Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Don't Become One with the Couch!


Ya know those times in the evening when dinner is done, the dishes are clean, the kids (for me anyway) are done with homework and they are getting ready for the next day? Do you find you've plopped yourself in front of the T.V. flipping through channels or maybe even watching a favorite show, but you are just sitting there?! Does that ring a bell with anyone? And the more you sit there the more groggy you become, the world around you gets fuzzy...you're in couch potato mode? Well, it happens to me every once in a while and that feeling just drags me down! I feel like a slug just fading off into nowhere, I get crabby and cranky and who wants a momma in the house who is crabby and cranky...Not me!
So, you know what I've been doing when that feeling hits? I get my butt downstairs, turn on that good show I was watching and start off on my elliptical for 20-30 minutes! The time flies by as I'm engaged in my show and I use commercial breaks to step up my workout...the timing of commercial breaks are great! Exercise is the PERFECT pick me up, I feel so much better when I'm done and I have some new found energy for the remainder of the evening!
When you feel brain fog coming on whether it's during the day at work or at night when the T.V. turns on...burn it away by getting outside for a power walk, get on your bike and ride in the fresh air, do some jumping jacks...do anything to get that heart pumping and you'll feel soooooo much better for it....I promise!!!
And BTW...If you miss that favorite show of yours for some heart raising exercise, does it matter? What was better...a show you will not recall in the years to come or making the decision to get out and move? This is not just for your physical health but also for your emotional and mental health! What is more important??? Choose YOU!


"Discipline is choosing what you want most
over what you want right now."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Veggie Stir "Fry"

Who needs expensive, chemical filled, sodium laden take out Chinese when you can whip up this right in your own kitchen?!
This is what I had on hand...Use whatever you have...get creative!

1/2 head cabbage, sliced thin/shredded
1 red pepper, sliced
1 yellow pepper, sliced
7-10 baby bella mushrooms, sliced (or button mushrooms)
1 bag of baby spinach
1-2 green onions, sliced
Cilantro & roasted onion infused EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), or just plain EVOO 
Sea salt
Garlic powder
Crushed red pepper flakes
Low sodium soy sauce

Add 1T of EVOO to pan on medium high heat
When oil is hot add cabbage and peppers, garlic, sea salt and hot pepper flakes
Stir and heat til slightly brown and softening (not soft, still firm)
Add mushrooms and stir for a minute
Add spinach last and stir just until spinach wilts (this will take just a minute)
Drizzle low sodium soy sauce at the end
Top with sliced green onions when served

I ate just the veggies tonight but this would be DIVINE over a scoop of Thai jasmine rice!
Yum...Easy...Healthy...FULL of vitamins, minerals & phytonutrients! Eat to your health :)

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. -- Hippocrates

You can find and shop online for wonderful infused EVOO's at The Olive Gallery!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup

Quick, Easy and CLEAN!!!
This is an easy soup that can be made in 30-45 minutes in the evening.

1lb lean ground meat of your choice such as chicken, turkey, bison or lean beef (I used bison but I also added about 1/4 lb of hot turkey sausage)
4 cups low sodium beef broth (or chicken broth if using ground turkey or chicken)
1-2 cups water
1 28oz can diced tomatoes seasoned with garlic and basil or Italian style 
1 large sweet onion, diced
5 stalks of celery, sliced
5 whole carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves of garlic pressed (using a garlic press)
1/4 tsp dried thyme (I don't measure so this amount is a guesstimate. Taste and add more if necessary)
A dash or two of red pepper flakes (more or less depending on your level of "heat")
1pkg of refrigerated cheese tortellini such as Buitoni. Cook according to pkg directions. Set aside.
**Sliced baby spinach and kale (read below for more info).

Brown the ground meat until cooked through.
Add diced onion, celery, carrots, garlic, red pepper flakes and thyme.
Stir until onion begins to cook a bit and become more translucent.
Now add the can of diced tomatoes, stir and let simmer for about 3 minutes (if you wish).
Next add the broth and water, let simmer until carrots and celery are tender.
Pour hot soup over 4-6 tortellini spirals and sliced spinach and kale. Enjoy!

Don't be afraid of green leafy vegetables! Once you know how good they are for you, you won't want to skip adding them to everyday dishes...Check it out...
**Kale and spinach are both WONDERFUL, dark, leafy green SUPER FOODS rich in phytonutrients! Read about all the benefits by clicking here for kale/spinach! OR here for a lesson in phytonutrients!

As a side note. Tortellini can be substituted for small amounts of whole grain pasta. I personally could have gone without the tortellini. I found out I'm not a big fan of it but some people love it and need that in their soups. Vary this in any way you wish. Make it yours. Add zucchini or mushrooms or peppers. Use cooked rice or quinoa to pour the soup over.
Your suggestions are welcome. What would YOU add to make this soup your own? 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

