Archive for September, 2010

Monkey Business – Taking the Lead on A Healthy Workplace

September 30th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I wanted to focus on health and wellness in the workplace with a new series theme “Monkey Business”. When you think about it, we adults spend many of our waking hours at work making a living. Wouldn’t it be great if work “heads of state” considered workplace policies that promote health and wellness in the workplace?

What kind of ship are you working in anyhow?? Is it one that supports the health and well being of you and your fellow workers, or is the culture one that drives everybody into the ground? Think about it. I wonder what the company stats look like in the “sick-days” department? How about medical support and rehab? You know what I’m getting at, right?? Is your company paying more trying to “mend the staff” rather than prevent problems to begin with?? Prevention and support are an investment AND the company reaps many rewards.

Now, I know your work is not running a staff baby-sitting service. Nor at the end of the day does everyone join hands and sing Kumbaya. But give the notion of health prevention in the workplace as a staff benefit some thought…..Hmmmmm

Whether you’re the boss or a wanna-be you can make a difference for you and your co-workers by mounting a campaign to integrate health and wellness into the workplace policies. It’s a win-win situation really, because a healthy employee who is nurtured will be a productive one, right??

Everyone know’s the super keener who’s trying to work day and night to get ahead. Well, your super keener will be more productive by ensuring they take Off-the-Duff breaks for instance and are encouraged to take a short walk in the day to decompress. I can hear the gasps of all of the insecure bosses whose ball-and-chain don’t extend that far. Let it go people and think big. How about giving your prized possessions some brain food instead of drain food?? Is your work kitchenette a minefield of ghastly junk that might taste good but get bad results in the thinking department.

It’s 2011 and the old adage doesn’t hold true any more “it takes a licking, but it keeps on ticking”. Do business schools consider health and wellness of staff as a necessary course and part of a business’ balanced score card? Be progressive and put it on YOUR agenda. After all, employees are the company’s greatest resource, so look after them. Their productive ways will in-turn look after you…… in spades my friend.

I’ll be covering various aspects of this topic over the coming weeks. Do weigh in with ideas and experiences so we can all learn from each other.
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Foodie Versatile Veal Cutlets

September 29th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,


Mmmmm veal cutlets are one food I cherish when I make them. I only whip ‘em up once in a while. They’re certainly not considered an “every day” food so I watch the serving size (having one half), make a big batch and freeze them piece by piece. During a busy fall season it’s so convenient to defrost for a hearty dinner without the mess. Yup, always thinkin’!!

Ingredients

12 veal cutlets, pounded thin (can substitute boneless, skinless chicken or turkey)

8 eggs, scrambled

10 garlic cloves, peeled crushed

2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

fresh parsley clippings

salt and pepper to taste

canola oil

breadcrumbs

Preparation

If you can do this first step the day before, I suggest you do it. The flavour will be richer. In a large bowl crack in the eggs one by one, add the garlic, parmesan cheese and parsley. Then scramble together with a fork. Lightly salt and pepper each piece of veal and immerse into the egg mixture until submerged. Once they’re all in there make sure they’re under egg then cover the bowl with cellophane and put into the fridge for a few hours.

About an 30-60 minutes before cooking these remove from the fridge. On your clean counter surface near your stove cover with waxed paper so that all of the cutlets can be spread out. Using a large flat dish fill with breadcrumbs. Then one-by-one thoroughly dust each cutlet with breadcrumbs then place on the waxed paper, spacing them out to allow the crumbs to dry.

Now they’re ready to fry….I know, shame on me, using the “f” word!! Take out a few large cookie sheets and put a metal grid on it to place the cooked veal on so that some of the oil will drip off. I turn my oven on ~300 degrees F.

Take out your baking soda, oven mitts, turn up the oven fans on high, cause we’re ready to roll. Make the batch in one go NOT leaving your pan unattended for even one nano-second. Hot oil burns baby burns, so don’t take ANY chances. If the phone rings let them leave a message, isn’t that why you have it for? Use tongs that fit in your hand well. You could run into trouble using ones that stretch too far. Those may cause you to fumble with the cutlets and hot oil. NOT GOOD, so beware. Can you tell I used to work in a Burn Ward…..

