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!