Archive for December, 2010

Tips to Ensure Joy in Your Holiday World

December 16th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Well another 8 more sleeps before Christmas Eve is upon us. We’ve talked about strategies around eating, food and activity and now’s the time to talk about our interactions with each other. You know, close encounters of the family kind. We don’t want to turn a jolly ho ho ho into a dreary uh oh uh oh after a few too many glasses of rum and eggnog. So, listen up.

Coy to the World – The older we all get in our own lives the more different we all become.This is a fact of life. I have my way, sister Betty has her way and Janey has yet another. I expect we don’t alway agree on various matters. Let’s not use this upcoming week to make people see it your way. There are many ways of doing the same thing right, believe it or not, so let’s get through this next phase joyously and loosen up, shall we??

Saucy the Snowman – Ok, so every family has a saucy member who pushes buttons while pushing the proverbial envelope….”pass the salt…and another thing…” Why not have a chat about peace-making well in advance of the big days ahead with Saucy? The last thing any hostess needs after all of the effort of making a lovely day is turning your table into a combat zone. Make a plan in advance.

Silent Fight - We women have such good memories don’t we?? Sometimes we hold grudges too. Well for this upcoming week let’s see if we can find a parking lot for this excess baggage and drop it off there for the duration. Check.

Winter Blunderland - If you do have a grudge to bear with anyone around the table, get your head around strategies to ensure a smooth and enjoyable time. For me counting back from 10 works. Try splashing your face with cold water. Make an angel in the snow if you need to, I don’t care. Think about a few safe things you can all talk about that musters joy of the season and good warm fuzzy feelings.

Jingle Tells – Now if someone feels compelled to do some telling, things might end up with jingle yelling. Short of having someone at the table with a striped referee sweater and whistle, help to keep each other in check.  You don’t want to have to use the penalty box for a time out, let alone a game misconduct.

What Child is This? - Resign yourself to the fact that you’ll be the adult, so act like one. Deal??

Let it Blow, Let it Blow, Let it Blow – Find a way to get your frustrations out beforehand, like taking a walk. Talking things through with a trusty confidant ahead of time can also help. Better yet get yourself one of those blow-up clowns with the smile, if you knock it in the head it falls over then bounces back. Do anything to blow it off, but don’t ruin everybody’s day over it.

Have Yourself an Extraordinary Christmas – Do all you can to have the most extraordinary Christmas you can muster, because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, let alone next year.

Ho ho ho, hold the attitude!!

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Food Revolution Lovin’ Lasagne

December 15th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

MmmmMmmm lasagna, talk about a perfect dish. It has all of the food groups and is high on taste. Yes a winner. It’s so versatile if you’re a vegetarian or not, you can cover all of your “nutritional bases” in one heavenly serving.

I suggest you prepare your tomato sauce ahead of time. This was posted on December 8, so that’s what I’m referring to.

Ingredients

batch of tomato sauce (see December 8 post)

1 bag of washed, boiled, strained and chopped spinach

454gm (1 pound) extra lean ground beef (can substitute with sauteed mushrooms or eggplant if you don’t eat meat)

canola oil

5-7 crushed garlic gloves

1 sliced onion

season to taste with salt, pepper and chopped parsley

500mL (2 cups) ricotta cheese

1 package lasagne noodles

parmesan cheese

Instructions

Prepare your spinach (boil, strain, chop). Meanwhile in a sauce pan add some canola oil and heat to medium, then add your prepared garlic and onion and saute to soften. Then add your ground meat, combining it with the garlic and onion and cook through thoroughly.  Turn your oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Using a deep 9×9 pan spoon a generous amount of tomato sauce to cover the bottom of the pan. Cover that with 2 layers of uncooked  noodles. Cover that with your ground meat mixture and add more tomato sauce. Cover that with lasagne noodles then cover with more sauce, then add ricotta cheese, spread evenly. Repeat the noodle and sauce step again, then add, yes you guessed it, the spinach. Add more sauce, cover with noodles and douce with more sauce then sprinkle with with parmesan cheese to your liking. Put your pan on top of a cookie sheet so the tomato sauce doesn’t bubble all over your clean oven and allow to bake for 30-40 minutes.

