Archive for April, 2011

Power of the Pause

April 14th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I read about the power of the pause many moons ago when The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People came out. Since then I’ve read a wise excerpt by Martha Beck’s as well. Also, Suze Orman is touting a “new American dream” that’s high on connecting with people and low on grabbing more stuff. How wise!!

It’s funny how life’s wisdoms re-emerge over the decades reinforcing the meaning in spades. I always have enriching heart-to-heart talks when my friend Joan and I get together. Some time ago we talked about putting a pause on extra spending of the “nice to do” home projects. A quasi moratorium of sorts. She embarked on doing her Master’s recently and I was busy at work. Both situations tend to turn day-to-day priorities on their head….which is a good thing.

Funny I remember back in 1986 when I went on my honeymoon the movie on the flight was Money Pit. A foreshadowing perhaps?? All I can really remember about it was that this young couple bought this house after they got married that was way too big to really afford and it had so many things wrong with it. Hmmmm I think it was classified as a comedy too – hardy-har-har. See how much I’m NOT laughing about it now. After 24 years of marriage living in various places, I realize that any and every home can be a money pit, don’t you think?? With the home improvement do-it-yourself craze in full force they’d have you believe you need to repaint your pad on an annual basis. What’s in this season….la di da? Not to mention all of the other bells and whistles homes are noted “to need” besides the fundamentals. It can really get out of hand.

Just like men can rationalize their “need” for more tech gadgetry, we ladies can dream up stuff to the max. Now that I’m at the age that I sleep less, my good imagination revs up with ideas. Truly the list can go on and on to eternity. One thing Joan noted was how freeing it felt not to be preoccupied with a lot of this “spending decision” stuff right now. I couldn’t agree more. Why not wait it out a bit?? I’m not saying don’t fix something that needs fixing. What I am saying is just defer it just a little while and re-evaluate, then defer a bit longer? You might just have a change of heart and different priorities by then. Is it that big of a deal to wait? Probably not.

In this instant society we live in where we expect everything right this second, waiting things out is a good thing to practice. Woooo horsey, put on the pause and wait. While you’re waiting get preoccupied by doing something that enriches your life, outside of shopping. Get back to an old hobby that you’ve let slide, read an insightful book, get back into your spring exercise routine totally committed, do a good deed for a neighbour, volunteer on a worthwhile cause…..

It’s interesting how refocusing and getting involved can end up filling you up with satisfaction and make your existence richer in the long run. So, the next time you’re gung ho ready to press the “spending accelerator” to “go go go go”, hit the pause instead and think about it. Hmmmmmm.

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Spring Swing Thing – Energy Management

April 13th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , ,

Yes, spring has certainly sprung, hasn’t it? I find it so inspirational seeing so many people shaking their booty in the neighbourhood, don’t you?? Raking the lawn, washing the car, walking the dog, taking the kids to the park, bike riding, jogging; people are getting outside to play that’s for sure.

If your mid-section still has it’s winter tire on you may want to pay more attention to both sides of that energy equation. On the “energy-in” side of the equation take on the motto that “less is more”. Ensure you’re getting your 5-10 a day of fruits and veggies written about May 9 and December 7, 2010. Focus on the food guide and limit the extras to help that tire disappear. Review the November 11, 2010 post for a slew of tips to get you back on track.

If you have been zoning out ignoring what’s in your food, spring back in and get back to reading the Nutrition Facts Panel on food packages focusing in on the calories (written about August 19, 2010). If you eat out at restaurants or order in get a handle on the calorie content in those foods as well. That surprise factor is better realized before you order than after you get on the scale – that’s for sure!!

On the “energy-out” side of the equation take on the motto that “more is more” by ensuring you’re moving 30 minutes at least, each and every day. I saw an old woman walking down the street today with 2 canes, as happy as a lark she was outside….and alive…. There’s a mom of 2 kids up my street who roller blades like she a member of the Roller Derby team. Both very inspiring.

Whatever you decide to do, pay attention to your calories. When it comes down to managing your weight, the calories in food versus calories burned through activity is THE most fundamental part of the balance. Good luck!!

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Springing Into Action – Make a Goal or Two!

April 12th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

The other day I did a bit of channel surfing before bed. I hit on OWN and caught the last 3 minutes of a show Mayou Angelou was on. How fitting before laying my head down to sleep. Three minutes of listening to her wisdom is a wealth for the mind and soul. A perfect way to say nite, nite. She talked about doing something with your life – “…make a goal, look in the mirror, what do people say about you. If it’s wrong, make it right….” She made a call to action to cultivate action, how inspiring!!

