Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tips to avoid stiffness while on an airplane...

Many people feel cramped on an airplane. A plane does not necessarily allow each person to have the amount of personal space that he or she may desire. What simple steps can you take to keep yourself lose while on a flight?

1. A simple one is to take a walk up and down the aisle a few times.
2. Drinking water - keeping hydrated is important for muscle health.
3. Taping your toes...stretches your shin.
4. Doing a simple twist in the seat will lubricate your spine.
Perform the twist on each side.
A few simple steps to the twist:

1. Sit tall with your feet on the ground and square your shoulders to the wall in front of you

2. Place your right hand on the back of the chair and your left hand on the right thigh or armrest.

3. Inhale to lengthen your spine. Exhale and turn your belly to the right. Inhale to lengthen your spine, exhale to twist your belly more and turn your heart to the right as well. Inhale a third time to lengthen your spine. Exhale and deepen the twist from your navel and heart then finally turn your gaze toward your right shoulder.

4. Repeat on the other side.

A HINT...slow and deep breaths help the twist be felt deeper in your body...increases intensity.

Travel Safely and Comfortably as you visit your family and friends this holiday season!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Apples are on Sale...

What to do with the abundance? You can make homemade applesauce? How you ask? Adding a bit of butter to a put, cutting apples into small pieces and adding cinnamon. (Keeping the skin on is a personal preference). Cook at low heat until the apples cook down into a mushy consistence. Stir periodically.

The apples give a delightful scent to the house and require very little babysitting while cooking. You can accomplish other activities in the house while letting them slowly cook.

I had some extra applesauce sitting around and decided to add it into a BANANA BREAD recipe. I substituted applesauce for the bananas and added a 1/2 cup of raisins to soak up the extra moisture. The bread turned out great!

The applesauce loaf of bread is a good way to add fiber into your diet. It is a satisfying snack...add a bit of peanut butter for a more substantial snack or some jelly for a sweet treat.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jerusalem Artichokes...a NEW FIND at the Farmer's Market

For a while I have been looking at these roots on display at one of the farmers my husband and I frequent. A month or two ago I finally asked what they were. He told us they were Jerusalem Artichokes and could be cooked like potatoes. Sounded interesting. I decided to wait for cooler weather and give it a try.

Within the last month potatoes AND jerusalem artichokes have been available at the farmer's market. I asked the farmer how to prepare them (as well as how to pick out one). He told me to pick out the ones that have less nodules as they are the easiest to clean and work with. I decided to follow the farmer's instructions and boil the potatoes and jerusalem artichokes together. I mashed them and added a small amount of butter (salt free), salt, and pepper. They were wonderful! The jerusalem artichokes added a slight different flavor and texture to the mashed potatoes. It was delightful! Like potatoes, the skin is's a personal preference whether you eat the skin or not!

Now that I know I like them, I want to find more uses for them. I am curious what health benefits may come from eating them. I have started to research.

Jerusalem artichokes have been used as a potato substitute for people with diabetes. This is good to know as diabetes runs in both my family and my husband's.

They are high in iron and a good side dish for any protein.

I looked them up on Food Network's website and am looking forward to trying a few recipes! Cauliflower is on sale this week...I think I'll try the Spice-Roasted Cauliflower with Jerusalem Artichoke recipe first!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Time Change...Routine Chnage

“Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me... Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

— Shel Silverstein

The time change brings possibilities, not just darkness earlier. Take advantage of the change and change your routine.

Have you been working our regularly?
Have you been eating home cooked meals?
Have you been getting enough sleep?

November brings Family, friends and Turkey dinners. November brings shopping and holiday parties at work. This is a great time to assess your lifestyle and your habits and usher in a change that needs to be made.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Obesity...Chronic Heath Problems...Changes NEED to be made in the USA!

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal Article (10-17-11) mentioned that "Just 1 in 7 U.S. workers is of normal weight without a chronic health problem, according to Gallup polling data". Too many people are not taking positive charge of their health!

How can this change? Healthy Habits DO START at home! Packing healthy lunches or snacks is a great way to take charge of your health. Packing single serving snacks will help a person get through the day without having to visit a vending machine. Healthy snacks can be prepared at home and packaged in single serving portions.

Packing a water bottle (reusable is GREAT for the environment at the same time) is a great way to stay hydrated at work. Drinking water not only keeps a person hydrated but helps with metabolism and elimination of toxins. There are numerous additional health benefits to drinking water.

Exercise can be incorporated into each and every day in small amounts. How? Pick a parking space that is not right in front of a door. Park a few rows away and walk to the door. (this same parking routine can be used when running errands) Another easy exercise option may be to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Depending on one's job, a lunch hour (or part of one) could be spent walking rather than sitting and eating.

Finding ways to be healthy does not have to cost a lot! Start today with one or two healthy changes!

If you have a healthy routine established, start encouraging your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Perhaps invite someone to join you on a walk or share your carrot sticks, fruit or healthy snack with them!

One quote by Gandhi that I follow in my daily life is "Be the change you wish to see in this world". I try to set a good example and hope that others will do the same. Perhaps a wave of positive peer pressure will move through our circle of influence and spread...

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vegetarian...for Just ONE Day...You CAN do it!

According to, October 1 is World Vegetarian Day. Why not try something new, just for a day?

The North American Vegetarian Society is the organizer of this "holiday". Visit their site to learn more about the benefits of a Vegetarian Lifestyle.

Their website also includes tasty recipes. Just for today, try something new. Perhaps you could make vegetarian day a monthly experience, or even a weekly experience. You could make MILLET LOAF rather than meat loaf.

October is World Vegetarian Month. Start with a day...perhaps you will make it a lifestyle choice to avoid animal products in consumer products as well as avoid eating meat. Take the pledge today to investigate how you can incorporate aspects of a vegetarian lifestyle into your routine!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Revisiting New Year's Resolutions...5 Ways to RELAX

Did you start 2011 with the intention to find opportunities to relax. Did you try to find methods to eliminate built up stress? If you have found yourself slipping back into routines that are not healthy, now is a great time to get back on track...before the holidays bring a big in routine! Here are a few inexpensive methods that you can use to eliminate some stress from your day. Perhaps one will work for you!

1. Turn off television before you fall asleep. It's better to fall asleep to a book. The noise of the television while you sleep can cause your sleep to be fitful. Pick up a book or grab an e-Reader and get lost in a story. Give yourself 5-10-15 minutes each night and see how you are able to fall asleep quickly...and perhaps learn something! Need a book recommendation? Join and fidn out what others are reading.

2. Learn to say "NO". Take time to look at the activities that you are committed to on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Perhaps you are involved in more than you can give 100% of you, time, talents and treasures. Is it time to step back from one? Most people do not want to walk away from something in which they are involved. Perhaps you can take a smaller role? Finding the balance between work, family, volunteer and personal down time is a challenge. Try to fill your life with activities that you know you are able to give you all. If you are have too much going, you'll always be anxious knowing you can always do more.

3. Make a list of what you need to do! Don't force yourself to remember everything and get upset when you do not. Write down what needs to be done and cross an item off the list when it is completed. It will be a visual sense of accomplishment each time you cross off an item!

4. Find time to exercise. The health benefits of exercise are numerous. The time you spend exercising is your time. The time you devote to this is the time you have each day. Many website stream fitness videos giving you the flexibility to exercise at the time of day that works best for your schedule. Add some yoga or pilates to your life.

5. Get a massage if you wish to splurge. Massages range in style and price, there should be one that is right for you. Start your search with recommendations from friends. The Massage Envy chain has reasonable rates for new clients. Perhaps you have one in your area.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A New School Year Starts...Time to Revist New Year's Resolutions

A new school year is symbolic of a fresh start. The calendar reminds us that there are just over 4 months left in 2011. Perhaps this is a good time to revisit each of our New Year's Resolutions. There is time to make adjustments to the routines that we are in before the year is complete!

