“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!

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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.

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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:)

Quinoa salad… this is a good one:)

This is a very yummy quinoa salad…There are lots of recipes out there to try. I found this one and made it for lunch today. It was easy to make. I prepared it this morning before work. While I was eating breakfast, I had the quinoa cooking, soaked my oil packed sundried tomatoes in boiling water& toasted the almonds. Then after a bike ride and showering I finished the rest. (I already had corn on the cob leftover in the fridge.  I served it on some greens, and had a big, crunchy, local in season Honeycrisp Apple for dessert!  Click on the link below and enjoy:)

http://inpursuitofmore.com/2012/09/24/recipe-super-powered-super-protein-quinoa-salad/

Beets, wild rice and kale…

Another great salad recipe that uses fresh, in season,  beets and kale from what is becoming my favorite cookbook….

3 medium beets, sscrubbed then roasted in the oven wrapped in tinfoil at 400 degrees for about 45min-1 hour, then cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 cup wild or brown rice, cooked and cooled, set aside

4 kale leaves, picked  from thick center stem then chopped.

2 green onions chopped finely

2 tbsp goat feta

1/4 cup pecan pieces toasted

1 cup chickpeas drained and rinsed

In a separate bowl make the dressing:

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2tbsp maple syrup

1 garlic clove, crushed

salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the beets and rice and once cooled put into a serving bowl together. Add chopped green onions and chickpeas.

In a small separate bowl combine the chopped kale with about 1 tsp of ready dressing. “Massage” the leaves with the dressing using your hands.

Add the kale to other salad ingredients. Toss together with a couple of tbsps of dressing at a time until it seems well mixed in, but not heavy with dressing. (I still had quite a bit of dressing left over to use again or on another salad. Serve topped with pecans and feta.

Double this up and bring it to a pot luck bbq. I guarantee it will be a hit!

Three meals, trying my best to be local and healthy..

Hippie Pancakes were first up this morning. For the past almost 9 years, we have had a special breakfast every Friday morning.  It was pancakes, waffles or french toast.  I decided to try a new pancake recipe, a bit of a risk, but delicious. My husband loved them, Kirsten probably would have had I not told her what was in them. I served them with sliced local strawberries I picked earlier in the week, sliced bananas, maple syrup, a few toasted pecans and a sprinkle of freshly ground flax seed.  You could add a tablespoon of your favorite healthy plain greek yogurt if you wanted,

but then you might not taste the yummy pancake:)

Hippie Pancakes 

1.2 cup steel-cut oats

1/2 cup quinoa, washed and rinsed three times or until the water runs clear)

1 cup water

1/2 cup plain non-fat yogurt

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp nutmeg

3 eggs

1 tsp baking powder

Small scoop of coconut oil, melted or unsalted butter

In a blender add the oats, quinoa, water and yogurt, cover and refrigerate overnight. In the morning add the remaining ingredients. Blend on low to combine all the ingredients, then move the setting to high or puree and blend for a minute or more, until the batter is smooth.  (It will be runny).  Heat a scoop of coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, pour in about 1/3 cup of batter slowly, so it does not run all over the pan and cook for about 3-4 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Flip the pancake and cook the other side for another 3-4 minutes or until cooked through. These are not the big fluffy kind of pancake but delicious. Enjoy.

Noodles and Greens Salad was up for lunch. We had both our girls home, rare these days and what a treat it was. I served up this salad and felt good about feeding my family and healthy meal.

Serves 4

1/2 box whole wheat spagettini, cooked a la dente, rinsed with cold water and set aside

1 avocado chopped

1 mango, peeled and chopped

2 green onion, chopped(locally grown)

1/4 head savoy cabbage, thinly sliced

2 carrots, shredded (locally grown)

1/4 cup toasted cashews

1/2 red pepper chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

handful of snap peas, washed, stems removed and cut in half (locally grown)

4-6 cups assorted greens, including kale (*from my garden)

4 tbsp crumbled goat feta cheese (optional)

Once everything is all chopped and prepared, arrange 4 plates starting with greens at the bottom, then cabbage, then spagettini, then everything else with cashews, green onions and mango at the top.

Top with Honey Mustard dressing:

4tbsp orange juice

4tbsp olive oil

4tbsp apple cider vinegar

3tbsp liquid honey or agave syrup

4tsp Dijon Mustard

 Whisk all ingredients together.

Homemade Pesto Vegetarian Pizza served at supper for just the two of us. Using a whole spelt grain pizza crust topped with made from scratch arugula/basil pesto (see previous post)and a little (about 1 tbsp tomato paste) at the bottom.

Toppings:

1 red bell pepper, thickly sliced

3/4 green bell pepper, thickly sliced

1 walla walla onion, quarters (locally grown)

splash olive oil

fresh ground pepper.

Toss vegetables with olive oil and pepper and put on barbeque to roast for 10-15 minutes. Remove and slice peppers and onions into thinner strips.  Add to pesto base. Add 1 tsp capers (optional), handful of sliced cherry tomatos  and 1-2 tbsp grated romano goat cheese (optional)  Bake 10-15 min 375 degree oven. *  This pizza would be even better when peppers and tomatoes are in season here in the okanagan. At least the  pesto was made with local and fresh basil and arugula.

At the end of the day, not alot of work, but we ate well with fresh and homemade ingredients.

Roasting fresh vegees..

Fresh baby carrots, beets and new potatoes are now available locally. If you have not tried a fresh raw baby carrot in a while (not the kind that are all exactly the  same size and shape in your local grocery store or costco bags) you just don’t know what you are missing. Sweet, crunchy, the perfect mid-day snack. And beets.. they are delicious raw too, grated and added to the top of a salad.  But best of all, roasting both carrots, beets and new potatoes brings out the sweet and amazing flavor of all these root vegetables. No need to peel. Just rub them gently to remove any dirt, toss them with a splash of olive oil, a little fresh cracked pepper, a little chopped fresh dill and either roast them in the oven in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or on the BBQ in a foil pack. They will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes to reach a tender, perfectly cooked deliciousness!

Leftovers are great too. I add them  to the top of mixed greens, add a little crumbled feta, some green onion, any other fresh raw chopped vegees you want and top with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or the “Everyday salad dressing” I posted a while ago.

First pick of the season…Strawberries!

Fresh greens and fresh strawberries…A combination so delicious. Try this salad dressing drizzled on top of fresh mixed greens, sliced fresh strawberries, lightly toasted slivered almonds, chopped green onions, chopped celery.

Poppyseed Dressing

3 tbsp olive or canola oil

3 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 ½ tbsp maple syrup

2 tsp Dijon mustard

¼ tsp salt

1 tbsp poppyseeds

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds