Chinese Anyone?

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One of my favorite summer meals is lettuce wraps. Not only can you keep them healthy, but they are delicious and great cold or hot.

Here’s one of my family’s favorites.

 

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Five-Spice Turkey and Lettuce Wraps

Based on a popular Chinese dish, these fun wraps also make appealing appetizers for entertaining. Make it a meal: Serve with chile-garlic sauce and rice vinegar for extra zip; toss diced mango and strawberries with lime juice for a quick dessert.

Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup(s) water
    • 1/2 cup(s) long cooking brown rice
    • 2 teaspoon(s) sesame oil
    • 1 pound(s) 93%-lean ground turkey
    • 1 tablespoon(s) minced fresh ginger
    • 1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
    • 1 cup(s) water chestnuts, rinsed and chopped
    • 1/2 cup(s) reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 tablespoon(s) hoisin sauce
    • 1 drop ginger essential oil, clove essential oil, cinnamon essential oil, black pepper essential oil, and fennel essential oil OR 1 tsp five-spice powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon(s) sea salt
    • 2 head(s) Boston lettuce, leaves separated
    • 1/2 cup(s) chopped fresh cilantro, basil, mint and chives

1 small red cabbage, shredded

Directions

1. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rice; reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add turkey and ginger; cook, crumbling with a wooden spoon, until the turkey is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice, bell pepper, water chestnuts, broth, hoisin sauce, oils and salt; cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

3. To serve, spoon portions of the turkey mixture into lettuce leaves, top with herbs and cabbage and roll into wraps.

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Depression Hurts!

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I recently spent the weekend with my sister who suffers from occasional bouts of depression. While I have dealt with postpartum depression, I can’t imagine living with depression  long term. it seemed appropriate to address such an issue this week.

My sister has been on multiple medications for her depression and over a period of time the medications have gone from managing her symptoms to being useless. The reason of course is that the body builds up an immunity to most prescriptions and over time, the body ceases to respond to the drugs.

So what options are there for those who suffer from this illness when the medical prescriptions stop working?

Over the last 20 years, my sister has found that these solutions help her maintain a life that is worth living.

1. Diet. My sister is very much an advocate of eating green, organic, live, and uncultured foods.  Preservatives, sweeteners, hormones (found in meats), and dyes set off the triggers that spiral her down into her depressive moments and by monitoring what she eats and drinks, she can eliminate many of the triggers that exacerbate her depression.  She  works at eating only whole unprocessed, chemical free foods and while she may have to hunt around for her food stuffs, the cost isn’t that much more than purchasing processed foods.

2. Exercise. My sister isn’t a health nut and hates gyms but she does walk each morning, 3 miles a day. Even this limited amount of exercise is beneficial and releases endorphins. She also sets a timer when she knows she will be sitting for longer than 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, she gets up, moves around, stretches and then if she must, she returns to sitting and resets the timer.

3. Essential oils.  In my quest for health and a solution to my daughter’s mystery illness, I became an advocate for essential oils as nature’s medicine. I gave my sister a few sample oils to try and she is now an advocate for treating illnesses naturally. She even uses essential oils for her depression.  Her favorites are ylang ylang, frankincense, and a blend of essential oils put out by a highly respected company. She has also tried bergamot, lavender, and melissa but finds the others to be more effective with her body chemistry. She uses the oils daily (both topically and internally) and rarely has more than 3-4 short depressive episodes a year as compared to feeling majorly depressed all the time.

4. Journaling. Writing out her feelings and thoughts has been a great resource for my sister.  She can look back and see patterns and recognize them when they start again, giving her a chance to change the pattern and forestall the depression. She also finds it helpful to have several compassionate, understanding friends and family members who understand what she is dealing with. Turning to these individuals helps her manage her illness better.

Depression is an insidious disease but it is not a life sentence.  Management is the key.  These are just some suggestions that may help you or someone you know overcome the effects of this illness.