Commentary

When I made this for dinner a few weeks ago my memory bank could hardly recall when I prepared it last. Let me tell you, it was a few too many years, even decades. I did fumble with the noodles and knocked over a vase on my counter in despair – fa la la la la, la la la la. That’s exactly what it did – it fa-la-la’d down and shattered. Ya it was a sentimental bom-binieri from my wedding – ug. I thought the lasagne would be a flop like the vase, but eureka, it was simply delish!! Give it a try. I was out of my lasagne training shape and it was a snap to get back into. It was easy peasy really…

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Nutritional Nirvana – Magic, Sensationalism & Sensibility

December 14th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was speaking with a news writer recently doing a story on fad diets, why they don’t work and what does. HA, I thought, you’ve come to the right place!! It was refreshing to speak with someone on this who has a balanced view. During our conversation I fessed up that I used to be overweight and he admitted the same. He told me that both himself and his wife lost significant amounts of weight and it really wasn’t all that difficult. After getting off the phone and embarking on my day I mulled over our conversation, hmmmmmm. I do declare, I thought, he has reached nutritional nirvana and was about to write about in the news “Extra, extra, read all about it, writer professes the keys to weight loss success….” My heart skipped a beat….. really :-)

We discussed the aching simplicity of the energy balance equation. In short, you tip the scale to burn off more than you take in and bingo, you start losing weight. That’s what happened to the professor on the Twinkie Diet posted on November 22. When you repeat this day after day, week after week and month after month, you find – EUREKA you’ll continue to lose weight – TADA. Boil down the elements to their simplest form and you’ve distilled the dog-gone truth about weight loss.

Sadly though, in our society magic and sensationalism sell but sensibility rarely does. It’s that simple. People want it all and they want it super-sized, pronto already. The secret of the wisdom is that you can have it all, but not in the quantities previously consumed. Also, for many there is a whole lot of emotion, guilt with the notion of wanting to achieve perfection into the mix. These likely ghosts of Christmas past put a monkey wrench in the simplicity of the of the execution toward success.

I like what Dr. Oz is doing around weight loss these days. He’s got the “Just 10 Pound” blitz going on. Why do I like it? Well let me count the ways, firstly it’s a perfect time of year to start eating better. Any time of year is a perfect time, but before the Christmas mega eating, partying and partaking, getting started now will nip the weight gain of the seasonal slide in the bud. Secondly, for many it’s a modest goal that’s realistic and relatively easy to achieve. When you watch the Biggest Loser you could psyche yourself right out and not want to even start. Next, a modest weight loss can improve many biochemical indices. And finally, you might feel so good after losing 10 pounds you may plan to stay on track because you’re feeling so much better. This in time could result in you losing even more weight if needed. Oh that Dr. Oz, he’s one sneaky devil, isn’t he??!! Success begets success when you’re on a roll.

I hope this is food for thought for you as this twelfth month meanders into the New Year. Make a New Year’s resolution to not make a New Year’s resolution. How novel it that?? So focus on “Just for Today” (posted June 14) and slow and steady WILL win the race. Your New Year will surely be shining and bright.

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Follow the Loser – Holiday Eating Strategies

December 13th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Over the summer beginning in July I ran the “Follow the Loser” blog post series, highlighting wisdom and strategies from women who lost weight successfully. That’s what started the “Successful Loser Logic” category on the blog. My good friend and colleague Cara and I did a study a few years ago to get to the meat of the matter from successful weight losers.

If you find this time of year particularly difficult to stay on track give these a read and while you’re at it review that category post by post for many pearls, tidbits and helpful hints. You might hit on something new and meaningful for you. Here are some highlights on what our study participants informed us about keeping on track over the holidays:

  • It’s too hard to let it all go to waste. I’ll exercise more or try to make the healthiest choice available while still allowing myself to enjoy foods I enjoy.
  • Behave as you do on regular days. Plan ahead and have some of the things you love but don’t overindulge.
  • Lose the all or nothing mentality that comes with holiday “amnesia”.
  • I try to make up for my extra food consumption with increased activity, and try to stick to good food choices.
  • Exercise first thing in the morning every day. Maintain food limits 80% of the time and enjoy drinks or desserts 20% of the time.
  • More likely to exercise daily during holidays with some days off smattered around.
  • It works out better when I have time to plan; excess work demands lead to problems!
  • Balance what you eat. My tip…..eat before you go to those meals…your appetite is less so you have less tendancy to over eat.
  • Track drinking a minimum of six glasses of water/day helps.
  • Stop calling it a diet.
  • Eat less, move more.
  • Make sure your outfit is fitted and avoid elasticized waist bands…

Well, you’ve officially been told. So take heed of some of these words that strike a cord with you. Feel free to let us know what works for you.

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Movin’ & Groovin’ to the Theory of Fun

December 12th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

Who’d have thunk that getting people moving was so easy. I attended an insightful symposium recently on change. It got me thinking about the powers of making a paradigm shift. One of my sister’s tipped me off on this video and I had to share it with you. This sister of mine’s middle name IS fun, so it brings a smile to my face that she told me about it!!

As I’ve spoken incessantly about moving more, there we have in the video clip people refusing to move by taking the escalator….going up anyone? Ya everyone!! Then you infuse some fun and, boom, people step in to take part, literally. Whether you’re a rocker and roller or a mover and groover, it all fits in here. I’d love to hear Beethoven’s 5th Symphony being “played” by a group of teens chiming in or one of my favourites “Twinkle Twinkle” by a group of youngins. Whatever beat you move to, this’ll have you shaking your booty to a different tune or two!! How innovative!!

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The Other Night Before Christmas

December 9th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

T’was the night before Christmas, and all through my room,

Was a sugar rush happening, and a big sense of doom.

I had come down to realize, I would make me a plan,

And to see just how with it, so with notions I ran.

I did some soul searching, and got in my head,

One of these, one of those, eh, I had nothing to dread.

I would focus on what’s right, oh that most cherished time,

That brings joy and uniqueness, my thoughts turned on a dime.

With merry joy feelings, hope and love all around,

Through silence this feeling didn’t need a sound.

For this outlook was different, with focus cast out,

I found priorities changed, from inward and doubt.

Our neighbour is older and can use a hand,

With the snow shovelling perhaps or a sprinkle of sand.

A friend down the street, well she”s going through chemo,

Could use a meal, or an ear or help hanging mistletoe.

What the season’s about, is all up to you,

It can focus on stuff, or what’s important and true.

You can spend all your time worrying about what you’re gonna wear,

When the family next door could use a hand and some care.

Soon the big day is coming, and will yours be right?

With attention on others, bringing goodness and light?

Ya it’s fun to partake, and join in with the cheer,

I’m a material girl too, and will toast to the year.

I couldn’t help wonder, what others were doing,

If there’s food on the table with some troubles brewing?

The very thought of that put a lump in my throat,

I decided to do something and I’d do it by rote.

What you make of this season is all up to you,

You can worry about dieting or something brand new.

Change of your focus from inward to outward I say,

With thought, time and effort you can make someone’s day.

It’s the littlest task, that can mean so much in this world,

And one deed leads to another then another unfurled.

Then you’ll see that your focus on “me and my weight”,

This record plays over and over, on my nerves it grates.

Find perspective on life, where priorities should lie,

Cause at the end of the day it’s gauche to just think of me, myself and I.

Get moving, get helping, be productive and then,

You’ll find the pieces of the puzzle fall into place again.

Merry Christmas to you, your family and others,

Cause we’re really all related, we’re all sisters and brothers.

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Food Revolution Versatile Tomato Sauce

December 8th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , ,

It sure helps to have a handy versatile tomato sauce like this one on hand. It doesn’t take much time to make and, ok I’ll say it, it’s easy peasy :-) Am I getting a bit too predictable?? That’s a good sign that we’re getting to know each other better.

Ingredients

10 – 15 ripe tomatoes (choose ones that smell like real live tomatoes)

156 mL (5.5oz) tin of tomato paste

6-10 ounces rich red wine (love that resveratrol!!)

olive oil for sauteing

1 peeled, sliced onion

7-10 garlic cloves crushed with a garlic press

7 cleaned, sliced mushrooms (optional)

10 pieces sliced sun-dried tomatoes

season with salt, pepper, hot chilli peppers (optional), basil

Instructions

Half fill a large pot with water, add salt and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare your cleaned tomatoes by slitting an long X on the bottom of each, making sure you go up the sides of each. In a large bowl put a few iced cubes on the bottom. Once the water has boiled add half of the tomatoes to the pot and allow to the skins to peel back as the water reaches another boil. At this time remove each tomato with a slotted spoon and put them in your bowl with ice. Add the rest of the tomatoes to the boiling water and repeat this process. Drain the water from the bowl. When the tomatoes are cool enough to touch remove the remaining tomato skin and core of each one. Chop up the tomatoes coarsely.

In a deep saucepan like the one in the photo add olive oil  and heat on medium low. Add the prepared garlic and onion and saute until softened. If you like mushrooms in your sauce add them next, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute some more. When cooked through turn up the heat and pour in the wine. Cover with a lid and allow to bubble for a minute or so. This will help you get all of the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. A wise trick my Mom taught me. And yes wine is good for a lot of things!! Add in the tomatoes, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, tomato paste and season to your liking. Allow to simmer for about an hour stirring occasionally. Allow to cool and presto it’s ready to use now or freeze in containers for when you need it.

