Archive | March, 2014

Conquering the Thieves

31 Mar

Wellness is a core value for me.  I write about it, I talk about it, I teach it to my children, but more than that, I try to live that value every day not only through words, but with actions. Living in wellness includes belief in the benefits of physical activity, confident decision making, healthy food choices, and respectful loving relationships.   Those are lofty goals, but worth pursuing.  So a life path is set.  Living the journey to good health takes a positive attitude.  A cheery disposition.  A trusting nature.   But alas, while on a course charted to good health, without warning, thieves can sneak up and steal this away.

Thieves come in many forms.  Disease.  Abuse.  Loss.  Lies.  Crisis.  Betrayal.  Death.  And these thieves have no adjectives.  Thieves cannot be quantified.  In other words, “my” thieves are not better or worse, heavier or lighter, greater or less than “your” thieves.  There is no grading  scale here.

These thieves simply come into our lives and rob.  Take.  Strip.  Without permission.  Sometimes they sneak in slowly, cleverly stealing  our well earned good health, our positive intentions, in such a subtle way that we don’t immediately notice it’s presence.  Other thieves bust through the door with no warning.  Boom!  There they are!  Either way,  these thieves ransack without license.

A thief in my life has been Betrayal.   It was a gradual and cunning thief.  I did not recognize Betrayal when it first knocked on my door.   Instead of seeing this thief quickly, it seeped in disguised, masked and misleading, and was so clever it took me years to fully recognize Betrayal.  Betrayal slowly diverted some of the energy that I would normally dedicate to wellness, and drained me like water trickling through a clogged drain.

Betrayal came to me in the form of words.  Words spoken quietly. Gentle to the ears in the beginning, gradually growing, when, at some point, a mere whisper  turned into a roar that could no longer be ignored.  That is when realization can begin to illuminate the thief known as Betrayal.  How long do thieves wield their power? That depends.

Betrayal, like other thieves, can be a resourceful thief.  It is skillfully delivered in a package that you trust.  In a package that you don’t question.  In a package that you love.  Therein lies the danger.  That is what makes Betrayal so deceptive, so deep, and so very cunning.   Betrayal isn’t visible to the eye like some disease might be.  It isn’t noticeably physical.  The suffering from this thief is internal.

Thieves hide in the shadows, so sometimes it is difficult to see them to begin the path to conquering.  Thieves must be overcome by shedding light on them.  Consider this quote from Plato “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light”.  Truth shall set you free, and acknowledging the thief begins healing.  Thieves fear the light of the truth, so exposure is a Simon Says giant step forward in overcoming the thief.  This can take some time, as does gathering up the strength to begin acknowledging the truth and shedding light on the thief.  Not always an easy task.  Difficult but not impossible.

That first Simon Says step forward results in confidence in the ability to conquer the rebel.  The force at which the thief is defeated increases, and brings us ever closer to that goal of wellness, and increases our happiness.  Put light on thieves, begin to overcome, and let wellness back in. There is incredible personal power in conquering a thief.  Go for it!

Leftovers. What’s in the fridge?

19 Mar

Dinnertime.  What to fix…?  The fridge is full of leftovers, so lets pull something together.  What is in the fridge tonight?

Leftover…

  • chicken
  • chopped onion
  • parsley
  • orzo
  • carrots
  • pimento cheese
  • crusty bread
  • berries

I usually keep chicken and vegetable stock as a staple in the pantry, so I decided to make soup.  I pulled out my soup pot, put it on the stove, and added 2 tablespoons of butter.  When that was hot and bubbly, I added the chopped onion.  While those began cooking, I coarsely chopped the leftover carrots and tossed those in with the onions.  After about 4 minutes, I added 2 cartons of chicken stock and chopped fresh parsley.  I gave it a  nice stir to mix.  It started to smell delicious!

