Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy and Healthy Holidays- Part 4

After the party

- Get outside and walk to improve digestion.

- Take leftovers to a homeless shelter, or don’t take them at all.

- Appreciate yourself for your accomplishment. It wasn’t super easy, but you had a great time, you feel great, and your immune system is still going strong.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy and Healthy Holidays- Part 3

At the party

- Wear something that you feel good in, something that you look forward to wearing. When you feel good about yourself on the outside, it will help you to respect yourself from the inside.

- Fill half your plate with veggies.

- Chew thoroughly- this is guaranteed to eliminate overeating.

- Chew gum to avoid going back to the buffet for thirds.

- Don’t deprive yourself, have a few bites of the less healthy foods that appeal to you.

- Drink lots of water. Water will help fill you up and prevent the next day’s hangover.

- Take a quick walk outside with anyone else who might be feeling full. This will give you a burst of energy and help take your mind off of food.

- Do not take leftovers with you. This is how we turn 2 or 3 holidays into a month-long binge.

- Think about why you're trying this new strategy this year. Envision yourself at your ideal weight, with more energy, fewer colds and headaches and living longer. This will remind you that what you are doing is well worth the effort.

- If you buckle once, don't use it as an excuse to cave entirely. Think about how great you'll feel later for accomplishing your goal. Even if you mess up, you'll still be in a better place than you were last year.

- Remember that this is just another meal. The real meaning of the holidays is about being with your family and friends. If you think you should eat a lot just because its the Holidays, you probably will.

Check back tomorrow for the after party!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Healthy and Happy Holidays: How to have your cake and eat it too!

Part 2...

Before the party

- Get your workout in, even if it’s a short one.

- Create a plan. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Give a little thought as to what you will eat and in what quantity.

- Think about how you will turn down offers for food and drink that you would prefer not to eat in the interest of your health. Of course you will indulge a little, but what about the treats that aren’t worth it? How often do you eat things to avoid hurting someone’s feelings? You don’t have to eat things to make other people feel good, especially when you will feel worse for it later. You can say that you're too full or that you're saving room for something else.

- Prepare a healthy version of a traditional dish to bring to the party. People will appreciate it and you'll have something to fill up or fall back on.

- Don’t starve yourself! One of the worst mistakes that people make is saving their appetite for the big meal. Have a light snack before you head out.

Check in for more tomorrow!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Healthy and Happy Holidays: How to have your cake and eat it too!

This is going to be a series of posts on Healthy Holiday Eating... so keep checking in!

Where do you spend your Holidays? Do you cook the main meals or do you visit family and friends? How can you make some minor adjustments at and around meal times to avoid feeling like you overdid it this year?

Over 2/3 of Americans are currently overweight or obese. Of course there are numerous reasons for this epidemic, and our "national gluttony" over the Holidays plays a large part. This overwhelming, over-consumption also taxes our immune system and makes us more prone to winter colds and flu.

But don’t worry, I am not the Grinch or a Scrooge trying to take the fun out of your Holidays. There are many ways to get through the rest of this month-plus binge without gaining weight and getting sick. And the good news is that you can still enjoy your Holidays as much, if not more than you always have.

Motivating facts:

- The average person puts on 5-7 pounds during the Holiday season.

- During a typical Thanksgiving feast, the average person eats 7000+ calories.

- You can approach Holiday eating differently this year.

Check in tomorrow for helpful tips.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Blog Cooking

A couple of days ago I was catching up on twitter updates and I saw that @jenwilltri had posted a new recipe on her excellent blog, Good Family Food. Sunday was a day to run errands so I decided to pick up the ingredients needed for Jen’s Mushroom Barley Stew. It sounded like the perfect meal for a cold and windy Sunday evening.