St Paddy's Day 5k~First race of 2011

It was the first race of 2011 and what a way to start off the running season! It was a chilly, windy March morning but that didn't stop over 1,700 runners from heading outdoors to Downtown Naperville for a brisk 3.1 mile run! We had a great group of ladies and my father-in-law (Gpa) that showed up despite some set-backs that several faced this past week.
Photos and stories are below so here we go!
  All Decked & ready to GO!
Here's most of the group from L to R:
Joanne, Michelle, Desiree, Jessica, Gpa, Kristi &
Vicky (kneeling)
*Joanne has been feeling under the weather the past few days...but she came out & ran! She Did It!
*Michelle twisted her ankle this past week. She rested & iced it then decided to come out & at least walk. She was feeling pretty good & even ran when she could...She showed up & She Did It!
*Desiree had a nose bleed earlier in the week that was severe enough to go to the hospital. They fixed her up & told her she could WALK the 5k....She showed up & walked! She Did It!
*Jessica, my son's GF & Desiree's BFF. She trained to run this 5k but walked right alongside
Desiree the whole time! She Did It!
*Gpa has been bustin' butt the last couple of days & wasn't feeling up to walking the 5k...but he woke up early with us, showed up & walked the whole time...He Did It!
*Kristi & Vicky were ready & rarin' to go for the first run of the season! We Did It!
This is my friend Colleen. Colleen and I haven't seen each other since High School but re-connected on Facebook. It was her goal in 2011 to run a 5k! We decided to meet up for this one & I'm so happy for her & proud of her! Congrats Colleen...This is just the beginning!
*Colleen's schedule has changed, she hasn't been getting much sleep this past week...but she too came out ready to get that 5k under her belt! She Did It!

It was quite the crowd! Over 1,700 participants!
The biggest St Paddy's Day run outside of Chicago!

And...We're Off! I'm front & center. Vicky's in the back...green shirt.
Michelle is right behind her in white.
There's Gpa, Jessica & Desiree.
 Joanne came in first...she usually does :-)
My strong, enthusiastic finish just seconds behind Joanne & best 5k time yet!
Actually, my husband didn't have the camera ready when I crossed the finish line, so we had a "do-over" shot but I really was this enthusiastic when I crossed the line though!
And there's Vicky! She got UNDER her goal time! Way to go Vic!
Unfortunately, we weren't always camera & didn't get everyone else comin' in but we sure cheered our loudest cheers so they could finish strong! Gpa ended up walking with someone in the last stretch. She was around his age & cute! Did he ask for her number? NO! It was cute to see them walk it in strong as they finished in under 60 minutes! Way to go Gpa!!!

This was such an exciting race for me because it was filled with firsts for so many & despite some obstacles that people in the group faced they still came out!  
Don't let ANYONE or ANYTHING get in your way! Don't let the thought that you aren't fast enough or thin enough to race! There were thin, seasoned runners! There were overweight men & women! There were young kids as well as older adults! Finish times were broad ranging from 15:20 to 1:01 & they all showed up to run or walk the same race! Whether they showed up to support the Rotary Club & the Meals on Wheels program or to set a 2011 first race goal, to set a new PR or to prove that they too could accomplish that first 5k run or walk THEY DID IT!!! Did you catch the common theme...They Did It!!! And SO CAN YOU! Join the growing number of runners out there, accomplish your goals, feel great & loose a few pounds in the process. You won't regret having said you too DID IT!

"Dead Last Finish is greater than Did Not Finish which greatly trumps Did Not Start!"



Thursday, March 3, 2011

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta

One night I was looking for something new to make for dinner that would appeal to the adults and kids in the family.  So I began to parooz through two of my favorite magazines...Eating Well and Clean Eating. When I came across this wonderful sounding recipe from Eating Well I ran to the store with list in hand and picked up the items I didn't have at home. Try it, it was really good! And guess what? My WHOLE family liked it too! BONUS!!!!

At the bottom I will share some modifications I would make next time around! Enjoy!

Creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta
 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces whole-wheat fusilli or rotini
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 large sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (see Tip)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions for garnish

Preparation

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta until just tender, 8 to 10 minutes or according to package directions. Drain.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, about 2 minutes. Add chicken, bell pepper, garlic, Cajun seasoning and pepper. Cook stirring, until the onion and bell pepper are beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add flour and stir to coat. Add tomatoes and their juice; bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce is bubbling and thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in sour cream.
  4. Stir the pasta into the sauce. Serve sprinkled with scallions, if desired.

***My modifications:
I don't think either the flour or sour cream was necessary. The flour adds thickness and the sour cream gives it that creamy texture. I would omit these two things next time but if you like thick and creamy then use them. Go for a reduced fat sour cream, trust me, you won't be sacrificing flavor.
I also LOVE veggies, so I would add a mix of red, yellow and green peppers...and in abundance! I also served mine on a bed of spinach. I put spinach in just about everything to give my meals an extra nutritional boost!

 Doesn't it look great?!

Nutrition

Per serving: 329 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 3 g mono ); 50 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 25 g protein; 6 g fiber; 656 mg sodium; 691 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (53% daily value), Vitamin A (23% dv), Iron (21% dv), Magnesium & Potassium (20% dv).
2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Eating Well makes sure to include all nutritional info which is wonderful!

Nutrition

Per serving: 329 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 3 g mono ); 50 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 25 g protein; 6 g fiber; 656 mg sodium; 691 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (53% daily value), Vitamin A (23% dv), Iron (21% dv), Magnesium & Potassium (20% dv).
2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat

Nutrition

Per serving: 329 calories; 8 g fat ( 2 g sat , 3 g mono ); 50 mg cholesterol; 43 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 25 g protein; 6 g fiber; 656 mg sodium; 691 mg potassium.
Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (53% daily value), Vitamin A (23% dv), Iron (21% dv), Magnesium & Potassium (20% dv).
2 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 2 starch, 2 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat