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Just Another Day?

make a difference phrase on blackboard

Maybe today is your birthday, maybe it’s a major holiday, maybe it’s your first day in a new job or with a new team or in a new place, maybe it’s a Wednesday or a Saturday, maybe it’s raining or not, maybe you have catering tonight, maybe you’re down an employee, maybe you’re getting a haircut later…or maybe none of the above.  Is it just another day?

 

Is time flying by or is it creeping?  Are you startled that the pool has closed and Christmas decorations are starting to pop up?

 

Since so many of us work to the rhythm of education, it is that crazy busy and crazy fresh opening season.  Lots of to-do’s, long days, pop-up requests…so let’s keep it simple and soak up the wisdom of Jane Goodall:

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you.  What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”

Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Apple Salad

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Serves 6

1 T        olive oil

1lb        brussels sprouts, halved

1           apple, diced

1med    yellow onion, diced

2T         seasoned rice wine vinegar

2T         pure maple syrup

1/8t     crushed red pepper flakes

½ c       hazelnuts, finely chopped, toasted

4c        baby spinach

½ c       crumbled blue cheese

  1. Heat oven to 400°F
  2. Combine brussels sprouts, apple, onion, oil, s&p; toss to coat
  3. Roast 20 min, until tender
  4. Whisk together vinegar, syrup, red pepper flakes
  5. Toss brussels sprouts mixture with  dressing
  6. Layer spinach, brussels sprouts mixture, hazelnuts & blue cheese
  7. Drizzle with remaining dressing

Food Labels and Creative Marketing

Labels

Food Labels are a perfect example of simple facts that can be completely misleading.  Thanks to the “creative marketing” of food companies, we are lead to believe that eating a “candy bar” will provide us just as much fiber as fruit or that a “contains whole grains” loaf of bread isn’t really white bread in disguise (reality check, it is).  Whatever the label claim, you get the message; food labels are confusing and often downright deceiving.

 

Check out this blog post on appforhealth.com about popular label frauds

 1. Made With Real Fruit or Made With Whole Grains 

There are no regulations regarding the “Made With…. fill in the blank” claims so you need to look at the ingredient list to see if the product really delivers. Many products claim to be made with real fruit or whole grains, when in fact, they may have a lot of added sugars and/or lower quality ingredients. Read the ingredient list. The lower fruit or whole grains are listed on the ingredient list, the less of the ingredient it contains.

2. Lightly Sweetened

Lightly sweetened is another term that food manufacturers use that has no definition by the FDA. Some cereals boasting lightly sweetened on their label contain more added sugar than sugar-coated cereals. Check the Nutrition Facts label and look for cereals that contain 6 grams or less added sugar per serving.

3. Added Fiber

While it’s true that foods marked “added fiber” contain additional fiber (listed as polydextrose, inulin (derived from chicory root), or maltodextrin) it’s not known if these fiber additions have the same health benefits as the fiber found naturally in whole foods. These fiber additives can cause bloating, gas, diarrhea, stomach discomfort when taken in excess whereas natural fiber in whole foods does not have this effect. What’s more, they’re generally added to refined or sugar-rich foods to make them appear healthier.

4. Low-Fat or Fat-Free

Marketing a food as “low fat” or “fat-free” can take your attention off the fact that the food is loaded with added sugars or refined carbohydrates. Low-fat foods that high in low quality carbs shouldn’t be part of your everyday diet.

5. Low-Carb, Protected Carbs, Net Carbs, Digestible Carbs (Not really!)

One of the most fraudulent areas of food labeling is with low-carbohydrate foods. Products that use terms like “Protected Carbs,” “Net Carbs,” “Available Carbs,” are often bogus so don’t assume that they’re good for you, especially if you have metabolic syndrome or have diabetes. Dietitians do not subtract fiber or sugar alcohols from total carbohydrate content of foods, so you shouldn’t either!

Cornmeal & Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins

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Unbeknownst to me, my blueberry purchase at the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market last week was my last.  Luckily I purchased an extraordinary amount of these juicy fruits and had plenty left for my new favorite breakfast treat Cornmeal & Blueberry Buckwheat Muffins. These muffins trump the taste of the cakey “treats” you find in coffee shops and are nutritionally superior. I have made these with freshly ground flour from Wildflour Mill, which happens to carry buckwheat flour.  However, making these muffins with all whole-wheat flour is equally good.

My favorite way to eat these muffins is toasted & slathered with peanut butter…yum.

Enjoy!

Obesity Myths & Facts Explained

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Many of us are guilty of making assumptions about people’s lifestyle behaviors based on their weight.  No matter the assumption, the truth of the matter is the development of obesity is very complex, hence the countless studies looking for a cause and cure.  Despite extensive research into the etiology of this disease there are still many myths that exist. I found this article to be very informative, sorting out the fact from fiction when it comes to obesity.