Once again, I did not follow the recipe exactly (although this time I came pretty close). I happen to have a great local store for picking up fresh veggies so I went with fresh snap peas and fresh pearl onions. I had never cooked with pearl onions before, and let me tell you, there must be a trick that I’m unaware of because I cried my eyes out while peeling each individual little onion. I wasn’t even cutting them. It was a time-consuming, difficult project. If you try this recipe, follow Jen’s advice and use frozen pearl onions. Along with switching from frozen to fresh, I also added ribboned collards that I had in the refrigerator and I added some of the greens from the carrot tops for a little nutritional boost. Instead of the biscuit crust, which sounded delicious, I made corn bread because I already had ingredients for that.

This meal was well worth the time involved and the time wasn’t all spent preparing the food. There were a couple of steps that required waiting for 30 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to fold laundry and get some other cleaning done. I will definitely save this recipe.

You can find the original and full recipe here.


Wednesday, December 10, 2008

This Holiday Season: Trick People into Thinking You are Gifted

Here we are in the midst of my favorite time of year as far as eating and cooking are concerned. Thanksgiving has come and gone and the rest of the holidays are swiftly approaching. What will you be cooking for your holiday parties? How will you spread the Vitamin L (love)? Recently I spent some time in my kitchen testing a magnificent new winter squash recipe. It's healthy and delicious and you will definitely trick people into thinking you are a Master Kitchen Magician.

Delicata squash is an oblong, striped winter variety with a creamy taste that is similar to a sweet potato. This winter squash arrives early (September) and stays late into the season (February). Low in calories and fat and high in fiber and nourishing vitamins, it is an incredibly healthy treat for this cold and warm and rainy and snowy and windy season. What the heck is up with this weather anyway?

A note if you are new to my style of cooking and recipe writing... the key word here is intuition. I am not much of a paint by numbers recipe follower. I simply use recipes as a guide, a mere suggestion for creating an amazing dish. When I write a recipe you will often notice a "choose your own adventure" quality to the ingredients and directions. By doing this I'm encouraging you to think outside the cookbook and make each dish your own by choosing flavors, textures, colors and so on according to your own palate. You WILL try things only to discover that your particular choice/combination doesn't work. You might feel like you failed and your family might make faces, but I promise that for every time you mess up you will learn a new and valuable lesson... you've become a better, more intuitive chef.

Roasted Delicata Squash with Quinoa and White Bean Stuffing

You will need:

2 delicata squash, halved with seeds scooped out
1 large garlic clove, minced
extra virgin olive oil
1- 15 oz can white beans, drained and rinsed (I prefer Eden Organic brand)
a few handfuls of your favorite greens, finely chopped (such as: spinach, collards, kale, chard)
1 Tbsp minced parsley (or basil or sage)
1 cup uncooked quinoa
small handful of dried cranberries
1 cup apple cider and 1 cup water
2 Tbsp maple syrup
crushed walnuts (optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the squash halves (skin side down) in a baking dish. Drizzle with some olive oil and season with a bit of sea salt and pepper. Bake for about an hour, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile, to make the filling, bring the cider and water to a boil. Add the quinoa and dried cranberries and lower to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 mins. So far, so easy...

In a saute pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat then add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the greens and continue to saute until wilted. Now add white beans and parsley (or basil or sage). Continue to cook until heated through.

In a separate bowl, combine the cooked quinoa with the beans and greens mixture. Allow to cool slightly while you think about how easy this has been and how impressed people will be with your cooking prowess. You can even start to clean up some of your mess here.

Once the squash is cooked you are ready to fill the halves and you are very excited about it. Bring the oven to 425 degrees. Divide the filling between the four halves, making a mound on each. Drizzle each with some maple syrup and a dusting of crushed walnuts, if it tickles your fancy. Return the pan to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Finish cleaning up your kitchen.

Now, take the masterpiece out of your oven, get your camera, take a picture and post it to your blog.

Serves 4. You may even have leftover quinoa stuffing which you can feel free to go crazy with. You can eat it plain, you can stuff it into portabella mushrooms, you can use it as a bottom layer when serving chicken or turkey, etc. You might want to eat it for breakfast. Esecially if you're a triathlete. Especially if you like to win races.