Tag Archives: weight loss

Basil Walnut Pesto (pine nut and dairy-free)

23 Jun
Pesto!

Pesto!

Basil. Honestly, what’s not to love? Now is the perfect time to enjoy this beautifully blooming herb. I love it chopped fresh on sautéed vegetable salads and I love it in pesto. Since I’m allergic to pine nuts and dairy gives me a less-than-desired pubescent complexion, I opt for my own rendition–skipping the dairy, lessening the oil (most pestos are too oily for my taste) and adding in walnuts. Enjoy it drizzled on fresh vegetables, in place of salad dressing and topped on grilled chicken or scrambled eggs.

 

Ingredients:

1 cup walnut pieces

1/4 tsp garlic powder or 3 cloves finely minced

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 1/2 cups fresh basil

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 lemon, juiced

 

Directions:

1. Place walnuts, garlic, sea salt and 1/2 of the olive oil in a food processor. Blend until smooth.

2. Add basil, the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice to the walnut mixture. Blend until smooth. Add more olive oil, salt and garlic powder if you need to reach your desired taste and consistency.

 

For more ways to eat healthfully and deliciously, visit my recipe page.

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The Fit 5: How to Stay Healthy and Happy on Vacation

5 May
Rock climbing in Utah.

Rock climbing in Utah.

Part Two in a two-part series on staying active and healthy while on vacation. If you missed Part One, click here.

Turn off your cell phone, slip into something comfy and channel your inner Olivia Newton-John, ‘cause we’re about to get physical. Why return home tanned when you can return home toned, energized and more joyful than ever? Here are five simple tips to stay healthy while you relax and recharge.

  1. Savvy Sights. It is easy and fun to stay active at a resort or national park. Take advantage of hikes, water sports, cycling, rock climbing, yoga and skiing. Is an Urban holiday more your taste? No problem. Skip the taxi and walk as much as possible, visit plenty of museums, zoos or amusement parks and book a hotel with a gym, swimming pool or outdoor playground (Monkey bar pull ups and elevated single leg swing seat squats anyone? Yes, please!) Always have fun with creative play and movement—whether you are enjoying the beaches of Carmel or the grassy patch in your backyard.
  2. Snack Smart. Planes, trains and automobiles—whatever your mode of transportation, pack healthy treats to keep energy high and blood sugar levels stable. Before your trip, purchase raw nuts or seeds, fruit (apples and pears are durable) and individual nut butter packets. If you have a cooler, you can also add hummus, cut vegetables, plain greek yogurt and pre-made wraps for meals.
  3. Keep Cool. Booking a hotel with a kitchen or even a mini-fridge is a great way to save money and your waistline. Once you reach your destination, go to the grocery store and stock up on staples for breakfast, snacks and even lunch. Possibilities are endless with a kitchen, but with a mini-fridge you can still fix delectable delights like yogurt parfaits (greek yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts), make portable wraps by purchasing plain cooked meats at the deli (chicken, salmon, etc.), cut veggies, hummus, guacamole or cheese and buy plenty of bottled water to stay hydrated.
  4. Divide and Conquer. Resorts have buffets, cities have fancy-pants restaurants and you always have a choice to enjoy delicious and nutritious food without depriving yourself. Ensure every meal has vegetables (bearer of bad tidings: corn is not a vegetable and potatoes are starches) and protein with a small portion of “oh my gosh, I must have this!” side item or split a dessert four-ways. Not trying to be a fun-hater, but avoid battered and/or fried foods and make sure your vegetables and protein are not drenched in cheese, gravy or creamy sauces.
  5. Drink Water. I’m talking bowel movements, people. Ya know how traveling can disrupt your normal routine? Who wants to be bloated and dehydrated on vacation? Not I! Plane rides, warmer climate, activities—they can all dehydrate us, even cold weather activities like skiing. Pack water bottles, opt for water over soda or alcohol at meals and sip herbal tea instead of dehydrating coffee or fruit juice in the morning. Your bowels will thank you.

Five Tips for a Fit Family Vacation

28 Apr
Photo courtesy of www.alfahotel.at

Photo courtesy of http://www.alfahotel.at

Please welcome my guest blogger and travel expert Kendra Thornton…

Whether you are on vacation or at home, it is important to eat healthy and exercise. This is not always easy to do, but with some advance planning you can stay fit and healthy regardless of where you are. I have some tips I have developed over the years that help me stay healthy on vacation, and hopefully you will find these tips beneficial to you as well.

While on vacation, you will probably come across numerous buffets at hotels or restaurants. Depending on where you are staying, sometimes these buffets are available at all hours. While there is a lot of gourmet food available at buffets, you can still eat healthy. Instead of loading up your plate with desserts or carbs, balance it out with a healthy portion of vegetables. Try the higher calorie foods, but give yourself a smaller portion. There is usually fruit or lighter desserts at buffets as well. Make these your choice for dessert, or if you must indulge in the cheesecake, take a small slice and fill the rest of your dessert plate with fruit or frozen yogurt.

