“Boundless energy and I feel great every day….”

This was one lady’s answer to the question “why bother?” when she was diagnosed with cancer even after leading  an exceptionally healthy lifestyle.  “My only comeback, and one I truly believe, is that regardless of what eventually kills me, I have boundless energy and feel great every day.”
There are  no guarantees but it doesn’t mean that what you eat and how active you are doesn’t matter.

There was an interesting book that came out a few years ago called the Blue Zones. Researchers were trying to figure out what certain groups of people were doing to live so long. They identified 5 places in the world with the highest life expectancy, or with the highest proportions of people who reach age 100.

They then assembled a team of medical researchers, anthropologists, demographers, and epidemiologists to search for evidence-based common denominators among all places. They found nine. To read the list copy and paste this link into your browser. http://www.bluezones.com/live-longer/power-9/

Here are  2 of them.

80% Rule
 “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.

Plant Slant
 Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of deck or cards.

Again, nothing new.  Most of us know we eat too much. I remember hearing this same advice several years ago at a Health Event held in our City that was focusing on Brain Health and Preventing Dementia. “Eating Less” was one of their main points.

Eating a Plant Based Diet is nothing new either. It just takes a little more planning and preparation to include more of these in your diet.

I encourage you to plan then make at least one plant-based meal per week.  Include beans. Try a new vegetable. If you are new to my blog I encourage you to look around. I  have lots of recipes for you to try.  Start the meal with a big salad.  Enjoy time around the table by slowing dinnertime, one   course   at   a time.

My daughter made this amazing salad for a family weekend away at our local ski hill. We went cross-country skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing. So fun!  We also ate well:)

Mixed Greens Salad with Pomegranate seeds, Caramelized Pecans and Goat Cheese Feta

Wash a large bowl of mixed salad greens

Wash then Chop 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 each of a red, orange and green pepper, 1 green onion.

To Caramelize 1/2 cup raw pecans you will need  1/2 tablespoon butter and 1 tbsp brown sugar.

Melt butter in small frying pan over low heat. Add pecans and brown sugar. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly until mixture is caramelized.  Spread out on wax paper or a plate to cool.

Remove the red delicious seeds from a fresh pomegranate. If you haven’t done this before it’s pretty easy, just a little messy and tedious. First cut the pomegranate in half,  then pull each half  apart again with your hands. Then pick out the seeds with your fingers.  So worth it!  You could substitute sliced pears or oranges  but you would really being missing out!

Mix this all together in a large salad bowl together with a small amount of feta cheese. The cheese is really just a garnish in this salad so a tbsp or 2 is plenty.
Add only enough dressing to lightly dress the salad.
Whisk together in a small bowl:
1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 garlic, crushed

Pinch salt, pepper

Eat slowly. Enjoy the distinct flavors.

I wish you boundless energy. I hope you feel great every day!

Advertisements

2014 What’s New and what’s not

To be honest there is not alot NEW in the area of Healthier Living. The conversations about what’s healthy and what’s not are still happening with little change really being made. We are creatures of habit and change is hard but not impossible. It won’t happen overnight just like whatever health challenge you are facing didn’t happen overnight. Too much stress, too little exercise and years of not really thinking about what we are putting into our bodies and of those we love won’t change overnight.

We are more than a week into 2014 and if you’ve resolved to do something about living healthier don’t give up. What’s not new is that we need to GET MOVING. Our bodies were built to move! 150 minutes per week, 30 minutes 5 times per week for adults and 60 minutes per day for kids over the age of five is the bare minimum. According to Statistics Canada released in 2013, only 15% of adults and 6% of children meet these targets! Try something new like snowshoeing. It is aerobic and fun.

IMG_1020

We need to EAT MORE LEAFY GREENS. If you aren’t eating them now this is one food that boosts the nutrient density of your diet. Try something new: kale, collards, swiss chard, romaine lettuce, bok choy. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense foods in the supermarket. It is loaded with vitamins A, C and K.  I swap out spinach for kale in soups, stir-frys and even pasta dishes. Try this new recipe:

BAKED PASTA, KALE AND BEANS

Drizzle of olive oil for cooking

1 onion, chopped

3-5 garlic cloves, minced

28 oz can diced tomatoes

2 cup cooked white beans or 19oz can, rinsed and drained

5.5 oz can tomato paste

1/4 cup pesto (optional)

3 cups whole wheat or brown rice penne or rotini pasta

2-3 large kale leaves, washed, torn away from middle tough stem and cut into ribbons

1/2 cup shredded soy mozzarella cheese or sheep’s milk white sharp cheese

1/4 cup grated romano cheese

Fresh torn basil leaves

In a large pan, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes, beans and tomato paste and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Stir in the pesto if using.

Cook the pasta until al dente, drain reserving 1/4-1/2 cup cooking liquid. Toss with kale, beans & mozzarella in a large bowl. Stir in hot tomato sauce which will slightly wilt the kale. Pour into a large baking dish or 2 if needed and sprinkle with grated romano. Season with fresh ground pepper.  You can cover and refridgerate overnight, freeze or bake now at 350 for about 30 minutes until bubbly and golden. Garnish with torn basil leaves.