As I pondered the theme of springing forward I thought how appropriate to touch on this theme to get us to spring into action. She said “what are you waiting for?” The time is right. Just like our gardens sprouting new shoots, we have a groundswell of goals and wishes too in our lives ready to germinate. These will flourish when we make a decision to move out of inertia, get on with it, start it, do it, achieve it. Make it happen.

I had a chat with my mother-in-law aka Mother Dearest (MD) last week. Now 81 she is pondering the notion of losing a bit of weight as her spring revival. She broached the topic with her characteristic impish grin. Her son/my husband calls her The Hobbit. Ya, that’s her in the photo. She has the determination and will of Frodo and Sam combined. When I thought about all this spring renewal stuff, I thought hmmmm, making goals at age 81, kudos to you MD.

We’re never too old to make a goal or turn over a new leaf to better ourselves whether you’re 18 or 98. Staying young in spirit allows you to continue setting goals to be better.

Ok, I thought, I’ll support you on your quest. Hmmm will counsel for food….More perogies here we come :-)

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Cooking with Loretta – Food Revolution Stracciatella Soup

April 11th, 2011 No Comments Tags: ,

I wrote about my lovely dinner with my good friend Loretta on April 7, 2011. I had the luxury of making my invitation as a guest into a spectator sport as she “performed” her “cooking instincts” as I nibbled on happy appy’s. I was particularly struct by her instinctual cooking style using top notch ingredients and straight forward techniques. Even I, as a mere mortal, third generation Italian could make these….provided I remember what she did after sipping on some wine…. Ah I digress. So, as promised for the next few weeks I’ll post the recipes for you as food for thought as we cultivate our spring cuisine.

I have ordered this soup in restaurants many times but have never ventured to serve this at home. Dear me. It took minimal time to prepare and is truly a food for the goddesses. Give it a try, both gods and goddesses will pine for more. I didn’t even need to ask and I received more!!

Ingredients
1 cup chicken stock per person

1 egg per person

1 Tablespoon grated parmesan cheese per person

fresh, finely chopped parsley

Instructions
A few minutes before serving, bring the chicken stock to a boil. While that’s heating up, in a bowl crack 1 egg per person and add in dried parsley and the tablespoon of parmesan cheese, then beat with a fork until frothy. Once the chicken stock has boiled, remove the lid of the pot and pour in the egg mixture and watch the egg cook as bubbles re-emerge. Stir up with a fork to break up the cooked egg into smaller pieces. Serve piping hot. May add parmesan cheese to your liking.

Commentary
Truly folks, this is one fab food that can start a meal or with cheese and bread BE the meal – a perfect lunch, say. As I’ve mentioned before starting your meal out with a bowl of soup is a proven dieting technique. It will begin to fill you up, take the edge off of your appetite and may result in you eating less in the meal.

Give this a try and do let me know how it works out for you.

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One Minute Manager

April 10th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I fit in my mat routine that I outlined on the post on April 28, 2010 which got me thinking about the book The One Minute Manager. Do you remember that craze, back in the 80′s?? It was a short handbook, chocked full of wisdom for managers.

I think about this from time to time because as adults we are managers whether we like to believe it or not. Certainly though when it comes to nutrition, health and wellness we need to manage well or perish!! If you run into problems, lodge a complaint with your very own “complaints department”, managed by yours truly – you!!

There are numerous ways we can help manage our way into wellness:

  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Eat breakfast every day
  • Eat all of your meals, no skipping…
  • Have some down time to regroup
  • Have healthy food choices on hand at home and work
  • Exercise regularly, even break it down and work it in on super busy days
  • Hang with healthy folk, after all birds of a feather….
  • Stay positive
  • Help others – change your focus from me to we…

It’s interesting how the basics in life’s fundamental rules ring true for food and nutrition, health and wellness, and worksite management. Solid principles span all aspects of life and help all aspects of it become fuller and richer.

If you’re unhappy with yours truly, make a meeting with the (wo)man in the mirror, lodge a complaint then work together to make a plan. A minute here, a goal there can help set your trajectory in the right direction in no time. Satisfaction guaranteed!!