If you are vacationing somewhere near a body of water, take advantage of the water sports available!  Whether it is paddle boats, canoes, or rowboats, you can have a great time on the water. You will have fun while you are staying active, and most water sports burn a great deal of calories. These watersports can even be done with small children, in case you are vacationing with your family. Children will have a great time riding in the paddle boat or helping you steer the boat.

Drinking water is important for your health at all times, but especially when you are traveling. In order to keep yourself from getting dehydrated, stock your car with a cooler full of ice and bottles of water. If you are staying in a hotel, stop by a grocery store beforehand to buy a case of water to keep in the hotel room. Having ice-cold water readily available on vacation can make it easier to keep your body hydrated.

If you have some down time on vacation, why not create your own active games? If you are traveling with children, they will have a blast creating their own mini-Olympics. You could utilize the hotel pool by having splash contests, races in the pool, or relay races. Even if you do not have a pool at your hotel, there are many ways you can create fun competitions on vacation. Skipping rocks at a lake, obstacle courses, or jumping games are just a few other ideas that will help you create a silly tournament. As long as you are they are having fun, your children will hardly realize that they are getting physical activity.

While these ideas can be helpful on vacation, it is important to stick with this mindset of a healthy lifestyle at home as well. Maintaining a routine can be extremely difficult while on vacation. For our upcoming trip to Orlando we made sure to stick with our routine. To do this we ended up booking a great hotel with a great gym. With so many places to stay, sites like Gogobot are necessary to make the process a little easier. Taking time to prepare healthy snacks for home and school, fitting in extra physical activity, and drinking lots of water are good steps to take in creating a healthy lifestyle.

 

My name is Kendra Thornton and I am a mother of three. Before being promoted to the position of full-time mom, I was the Director of Communications at Orbitz. I now live in Chicago where my family is my number one priority in everyday life.

Q and A: Calories In Vs. Calories Out

9 Mar
My perfect portion plate.

My perfect portion plate.

“Is eating healthy truly as simple as calories in verses calories out?” No… and a smidgen yes. Sometimes as a health coach, I feel that I’m unintentionally giving a Glomar response to nutritional questions, a “we can neither confirm nor deny” answer. The simple truth is that nothing is black or white, and we tend to ask questions that lead to a response that will either 1) justify our old habits or 2) justify fad habits. However, I also think that these questions are incredibly valid. So, once per month we’re going to dive into the tasty, thick and sometimes heated guacamole waters of nutritional enigmas. Shall we?

 

Calories In Vs. Calories Out

The “smidgen yes” part is easy to answer. If we eat too much in relation to our body’s needs (size, metabolism, etc.) and our activity level, then of course we will gain weight. This line is different for everyone, but your body is a smarty-pants and will tell you whether you’ve eaten too much or too little (or if the ratio of protein to fat to carbohydrates isn’t right). Feel bloated, stuffed, sick or aren’t hungry for the next 5 hours? Too much. Feel hungry or light-headed 30 minutes after eating? Too little.

 

The reason why I like to emphasize visual portion sizes and mind-body awareness over counting calories is because I think counting calories (or measuring food) for life isn’t realistic and can make one neurotic (hmm… does my sudden switch to third person signify that I’m speaking from personal experience?), that listening to our body’s signals develops a much healthier relationship to food and that calories do not differentiate quality of food. Eating 100 calories of almonds compared to a 100-calorie snack pack of mini-chocolate chip cookies is like comparing Stevie Wonder to a beta fish trying to play the banjo. Sure, it’s great at first, but then you realize how freakishly genetically altered it is and that you have a massive headache because of how awful it sounds. Stevie Wonder on the other hand? Never awful, always makes you feel satisfied, energized and wanting the best quality of music… err, food. What are we talking about?

 

Since our nutritional needs are as unique as our body, it makes sense to use our body as a portion tool. A healthy plate of food, generally speaking, will contain your unique palm size portion of protein (whether vegetarian or meat options), 2 fist size portions of vegetables and a thumblength of fat (including the fat in your protein; this one is a bit trickier so to put it in perspective: ¼ to ½ avocado, 6-10 pecans on your roasted Brussels’ Sprouts or 2 tsp of olive oil based dressing on your salad).

 

Put It Into Action

1. Listen to your body and write notes on how you feel (bloated, still hungry, stuffed, etc.) after eating.

2. Start serving your portions in relation to your body (fist and handful). Let’s start with dinner. Include a source of protein, vegetables and fat.

 

3. Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going.

 

To develop more behaviors for the health you deserve, contact me at 402-819-8970 or stephsbell@yahoo.com.

Your Weight is Not Your Worth

24 Feb

IMG_1765You are not your weight.

You are not a clothing size.

You are not a body shaped like fruit.

You are not a fad diet or exercise regime.

You are not the negative noise in your head.

You are not your circumstances.

You are not your career.

You are not your hobby.

You are not your checking account, savings account or money market fund.

You are not your home, your car, your smart phone or your diamond ring.

You are not, and never will be, what someone else says you are.

 

You are your compassion.

You are your graciousness.

You are your unique soul.

You have always been, are, and will forever be the love you show to others and to yourself.

