Powered by Squarespace

 


 

PortionMate™ Portion Control Tools. See my review here.

 

 

 

Sunday
Feb072016

Mediterranean Style Couscous with Roasted Veggies and Cashew Cream

I love cashew cream, a vegan sauce that can top a salad, pizza or grains, adding a rich robust flavor. It's easy to make and can freeze for up to 6 months. A recipe for Mediterranean Quinoa with Cashew Tzatziki by Contentedness Cooking caught my eye because it has components I often make...some sort of whole grain and roasted vegetables. But I'd never thought to drizzle cashew sauce on top. What an incredible addition that takes it to the next level!

First off, roast your favorite diced vegetables as they take longest to cook. My veggies are brushed with olive oil and salt before roasting at 375 F for about 45 minutes. As those cook, choose your grain. Although I had quinoa sitting around, I opted for whole wheat couscous because it's 20 minutes faster to prepare. The recipe then calls for mixing tomato paste into the cooked grain, another easy step I've never tried but which added instant flavor, especially because I chose a roasted garlic tomato paste. When the veggies are done, mix them into the grain. I also threw in canned, rinsed beans for more protein. At this point the dish is perfectly yummy as is!

Use your fave veggies, but pictured here are eggplant, yellow and red bell pepper, and zucchini

But you have to try the cashew cream at least once: Stay simple by blending soaked raw cashews, lemon juice and water, or deepen the flavor by adding other seasonings like garlic, vinegar and salt. You can also opt for sweet by adding honey, cinnamon or vanilla!

My cashew cream here isn't very pretty, too lumpy. It's supposed to be creamy smooth, but either I didn't use enough water or my blender isn't powerful enough. Either way it was perfectly delicious if not pretty. 

Who says comfort food has to be greasy, cheesy and deep-fried? This healthful dish is soo comforting and satisfying. I couldn't wait to finish taking the photos so I could dig in! Give it a try, I'm sure you will love it. Prepare extra to pack an energy-boosting work lunch that tastes great heated or at room temperature.

Sunday
Jan172016

How Are Those Resolutions Going?

More than two weeks in...are you chugging along with your New Year's goals or have you joined the 25% who give up after one week (as studies suggest). Overall, less than half of people who make resolutions stick with them the following six months. But to be honest I'm impressed that even close to half do make it!

There are endless articles about how to deal with New Year's resolutions, so of course I'm adding another. It can't hurt to get as much encouragement and ideas that you can because even if you follow through with just one goal this year, you will be a better person than you were last year.

First I have to plug an article written by my colleague, Lauren Mayer of Decidedly Nutritious, and moi entitled Six ways to keep your New Year's resolutions. Realistic, practical reminders for the long haul!

Then check out favorite resolution reinforcements shared by New England Stop & Shop nutritionist Julie Hersey, MS, RD, LDN: 

  1. Stick to one small and realistic resolution. Example: When trying to cut back on sweets, end meals with a piece of fresh fruit to help tame your cravings. When cutting back on soda intake, switch to flavored seltzer water.
  2. Build connections to a new habit by stacking with an established habit. Example: If you are working towards drinking more water, have one glass in the morning before brushing your teeth.  
  3. Seek non-food rewards that complement your goals. Buy a new smoothie blender, great-fitting running shoes, a massage session or a colorful reusable water bottle. 
  4. Make a list of distractions to avoid food cravings and binges like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, walking the dog, or calling a friend.
  5. Boost your breakfast satisfaction with protein-rich foods like eggs, cottage cheese, low-fat milk, Greek yogurt, nut/nut butters or seeds. 
  6. To keep afternoon cravings in check while getting an extra dose of nutrients and healthful fats, keep a pack of pre-portioned nuts or seeds in your purse.
  7. Pre-plan meals by creating a list of dinner meals that you know your family loves. Balance each menu with a protein, starch and a vegetable (or two).

Remember, you can’t undo a lifetime of unhealthy habits overnight. Keep your goal in mind every day and track your progress. Consider journaling or using an app. Most of all, be patient and flexible with yourself. Resiliency, or the ability to recover quickly from difficulties and change, is key to success!

Sunday
Jan032016

Saying Farewell to Zumba

...at least for now that is. A New Year is the right time for change. Zumba has been a huge part of my life for more than 7 years; I admit reluctantly at first. The first time I took a Zumba class I didn't like it. It was a new style of dance fitness introduced by only a few instructors in the Boston area at the time. I was used to regular dance classes with breakdowns of blocks of choreography that would be practiced continuously and then strung together as a finale performance. Zumba was so different, not much breakdown or instruction, just follow the leader. Ten to twelve different songs, all unfamiliar Latin beats. I tried different Zumba classes but still no likes. 

That's why it surprises me that it has lasted this long in my life, and that I part with it with mixed feelings. I started teaching cardio dance classes around 2008 but Zumba was exploding in Boston. All of a sudden every gym wanted it on their class schedules. At one of my gyms, I was given the option to stay with my dance class or change to Zumba. Since I was already Zumba certified, I took a chance and changed. Fast forward to 2016 and I'm still teaching Zumba in that same time slot. It's a progressive gym with new classes every year including popular dance formats like Body Jam and SH'BAM, but Zumba has stayed put.

My students and employers were bewildered when I asked for the change starting this month (this would also include stopping Zumba Step, which I've taught for 2 years). Why change a successful full class? They asked that I change back to the Zumba formats if my new formats were not successful. I agreed but even if a failure, I needed to try. In my opinion, change is the most important factor for personal growth and ironically also staying young at heart. Think of the flipside: staying in the same situation for too long, especially if not dynamic enough, can kindle complacency and increasing resistance to new ideas. In other words, you get stale!

Today I can honestly say I enjoy Zumba and the effect it has on people. Those who usually hate exercise often tolerate Zumba if not completely love it because it's fun and time flies by. I have great respect for the company, which offers wonderful support to its instructor network. Teaching Zumba has pulled me out of an introverted shell so that engaging a large crowd no longer causes a panic attack. It has helped to take the focus of off me and onto others. To not be afraid of the eye contact that connects me with someone who may be going through a tough time or just needs a healthy escape for an hour. It has offered camaraderie with long time loyal students I adore who are trusting me as I force change upon them as well.  

Because of all these great things, I say farewell for now with gratitude, mixed feelings and a little fear. But I guess those are the stepping stones needed to take one to the next level.