 

6 Obesity Myths & Facts Explained

Claim #1: Assessing stage of change, or “readiness to diet,” is important in helping patients who pursue weight loss treatment to lose weight.
This is the fancy way of saying that a person will only lose weight if he wants to lose it. While the researchers offer evidence refuting this as a major issue, Jaclyn London, M.S., R.D.N, says it does play into the mind of registered dietitians when they issue diet plans, despite researchers branding this one as a myth. “There is often an assumption among clients that simply showing up for a consultation will magically make them lose weight,” she says. “I wish it were that simple!” Since dieting isn’t a miracle pill, it’s totally based on a person’s willingness to stick to the plan and exercise—and if a person doesn’t have the time or energy to follow a new regimen, logically, it may fail. Still, since it is hard to study something this subjective, don’t discount this as a total myth. If you want to lose weight, you have to commit to a lifestyle change. “It is a major part of the behavior-change process,” London says. Verdict: Mostly Fact

Claim #2: Regularly eating vs. skipping breakfast is protective against obesity.
If you’re eating a Big Breakfast from McDonald’s instead of a healthy bowl of oatmeal every morning, you’ll probably see the scale creep up—which is why researchers call this presumption into question, and suggest more research. It matters what you eat just as much as when you eat—but you should eat. “We do already have substantial research to support the claim that breakfast intake is linked with lower BMI,” says London. “Many people think that skipping breakfast is an easy way to cut calories, but the habit typically leads to an increased energy intake throughout the day, making people susceptible to overdoing it at other meals.” So here’s the takeaway: eat healthy, but still eat. Greek yogurt and fruit, almond butter on an English muffin, or whole-grain cereal—there are tons of quick, healthy options. Verdict: Mostly Fact

Claim #3: Eating close to bedtime contributes to weight gain.
Don’t eat after 8 p.m.! At least that’s what common weight-loss wisdom proclaims, but London says it is mostly myth—although studies support both sides of the clam. People tend to believe this old adage, for a couple reasons. “First, much current research links people with fewer hours of sleep per night to a higher risk of overweight obesity, and eating too close to bedtime can frequently be associated with disrupted sleep,” she says. “Second, eating close to bedtime could lead to waking up ‘too full’ to eat breakfast, leading to meal skipping and then binging later on—another inhibitor of weight loss.” Overall intake of calories is more important than timing, though, says London, as the researchers suggest. As long as you’re not skipping meals, focus on hitting your goals, no matter the time. Verdict: Mostly Myth

Claim #4: Eating more fruits and vegetables will lead to weight loss or less weight gain, regardless of whether one intentionally makes any other changes to one’s behavior or environment.
Sadly, simply amping up fruit and veggie intake will not necessarily cause your waist to shrink—but eating more can help. Here’s why: “Fruits and veggies aren’t magic weight loss pills, but they do have the power to impact our intake overall due to their high water-volume and high-fiber content,” says London. “increasing intake of fruits and vegetables can displace other calories from less nutrient-dense sources, like processed foods, and is typically the ‘first line of defense’ when it comes to weight loss.” Which is why dieticians push for it. Eating too much of anything can lead to weight gain, but filling up on fruits and veggies should make you less hungry for the cake and cookies. Verdict: Mostly Fact

Claim #5: Snacking contributes to weight gain and obesity.
“This is another one that is both true and untrue,” says London, insisting that you have to snack right. “Skipping meals can lead to binging at your next meal, so very often, it’s beneficial to recommend choosing healthy, fiber and protein-rich, 150- to 200-calorie snacks to decrease total energy intake for the day.” However, snacking can backfire if you’re downing processed foods or not keeping tabs on exactly what you’re consuming—or how much. “It’s really the mindless snacking and grazing—a handful here, a handful there. That’s where we see problems with clients who can’t seem to lose weight,” London says. “Those extra calories all add up.” Verdict: Mostly Fact

Claim #6: Drinking more water will reduce energy intake and will lead to weight loss or less weight gain, regardless of other changes.
Water is often hyped as a major component in feeling full and flushing bloat, which will help you lose weight. Here’s why this one isn’t entirely true, though, as the researchers suggest: “Yes, it’s true that a lot of people are not as in touch with their ‘thirst’ mechanism or satiety cues as we’d like—it’s not easy and it is definitely the case that we often see people who mistake hunger for thirst,” says London. “That said, I think it’s difficult to say that this is totally true for everyone, not to mention the fact that fluid and hydration needs are different for everyone, based on age, sex, weight, height and physical-activity level.” Drink up and hydrate consistently with (on average) eight glasses a day, but don’t expect water to be a weight-loss miracle drink. Verdict: Mostly Myth

