top but still darker pink inside, 8 to 10 minutes depending on how thick the fillets are. You should be able to cut into it with a fork, but it shouldn’t flake (that’s overdone).

Serve the salmon and carrots garnished with herbs, if you have them, and lemon wedges.

Lettuces

We often think of lettuce as simply the base layer for better ingredients in our salads, but romaine, arugula, Bibb, and many more varieties of spring lettuce all pack a serious nutritional punch. To best clean your bunches, swish the leaves in a large bowl of cool water, and let them sit so the grit settles to the bottom. Lift out the leaves and repeat until no dirt remains. Spin to dry.

Arugula-Fennel Salad with Pear Vinaigrette 

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2/3  cup pear nectar
  • 3  tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1  fennel bulb
  • 2  cups arugula leaves
  • 2  cups romaine lettuce leaves
  • 2  small ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2  of a small red onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
  • 1/4  cup broken walnuts, toasted
  • 1  ounce Parmesan cheese

Directions

For vinaigrette, in a small bowl whisk together pear nectar, vinegar, oil, and pepper. Set aside.

Cut off and discard upper stalks of fennel, reserving some feathery leaves for garnish (if desired). Remove wilted outer layer of stalks and cut off a thin slice from base. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise. Cut crosswise into thin slices, removing core (if desired).

In a medium bowl toss together sliced fennel, arugula, and romaine leaves. Pour about half of the vinaigrette over fennel mixture; toss to coat. Arrange the fennel mixture on 4 salad plates. Top with pears, red onion, and walnuts.

Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave Parmesan cheese. Top the salads with shaved cheese and, if desired, garnish with fennel leaves. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette.

Peas

If you’re feeling sluggish, piling up on peas (either Sugar Snap, with the rounded pod, or Snow, with the flat pod) might help give you a boost. Peas provide nutrients like iron, whose deficiency results in fatigue, and vitamin B, which is necessary for metabolic function. Don’t be deterred by the name “Sugar Snap” — the naturally occurring kiss of sugar in these pods is a far cry from the calorie-rich cane sugar or corn syrup found on many ingredient lists.

Brown Rice Salad With Snow Peas, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts 

4 servings

  • 1  cup snow peas (about 30), trimmed
  • 1  jar (6 ounces) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1/2  cup red wine or balsamic vinaigrette dressing
  • 2  cups cooked brown rice, chilled
  • 1/2  cup chopped fresh herbs, such as Italian parsley and basil
  • 4  large leaves of radicchio lettuce
  • 15  sun-dried tomatoes (dry-packed), thinly sliced

Directions

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for lettuce. Season with salt and pepper. Scoop a portion into each lettuce leaf before serving.

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard’s thick, crunchy stalk and hardy, wide leaves have a taste that is “half spinach, half beet” says Sarah Krieger, RD and National Spokesperson for the ADA. Chard is chock-full of vitamins and minerals, especially magnesium, which can relax muscles and boost levels of mood-lifting serotonin in the body. Plus, it’s a great source of iron for vegetarians who may not be getting enough without eating meat, says Krieger.

MAKE IT: For a light pasta dish, toss linguine with lemon, garlic, olive oil, and cooked Swiss chard.

Raspberries

In a study conducted by the US Department of Agriculture, raspberries ranked as one of the richest sources of antioxidants. But “they’re very delicate,” says Krieger, and lose their nutritional richness with every day they are off the vine. If you purchase raspberries at the grocery store, ask a salesperson when the shipment was delivered, and how far it had to travel.

Grilled Chicken and Baby Spinach Salad With Fresh Raspberry Vinaigrette 

4 servings

  • 10  ounces baby spinach, washed well and spun dry
  • 12  ounces grilled boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced (about 16 ounces uncooked)
  • 1  pint fresh raspberries, divided
  • 3  tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon orange-blossom honey
  • 1  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  small shallot

Directions

On a serving platter, arrange baby spinach, grilled chicken breasts and three-fourths of the raspberries.

In a blender, combine vinegar, honey, oil, shallot and remaining raspberries; blend for 1 minute, or until smooth. Drizzle over salad.

Fava Beans

The fava is filled with fiber — a half cup yields 9 to 10 grams of the 25 grams of fiber that we need daily. The only downside to this dietary dynamo? They’re slightly labor-intensive, as you must shuck them from the pod, remove their waxy coating, before cooking.

MAKE IT: Instead of hummus, spread this puree onto crackers and veggies. Remove beans from pod and peel off outer coating. Cook shelled beans in water until tender. Puree beans with olive oil, garlic and a dash of cumin.

Radishes

Often relegated to a garnish, the radish rightfully deserves its place on your plate. This little root is low in calories and a good source of fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. When shopping for radishes, take note of the size of the bulbs. If they’re too big, they might be cracked or have a hollow center. Their leaves should look crisp and green, not yellow.

Artichokes

Fresh artichokes look intimidating, especially when it is so easy to buy the jarred, marinated variety. But packaged artichokes are usually soaking in oil and may have added sodium or other unhealthy jar-mates. Go for the fresh choke and you’ll avoid additives and get right to the antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals this veggie has to offer.

Warm Tarragon Potato Salad 

8 servings

  • 1/4  cup sesame oil
  • 1/4  cup vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 1  teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon or dill or 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, crushed, or dried dillweed
  • 1/2  teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1  pound tiny new potatoes and/or small yellow potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2  teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1  cup chopped bok choy
  • 1/2  cup chopped red radishes
  • 1/2  cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2  thin slices Canadian-style bacon, chopped (1 ounce)
  • 1/8  teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4  artichokes, cooked, halved lengthwise, and choke removed (optional)

Directions

For dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup oil, the vinegar, sugar (if desired), tarragon, and mustard. Set aside.

In a lightly greased 2-quart square foil pan combine potatoes and the 2 teaspoons oil; toss to coat.

In a grill with a cover arrange preheated coals around edge of grill. Test for medium-hot heat in center of grill. Place potatoes in center of grill rack. Cover and grill about 25 minutes or just until potatoes are tender. Cool potatoes slightly.

In a large bowl combine potatoes, bok choy, radishes, green onions, Canadian-style bacon, and pepper. Add the dressing; toss gently to coat. If desired, spoon the salad into artichoke halves

By Emily Dorn at Fitness Magazine

For more recipes or help putting a meal plan together, contact wendy@fitfoodcoach.com