Commentary

It’s handy having some sauce like this on hand. First of all, who doesn’t have a vegetarian friend or two these days. As I mentioned in the post on October 27 it’s good for all of us to “flex” our eating muscle once in a while and be a flexitarian and eat meatless now and then. You can use this sauce the old fashioned way with pasta. You can keep it on hand and make a wondy lasagna (will post this next week). It also doubles well when you want to make a pizza and need some tomato sauce (see May 14 post). It’s really so versatile.

By the way, did you notice my trusty wooden spoon in my pot :-) It was my Grandma’s. Yes, it still works well after decades and decades of cooking. I think it makes my food taste even better. Give this recipe a try and enjoy!!

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Green Piece

December 7th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , , , , ,

What ever happened to the reputation of greens to make them so loathed by so many? Did the celery take stock with a head of lettuce as the corn on the cob fell on it’s ear?? What’s the dill-io on that? Oh vegetables.

There’s so much goodness in this one food group it’s astounding. For those people who aren’t vegetarians, making peace with your greens and all coloured veggies and fruits for that matter is a good goal to make from this day forward: Thou shalt aim to eat 5-10 per day….ummmmmmmm.

Not only are they chocked full of many important nutrients, they certainly have an important “filling” quality for those of us keeping tabs on our eating. They are satiety’s best friend. There are some times of the month when I feel like I have a hollow leg and can eat a horse. Sound familiar? It’s times like these when I make darn sure I’m working in my 5-10 a day. Compared to other foods and food groups these are generally lower calorie with super high filling power. Depending of course on how they’re prepared.

Eating your quota also helps with your internal plumbing, if you catch my drift. Certain bodily functions slow down when you approach middle age. Tell me about it….Having 5-10 a day are a perfect antidote to this common problem. When “all systems are go”, your tummy is less likely to protrude. So there’s another benefit inherent with meeting this one noble goal.

I find many people try to focus on so many aspects of their diet and get discombobulated with the myriad details. If you start with working on this goal first for a few weeks and keep it up, then add in other diet approaches, you will reach a happy eating place sooner than later. If you’re a newby at eating this food group I suggest you work on trying one new veggie each week or so until you acquaint yourself with a nice variety. And no, ketchup doesn’t count!! Given harvest time is over, working in frozen veggies is fine. These are easy to prepare and have Mother Nature’s goodness locked inside.

Whether you’re doing a full court press with a nightly green salad, having a few veggies as a side dish with spudz or cooking them in the food like chili with tomatoes and kidney beans, I say bravo to you for making peace with your greens. What green piece is making it onto your plate tonight? We’d love to know…….

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In the Dark on Vitamin D Recommendations

December 6th, 2010 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I wrote about the benefits of getting enough of Vitamin D back on October 5. Last week the expert committee of the Institute of Medicine in the US came out with their say on this matter, namely whether to increase recommendations. In short they said “ni”. They feel most people have adequate amounts of Vitamin D. They felt that most people have enough of the vitamin in their blood from diet and sunshine.

Hmmmmm. Well hello from the 44th parallel. In that post I mentioned what some of the sources of Vitamin D are. When I do an assessment of my diet, I consider myself a pretty healthy eater. I know hands down, though that dollars to donuts, I do not consume enough of the stuff to meet requirements on a regular basis. Secondly, I walk outside for an hour almost every single day no matter the weather. Well, this time of year I’m bundled up so that sunshine goodness isn’t getting through my parka or bella-clava.

I don’t know about you but maybe they’ve been watching too many Fringe episodes and they tested the parallel universe that does get enough of Vitamin D on the other side. I’m not sure. But on my side of the universe especially these dark dog gone days of diminished sunshine, I don’t see how I’m even close to getting enough, let alone even meeting basic requirements for it.

My verdict is that I am not going to stop taking my daily dosage of Vitamin D because of this report, with all due respect because it really doesn’t add up for me. As I’ve said many times before, I don’t want to be the “smartest one in the graveyard”.

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All I Want for Christmas is….

December 5th, 2010 No Comments Tags:

It’s been written that “men are from Mars and women are from Venus”, or something like that. I’ve never been able to fully ascertain why. Perhaps one of the arms of the second “X” chromosome fell off to make a “Y”, dang thing. I don’t know.

You might want to sit your partner down to have a boo at this clip to clear up any misunderstandings well before Christmas arrives. Just a word from the wise, it’s the little things that mean a lot…..

Enjoy!! Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

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