These Are the Days of Our Grills…Episode 1

healthy grilling recipes

Image thanks to jeffreyw

As soon as warmer weather has begun to take hold, and the sun is still shining into the evening, mind my turns to that most joyous spring activity…

Grilling.

This is the perfect time of year, to roll out the grill, dust it off, and start enjoying some delicious (and healthy) outdoor cooking.

One of my very favorite healthy grilling recipes is fish tacos with all the fixings. Here is one of my favorite recipes, and awesome “southwestern” coleslaw to go with it…

Grilled Fish Tacos:

1-pound tilapia (about 4 fillets)
canola oil for drizzling/ coating grill
2 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp chili powder
salt and pepper
corn tortillas

Adobo “Cream”

1 cup Plain Greek style yogurt
1 tsp-1tbsp adobo sauce (from canned chipotle chili’s)
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat the grill to medium high. Drizzle the tilapia fillets with canola oil and then season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of chili powder on both sides. You may also want to brush the grill grate with oil to prevent sticking.
Grill fish 4 to 5 minutes on each side, and then squeeze lime juice over it before removing from grill. Flake the cooked fish into bite-sized chunks with a fork.

Once fish is done, toss the corn tortillas on the grill to warm them.

For the adobo cream, simply mix all ingredients, adjusting the amount of adobo to your desired heat level.

Assemble your tacos with your favorite toppings…pico de gallo, shredded lettuce, and adobo cream.

Southwestern Coleslaw:

½ head of red or Napa cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, shredded
1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
¼ bunch green onions, sliced thinly on the bias
1-cup plain Greek style yogurt
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tbsp lime juice
splash of cider vinegar
touch of honey
1 tablespoons cilantro leaves, chopped

Combine yogurt, lime juice, cumin, vinegar, honey, and cilantro and whisk until combined. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, jicama, carrot, bell pepper, and green onions. Add in the dressing a bit at a time and toss to coat until you reach your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

3 Ways to Put Some SPRING in Your Step…

Image thanks to Josiah Mackenzie

Just when you think that winter will be a never ending black and white Bergman film, we move our clocks ahead an hour and the sun starts shining in Technicolor again. Spring is finally here. It’s time for spring-cleaning… inside and out.

This isn’t just about clearing out the garage. This is about you.

Between holidays and being stuck inside hiding away from the cold, winter has done a number on most of us. But with that all behind us for now, we can take advantage of all the opportunities Mama Nature brings in spring…

Let the sun shine

What’s a great natural source of vitamin D? If you said halibut, you’d be correct, but there’s a much easier way to get this important vitamin than going to the fish market. Just walk out your front door.

Your body absorbs vitamin D naturally through exposure to sunlight, and you need it. It’s good for bone health, immunity, and mood, and it’s so easy to get – just hanging in the air waiting for you to walk on through it.

One of the reasons some of us get so sluggish through the winter months isn’t just because of the drop in temperature. Our bodies stop getting as much of this vitamin as they need. Deficiencies in Vitamin D have been associated with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and cancer, so it’s easy to see how important it is to get in your system however you can.

Mind you, don’t get excessive about it. We all know the detriments of long-term sun exposure. So remember that moderation is key: don’t be out there too long without appropriate sunscreen.

Go Green

Have you been eating your vegetables?

For our daily requirement, we’re supposed to get two and a half cups of the stuff, plus at least two cups of fruit, as well as three plus servings of whole grains a day. That’s just hard to do when there’s snow on the ground, and there isn’t as much of a fresh abundance or our own ambition to get what we need. We’d rather fill up on the comfort food, that’s probably processed and preserved and not much comfort in the long run. We need to keep our systems fueled on premium grade sustenance, and there are a lot of us who haven’t been getting that job done for a while.

Now that spring is here, the produce section of the grocery store is going to start looking more appealing. You know this stuff is coming to you live and direct from the farm, so get some. A spring salad sounds much better than a winter salad. And a lot of this stuff isn’t just seasonal; it’s good for you! So, get out and smell the roses, and head out for fresh supplies, while they last.

Get Out!

Spring is the perfect time to shake off the lethargy that seems to naturally come with the colder, darker days of winter.  Shake out of that hibernation mode and take advantage of the great outdoors. Heck, the bears do it, and so should you.