That started bubbling away.  Next the chicken went into the soup.  It was leftover grilled chicken and seasoned nicely.  The wonderful smoky scents wafting through the kitchen were warm and comforting.  I began preparing the sandwiches.  I spread the pimento cheese (home made, by the way, leftover from a dinner party a few nights prior) over the crusty bread and got a big skillet out for the sandwiches.  I added the orzo to the soup and gave the it a nice stir.  After a couple of minutes, I tasted it.  Ah yes…it was well on its was to yummy! I sprayed the skillet with fat free cooking spray and in went the sandwiches.  Grilled pimento cheese sandwiches have become a family fav.

The children set the table.  Out went the berries, soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches.  Voila!  A quick dinner was on the table, and since leftovers were used, it was a super budget friendly meal.  Leftovers are fantastic for a quick meal.   Toss something simple together and enjoy a nice family meal.  And remember, since you cooked dinner, the kids are washing all that tuppperware from the leftovers!   Bon Appetite!

Great Greek Yogurt!

17 Mar

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See this yogurt?  Greek yogurt has really become the darling of the yogurt world lately.  In fact, yogurt in general has had its health benefits highly touted recently.  We hear how it aides in digestion, its great for dieting, and a perfect snack food.  There is no downside, right?  Wrong.

The yogurt pictured represent a tiny sample of what the supermarket offers nowadays in the yogurt section of any large supermarket.  The linear feet at most grocers nowadays dedicated to yogurt is enormous.  How come?  Is yogurt, or more specifically, Greek yogurt really that good?  Lets see.

Yogurt does have health benefits, such as probiotics, which is good bacteria   perfect for the health of the gut.  Yogurt is also a good source of calcium for bone health, and since it contains lactic acid, some swear that it makes a great exfoliating facial mask.

Greek yogurt has become a media darling of the yogurt world, and there are 3 pictured here.  Yes, in general, greek yogurt is better than our americanized version.  However, greek yogurt is not created equal.  At first blush, these yogurts look similar.  They are greek style, 4 ounces, and have zero fat.  Great, right?  Wrong.

Upon further label reading, we see that the Fage yogurt has 3 grams of sugar, the Chobani 4 grams of sugar, and the Dannon Oikos has a whopping 18 grams of sugar in a 4 ounce portion.  Lets apply some math here.  4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar.  The Fage and Chobani yogurt have 1 teaspoon or less of sugar in a 4 ounce portion. Dannon Oikos greek yogurt has 4 1/2 teaspoons of sugar!  Wow!  These yogurts are not so equal after all.

My message in all of this is to look at the label of similar products.  Its great that these yogurts are fat free, but the sugar is a tipping point for sure.  Be informed, be mindful, and make smarter decisions.  Read those labels!

This and That Pasta

9 Mar

What’s for dinner on a Friday night when everyone is a bit low on energy from the long week?   Something easy for sure! Here is what I did on a Friday when the family was just worn out.  It is important to eat healthy in our family.  Sure we cheat every now and again, but for the most part we all make an effort to eat food that is natural and wholesome.  So how to solve this Friday night conundrum?  We did it in a snap.

I roasted some vegetables, Denis put a pot of water on to boil, and then pulled out a loaf of crusty bread.  There were salad fixings in the fridge, but the veggies with the pasta seemed sufficient, so that was left for another meal.   Dinner in a snap was the goal du jour.  It was so easy to get ready, and dinner was on the table quickly.  Let me share it with you.

I call this recipe Amy’s This and That Pasta.  It’s a little of this, a little of that.  Whatever you have on hand will do.   Here is what I did.  I pulled out a glass oblong pan.  Into it went:

  • 1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 packages of fresh assorted mushrooms (I have also used canned mushrooms.  Drained, these work just fine.)
  • 1 large jar pimento drained (or a jar of roasted red peppers, drained and chopped, will do just fine too)
  •  A few handfuls of fresh spinach
  • 1  28 ounce can diced tomatoes in sauce

I mixed these veggies together with a rubber spatula.  I drizzled olive oil over the top and sprinkled on:

  • 1 T. dried basil
  • 1 T. dried parsley
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • salt, pepper and dried red pepper flakes to taste.