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Spring Forward – Cultivating Simple Cuisine

April 7th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Yes, some of the best food around is so simple to prepare. I was treated to a fine dinner at my “real Italian” friend Loretta’s recently. We both had our 50th this year and are spending the balance of the year celebrating!! Loretta and I approach entertaining differently. While at her place I got to watch the courses being made like an interactive experience. How neat!

She used few ingredients for each dish but they were all fresh and easy to prepare. Needless to say, all so delectable to try. In the coming weeks I’ll share some of her recipes and tips.

In her living room among her potted plants was a fragrant Rosemary bush. A few jars of dried herbs including oregano, parsley and mint adorned her counter top. She had garlic cloves in a flower pot and sea salt ready at hand, all like ammo ready for combat….the good kind!!

I think we need to remember that the many cooking shows out there are sheer entertainment. I worry they may make some new junior leaguer cooks feel overwhelmed with complexities of unique appliances, tools, techniques and ingredients. For me, cooking needs to have a dollop of simplicity, joy and convenience, with a big ladle of flavour as the ultimate the payoff.

Loretta made me home-made stracciatella soup, pork tenderloin in a wine sauce, roasted carrots, a green salad ending the meal with a fresh fruit salad and chocolates. All wonderfully tasty accompanied with wine and sparkling water. It’s perplexing to think that food tasting so fab could be made so easily.

In these coming weeks of spring cultivate simplicity while dialling down on complexity. You and your family will be surprised with easy pleasing eating!!

Hmmmm who’s up to winning the Master’s this weekend? I think Dustin Johnson’d look great in a green jacket, don’t you??

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Spring in Your Step – Challenge on the Mount

April 6th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , ,

Ahhh for the love of a challenge. On this day as my foot is feeling better I decide to stroll up Mount Knox while in Kelowna, British Columbia. From the bottom it looks like a teeny tiny hill – easy peasy being the word of the day. But as you put one foot in front of the other it turns from a lamb to a lion of sorts. Yes I do love a challenge.

As I ascend my hot flash clashes with the cool breeze off of Lake Okanogan. I suck wind and try to stay in the moment. Don’t look too far ahead to psych myself out from reaching the first summit. Climbing this is a metaphor for my life – from challenges at work, to climbing “over the hill” of turning 50 to reaching any goal you might have.

Reaching the landing affords you the ability to catch your breath, while the scenery of Mother Nature takes it away. The water on the Lake is still and and it mirror-like. The sky and water are crystal clear true-blue, like a true friend. White cottony clouds hover about.

People young and old make this trek by foot, by bike, with dogs and baby carriages. Hawks find a breeze and make lazy circles. The gnarly pines stand tall on guard for thee. I make my way down in an easier cadence albeit using muscles I forgot that I had. Yes a challenge. How dull would life be without facing a challenge. The sense of accomplishment is inspiring.

Hmmmm maybe we’ll try to reach the very top another day.

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Tighten the Noose on Fat, Loosen it on Wellness?

April 5th, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now and then when I have some down time, I’ll channel surf and flick on Dr. Oz. Yesterday I watched the segment on the pro’s and con’s of having lap-band surgery to lose weight. The surgical procedure generally involves tightening a plastic device to narrow the opening of your stomach. This results in the subjects inability to eat and drink as much. Over time this results in weight loss. This has been a more common practice for morbidly obese people for years now and has had acceptable results such as sustained weight loss.

Recently, this surgery was approved by the FDA for people who are overweight and want to lose 30 or 40 pounds. Hmmmm this got me thinking. Dr. Oz did a fab job, mostly, on illustrating both sides of the argument within a 20 minute window.

The segment ended with what 2 people who have had the lap-band surgery ate before and after the procedure. The “before” example for both included junk food on junk, with loads of fast food on top ended with a pillow sack of potato chips….. But I nearly fell off my chair with the “after” picture that mounted to a mere few spoons of moosh per meal. For example, 1 serving of ziti pasta was shown that equaled to 4 noodles. Count ‘em, one, two, three, four and that’s a wrap. Oy, I don’t know about you, but I have a few in order to test for doneness as they boil when I make ziti. Truly.