Using a frying pan without a lid, add canola oil to the bottom of the pan and turn the heat up high. I toss in a tiny piece of breadcrumb with egg to test how hot the oil is. When really hot add as many pieces of veal that can fit the bottom of your pan then flash cook each until browned on both sides. For safety reasons I turn off the element each time when I’m transferring the cooked veal to the pans. You’ll notice the cutlets begin curling up at the edges while frying. That’s one sign they’re done on one side and ready to flip. Make sure no oil has dripped down the side of your pan and clean it off if some has. Keep the fire in your relationship, NOT in your kitchen!!

Repeat this step until all of your veal is cooked. Place your pans with your cooked master pieces of veal in the oven to hold and ready to serve.

Commentary

I don’t know about you but I pay enough for my food that I’m not shy to ask for extra service. I always ask my butcher to pass the cutlets through the tenderizer one more time before they pack them up. If not you’ll be pounding them all at home and who needs the mess. Well, that is if you have some frustrations to release with extra time you can do this yourself, you decide.

Note, I only season the cutlets on one side before I plunk into the egg mixture. Before “this low salt craze” thing I used to season both sides and I decided I’d cut back making them this way.

If you don’t heat the oil hot enough the first few pieces of veal will sop up all the oil like a mucky sponge and won’t be crisp. With oil being 120 calories/tablespoon you don’t need any extra fat than you’re already getting, so avoid this mistake.

If your veal isn’t pounded thinly your veal might not get cooked through when browned, so you can ensure they cook through in the oven. If this is the case I suggest you bake then in the oven until cooked through.

Also, be careful with the hot oil, because sometimes it pops (as my Mom would say “screetz”…whatever that means!!) All I know it hurts like hell if it hits bare skin and may result in you saying some REALLY bad words – oh my!! Keep the little ones out of the kitchen during this cooking process for safety and social reasons. You don’t want little Johnny’s first words to be something naughty!!

Veal cutlets are so versatile. They go fabulously with pasta of course with a nice green salad (posted on June 23). They are great on a bun with roasted peppers as well. Or as any main course with different veggies like corn and potatoes. Mmmm yummy!!

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Digging for Your Roots

September 28th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

What is it about our past that’s oh so compelling?? I find the older people get the more yearning they do to find out about those who came before them. Who were they? What did they do? What was their day-to-day life like? Did they make a difference in their time?

I’m a bit of a romantic. I feel that in my genetic code are bits and pieces of family I know and many I have never met. Funny, years ago my hubby boy (aka Quicon Jin) mimicked a gesture I do with my hand “Oh go on” that’s just like my late Grandma used to do. I never realized it until he pointed it out. When I get together with relatives near and far I can see more clearly how we’re related just by some of our similar features and characteristic ways.

I think it’s just terrific to find out about our past. Its therapeutic to jump off of the treadmill of life and take the time to better appreciate where we came from. It gives us a sense of self and better understanding of our purpose. Quicon goes on at times expressing great appreciation of his ancestors who came from the Ukraine and cleared rugged land in the Prairies under extreme conditions. It warms my heart that he’s that appreciative and feels the least he can do in his life is make his world better by being given the opportunity in our free land.

Now I know some people who live in the past, who are almost stuck back then. It’s great to reminisce, but don’t miss out on your present by having such a strong focus back then. “In my day blah blah blah blah blah….” After all, that’s what it is right….past…..

Now in your search you may find some unsavoury info about your past. The best thing you can do about it is make a difference in today, the present and aim to leave a legacy in your future. Make sure to put a bow on it!!

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Just the Facts Ma’am, the Calorie Facts

September 27th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

A mammoth study was conducted at Washington U looking at exercise and label-reading habits and their impact on weight loss and control. Bidisha Mandel, the associate professor found hands-down that the greatest weight loss success rates were achieved by people who habitually read labels such as the Nutrition Facts Table on food products. Like I’ve said many times, knowledge is power. Bingo, bango, bongo!!

The Nutrition Facts Table is your friend. There are many aspects of it that are useful, but simply starting by routinely looking at serving size and calories per serving is one of the most important good habits you can do for yourself and your family. Start in the comfort of your own home. Pull out any packaged goods you have in your cupboards. Then one by one review the calories per serving for what you have on hand. This is the beginning of you becoming more aware of what’s in your food. Bravo!!