So, while you’re out enjoying all that free sunshine, you might as well put your muscles to work.  Any activity is a boost to your metabolism. Getting yourself into motion will help to keep you in motion, and being physical doesn’t just help your body, but has also been proven to improve your mood. And we all want to feel better – inside and out.

There is plenty to do out there in the world. After being cooped up for months in the confines of the home, we now have a chance to get some fresh air. Time to dust off that bike, get out those hiking shoes, or shoot some hoops in the park.  Step away from the computer, (don’t worry, it’ll still be here later) and get moving!

Egg-cellent Recipes for Easter Leftovers

easter leftover recipes

Image thanks to RichardBH

Another Easter has come and gone. This means time spent with family and friends, backyard egg-hunting, and delicious food.

It also means leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers.

So what can you do with all those eggs or that leftover ham? Here are a couple of great (and healthy) ideas…

Devilish Eggs

(from Ellie Krieger)

1 dozen hard-boiled eggs
2/3 cup silken tofu, drained
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp hot sauce
1-2 tsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp chives, chopped
salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ tsp paprika

Peel the eggs and slice in half lengthwise. Scoop out the yolks and discard 6 of them or save for another use. Set aside the whites.

Place the remaining yolks in a medium bowl and mash with the tofu, mayonnaise, mustard, hot sauce, horseradish and chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the mixture into the corner of a plastic bag and snip off the end. Pipe the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle with paprika.

Green Eggs and Ham Frittata

(from EatingWell)

8 large eggs
1½ tsp dried dill
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, diced
1 5-ounce bag baby spinach, chopped
½ cup diced ham
½ cup shredded havarti or Muenster cheese

Position rack in upper third of oven; preheat to 450°F.

Whisk eggs, dill, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leeks; cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add spinach and ham; cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.

Pour the egg mixture over the vegetables and cook, lifting the edges of the frittata so uncooked egg can flow underneath, until the bottom is light golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top, transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the eggs are set, 6 to 8 minutes. Let rest for about 3 minutes before serving. Serve hot or cold.

Enjoy!

3 Little-Known Facts About Tea

facts about tea

Image thanks to gkdavie

Did you know that a large part of the “tea” on the market isn’t really tea at all?

How about that fact drinking tea may help keep the dentist away?

Or that an average of 3 billion cups of tea are consumed daily worldwide?

Pretty amazing, right?

But lets start at the beginning.

Here are some more facts about tea…

One of most interesting fact about tea is that all varieties of tea actually come from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. It is from this one plant that we get black, green, white, and oolong tea (and all variations in-between).

And all of those herbal “teas” that you see in the grocery store aren’t actually tea. Instead they are a combination of herbs, flowers, or other fruit (also commonly known as “tisanes”).

The difference in the tea varieties is all related to how the tea leaves are processed. Variations in picking time and fermentation produce the different strengths, colors, and flavors that we are all familiar with.

Tea…the real ancient Chinese secret?

Tea plants are native to China and other parts of South and East Asia. They are believed to have been processed as a beverage for over 5,000 years, with the first recorded history of use dating back to the 10th century BC.

So, what makes tea so special (other than being delicious)?

Well, tea leaves contain a number of compounds that are known to be beneficial to human health. These include flavanoids, amino acids, catechins, polyphenols, vitamins (C, E, and K), and polysaccharides.

There is some evidence that tea (oolong tea and green in particular) may have some anticancer properties. There is also research linking tea to improving immune function, lowering cholesterol, and normalizing blood pressure.

Oolong tea has also been shown to support the body’s metabolism and increase fat loss.

And those benefits are really just the tip of the iceberg. Which reminds me…it’s the perfect time of year to start enjoying some iced tea.

Oh, and that thing about the dentist?

Well, tea also contains fluorine, which helps to prevent tooth decay.

Sticking to Your Diet

 

sticking with your diet

Image thanks to shirokazan

The first day of a diet is when we realize how much of the world is sugar-coated, breaded, or full of empty calories.

It may seem like there are no options, like there’s a conspiracy to keep you from sticking to your diet. You’ll be confronted with plenty of opportunities to misstep, give in to your cravings, and just blow the whole thing off.

