In continuing my quest to incorporate the 30 healthiest foods into the meals I make for my family, I decided to go for a breakfast item. Oatmeal. To make it more interesting, I added another super food, all natural peanut butter. Peanut butter and oatmeal? Oh yes! I wish I could take credit for this brilliant combination, but I got the idea from my Mom. It is a winner!
Here's the recipe:
Oatmeal with Peanut Butter
Oatmeal: Loaded with fiber to keep you full. It is also beneficial in controlling your cholesterol, which will help prevent heart disease.
All Natural Peanut Butter: Nuts have monounsaturated fats that are healthy for your heart. There is also a great amount of protein in peanut butter. It is important to look at the ingredients on the jar. Try to get peanut butter that only contains nuts and salt. You don't need any added sugar!
Old fashioned Oats (cook according to the instructions on the box)
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
1 teaspoon of Brown sugar
raisins to taste
How many of you rotate the same 8 or 9 meals over and over because that is what you are comfortable cooking? I am very guilty of this, and bless my husband, he doesn't complain. In fact, it bothers me way more than it does him. So I'm always looking for new things to try to spice up my culinary life.
That being said, I was overjoyed when I picked up the February issue of Real Simple Magazine. The cover article was all about the 30 Healthiest Foods. This list of foods was compiled by several food experts, and I did a little of my own research, so I decided that I would try to find a way to incorporate all of these foods in the meals I cook for my family. Luckily the majority of the things on the list are common items for me to have on hand, but there are a few that I will really have to stretch my imagination to get my kiddos to eat. (sardines, for example)
I'm going to keep track of all the new recipes I come up with and share them on this site. If you would like to read the article and get the list here is the link.
Recipe number one:
Whole Grain Pasta with Spinach and Tomatoes
Whole Grain Pasta: Contains 3 times the amount of fiber as normal pasta. *Note: be sure to use whole grain pasta and not multigrain pasta.
Spinach: Spinach is full of iron, folate, and antioxidants. *note: I love spinach, so I will be using this ingredient alot in the forth-coming recipes.
1/2 lb of whole grain thin spaghetti
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
3 oz baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
2oz goat cheese
Cook pasta according to the package instructions, drain and set aside. In the meantime, heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add garlic. cook garlic until it's fragrant and add spinach. As the spinach begins to wilt, add the 2 kinds of tomatoes and the artichoke hearts. When all the vegetables begin to heat through, add wine and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until the sauce begins to thicken. About 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the goat cheese until it melts and makes a creamy sauce. Toss with the pasta in the pan and divide into four serving bowls. Enjoy!
I made this last night and LOVED it! ( it was also great for lunch today)
Who likes hot wings??? My husband does. In fact, they are one of his favorites. Unfortunately hot wings are full of calories. Did you know that buffalo sauce is made with butter? Then the wings, covered in butter-based sauce are deep fried. ugh...my arteries are clogging just thinking about it.
Because this is one of my hubby's favorite meals, I decided to find a healthy alternative. Thus the buffalo lettuce wraps. Here is the recipe:
1 lb Ground Turkey
3/4 cup carrots, chopped or grated
1 cup celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt and pepper
1 head of iceberg lettuce, leaves removed to form cups
blue cheese crumbles
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp hot sauce ( I use Louisiana red hot)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
Brown the ground turkey along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. In the mean time combine the ingredients for the sauce. When the turkey is cooked through, add sauce to the pan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until most of the sauce is absorbed by the turkey mixture. This will take around 7 to 10 minutes. To make the lettuce wraps, spoon the turkey mixture into the lettuce cups and sprinkle blue cheese crumbles over the top. Wrap and enjoy!