I know we all want to get out of the grocery store lickity split. However, when it’s convenient, do some calorie comparing of the usual products you buy with the competitors. Avoid focusing on the large splashy claims on the front, but the Nutrition Facts Table focusing on the serving size and calories per serving. Bring your reading glasses if you must. It will certainly be a useful exercise.

And no, I don’t think anyone should be counting calories consumed each day. That just sets up a whole nutty obsessive compulsive dynamic we busy gals don’t have the time or patience for.

Dr. Mandel went on to suggest that calorie counts would also be helpful on restaurant menus and vending machines. I say why not?? People might think twice about having a 400 calorie mocca-fappa-what-cha-ma-call-it in the afternoon when a flavoured tea that has no cals would do the trick. The way I look at it is that it takes 1 mile of walking to burn up 100 calories and I don’t value those drinks THAT much to waste all of those blessed calories in one go. At age 49 and counting, I keep a watchful eye on the details and have treats now and then, but no mindless munching or guzzling. It’ll add another ring around the proverbial trunk. No thanks!!

So, stick to the facts ma’am, the calorie facts on the Nutrition Facts Table and you’ll be well on your way to being wiser for the wear!!

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The Caveman Diet – Yabba Dabba DON’T!!

September 26th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ahhhh yes, yet another diet craze is upon us folks. One that Fred Flintstone might endorse. It’s the caveman diet. What’s to like – meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts. It’s devoid 2 of the 4 food groups leaving out grains and dairy products. Although it endorses purely naturally nutrient rich foods which is great, it’s definitely missing the mark on overall balance.

I don’t know though, any new-fangled regimen needs to be brought out of the dark ages and into the year 2010. Let’s keep it real now, shall we. I haven’t seen any turkey legs in the vending machines at my work, have you?? I don’t think that beef jerkey can sub in as a replacement. In general, I’m a big believer that every diet needs to pass the “Thanksgiving Dinner” test. If all that is served at this traditional, lavish meal is a no no to any plan then for me it fails right out of the gate.

If you’re really going to get to your inner caveman, hmm-mmmm cave-person, you also need to embrace the exercise side of the equation to a greater degree. After all, after surviving the hunt you need to haul that Wilda-beast back to your cave, right? Fred and Barney didn’t have an SUV to haul home the groceries. Yet they did propel their vehicles with their feet, remember?? Oy the calluses. They say this regimen improves your athletic performance and more. I think any plan that you focus on eating less processed food will have the same benefits, no?? If you add balance to that your benefits will probably be even better.

Now let’s remember why you want to embark on a new regimen to begin with. I’d guess to feel and become healthier, to lower your risk factor risks, perhaps to lose weight. Keep in mind though the rugged caveman’s life expectancy was oh 25 years, maybe old age was 40′ish. I don’t know about you but I’m considered ancient to our late brethren the cave-people. Hmmmm, so I’m thinking my current balanced plan is working for me just fine. How about your plan??

So my conclusion still stands on this regimen – yabba dabba don’t!!

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The Proof is in the Proportion

September 23rd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

I was invited to a lovely dinner a few weeks ago hosted by a retired couple. They set a welcoming table using their dining room dishes. These dishes were EXTRA special, because they were their original dishes from when they wed 40 something years ago. The diameter of those dishes are what our dishes of today SHOULD BE – much smaller!!

I have written about the importance of watching portions on April 20, 25 and June 28. It’s such an important topic I thought that it’s time to weigh in yet again from a different perspective.

I read about a novel plate used in a research study with diabetic patients made by the company Diet Plate Ltd. What’s so novel about this is, it outlines on the plate accepted portion sizes. How novel is that!! What’s more, The Diet Plate and its accompanying breakfast bowl “are carefully calibrated using lines and visuals to help users ration carbohydrates, proteins, cheese and sauces. The plates allow different calorie counts for each gender and are designed for a wide variety of foods; the bowls are unisex and used only with cereal.”

There was a study with obese subjects with type 2 diabetes. Half of the participants were assigned to a control group and maintained their usual diet routine. The other half were given a Diet Plate and breakfast bowl and were asked to use the plate once daily with their largest meal and the breakfast bowl whenever they ate cereal.

The results showed that those who used these novel plates were more than three times as likely to lose five per cent of their body weight compared with those not using them. This amount of weight loss is so beneficial for a number important risk factor reductions.