Fall is a season that provides people with many opportunities NOT to have a Healthy Body and Healthy Lifestyle. Perhaps we may attend football tailgates or sit around for hours watching football games on television. Perhaps our workout routine is outdoors. As the days get shorter and the weather more unpredictable, a now routine needs to be established. Along with these potential bumps in the road, add Halloween candy in stores, Thanksgiving celebrations with family and friends and Holiday parties at work and family celebrations.

What can be done now? Let's look at a few tips that can keep each of us healthy through the remainder of 2011:

Are you drinking enough water? Make sure to stay hydrated. How much is enough? Well, when you find that your urine is clear, you know you are hydrated. The volume needed depends on the foods you eat, the level of physical activity and the humidity in your environment. A good rule of thumb is 48 ounces.

Why drink so much water? Water is a great thirst quencher PLUS it hydrates you with ZERO calories, no added sugars, no added colors, etc. Another added bonus to drinking water is that is may control your appetite. When you feel hungry, drink a glass of water. Often the feeling of hunger mimics the feeling of thirst. After 20 minutes, if the water does not control your appetite, then you really are hungry. If not, you did the correct thing for you and satisfied your thirst!

Water also helps the body in the digestion process. If you absolutely cannot stand the taste of water, make choices to still drink liquids that do not dehydrate you. You can add Energen-C packets to your water to add flavor as well as vitamins. You could add a caffeine free tea bag to your water to add flavor without the dehydrating caffeine. Another option is to add a slice, or squeeze, of fresh lemon or lime.

How can you make sure you get enough? Why not carry a water bottle with you wherever you go? I suggest an environmentally friendly option of a refillable bottle.

To read more about the health benefits of drinking water, you can visit Secrets of Longevity, Mayo Clinic and Natural Remedies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Healthy Recipes to take advantage of your garden's abundance

Too much Zucchini? No worries. You have a few options.

Option 1: Slice and Freeze
Slice the Zucchini into bite sided rings or cubes and freeze in an airtight container. They can be taken out and used in pasta sauces and soups all winter. If you like the recipe below, you can always package 1 1/2 cup portions (or multiples of that) for future bread making and enjoy your home grown zucchini all winter!

Option 2: Make Zucchini Bread
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan or, if you wish, line muffin tins and make smaller portions. They freeze well! Loafs cook for about 45 minutes, or until they test done. Muffins about half the time, they need monitoring after 15 or 20 minutes depending on how full they are.

Combine DRY ingredients:
1 1/2 cups flour (I like to use whole wheat or a combination of whole wheat and oat flour but white flour is traditional)
1 1/2 - 2 TSP ground cinnamon
1/2 TSP salt
1 TSP baking powder
1/2 TSP baking soda

Fold the dry ingredients into a well beaten "WET" mixture of:
2 eggs
1/2 to 1 cup sugar (the riper the zucchini the less sugar you need)
1 1/2 TSP vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups zucchini (thin slices, small cubes or shredded)

OPTION: Adding Nuts or Raisins or Cranberries

HINT: A Healthier Option is to go with the smaller amount of sugar and larger portion of the cinnamon

HINT: Shredding the zucchini brings out the moisture if you prefer a moister bread/muffin.

Option 3: Stuff the Zucchini
If your zucchini has grown to a large size you can slice it lengthwise, hollow out the center and stuff it.

This can be made vegetarian or with ground meat. STEP 1: WASH the Zucchini or Squash as the exterior is EDIBLE!

Meat Version:
Sautee ground meat (turkey is a lean choice), onions and garlic (or shallots). Add sage to the mixture as it cooks. Other spices can be used if sage is not one you feel comfortable working with. Basil or oregano would give it an Italian flare or rosemary a rich and deep flavor.