Serve with a side dish vegetable like steamed carrots or broccolini and a salad.

Enjoy:)

Shop Local…

I have been pleasantly surprised by all that I can still buy that is locally grown or produced now that it is officially winter. December 21, the longest day of the year and the official start to winter has come and gone. I love the seasons,  each bringing something new and beautiful.

Our local Farmer’s Market was bursting with all kinds of fresh and locally grown produce and other goodies. Spinach, sprouts, eggs, leeks, onions, root vegetables of all kinds including carrots, potatoes, squash, turnip, and beets. Walnuts, fresh stone ground flours (using wheat and spelt that is grown locally non-GMO!), honey, apples and pears.

IMG_0958

IMG_0957

IMG_0955

There are also a number of non-edible products that make great gifts all year round  like handmade soaps, body butters, candles made from beeswax, pottery, jewellry and unique clothing and knitwear.

I for one have resolved to support my local farmers and artisans as much as possible for as much of the year as is possible.  It’s part of what being in community is all about.

 

Shopping and Cooking for 2…

You know that the transition to shopping and cooking for 2 has not fully been embraced when icecream is left on the dessert plate. Served together with a delicious first time recipe “Pear and Hazelnut Cake” the icecream was inedible tasting like the ‘freezer”.

A quick survey of my freezer, pantry and refrigerator revealed that I am still buying in “bulk”. I’ve decided that my efforts to buy less since there are less mouths to feed really hasn’t tranlated into reality yet. I have been cooking less in terms of portions always having some leftovers in the freezer for the day I come from work and don’t feel like cooking but I still have way too much food in the house. Truth be told, some gets wasted and thrown out because it is stale, has mold growing over it, is out of date or “tastes like the freezer”.

I have a plan. I need to start meal planning again. Meal planning helps reduce waste because I shop from the plan and cook from the plan. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I usually only meal plan supper though when making my grocery list I add the staples that I know fit into breakfast and lunch.

So this week this is what I planned…Monday- Black bean Quesadillas with guacamole and applesauce on the side. Tuesday– Red Lentil, Sweet Potatoe/Carrot Curry with Coconut milk and Green Peas, served with Sprouted Brown Rice and Naan Bread. Wednesday– Leftovers. Thursday– I am going to try a new pasta dish with whole wheat fettucini, a simple sauce made with olive oil, ground almonds, basil and garlic from Jamie Oliver’s Italy cookbook and serve it with steamed asparagus, broccolini, toasted garlic bread and a caesar salad. Friday– Vegetable Stir Fry including carrots, cabbage, onion, celery and Kale with Sweet and Sour sauce, tofu marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds served on a bed of Sprouted Brown Rice and topped with sunflower sprouts and lightly toasted raw cashews. Saturday– Work Christmas Party. Sunday– Red Pepper and Onion Frittata served with a large side salad with walnuts, sliced pears, cranberries, avocado and shaved carrot topped with Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar dressing.

That’s it. Most of what I planned for this week’s menu was taking into account what I already had in the refridgerator, pantry or freezer.  All I needed to buy this week was lettuce, red peppers avocados and a few breakfast and lunch staples.

Cooking for 2 has not been that hard but shopping for 2 has proved to be more of a challenge. Always mindful of getting “the deal” buying in bulk has been the standard.  I have been known to say more than a few times that ” a deal is not a deal if you don’t need it“.  That same line could be applied here where ” a deal is not a deal if it ends up in the garbage”.

Bulk buying is going to be a thing of the past for me. I am going to stick to buying only what I need for the week, limiting even what I “stock up”. I may even have to shop more than once a week.

There is still lots to buy local. Check back to see what is still available at our local Farmer’s Market! You will be surprised.

Pear and Hazelnut Cake

 1 ¾ cup whole spelt flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

4 tbsp grapeseed or organic canola oil

2/3 cup soy milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

¾ cup maple syrup

1 cup pear, sliced into quarters (cored and grated)

Topping:

¼ cup hazelnuts, finely ground

¼ cup organic coconut sugar or sugar cane

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Garnish:

½ pear, peeled and sliced into thin wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the flour, salt, baking soda and nutmeg into a bowl. In a separate large bowl,  whisk together the oil, soy milk, vanilla,  lemon juice and maple syrup. Add the grated pear and stir well. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a fork gently, do not beat. Pour the batter into an oiled 8 inch springform pan. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cake batter and then arrange the pear slices around the edge of the cake in a circle.  Bake in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Test with a toothpick being sure it comes out clean. Cool slightly then remove from springform pan onto a cake serving plate. Serve still warm or cold with a scoop of your favorite vanilla iced dessert. Enjoy!

Are you motivated yet?….

I finally gave in to the pressure over a month ago and got an Iphone. Some of you I am sure will roll your eyes and simply say “it’s about time. …what were you waiting for?”. I was holding back because I just didn’t think I needed to be connected ALL THE TIME. I much prefer face to face or at least voice to voice communication than reading it and I still do. There is so much missing in a text or in an email or even on a blog.