 

Secrets to Living Longer

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TIME Magazine ran an article last year about a 115 year old woman and asked her, before her death in 2010, what her secrets were for living such a long life. Keep in mind that genetics play a part but there are so many other factors as well. She was asked her secrets and she gave her top NINE keys to long life. Her response is as follows…

1. Diet matters. A Lot! A largely Mediterranean diet — which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil — gets a lot of attention and has been linked to a healthier older age, lower risk for heart disease, and even protection against memory loss.
2. Getting educated will add a few years. Educated people are more likely to land better jobs, plan for their future, and make healthier lifestyle choices.
3. Stress isn’t bad for you, necessarily. Productive, hardworking people (even in old age) are not stressed and miserable, but tend to be happier, healthier, and more socially connected than their less productive peers.
4. Above all else, be mindful. The mind does have influence on the body. Meditation teaches the mind to let go and therefore allows the body to let go as well. Self awareness takes the place of the exterior environment and increases the body and mind’s ability to function.
5. You don’t have to be a Pollyanna. Thinking positive” isn’t necessarily healthy. If you’re very optimistic, especially in the face of illness and recovery, if you don’t consider the possibility that you might have setbacks, then those setbacks are harder to deal with. Better to plan for every contingency.
6. Social inclusion is critical. Having a strong social network not only provides you with the support you need in bad times but also provides you with cohorts during the good times. A strong family and friend network is vital to good health.
7. Sitting a lot is the worst thing you can do. You sit, you become stagnant. You stop moving, you die. Being active, moving, stretching, walking is the key to a healthy body and long lasting health. And it’s fun too.
8. Your personality says it all. Conscientiousness beats out all other personality type when it comes to life expectancy. The qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person, like a scientist-professor — somewhat obsessive and not at all carefree are the qualities that help lead to a long life. A carefree person takes needless chances. A conscientious person makes smart choices.
9. Sometimes, it’s all about the genes. Even though the lifestyle you lead and the outlook you have on life makes a world of difference, you can’t overlook that good genes help play a part in living a long, healthy life.

Hendrikje Van Andel-Schipper lived to be 115 and passed away peacefully in her sleep in her home in Denmark.She was active up until the time of her death. She had to have known something of importance. Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, 113 years

Super Salad!

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Here’s a great summer salad that is sure to please at your Fourth of July Party. AND It’s super healthy too! Can’t beat that!

Grilled Asparagus and Mozzarella Salad
1 Serving
Ingredients:
4 oz Cheese, mozzarella, reduced fat
3/4 cup Raw Tomatoes, Grape
3/4 cup Cooked Asparagus, frozen
2 tbsp Basil or 1 drop basil essential oil
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Pepper or 1 drop black pepper essential oil
1 tsp Vinegar, balsamic
10 sprays Non-stick Cooking Spray
(Using essential oils gives you essential vitamins and minerals that you can’t get large quantities of in the dried plants)

Preparation:
1. Cut asparagus spears into thirds. Place asparagus pieces in a lightly greased grill pan and cook until tender. Remove and set aside.
2. Cut 4 oz of part-skim mozzarella cheese into cubes and place in a medium bowl.
3. Chop or slice the basil leaves. Add the basil along with the grape tomatoes and cooled asparagus pieces to the mozzarella.
4. Combine the pepper and garlic powder with the mozzarella mixture and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
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How about Chicken Wings? Here’s a great healthy recipe.

Get Your Patriotic On!

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Fourth of July means friends, fun, food and fireworks. It can also mean fat increase if you are not careful.

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Here are some healthy tips to keep you enjoying the holiday without penalizing your waistline.

1. Continue to practice your healthy eating habits on the picnic day. Do not skip meals or save calories for the “big meal”. That sets you up to overeat!!!

2. If going to a party or picnic, offer to bring an appetizer and side dish. That way you can guarantee there will be healthy choices for you.

3. Be watchful of your portions and choose NOT to have the dessert!! Instead, maybe bring a box of sugar free popcicles to share with the crowd or have a cup of coffee instead!

4. Make sure that you do not slack off from your daily exercise routine the day of the picnic. Try adding 10 or 15-minute brisk walks twice that day with available family members or the partygoers. Plan active activities such as croquet, bike riding, or taking a hike instead of sitting around and talking or watching TV.