 

Source: 6 Obesity Myths & Facts Explained

Summer Tomato Pie

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Serves 6-8

4 lg     ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick

sea salt

9”       pie crust, chilled

1/2c   onions, finely diced

1/2c   mixed fresh herbs, minced

(basil, tarragon, oregano, parsley)

1c       lite mayonnaise

1c       grated cheddar

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Put tomatoes on rack, salt well

3. Drain 10-15 min, pat dry

4. Place ½ tomatoes in pie crust

5. Top with onions & 2 T herbs

6. Layer rest of tomatoes, season with s&p

7. Combine mayo, cheese & rest of herbs

8. Spread mixture on top of pie

9. Bake for 25 min until golden brown

Summer Tomato Pie

August14_Slider

Serves 6-8

4 lg     ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/2″ thick

sea salt

9”       pie crust, chilled

1/2c   onions, finely diced

1/2c   mixed fresh herbs, minced

(basil, tarragon, oregano, parsley)

1c       lite mayonnaise

1c       grated cheddar

 

 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F

2. Put tomatoes on rack, salt well

3. Drain 10-15 min, pat dry

4. Place ½ tomatoes in pie crust

5. Top with onions & 2 T herbs

6. Layer rest of tomatoes, season with s&p

7. Combine mayo, cheese & rest of herbs

8. Spread mixture on top of pie

9. Bake for 25 min until golden brown

Chocolate & Zucchini

Chocolate-&-Zucchini

I have blogged in the past about my garden success and failures, but zucchini is a standby that proliferates in any garden (ours included).  A few years ago, I stumbled across the aptly named blog chocolateandzucchini. And since I have been making this cake from her blog & it never fails to impress.  I have modified the cake slightly, but if you are interested, here is the link to the original recipe and a video in which you can watch the author prepare the recipe in French, no less. Bon Appétit!

 

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

 

1/2-cup canola oil

2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp fine sea salt

1-cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 tbsp cooled coffee

2 large eggs

1 egg white

2 cups unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini

1-cup good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips

Confectioners’ sugar or melted bittersweet chocolate (optional)

 

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease a 10-inch pan with butter or oil (I used a 9-inch pan)

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a food processor, process the sugar and butter until creamy (you can also do this by hand, armed with a sturdy spatula). Add the vanilla, coffee granules, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

3. Reserve a cup of the flour mixture and add the rest to the egg mixture. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.

4. Add the zucchini and chocolate chips to the reserved flour mixture and toss to coat. Fold into the batter and blend with a wooden spoon—don’t over mix. Pour into the prepared cake pan and level the surface with a spatula.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Transfer to a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen the cake, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Let cool to room temperature before serving.

Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, glaze with melted chocolate, or leave plain.  This cake is also good with plain Greek yogurt.

What Do We Hear When We Listen?

Listen

We know hearing and listening are two different things. Maybe we haven’t all been parents, but we’ve all been children, right? And it usually wasn’t our ears’ fault. A good friend recently shared with me this wisdom (that she gained from her daughter who heard it from her professor, which is a nice story of its own), “Listen. Waiting to talk is not listening”. Connecting with each other depends on us being able to do this. But, it can be tough to do. Not because we don’t care, but because our minds are full of actions, reactions, scripts, to-do’s, etc.

“Conscious listening is difficult, especially in our crazy busy world today with so many urgencies and distractions. As author Leo Babauta says, ‘We are drinking from a fire hose of information, with no idea of how to reduce the flow.’”

How to be a conscious listener offers the above quote, as well as this advice: be patient, be fully present, be willing to understand and learn. In other words, set your mind to it and it will follow.

The Beauty of Summer Eating

Peaches

Now that summer has officially arrived, eating has become pretty simplistic (and delicious). I welcomed the morning with juicy blueberries & farm fresh eggs. My lunch consisted of cucumbers & heirloom tomatoes (courtesy of the Lynchburg Farmer’s Market) splashed with a little balsamic vinegar & olive oil.  Most dinners include grilled summer squash and my favorite, sockeye salmon.  The beauty of summer is that dinners are simply delicious, with the emphasis on simple. No need for fancy embellishments.  Of course, all of this fresh, local food would not be possible without our fantastic farmer’s market.  If you are not a regular customer of a market I urge you make a trip to your own local market (wherever that may be).  I must admit my heart beats a little faster when I arrive at the Saturday morning Farmer’s market and take in the view of the produce paradise.  Check out this recipe that features peaches & tomatoes, two summer market stars.

 

Fresh Grilled Peach Salsa