But… there are simply some things that I really appreciate about my new phone.
1) My grocery list. So many times I started a list and it went missing or I forgot it at home or I dropped it along the way.

2) My girls respond to my texts.

3) My daytimer. It is now all in one place, with alerts that remind me.

4) My new app..RUNKEEPER!

I have been keeping an exercise journal for 3 years now. Just a simple Excel spreadsheet where I have put the date, the activity and how many minutes I exercised. This is a great motivator for me. I like to look back to see what I have done, if I have been consistent and how often we rode on which trail.

“RUNKEEPER “ is free and it not only tracks running, but walking, cycling both road and mountain, cross-country skiing and probably others that I can’t think of right now.  It is a GPS program that tracks where I have gone, for how long and my pace. It maps out the route showing elevation changes and it is so fun to compare my progress. I can’t wait to get out there and do my next run just to see if I can beat my last time!

It’s been an interesting week. I sat down with 7 people to specifically talk about lifestyle, and it’s impact on health.  Only 1 out of the 7 did anywhere close to the recommended amount of weekly exercise. I was shocked. I guess I didn’t really believe the statistics that I heard during last week’s lecture.  We have become so accustomed to the conveniences of everyday life that we just don’t need to move. The thought of exercising for the sake of exercising even seemed appalling to some. “Why?” they asked. To think that it could even be enjoyable or fun was out of the question. It was work and they have worked long and hard enough. These folks were all over the age of 60,  with a possible 30 years to go,.   I don’t know about you but I want to be active, independent and have a reason to get up every morning in the last third of my life. If we don’t start moving now, it will not get any easier.

So, what motivates you? What will it take to get you moving? Join a Gym. Recruit some friends and start something together.  No one likes to let down their friends. Start a journal or sign up for an APP. Stop making  excuses. There will never be enough time!

We were made to move. YOU NEED TO MOVE 30 MINUTES A DAY 5 DAYS A WEEK. Find something that you like,  set a goal and start today:)

I know I am repeating myself just in case you were wondering.

Comfort foods..

There is nothing better on a rainy or snowy day than a big bowl of soup or my new favorite pasta dish. Comfort foods that are healthy, satifying and delicious are not hard to make. Add a thick slice of your favorite whole grain artisan bread and a either a salad or another new favorite vegetable as an appetizer and you are set to go.

I have become a bit obsessed lately with Italian foods, shopping often at our local Italian market. Probably has something to do with the two books I finished this fall; “Bella Tuscany” and “Under the Tuscan Sun” written by Francis Mayes:)

I can spend hours perusing the aisles for olive oil, balsamic vinegar, all shapes and sizes of pasta, fresh olives and the huge variety of quality cheese perfect for garnishing pasta dishes.

I stumbled on a pasta and beans recipe that is the perfect comfort food. I hope you enjoy it.

Pasta Fazool (serves 4-6)

1 tbsp olive oil for cooking
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 carrots scrubbed and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 cup cooked cannellini beans or 1 tin (19oz-398ml) cannellini beans or pinto beans
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (low sodium)
14oz or 398 ml tin diced tomatoes
½ tsp Italian seasoning or dried oregano
½ cup dry small pasta (shells or orecchiette)
Grated parmesan or romano cheese to garnish
Fresh ground pepper.

In a medium pot heat the olive oil of medium heat and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot and celery until soft, about 5 minutes.
Drain and rinse the beans and add to the pot along with the stock, tomatoes and oregano. Simmer for about 10 minutes with the lid on.
Add the pasta and simmer for another 10 minutes or more until the pasta is tender. If the mixture is too thick add a little extra stock or water. It should be thick but soupy. Season with pepper and grated cheese and serve hot.

I served it this week with roasted brussel sprouts as an appetizer. These used to be my husband’s most hated vegetable and much to my disbelief and even his own we almost have to “count” them out now to be fair.:) I wash and cut in half about a half pound of brussel sprouts. Toss them in a tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp nutritional yeast and fresh ground pepper. I then roast them in our toaster oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Then top them with some freshly grated parmesan or romano cheese and eat hot. I dare you to try it!

I am running for my life..

Not literally but after attending the Mini-Med series lecture titled “Run for your life” put on by the University of British Columbia- Okanagan, I will continue to “run”. Ladies, we must move. The statistics, whether you like it or not, are there. The studies continue to show that our bodies were made to move. What’s the minimum you ask? 150 minutes per week. I can hear some of you groaning already. Dread overwhelming you. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be all at once. Even 10 minutes 3 times a day. But the message was clear. It does not matter what you do, brisk walking, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing or downhill, tennis or swimming.

IMG_0492

This is one time when more just might be better. You cannot exercise too much. It is all about preventing disease. Heart Disease, Diabetes, Obesity, some cancers, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

Menopausal symptoms can be reduced and possibly eliminated. Menopause is not a disease. It is a phase of life.

IMG_0501

Exercise is better than medicine.

Do something that is fun. Do it with your husband, your kids, your friends.

IMG_0901

DSC_0108

“Run for your life”!