But if something is worth starting, then it’s worth sticking to.

Here are a few ways to deal with those hard-to-diet days…

Wait a Few

A lot of us eat when we’re bored. We’ll snack out of habit or because there’s nothing else to do. Your body knows when it’s hungry, whether you do or not. The trick is figuring out if you’re really hungry. Before you grab a cookie or bag of chips, give yourself time to figure out what you truly need, not just what you want to fill up the moment. Be Patient. If you wait for fifteen minutes and still want to eat, then you’re probably actually hungry, so take the chance to make a sensible choice.

But what will you do with those fifteen minutes? You have some options…

Distract and Reflect

When you find yourself thinking about all the things you could be eating, stop. It’s tough to do, I know, but stop. There are literally billions of other things to occupy your mind and hands. Keep a notebook in your back pocket and work on your poetry.  Or do a crossword puzzle. Or read some of that novel you’ve been meaning to finish. Keep your mind occupied by anything other than food.

Whatever your reason for losing weight might be, when you find yourself in a situation in which you must choose between staying on course or falling off the wagon, think about why you wanted to make a change in the first place. Do you deserve an extra slice, or do you deserve to be more comfortable in your own skin?  Think about it.

Be prepared

The weight loss journey, for some, can be like going to a foreign country. There’s a whole language of calories and nutritional information that reads like gibberish to the unprepared ear. As with any trip to a far off land, you’ll want to be ready.

Have a daily agenda so you’ll know where you’re going throughout the day. Know the language, so that when you’re faced with choices, you’ll know which one is best.  Understand how many calories you need for your specific body type. Find out the difference between “good fats” and “bad fats.” Know what empty calories are.

You’re going to need to do your research, and fortunately there’s a great resource at your disposal. Check out choosemyplate.gov.  It has plenty of tools and articles on nutrition to help you traverse the path to a new, improved you. Bon Voyage.

Water

What has no calories and fills your belly? Water! Of course, we feel hungry when our bellies are empty. A good glass of water will take up that space, with added benefits. Keeping hydrated keeps your metabolism going. Drinking cold water actually causes our bodies to burn up more calories by bringing that fluid up to our body temperature. It also helps flush out toxins, while not adding any pesky calories. We need it anyway, and honestly very few of us get the amount that we need in a day. And, fun fact, it makes up 90% of our brains, so water helps us think better, work better, and overall feel better.

Call your Mom

Seriously, when’s the last time you did?

Okay, it doesn’t have to be your mom, but make sure you have people who support you. When you’re faced with a situation that puts your diet in jeopardy, make sure you have someone who appreciates what you’re trying to do and can talk you off that ledge. Let them remind you how important this journey is, and that once you make it to the end, they’re going to be proud of you. Just like you should be of yourself.

Losing Weight the S.M.A.R.T. Way

s.m.a.r.t. goals for weight loss
S.M.A.R.T. is a mnemonic device commonly used in the world of personal development.

It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely – and is a great tool for setting and evaluating any goal.

Here is a breakdown of what it means, and how you can apply it to your weight loss goals…

Specific:

Any goal is much easier to accomplish if it is specific rather than vague or general. This term asks you to evaluate the what, why, and how of your goal. A truly specific goal will usually address five questions:
– What do I want to accomplish?
– Why is it important?
– Who is involved?
– Where is it happening?
– Which requirements and constraints are necessary?

Measurable:

It is important that you choose a goal that has progress that can be measured. Measuring your progress along the way can help you evaluate how you are doing, what you need to change, and to celebrate your successes.
Be sure that your goal is very specific. “I want to lose weight” is not measurable. “I want to lose 10 pounds by the beginning of the summer” gives you a specific and measurable target. Next, establish when and how you will measure your progress, and be sure that this is concrete.

Attainable:

You must be sure that the weight loss objectives you set are actually within your reach. A goal should stretch you, but it has to be something that you can actually do.

Realistic:

Your weight loss goal must be something that you can truly accomplish with the resources that you have, and one that you are both willing and able to work toward.

Realistic does not mean “easy,” it simply means that your goal is something that you have the skills to do. For example never eating sugar again is not a very realistic goal for most people. However, cutting back on refined sugar is realistic.