The 2 subjects admitted that if they eat any more than this teensy amount of food they’ll vomit. Great. Nice impression on a first date, don’t ya think? You go for dinner and get lost in the conversation and dare I say, nibble on a 5th noodle…. then you begin wrenching right at the table, then BAM vomit right there and then! Foreplay anyone?? Hey Suzy, what do you do for an encore? Will there be a second date? There are definitely social implications here – whether it’s dating, whether it’s a work dinner, a family dinner, an extended family dinner or the first time meeting your in-laws. Well the lap band may tighten the noose on food intake but what about the social side of the eating relationship. I guess that goes down the tubes. Has our society gone totally mad??

This sight stuck with me for a while making me feel I had to write about it, pronto. I am perplexed by the before and after if indeed this was typical. To me they are an oxymoron – with more MORON than anything. What gives?? In my professional opinion both eating regimens are equally unhealthy – the before AND the after. How on earth could any pion meet all of their nutritional requirements with these few spoons each day? Are they now slim yet unhealthy from nutritional deficiencies? What state are their bones in for instance?? Unless the follow up is detail-oriented enough to ensure nutritional requirements are met, I have grave concern for these people. I really do.

What are we doing in the name of slim? Are we trading 1 disease for another – namely morbid obesity for osteoporosis?? I hope Dr. Oz does a follow up segment focusing on the nutritional status of these subjects to see if they are truly healthier because of it or in spite of it.

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hankering for ziti….What are your thoughts on this??

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Food Revolution Barbecued Veal

April 4th, 2011 No Comments Tags:

After spending time out in mild Kelowna, British Columbia I became ready for springtime weather back home, weather or not!! What a perfect way to put that spring in your diet- step by having your first barbecue to celebrate! Put those sauce recipes behind you and store away that fry pan because it’s time to lighten things up, don’t you think??

Ingredients
10 pieces veal sliced and pounded thin
10-12 crushed garlic cloves
freshly cut, washed, parsley leaves
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
In a bowl large enough for all of your veal, crush the garlic and place into the bowl. Cut in parsley then pour olive oil all over the ingredients and combine. Spread your veal out on the butcher paper and sprinkle salt and pepper to your liking on one side of the veal. Spread a spoon or so on each of the veal pieces of the garlic/oil/parsley mixture. Then put all of the prepared pieces of veal in the bowl, cover and refrigerate. I prefer to marinade this a day in advance, before cooking. You can do this a few hours ahead of time, though.

About an hour before cooking take the bowl out of the fridge so the ingredients reach room temperature. Preheat your barbecue. Flash cook these on both sides and serve right away.

Commentary
You can marinade these a few hours in advance, but I love the flavours to work their magic, so aim to prep these a day ahead. As always I make more of these because they make great leftovers. I served ‘em up with my potato recipe (posted February 23, 2011 ), my tomato and green salads (posted June 22, 23, 2010) with roasted peppers (posted March 28, 2011), with some fresh Italian bread. I also made apple crisp for dessert (July 1 , 2010).

We had this veal in sandwiches with peppers the following night. I worked late, so there was only assembly required with lots of great taste. MmmMmmm great!!

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Spring Forward – Cultivating Your Clutter

April 3rd, 2011 No Comments Tags: , , ,

I pulled out a few gift certificates I received from Santa to remind myself to “go use ‘em before you lose ‘em” recently. I’ve been sitting idling over what to get, hmmmmmm. Since getting older and perhaps a bit wiser, I’ve been hitting “the pause” button on discretionary spending. It grates on me if I’ve purchased something and it has not been used – whether it’s parsley flakes, extra light bulbs, a new blouse or a tangine pot, buying something that doesn’t get used is a darn waste. Yes I am getting older…..

Ahhhh it’s that time of year again, though. Those biological hormones yearn to forage through all corners of my home to cultivate the clutter. I feel like a robin reworking my nest. As months have gone by stuff gets stashed in so many dang places – sides of drawers, backs of cupboards, corners of the basement and garage and more. That “green” adage holds true to reduce, recycle, reuse and redirect, and rediscover….. Ok so I made a few up…

It’s a perfect time to turn up the tunes, find a few boxes and get jiggy with your stuff. Do a systematic review of your closets, drawers, shelves and cupboards….even your car. Decide what you’ll cultivate by giving to others, discover as new all over again, reorganize or trash. Corner by corner, shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, room by room you’ll feel relief of cleansing wash over you. And yes, this is an exercise in itself, burning a few extra cals to boot is a good thing!!

What is it about doing this that brings a sense of calm? Debunking your junk provides a pause that refreshes.

Go Butler Bulldogs!!!

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