Spring Garden Guide

3 Feb
Go forth and spread your seeds! Your vegetables seeds in case there was any confusion.

Go forth and spread your seeds! Your vegetables seeds… in case there was any confusion.

Let the gardening season begin! Yippee! I know it is hard to think about your garden plot when the ground is covered with snow and the temps are sub-zero, but the thought of a freshly picked juicy ripe tomato on a BLT puts a smile on anyone’s face and a song in my heart. *sigh* While it is far too early to start planting outdoors in Nebraska, it is never too early to order seeds and create your gardening guide for rows of tasty (and might I add super inexpensive and healthy) produce come spring and summer. I can smell the bacon cooking…

 

February

Preparation: Now is the time to start ordering/purchasing seeds or attend seed swaps in your community. Seeds are good for 3-4 years, so share the good lovin’ if you have plenty left over. This is also the time to consider your gardening space (community, backyard, raised beds, containers, etc) and your chemical-free means for controlling pesky pests while keeping your produce–and all of the big and little people who eat it–safe.

 

March

Preparation: Time to play in the dirt and by dirt, I mean manure that will add nutrients to your soil for the best possible growing conditions. That poo is the holy grail for hearty, healthy produce. Also, plant seeds for transplant plants such as cabbage, celery, eggplant, leeks, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. Depending on the variety, you will want to start the process 6-8 weeks before they are to be transplanted outdoors in the garden. If you plan on buying the plants, then no worries darling.

Outdoor Planting: Plant asparagus crowns, collard green seeds, onions, pea seeds, radish seeds, spinach seeds and turnip seeds.

 

April

Outdoor Planting: Plant leek plants, swiss chard seeds, broccoli plants, cabbage plants, cauliflower plants, lettuce seeds, kale seeds and beet seeds.

 

May

Outdoor Planting: Plant carrot seeds, potato plants, cucumber seeds, pumpkin seeds, eggplant plants, pepper plants, tomato plants and summer squash seeds.

 

Truth be told, I am not a master gardener by any means. My experience comes from trial and error through my own garden and through gardening advice from my parents who have organically gardened for over 30 years. Yes… they are the cat’s meow.

 

For more regional gardening information, check out the UNL Extension program, your local nursery and community garden, and organizations such as City Sprouts, North Omaha Tool Library and Common Soil Seed Library at the Benson Public Library.

Nodding Off to Healthyland

27 Jan

sleepSleep. Oh that wonderful ritual that slows aging and grants energy. That combines pajamas, fluffy sheets and snuggly warmth for 8 hours of silent delight… or 7. Or maybe 6—Sherlock doesn’t start until late. Make that two 3-hour shifts with a 30-minute baby feeding in between. Oh, I forgot! I have that big meeting tomorrow at 8am and I need to prepare after I help the kids with homework and get them to bed.

Sound familiar? I know I’m a repeat offender. Far too often we trade in our sleep to cram more things into our day, and it is—not maybe, not probably, not could—it is affecting our health. Sleeping less than 7-9 hours per night increases our risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and reduces memory and our ability to heal and build muscle. How can that be? Sleep is our body’s time to release hormones for physical and psychological repair and prepare us for the next day’s activities. The longer we stay up, the more cortisol our body releases which affects other hormones like increasing insulin and ghrelin (tells us we are hungry) while decreasing DHEA (anti-aging hormone), GABA and serotonin (our feel good neurotransmitters), growth hormone, melatonin and leptin (tells us we are full).

Here are 10 easy steps to create a stellar environment for increased energy, weight loss, stress reduction and improved cognition.

  1. Power down an hour before bedtime. Light keeps cortisol surging and cortisol keeps you wired and your waistband expanding. Dim lights and DVR TV shows to watch earlier the following day. Trade the nightshow line-up for a good book, conversation or relaxing bath.
  2. Stick to one cup of coffee in the a.m. Caffeine keeps us up, so stick to herbal teas and protein-dense foods rather than an afternoon caffeinated soda or coffee pick-me-up.
  3. Keep dinner light. It’s hard to sleep when our body is too busy digesting. Stick to a light dinner of lean protein, healthy fats and veggies.
  4. Give furry friends their space. Pets are cute like kids, but they also wiggle and can wet the bed like kids sometimes do too. Let them sleep next to you on the floor for uninterrupted (and dry) slumber.
  5. Play daily. The more active you are with exercise throughout the day, the better you will sleep.
  6. Be consistent. Waking up at 5am during the week and then sleeping in until 9am and staying up until 1am on the weekends wrecks havoc on your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Try to keep your wake and sleep times consistent.
  7. Find your neutral quiet. Whether it is a fan, a babbling brook or complete silence, find the white noise that helps you rest.
  8. Stay liquid-free an hour before slumber to avoid using the bathroom.
  9. Take a bubble bath. Create a nighttime ritual that helps you relax, whether it is soaking in the tub, giving/getting a massage from your significant other or spraying lavender oil on your sheets—take care of yourself and make it enjoyable.
  10. Black is the new sleep. Light is not our friend when sleeping. Keep your bedroom as pitch black as possible and as electronic-free as possible.