Timely:

In order to successfully achieve a goal, it is important to have a specific time frame in mind. A time limit keeps your goal from being too vague and encourages you to take action now.

Top 5 Foods to Avoid

 

top foods to avoid

Image thanks to WordRidden

Diets that are too restrictive are much more likely to fail.

Rather than never allowing yourself anything that you really enjoy, I believe in sticking with healthy eating habits and allowing for the occasional indulgence.

However, there are some food villains that should be avoided at all costs.

Here are my list of the top 5 foods that should make you “just say no”…

Fried food:

There is really nothing good to report about greasy, fried food. It is often laden with trans fats, and terrible not just for your waist line but your overall health. And, of course, fried foods tend to be significantly higher in calories than other options. If you really must indulge, look out for the baked varieties of your favorite treats and watch your portions, or make you own chips or fries at home in the oven.

White bread:

Unfortunately, white bread is so processed that it has negligible nutritional value, and most of the nutrients it does contain have been added back in. In any case that you can, always opt for the whole grain option. Whole grain bread is less processed, more nutrient dense, and also contains significantly more fiber. If you really want to get healthy, try one of the sprouted grain breads that you can find at most health food stores.

Artificial sweeteners:

This is a tough one for a lot of people who turn to artificial sweeteners because they are calorie free. But what is the trade off? In truth, artificial sweeteners are just that: artificial. There is also some research showing that they may actually be tied to weight gain, not weight loss. I recommend using any sweeteners in moderation, but always choosing natural options such as honey, agave nectar, or stevia extract. Also, pay attention to labels, sugar-free does not always equal calorie free.

Margarine:

A lot of us grew up using margarine because it was supposed to be the “healthy” alternative to butter. We now know that this isn’t really the case. Most margarine is made by extracting vegetable oil at a high temperature and then using hydrogen to solidify it. Much of the margarine available is high in trans fats and has been shown to raise LDL (bad) cholesterol and lower HDL (good) cholesterol. Try using a healthy oil such as olive oil instead, or look for one of the new heart healthy spreads. If not, then butter is the better option. True, butter is a saturated fat, but – when used in moderation – it can help to raise your good cholesterol.

Soda:

It really can’t be said enough; soda is pretty much nothing but liquid sugar. One 12oz. can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar and 150 calories. This is a lot of sugar, and very rarely are people drinking just one small can of soda. More often we are consuming the much larger bottles or fountain drink sizes. All of this sugar increases your risk for obesity, diabetes, and other related diseases.

Weight Loss as Child’s Play

weight loss as child's play

Image thanks to woodleywonderworks

Remember running until you were out of breath, and no one even had to chase you? Or being so full of energy that you were a distraction to others?

You may have been just a kid the last time those things happened. Children are chock full of energy and they have no problem making a game out of just about anything.

So, what can we learn from them, or at least let them remind us?  No, we can’t go back in time and be kids again, but we can follow their lead. After all, if weight loss is your goal, there’s no reason not to try to have fun at it….

Fidget:

There’s that law of inertia that states a body in motion stays in motion, while a body at rest stays at rest. While Newton may have been talking about the inanimate things in our universe, you can apply the idea to your own living body.

When you’re in a situation that won’t let you burn off calories with traditional methods like running or aerobics, make yourself move (even if you’re just sitting around.) Bounce your knees. Stretch your arms. Twist around in your chair. Stay in motion. You need energy to move, so as long as you’re moving, you’re burning calories.

Let the rhythm move you:

If you have a device that plays music, use it. If you can take it with you, do so. Keep the tempo of your song selections upbeat, because your body will want to keep up with that rhythm (it kind of can’t help it).  A walk to the grocery store or chores around the house should have a personal soundtrack. You will be burning fuel while boring tasks are getting done, and those tasks won’t seem quite as boring.

Stand like a Superhero:

Chest out, back straight, head high. Those guys and girls in comic books never slouch, do they? A couple of unexpected things improve just by adjusting your posture. You’ll look better, which will increase your confidence, so you’ll feel better both physically and mentally. Also, you’ll be burning more calories than when you’re slumped over.

Good posture keeps your muscles engaged, even ones you’re not inclined to think about. It’s the difference between a mild mannered secret identity and a man (or woman) of steel.

Keep Score:

Every game has to have some rules, or it isn’t really much of a game. So in order to make your weight loss journey more of a game, you have to define what “winning” is for you. Is it a pound a week? Is it fitting in your “skinny” jeans? Where is your start, where is your finish line, and how long will it take for you to get there?

Keep track of your ups and downs and where you are in the game, literally.  Make yourself a score card. Day by day, treat every pound or inch you drop like a point you gain, and write that score down. Cheer for yourself on the good days. On the not as good days, refuse to be a sore loser.

Jump Start Your Weight Loss

jump start weight loss

Image thanks to DrivingtheNortheast

Whether you are trying to lose weight as part of your new year’s resolution, or have been making steady progress but could use a boost, it always helps to have some ideas to get you going.

Here are a few tips to get you started (or restarted)…

Get your drink on:

Even when making lots of other healthy eating choices, many people completely overlook their beverages. Now is the perfect time to take a look at what you are drinking. Sodas, energy drinks, fancy coffee drinks, and fruit juice are all high in sugar and empty calories. One of the best things that you can do is look for better options. Drink lots of water (try flavoring it with lemon, lime, or cucumber), tea, or other low calorie beverages.

Mix up your routine:

Exercise is essential for losing weight and getting healthy, but it may get difficult to do if you don’t know where to begin or if you are stuck in a rut. Just starting out? Come up with a list of activities that you love and mix it up. Stuck in the same old routine? Try to incorporate new activities or ramp up your difficulty level. This will keep your body and your mind engaged.

Eat all day:

Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Many people find that they are much more successful losing weight if they switch from eating large meals three times a day to eating smaller meals more frequently. This can benefit you by helping you feeling satiated, keeping your metabolism up, and avoiding the blood sugar spikes and dips that can lead to food cravings and overeating.

Set goals (and reward yourself when you accomplish them):

It can be much harder to get started with weight loss if you don’t have specific goals in mind. Try to sit down and figure out what your ultimate goal is (even if this just means buying a new bathing suit this summer). Then set short terms goals that will help you get there. Write them down, and be sure to keep track of your progress along the way. It also helps to come up with a way to reward yourself when you accomplish each mini goal.

Consider a cleanse:

A cleanse can be a great way to detoxify and renew your body. Cleansing can also help to jump start a weight loss program by helping you to reset your eating habits. There are cleanse systems available that can help you along with the process and offer the detoxifying and nutritional support to get you going.

Small Changes to Make Today

small changes for weight loss

Image thanks to Melody Campbell

Small changes can add up to a big difference.

If you can commit to making small changes often and sticking with them, you will be able to change your health (and your waistline) for the better.

The following are a few small changes that you can start today

Start a food journal:

People who keep food journals are twice as likely to achieve (and maintain) their weight loss goals than those who don’t. Set aside a few minutes each day and record all of your foods and beverages. It is also great to record how you were feeling on a given day, or before and after you ate. Thereare even journals designed specifically for this, or try any of the new smart phone apps that can help you even when you are on the go.

Get up and walk:

This is a common bit of advice because it’s easy to do and it works. Park further away, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or take a 10 minute break from work and get outside. Every little bit helps.

Brown bag it:

Packing your own lunch at least a few days each week can save you hundreds of calories (not to mention money). You have much greater control over the quantity and quality of what you eat than you would at a restaurant.  Make it super easy by planning ahead, packing up the night before, and/or portioning out leftovers to grab and go.

Catch more z’s:

A good nights sleep helps to regulate the appetite inducing hormones ghrelin and leptin. Too little sleep and you are much more likely to overeat the next day. Also, sleep helps to reduce stress, and this can also help make it easier to lose weight.

Make a swap:

Try making one food/beverage swap today, and then add a new one each week. If you drink whole milk, try switching to 2%. Need an afternoon pick me up? Grab some tea instead of a sugary soda or energy drink. Or try eating a whole piece of fruit rather than drinking fruit juice (the fruit will be higher in fiber and lower in calories).

Drink more water:

Drinking water is great for your overall health and essential for weight loss. The body often recognizes even mild dehydration as hunger, which can cause you to snack needlessly. Also, a 2008 study found that those who drank 16oz. of water 30 minutes before a meal consumed 13% fewer calories than those who didn’t.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Results may vary.