They really should be called "yummy chock full of goodness healthy muffins!" I made these muffins today and my kiddos are LOVING them! You should give them a try, it's a great way to get good for you nutrients in a yummy package. Here is the recipe:
2 Cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 Cups Oat Bran Hot Cereal
1 1/2 Cups Wheat Bran
2 Cups Skim Milk
1/2 Cup Canola Oil
1/2 Cup Honey
1/2 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
3 Eggs, slightly beaten
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1 tsp Cinnamon
2 Apples, Shredded (about 1 cup)
3 Carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 Bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup)
1 Cup Raisins
-Preheat oven to 375 degrees (I have dark pans so I set mine at 350 degrees)
-In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
-Beat oil, brown sugar and honey in a large mixing bowl
-Add eggs, milk, apples, carrots and bananas. mix until combined.
-Stir in wheat bran and oat bran. let batter sit for 10 minutes.
-Fold in dry ingredients and raisins.
-Divide into muffin pans, filling each 3/4 full.
-bake small muffins for 18 minutes and large muffins for 27 minutes.
I had to throw in a picture of my little assistant/taste tester. He approved!
I was watching athe Nate Berkus show yesterday, which is not something I normally do, but he was having a segment on having a healthy home with Dr. Oz. This is very interesting to me, as I am trying to give my kids the healthiest life possible. They talked about a few things, but the one that got my attention the most was the garbage we track in on our shoes.
I decided to investigate this further and found an article on the abc news website on this very thing. I am seriously grossed out by this. They tested shoes from 8 different people and found that they were dirtier than a toilet seat. A Toilet Seat!!! I don't know about you, but my kids eat things they drop on the floor. Apparently I could serve their meals in the bathroom. Yuck!
The abc news article refrences a study done by the University of Arizona the found 9 diferent infection-causing bacteria on the bottom of shoes. They also found that bacteria live longer on the bottom of a shoe because as you walk you pick up organisms that feed the bacteria. Again, yuck!
So, the moral of the story is...Take your shoes off when you come in the house! If you have a situation where you don't want to ask a guest to do so, give your floors a good cleaning after they leave.
My Sister-in-Law coined the phrase "accidental exercise" and I love it! It encompasses any extra exertion you put out during your normal day. For example, not finding a parking space right next to the building, or walking from one store to the next instead of driving. Maybe the elevator is broken and you have to take the stairs instead. All of these things are accidental exercise.
The challenge is to make accidental exercise not so accidental. Capitalize on any opportunity to burn a few extra calories and you will be surprised at how fast they add up. Park at the back of the parking lot on purpose. Make extra trips up and down the stairs. Walk your kids to the playground and instead of sitting on the bench and watching them play, join in the fun. If you work at an office make the trip to a coworkers office to give information rather than sending an email.
It sounds simple but the results are fantastic. Even if your goal is not to lose weight, the extra activity will have you feeling great!
Can you think of other ways to get accidental exercise?
I got a little bit of validation the other night at the dinner table. My husband got to come home from work early so all four of us sat at the table for dinner together. I made a chicken,artichoke and spinach bake, and do you know which part my daughter picked out and ate first? The spinach! What 18 month old chooses the spinach over everything else on her plate? I did a little victory dance in my head and enjoyed dinner with my family. I'm so excited that my darling girl likes healthy food!
Here is the recipe for the Chicken Artichoke and Spinach bake. It's one of my favorites.
2 cups cooked chicken, diced
1 10 ounce box frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and drained
1 15 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts, chopped
1 cup light sour cream
1 cup fat free mayonnaise
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
combine chicken, spinach and artichoke hearts in a large bowl and set aside
combine remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
Take half of the cheese mixture and combine it with the chicken mixture.
Pour the chicken mixture into a casserole dish and spread the remaining cheese mixture over the top evenly.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.
Are you a cardio queen when it comes to exercise? If the answer to that question is yes, have you hit a plateau? Well here is why...
When you do only cardiovascular exercise, like running, walking or biking, your body adapts to having your heart rate in that "steady state." When you body adapts it gets more efficient and doesn't burn as many calories during that activity.
So, how do we fix this problem? Do we stop doing cardio workouts all together? NO! We need to mix it up a little. Don't let your body adapt and you will continue to burn the maximum amount of calories during each workout. Here are some ideas for spicing up your workouts:
1. During your normal 30 minute walk, stop every 5 minutes and do a body weight exercise. At the first stop, do a set of 20 squats, at the second stop do a set of 10 push-ups, at the third stop do a set of 10 lunges on each leg, at the fourth stop do one minute of jumping jacks, and at the fifth stop do a set of 25 crunches. The key is to move right from walking into the exercise and then back to walking, no rest!
2. If jogging is your exercise of choice, during your normal run, add in 5 30 second sprints. This will cause your metabolism to ramp up and increase the number of calories you burn.
3. If you want to change it up all together it is always effective to do a circuit workout of resistance exercises while moving from one exercise to the next without resting in between. Resistance exercises include the body weight exercises I mentioned above and those using free weights and weight machines.
Mixing up your workout will not only keep your body one its toes, it will keep it interesting for your mind too!
I'm not sure about you all, but we have been trapped in the house for a couple of days because of this terrible weather. I have two 18-month-olds who are climbing the walls. It has been so cold and icy that I can't even take them out for a walk...ugh.
So, what to do??? I have blocks, I have stairs...hmmmm. Stair races!!! We spent 45 minutes throwing blocks down the stairs, sliding down to get them, and running back up. What a workout!! The best part was that the kids took great naps afterward, they were exhausted. Good nap=good mood.
If you are finding yourself with an energetic little one, try stair races. If you don't have a set of stairs I'm sure shuttle races down a hallway would work just as well. And Mom, you get some accidental exercise too. It's a win-win!
I have a confession to make. I have not been watching my diet and have indulged in a few too many treats lately. Enough to where it is showing on the scale.
Take last weekend for instance: my husband and I hosted our friends for a game night. My brilliant idea was to have an appetizer party where everyone brought their favorite bite-sized treat. We had spinach dip, baked brie, spanakopita, guacamole, pizza bread...yummy. Oh, and did I mention the red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting? (sigh) It was divine. Of course there was wine, beer and a bit of whisky being poured as well. Not exactly a low calorie night. But, the bad part is not the night itself, it's the left overs! I found myself the next day, fork in hand, eating cake right off the serving platter! I didn't even take the time to cut a piece and put it on the plate!
So, what did I do to remedy this problem? Well, desperate times call for desperate measures, I dumped the cake, brie, dip, and any other offending food item in the trash and took it outside. I then went to the grocery store and stocked up on all of our favorite healthy things, you know, like vegetables... and chicken.
We still have goodies in the house so we don't feel deprived ( I am in love with the slow churned ice cream), but we are just going to watch our portion sizes and stop baking cakes! I have to say that I feel much better eating food that is good for me.
So, the moral of the story is that you can have fun and eat yummy treats, you just have to get back to the healthy stuff to make up for it. And really, the healthy stuff tastes pretty good too!
I love the way it makes me feel, I love the way it makes me look, I love the way it clears my head... I could go on and on.
If you have never taken a yoga class, you should give it a try. It is appropriate for all fitness levels because the poses can be modified. There are different types of yoga, and each has a different emphasis.
Hatha yoga is very popular for beginners or for those that want a relaxing yoga session. This type of yoga moves slowly through different poses and focuses on breathing and stretching the muscles.
Bikram yoga is also known as hot yoga. I have never tried this type before, but from what I understand it is practiced in a hot room to encourage sweating and loosening the muscles. I think it is appropriate to check with a physician if you have any health problems before trying bikram yoga.
Ashtanga yoga, or power yoga is my personal favorite. This practice is designed to improve strength and endurance. It is a more aggressive approach to yoga that has you moving quickly from one pose to the next. I love the feeling of a challenging workout, and ashtanga yoga gives that to me.
You can find yoga workouts at local fitness centers, yoga studios, or go pick up a dvd. There are some great ones out there.
Give it a try and let me know what you think, but please remember to be safe while working out and check with a physician if you have any reservations about your health.
Today was so fun! We bundled the kiddos up and took them to the park to play. They have those funny little hats with the three pom poms on the top, so cute! We decided to go despite the 45 degree temperature because we were getting stir crazy being cooped up in the house. My kids need to exercise as much as I do. And boy was it ever a workout! I wonder how many calories my hubby and I burned climbing up ladders and sliding down slides? This isn't even taking into account that we had to run from one playground apparatus to the next. Apparently when you are 18 months old you need to go everywhere at a full sprint.
While we were there I looked around at all of the other park-goers and was thrilled to see so many people out being active. There were runners, walkers, bikers, and even a dad pulling a bike trailer with his two little girls in to to the playground so they could run and play.
This morning was a great reminder that going to the gym or on a run by yourself is not the only way to stay fit and healthy. Taking the kids to the park not only gave my husband and I some extra exercise, it also helped to teach our kids that being active is fun! And now they are so exhausted they are taking fabulous naps! A win-win if you ask me!
I had a moment of panic the other day...I was out of snacks for the kiddos! As any Mommy knows, snacks are VERY IMPORTANT to a toddler. Usually I have graham crackers or fruit snacks, but I was waiting for the weekend to go grocery shopping so the pantry was out of stock. (gasp) As I was frantically foraging for anything the kids could carry around in their little snack bowls, I came across a box of multi grain cheerios and a bag of marshmallows...hmmmm. A little more rummaging produced a bag of raisins, and presto, baby trail mix! It's pretty nutritionally sound also with the multi grain cheerios and the really healthy raisins. The marshmallows are there just to entice the kids to eat it. Of course my daughter picks those out first and once they are gone will suffer with the healthy stuff. You want to know the best part though? It is really easy to vacuum up off of the floor! It is quickly becoming a favorite around my house for several reasons.
Do you have any other snack ideas that have helped out in a pinch?
How many times have you said "I'm going to exercising" and only made one workout? Being in the fitness world, I have heard every excuse in the book for not exercising. I don't have time, my foot hurts, I don't want to have to take another shower, I hate running, exercise doesn't work for me...I could go on and on. I've even used some of these myself. Hey, no one is perfect. But I think what it all boils down to is motivation. If you are motivated to get something done, you generally find a way to do it. This is not a statement I make lightly. I realize that exercise is not everyone's favorite thing to do, but unfortunately it is a necessary evil to staying healthy.
Health is my main motivation. I have the opportunity to be healthy. What do I mean by the opportunity? Well, my Uncle recently passed away from melanoma. It is one of the most aggressive forms of cancer and he fought it for 2 years. He was only 49 years old when he passed. This is a man who lived life to the fullest. He was a successful business man, a pilot, went sky diving and jet skiing, was all together very active. He led a healthy lifestyle and was beaten by what started as a small sore on the side of his face. During the last 2 years of his life he would have given anything to be able to step outside and go for a run, to have control over his body and his health.
I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to be healthy that I can't pass on my workout. I can't stop before I've met my mileage goal. I don't mean to get preachy, but I'm pretty passionate about some things...
This is what works for me, it may be something different that lights your fitness fire. Skinny jeans? Running a 5k? Upcoming event that you want to look amazing for? Getting off medications? Inspiring your family?
I need a mental health day... I'm sure there are other Moms out there who get to a point where they don't know what to do with all of the stress and consider running for the hills. I am there today, and while running for the hills isn't really an option, I am on the right track.
Exercise is a great stress reliever. I just read an article from the Mayo Clinic that explains the mental health benefits of exercise. First of all, the activity increases your endorphins which are feel-good chemicals in your body. So, instant mood lifter!
The article goes on to mention that focusing on the activity you are performing will help to take your mind off of what is bothering you and provide a bit of clarity to the situation. I can definitely see where this works. When I go on a run I put my headphones on and listen to my own music and get lost in my thoughts. Most of the time when I'm finished running I have come up with another way to address the problem of the day.