5. If you are throwing the party, have lots of vegetables available, instead of chips only. Prepare lower fat dips and offer salsa. Explain to your guests in advance your determination to make this a healthier holiday celebration, and ask them to keep this in mind when preparing any dish they may be bringing.

6. Stay away from high calorie beverages such as sodas, juices, smoothies, and blended coffee drinks. There are nearly 150 calories in one 12-ounce can of soda or juice. Smoothies and coffee drinks are often 250-500 calories, excluding the whipped cream. Alcohol is packed full of calories and carbs. It can also cause you to let down your defenses and overeat or make poor food choices. All of these indulgences will kick you out of fat burning stage and you’ll have to start over (in a sense).

7 Make sure to have a healthy meal before going to the picnic. That way you won’t be tempted to overeat because you’ll have already fueled your body… ALWAYS plan ahead.

8. At the picnic, choose healthy foods and fill a 9 inch or salad plate. Stay away from the chips and bread and corn and don’t go back for seconds.

9. If the holiday party is at your house, send some of the left-overs home with your guests, especially the desserts!!

10. Remember to eat slowly, which will help you to eat less and feel full and satisfied.

11. During holiday weekends, make your goal to maintain your weight and not to gain any!

12. Be positive. Don’t let your weight and cravings take control of you.

13. Holiday traveling… don’t forget to pack your convenient healthy meals! Put small meals in zip lock bags and use them to cushion around items in your suitcase. Also bring a cooler full of fresh vegetables and water.

14. Remember the reason for the season and focus on ‘fellowship’ and not on ‘food’!

15. Habits are habit forming… People form habits but habits transform people! Let’s Take Shape for Life! Let’s transform our thinking to become choosy about what we eat. Let’s make it a habit to select healthy foods and plan to integrate healthy foods as part of our ‘prescription for life’!

Have a Happy and Healthy Summer Picnic Season!!!!

Become a Writer for Better Health

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Food journaling is a tool in your toolbox when it comes to healthy eating practices. It can unveil eating patterns and identify areas you need to change by making you constantly aware of what you are putting into your body.

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To keep a food journal, be sure to include the following:

Amount – Sometimes being specific is necessary (i.e. weight loss plateaus, blood sugar control) so you get a true sense of what you are actually having and how that may be impacting your goals. Other times, people just want to be more conscientious of what they are eating and in those instances, specificity is not necessary.

Time/Place – Record when and where you are eating and drinking.

Sensory – Jot down what you’re doing while eating and drinking. For instance, maybe you are snacking while watching TV or reading a book. Also note whom you are with. You may find that you consume more while around certain people.

Emotion – It’s important to describe how you feel when you are eating/drinking (angry, sad, happy, nervous, starving, bored, etc.). At the end of each day, analyze how your emotions affected your eating.

 

 

Summer Fun and Pizza!!

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Summer is here and that means pool parties, the beach, camping, the fourth of July.  Here’s a fun healthy treat for dinner. Love pizza but don’t want the calories?  Try this version. You’ll LOVE it!

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2 Servings.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup cauliflower florets
• 5 ounces of 95-97% lean ground turkey
• 1 egg
• 1 cup (4 oz) part-skim shredded mozzarella
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• ¼ tsp Italian seasonings—or about 1 drop each of basil and oregano essential oils
• ¾ cup thinly sliced mushrooms
• ¾ cup halved grape tomatoes
• 1 cup fresh baby spinach

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 450° F.
2. Steam cauliflower till tender, then mash.
3. Cook ground turkey in a non-stick pan until done. Set aside and keep warm.
4. To make the crust, combine the egg, ½ cup (2 ounces) cheese, mashed cauliflower, garlic, and Italian seasonings  or oils in a medium mixing bowl.
5. Spread mixture evenly on a non-stick, 9-inch round pizza pan or baking sheet.
6. Bake 20 minutes and remove from oven. Switch oven to a low broil setting.
7. Top crust with tomatoes, remaining mozzarella, spinach, and cooked turkey.
8. Return pizza to oven and broil until crust and cheese have slightly browned, about 10 minutes.
9. Remove from oven and let cool two to three minutes before cutting and serving.