Add chicken broth (reduced sodium is a healthy choice), chopped bell peppers (your choice of colors), raisins or cranberries and barley. The easy measurement trick is 2 parts liquid to 1 part barley. The dried fruit absorbs moisture plus adds sweetness. Add to taste. Hollow out the zucchini or squash, being careful to keep the shell intact (easier with hard shelled acorn or butternut squashes in the winter), chop and add to the pan.

At this point turn on the oven to 350 and line a baking dish or cookie sheet with foil (depending on size of the zucchini). Place zucchini on foil and salt and pepper the shells.

Cook until liquid is significantly reduced.

Add mixture from pan into the zucchini shells and cook until shells become tender, about 40 minutes depending on the size of the zucchini. Option: add cheese to the top.

Vegetarian option:
Instead of meat add carrots (chopped small) and white or pinto beans and/or potatoes sliced or cubed into small bite sized portions. This adds protein and a variety of textures.

Enjoy the abundance in your garden!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Healthier Homemade Hamburgers and Meatballs

I have been experimenting with "fillers" when I make meatballs or hamburgers. Instead of the traditional breadcrumbs, I have been searching for an option that adds nutrition and not just bulk to the recipe. What I found to work well is WHEAT BRAN combined with OATMEAL. The meatballs and hamburgers turn out moister than those made with traditional breadcrumbs!

A great benefit, wheat bran adds fiber to the ground meat that you use. Studies show that it may lower blood pressure, prevent stomach cancer and hemorrhoids (WebMd). The addition of oatmeal also adds health benefits as oatmeal is known to lower cholesterol which may reduce the risk of heart-disease.

Many options are available for you to "add in" to customize your hamburgers or meatballs. Why not make healthy choices!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Personal Fitness when traveling

If you find yourself traveling and unable to fit a yoga mat into your luggage or fit attending a class into your travel schedule, if you have a laptop and access the the internet you can attend a class on YOUR schedule!

Q: How is that possible you ask?

A: Well, one of the chanels on is Gaiam's wake Up Workout. Pick the workout you wish to do and you are all set! As of today, 26 episodes are posted. They range from Pilates to Yoga to Power Sculpt to Boot Camp. There is something for everyone. You may even want to try something new in the privacy of your hotel room!

Q: How do I make my hotel environment more like a studio environment?

A: One thing you can do is use a towel (or two for cushioning) as a mat. If you feel more comfortable with the use of a yoga mat, you can purchase mini yoga mats for your hands and feet so you do not slide. Amazon and other retailers sell yoga paws and feet.

Q: What will I need to pack?

A: Your computer and whatever clothing is appropriate for you to workout is all that you will need. Remember, you will be in the privacy of your own room!

Remember, a class online or on a DVD is an option when you cannot take a class in person. Taking a class in person is always best as a trained instructor can give you tips that adapt an exercise to fit your body and can give you tips to make changes if you are doing an exercise incorrectly.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Make Personal Fitness a Priority

Personal fitness is a priority in my life. The time I spend being athletic is the time I have to relax. The gym, yoga studio, pilates class or tennis court provide me with respite. I think clearer in those spaces. The quiet time allows me to reflect.

I find ways to work my personal fitness routine into my day. During a normal work week, it is after work. I utilize the time to relax after a day of giving to others.

As a school teacher, my summer fitness schedule is NOT routine. I am more flexible with my time (and try to take more yoga classes to get more flexible physically!) and can vary my activities. The change of pace is welcomed!

I have been traveling quite a bit recently and have found that may gyms welcome guests. You too can make the time for your personal fitness when traveling with a little leg work. Many gyms offer "specials" to entice you to try their space. Many yoga studios have promotions that allow you to take a first class free or pay a set amount, usually very reasonable, to try out the studio for a week (hoping you will take enough classes to get hooked on the studio OR an specific instructor). You can always hit the streets and walk or run around a new location to discover a new place, weather and safety permitting.