The last thing the article talks about is that exercise helps improve your confidence and self image and is therefore an overall mood lifter. I'm going to take this a step further, I think exercise is also something you can control for yourself. As a Mom, I feel that most of my life is spent reacting to the needs of others, my kids, my husband, the dog... But, when I'm working out, I'm spending time devoted just to me. And, taking that little bit of the day for myself makes me a better wife and mommy.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed with the pressures of life, take a walk, pop in a yoga dvd, or even do some push-ups or crunches, anything to get the blood flowing. You will be much happier for it!
I'm headed for the treadmill, catch you later!
I am the worst patient! I never listen to my own advice. Here's what happened:
Last Tuesday I noticed a little soreness in my upper back, under my right shoulder blade. I thought nothing of it and pressed on. Wednesday it was a little worse, but my husband went out of town for work so I had to pick up the kids because I was the only one home. Mind you, my son is now about 27 pounds. By the time Thursday rolled around I realized I had a problem, but again, being the only parent at home I had to do all the kid-lifting. Enter Friday morning...I could not raise my right arm or turn my head, and still, I was the only kid-picker-upper in the house. My husband returned home at about midnight on Friday and found me whimpering on the couch , unable to turn my head to give him a kiss hello.
At this point, a smart person would've let my hubby do all of the heavy lifting until the pain got better, but I just can't resist when my kiddos reach their little arms up and say "meese." (That is kid-speak for please) I also decided it would be a good idea to move some furniture around in the house this weekend. So, needless to say, I am still having pain today.
So, what should I have done? I had no choice but to take care of the kiddos while my hubby was gone, but I could've done more of it while sitting down. I also should've used ice packs on the painful area for 20 minutes a a time, 4 times per day. After the third day of pain I could've also added in a heating pad for 15 minutes at a time 3 to 4 times per day. Mix this in with some slow stretching and maybe a massage, and I would probably be pain free today. Oh, and I probably could've left the furniture moving for next weekend.
So, this is a classic case of "do as I say, not as I do." And, if it is not showing improvement by tomorrow, I'm going to see a doctor. It is always better to err on the side of caution.
I was doing a little Internet research and found that 40 to 45% of Americans make new years resolutions each year. That is an interesting statistic. I'm sure that the percentage of those who keep their resolutions is much lower.
So, how do we stick to our resolution? I see a resolution much like a goal, so it would stand to reason that the same techniques used to accomplish a goal can be applied to a resolution. In the fitness world we teach all kinds of strategies for goal setting and achieving. Here are a few that I have found work well:
1. Be realistic. Set achievable goals. If weight loss is your resolution, for example, saying "I want to lose 150 pounds in 6 months" is not realistic. A better resolution would be "I am going to lose at least 5 pounds per month." This is an achievable task and you will not be stopped by the disappointment of not accomplishing it. And if you exceed your goal, awesome!
2. Set Short term and long term goals. Using the weight loss example, the long term goal is to lose at least 5 pounds per month. A short term goal for this scenario is to go to the gym 4 times a week for 2 weeks or to record all of your meals in a food journal for 3 days. These short term goals will help you reach your ultimate resolution of weight loss and not make it seem like such a daunting task.
3. Celebrate the small victories. Reward yourself! positive reinforcement is a great way to stay on task. If you accomplished going to the gym 4 times a week for 2 weeks, treat yourself to a new workout outfit, or go get a massage for those aching muscles, you deserve it! I have found that people are far more successful when they reward themselves for accomplishments rather than punishing themselves for slip-ups.
4. Shake it off. If you slip up and eat an enormous piece of chocolate cake at a birthday party, oh well. Just get back on it tomorrow. This is real life, things happen, so don't let it stop all of your forward momentum.
All of this talk about resolutions, I suppose I should share mine, so here they are:
- I resolve to do a concentrated fitness activity of some sort at least 4 days per week.
- I resolve to update this blog at least 3 times per week
- I resolve to schedule time just for myself at least once a month. (this will not be easy with a husband and 2 toddlers, but I will be happier for it)