We live in a society who’s eyes and plates have grown to become muchos grandes – too big. I take stock in the wisdom of getting your paws on a set of these babies and trying them out for size. Why not use them on weekdays??

Some say the proof is in the pudding. This time the proof is in the portion, the PROPER portion!!

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You Fill Up My Senses – Falling into Autumn

September 22nd, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , ,

I was doing my “mat routine” yesterday and John Denver’s ballad You Fill Up My Senses played on i-Tunes. That song itself fills up my senses. It got me thinking about the wonders of autumn. What’s not to love. Ya I know one season more and winter will be upon us, but let’s stay in the moment folks and get filled up with this new season’s wonders.

Taking my morning walks seems to change daily with the transitioning colours of the fall leaves. Each one painted by Mother Nature herself. The yellows, oranges, reds, magentas, so many lovely lipstick colours it’s simply staggering!! I actually love when the temperatures dip a bit from the summer’s sweltering heat. Nothing like adorning some of my favourite jeans, cords or velvets I haven’t worn in quite some time with a cable knit sweater. Not to mention some fab boots. How cozy and delightful, I just love it!!

I also love transitioning meals to a heartier fare – you know pasta sauces, chili-con-carne, roasted chicken and soups. Head to a fall fair or market near you to capture the height of the harvest. I’ll be posting some of my favourite fall recipes in the Food Revolution Recipe category. I look forward to making some soup together. Yes, “more soup Sassy”!! Incorporating soup into meals is a well documented diet strategy you know. So having heartier meals doesn’t mean you need to bulk up this time of year like the squirrels and polar bears do.

Even though the days are becoming shorter, doesn’t mean you need to become less active. There are still 24 hours in each day people. I like to change up my activity routine infusing it with greater vigilance – my mat routine 3-5 days/week (described in my post in April 28), my walking routine and back to my stair-master and cross country ski machines. Just 10 minutes on each 3-5 times/week helps get rid of the jello that’s accumulated on my thighs and the flab under my bra strap.

So folks, get a new book to snuggle up by the fire with and stay in the moment, because the dawning of fall is a delight for all of our senses.

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In Favour of Flavour – Thoughts on Chocolate Milk

September 21st, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Well I just reviewed a study touting the benefits of chocolate milk for kids. I touched on a veggie strategy last week, so I thought I’d focus on dairy this week. Research shows that kids diets fall short of dairy products AND fruits and vegetables. That’s a failing grade for 2 of the 4 food groups. Not good :-(

When you boil it right down our bodies require numerous building blocks so we can fire on all cylinders optimally. Firstly, from the macro-nutrient side – protein, fat and carbohydrate, then from the micro-nutrient side – vitamins and minerals. Not the mention the other important elements like water, fibre, etc. All of these have life sustaining properties. Yes folks, every single one.

These results showed that the kids who were allowed to drink flavoured milk had a better quality diet from a nutrient perspective for children and adolescents than kids who did not. From a practical standpoint I’d have both in the fridge and ease up on the stringent protocol. Don’t we do enough finger wagging?? When I stroll through the grocery store and witness what some companies create calling it food, well, sometimes I just shudder. I can certainly encourage chocolate milk and I have it on my standing grocery list.

I do get peeved by companies adding Vitamin D to juices though. There are some parents who feel “well my kid doesn’t drink much milk so why not switch to this??”. This is a definite no no. Right off the top, I wouldn’t compare foods from different food groups, and juice and milk are from different groups. I think kids get such a fill of juices, fruit punches, smoothies and soda pop they all squeeze out the possibility of having milk in the first place. Next, as far as Naturally Nutrient Rich goes – all milk and milk products for that matter make the high grade in spades.

Ya I know, I saw the video of Jamie Oliver with the wheel barrel of sugar talking about horrors of chocolate milk. I’d like to know how he made his calculation, because there are natural sugars in milk he may not have accounted for properly. Second, by removing so many foods kids like from school gets a bit nutty, don’t you think?? Give the kids a break and let them have chocolate milk for goodness sake. Pun definitely intended!! It tastes good and is good for them.