In the midst of your busy summer, stay cool, stay hydrated and STAY FIT!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Healthy Lifestyle Includes SLEEP

Many of us multi-task on a daily basis. In order to accomplish everything on our "To Do List" we often sacrifice sleep. Completing everything we set out to do does take stress away. After all, we do not continuously worry about what we must do. Is sacrificing sleep worth it? Can you make up for lost sleep?

To answer my questions I started sleuthing online. I have heard that one cannot "stockpile" sleep to make up for nights where it is sacrificed.

According to the article, "11 Surprising Health Benefits", I learned that sleep helps improve memory and creativity. When one sleeps, new information is retained and conceptualized better.

The article explained that people who get more sleep (approximately 6 hours a night or more) are healthier. They have less inflammation and tend to weigh less. Adequate sleep controls the inflammation that can lead to heart problems as well as controls the hormone that causes hunger.

It has been part of many advertisements over the years that driving while exhausted is dangerous. Falling asleep or having a short reaction time at the wheel due to exhaustion IS an impairment and should be avoided.

So if sleep is so good for us, what can we do to get more? Many people must sleep less as their jobs require them to keep up long hours. After all, bills must be paid and a paycheck needs to come in to pay those bills. People may not be able to sleep due to personal or family responsibilities or stress. A few things to consider when trying to find more time in your life to schedule more sleep:
1. Are you over scheduled? Does something need to go? Do you need to start to say "No"?
One way to get more sleep is to pick and choose the activities that mean the most to you and are the most essential and cut back just a bit. You CAN do it all, perhaps not all at once!
2. Do you exercise? You can get into an exercise routine. Regular exercise helps many people sleep better. The exercise helps one reduce stress and often leads to healthier cravings.
3. What do you eat? Avoiding caffeine later in the day, eating regular meals and staying hydrated will help you sleep better as your body will be working more efficiently.
4. When do you eat? The time of day makes a difference. Late night dining causes the body to work digesting food. The body stays awake as it works to digest. Especially if the food is spicy, heavy or something that does not fully agree with you.
5. What do you do to reduce stress? You may read a book, exercise, take a yoga class or meditate. You may not have anything in your day that helps you reduce stress. Look to start something that helps you clear your mind.

Summer started this week...start a new routine with a new season. Try to integrate more sleep into your day. Help your memory, immune system, metabolism and waistline! Think beyond yourself too...sleep improves safety in the home and out on the road!

Monday, January 10, 2011

2011 ... New Year ... New Ideas

In an effort to try to eat "closer to the source" I am trying to find ways to eliminate processed foods as much as possible. I'll continue to use processed foods in a "Semi-Homemade" manner ... I am just trying to use less. This will reduce my sodium intake as well as ensure I am getting nutrition w/o extra preservatives.

You may be in the same difficult situation that I have been in recently, the vegetables in the grocery store do not look good and are high priced. What do you do? Purchase high priced food that does not look good? Go without vegetables?

A few things to consider when trying to find your way out of a dilemma like this is to not only look at the grocery store ads each week to see what produce is on sale but also consider looking at what is available in the frozen food section. Fruits and vegetables are frozen at the peak of their freshness so they are a good alternative to poor looking, high priced produce. Canned vegetables are high in sodium so they are not as good of an option.

Frozen vegetables can be added to soups, stews and stir frys as well as eaten as a side dish.

Another option would be to visit your local farmer's market.

To find out what produce will be available in your area, check out This site will let you know what is in season each month in your area AND give you recipes as well!

Another website to check out is Sustainable Table. You can find local farmer's market information at this site.

Food to Plate gives additional information about eating seasonally.

Food Network
is a great resource to check out recipes using what is in season.

Start 2011 out on a healthy fresh foods as much as you can.