Again I mixed this up and placed it in an oven that was preheated to 400 degrees.  The timer was set to 30 minutes.  On went a pot of water for the pasta.  Then I changed out of my work clothes, and sat down for a few minutes to chat with the family.

When the vegetables were nearly done, frozen tortellini went into the boiling water for about 4 minutes.  The children set the table for dinner.  The sliced loaf of crusty bread was taken to the table.  After draining the pasta and putting it in a large shallow bowl, I poured the hot roasted vegetables over it.  Lastly, I grated some fresh parmesan cheese over it and on to the table it went.

It was a simple meal, and so easy to toss together.  The vegetables imparted what I call “vegetable liquor”, meaning they juiced up a bit while roasting.  The roasted pasta sauce was a snap to make with the oven doing all of the work.  It was a nutritious dinner for a Friday night. Most vegetables work in this recipe except starchy ones (like potatoes), so use this recipe as a base and substitute with what you have in your kitchen.

Toss your favorite veggies together, let them roast in the oven, have a seat and wait for dinner to practically make itself.  Easy, quick, nutritious.  Perfect for a family meal.  Weeknight meals do not have to be grand, time consuming, or fussy.  Remember the true focus of family meals.   Connecting.  Conversation.  Togetherness. Meals can be easy, yummy and nutritious, but more important, a happy social time to reconnect.  Bon appetite!

Food Foul

5 Mar

I was short on time tonight.  I dashed from work to the gym.  After my workout, I zipped into my grocery store.  They usually make pretty good sub sandwiches there, so I was going to cheat a little and get subs for supper.  I figured I would grab subs, a green salad and some fruit.  That would make an acceptable supper on a busy weeknight.

In the store I stepped up to the deli counter sweaty, rushed, and really hungry.   I ordered a sandwich for my son.  After that sandwich was made, the deli guy asked what else I wanted.  So I proceeded to place the order for my sandwich.

Me:  I would like turkey with swiss cheese on a whole wheat sub, toasted.

Him: (as he began getting the meat and cheese) And you want it toasted?

Me: Yes please.

Him: Okay.

Now this is where the major food foul occurred.  He got the 6 inch sub roll, sliced it open, put the cheese on it, and then the turkey on top of that.

Me silently screaming in my head: DUDE!  A sandwich being toasted ALWAYS has the cheese on top to get hot and bubbly!

Me for real: (Stifling my indignity) Excuse me, can you please place the meat on the bread and the cheese on top of that before toasting it?

Him: Um, oh, sure.  No problem.

I could not believe my eyes.  Who in the world puts cheese and then meat on a sandwich to toast in an open face manner?  I wondered if that is my food quirk or just plain proper protocol to put cheese on top of the meat when building a sandwich.  When I got home, I recounted the food foul for my son as we were eating dinner.  He too was incredulous.  “Everyone knows that cheese goes on top of meat when making a sandwich” he said with a snort and an eye roll (a somewhat innate response that all teenagers have perfected when stating the obvious).  There.  A teenager validated my position, so I must be right…right?

I am the first to acknowledge food quirks. Everyone has them. Eating involves preferences, and one can get…uumm…perhaps a tiny bit demanding  when expressing food preferences. It can, at times, be challenging to maintain proper decorum when observing a serious food foul with regards to a preference that has been expressed.  In the spirit of being a proper food fan, one must maintain good manners and control in food foul situations so as not to let our quirks get the best of us.

Basic sandwich building, for me, begins with the bottom part of the bread.  Depending on the toppings, an initial slather of some type of mustard is usually in order.  Next comes the sandwich meat.  Then the cheese.  (Toasting, if preferred, occurs now). After that, the veggies get piled high.  Then the top bread of the sandwich finishes it off.  This is appropriate sandwich order in my opinion.  And it is my layering preference.  It’s the order of a sandwich building system.   And it’s just how I like my sandwich.

So is this really protocol for building a sandwich?   Do I think that this is the way a sandwich should be made because this is how my mother taught me, and then I taught my kids?  Was this a major deli food foul?  Let me know what you think about proper protocol for sandwich making.  What is your order of ingredients?