The way I see it half of what kids eat is falling short from a nutritional perspective. We really do need to find ways to encourage them to eat and drink the good stuff. This is one way to do it and you’ll get the hero sandwich for it. When was the last time you got that as a parent?? We’d like to know……

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Follow the Loser – Testimonials to Get Motivated By

September 20th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Everybody’s got a story, don’t they?? Our successful weight losers do too. I divulged some of these on August 9th and thought why not share a few more. As you know I have a weekly post on the results from a survey completed with these women from the first week in July. You can access them all by clicking on the category “Successful Loser Logic”. This is a perfect time of year to regroup and refocus our eating and activity goals. Hearing stories from others can help us light the fire of determination within:
  • Slow and steady wins the race. I lost 0.5-2 lbs/week and the trick was eating the right combination of foods. To everyone’s shock, the more food I ate the more I lost. It worked.
  • I gained approx. 45 pounds over 8 years after going away to school and living on my own. When my wedding rings didn’t fit I joined Weight Watchers and immediately began losing weight in a healthy way. I started to exercise regularly right away too and tried to choose more healthy foods. I always allowed myself to have anything I wanted but in moderation and only if it really tasted good. I lost 45 pounds in 9 months and have kept it off for 1.5 years.
  • I had low self-esteem and walked with my head down most often. I was afraid to join committees. I feel I owe some of my success to my weight loss. Gave me the courage to try new things.
  • I got rid of non-exercise track suits, elastic waist skirts/pants and stretchy jeans. I wear my jeans/shorts every week. They are a great indicator that I might have over-eaten during the week since the first place I notice extra weight is around my stomach. My jeans don’t shrink!!!
  • I lost a total of 55 pounds, it felt great to do but it didn’t feel a comfortable weight for me. I gained about 5-10 pounds back which feels great and is easy to maintain when following the eating pattern developed. My weight in numbers doesn’t matter to me – what matters is how I feel about myself and how I feel I look.
  • Journal your food, exercise, drink lots of water and enjoy how you look now and don’t focus on the 20lbs you have to lose…just focus on the first 5…
  • Feeling better about myself, feeling in good health, being able to walk in high heels……but the most important feeling was when I reached my 25 pounds loss…I really felt like a winner which helped me continue until i reached the 65 pound mark which I am able to maintain. Love yourself and love everyone around you….it will help the way you deal with your weight and will help with metabolism to help to its maximum. NEVER GO HUNGRY!!!!!! Eat!!! But eat smart! Good luck to all.
Do you have a weight loss success story you’re willing to share?? We’d like to know…..
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Reading, Writing, RUNNING & ‘Rithmetic

September 19th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I just read a fab article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine by Gretchen Reynolds on the intricate benefits of aerobic activity on kids brains. How I love to read something with such wisdom on a fine Sunday morning. For me it’s like hearing angels singing. The findings showed a significant difference in the fittest kids brains and of course better test scores and “ability to coordinate actions and thoughts crisply”. Kids using TV-based fitness games did not have improved test scores in a different study. Thanks Sherlock!!

You know when you boil down our obesity epidemic, the spotlight needs to be on the activity side of the equation to a greater degree, don’t you think?? Intake data show a slight elevation of calories compared to requirements which really point to the need to move more….a lot more. There is so much darn good evidence already about the benefits of exercise that I’m not sure why there’s such a state of inertia on the decisions around this. The movers and shakers need to get moving and shaking on policy change!!

When I think back to my good old days, I recall there being a few key influences for me to get active, be and stay fit. First and foremost was my parents’ good example. The next was a national program in Canada by ParticiPACTION called the “Fit 5 Program”. It was a novel 5-step program for kids my age (say 10′ish) to get started being active, then to work up gradually to an acceptable level of exercise. Also, I had a gym teacher who was a bit of a tyrant. Nonetheless he made us all read Dr. Kenneth Cooper’s book The New Aerobics. He also had us do a fitness test to shamed us all…but that’s another story.

I still have that book on my bookshelf today. Even though it’s a bit musty and the pages have yellowed (and the font is SOOO small) the wisdom holds true to today. They should republish using the title “The Old Aerobics in a New World”. I never would have guessed reading it back in the early 70′s that we’d be in such an unhealthy state from a fitness perspective today.

How much more proof do we need before the school infuses phys ed back into the curriculum?? For goodness sake, let’s get moving on getting moving already!!!

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