Broccoli Slaw Salad

Well so far I’ve made a small, but significant amount of progress with my blog rename project. On top of this seemingly easy project, I’ve decided to buy a domain name for the new blog name so I can omit the .wordpress from my URL. I’ve already selected the blog name and have checked it’s availability on Go Daddy. (I’m so glad I finally know what that website specializes in.) Right now the URL is a bit long, so I’m trying a few different combinations to shorten it.

In other news, my tummy is hurtin’ today from all of the game-day foods I indulged in over the weekend. When I actually looked back at what I had, it didn’t seem that bad, but my stomach sure looks like it disapproves. I decided to start my day out right with my go-to one egg/one egg white combo, over easy, with a toasted whole wheat sandwich thin. Eggs always stay with me longer than cereal or oatmeal, so I try to eat them on days I know I won’t get my second breakfast at work. Unfortunately without this 10am back up, I got ridiculously hungry at 11:30am and started in on my lunch.

Lunch 09-26-11 001Lunch 09-26-11 002

I have tried for months to buy lettuce to put in my salads, but for the life of me I can’t get into this salad staple. I’m fine at restaurants when I order salads, but for whatever reason, my homemade salads with lettuce gag me. Spinach isn’t as bad, but sometimes I get a slimy piece that puts me over the edge. I’ve been reading on PBFingers blog that she uses a broccoli slaw in place of her lettuce sometimes and that it adds such a nice crunch. I decided to do this today and found the switch to be right up my alley! I’m sold.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Joining Alex for nice run after my 7 day hiatus after my back issue. (I’ll save that gem for another time.)

Would You Like Mung with That?

Salamu! (Kenyan for “Greetings”)
Yesterday my friend Brianna and I tried the Morgantown-based Kenyan Café, located in Chelsea Square. We were in the mood to try something new, so since this place was recommended to me by my Girls on the Run ladies, Jeanette and Laurie, we headed straight in. Neither of us knew the first thing about Kenyan cuisine, so we launched into our usual round of questions directed towards the waitress. She was kind enough to have the chef or owner (or both!) help us out. I selected the ugali with egg and cabbage, while Brianna picked the mong (mung) beans and rice.

Mung Bean

We found out that mung beans are a type of green bean (not the traditional French kind) was packed full of protein and vitamins. This Indian-domesticated bean looked remarkably like a lentil and tasted a lot like one too. When germinated, the mung bean transforms into a delicious sprout that is often used in Japanese and Korean dishes. Yum!

Mung Bean Sprouts
The dish I selected reminded me a lot of polenta, except much more dense and sticky. Ugali is made from combining maize flour cooked to a porridge consistency and is often paired with a sauce or liquid-based mixture in which it is dipped. My cabbage and egg mixture was actually more to my taste than the ugali itself; however I would highly recommend this dish.

After we devoured our food and raved about it for 20+ minutes, I told Brianna about my idea for yet another (but final) blog name. I expressed to her my need for a more unique and personal name and she agreed that “Living Well” was (in my words, not hers) a bit dull. She approved of the name I’d selected and even loved the philosophy behind it. We both agreed that I should consider purchasing a domain name or going through WordPress.org for added security and that I needed to add a few features to help take my blog to the next level. So in the next few weeks, you can except to find the following:

  • New blog name
  • Recipe section
  • Yoga pose section
  • “Philosophy Behind the Name” section

I want to assure you that the content and general theme WILL NOT change. (I do hope you all continue to read my blog!!) I only want a new name so it will be easier for people to remember it and that it hopefully will attract new readers. I’m also hoping the domain name will alleviate the complicated .wordpress addition to the URL.

Stay tuned and don’t forget to visit the Kenyan Café in Chelsea Square!

My Healthy Tip of the Day: If you don’t have time for a workout, try squeezing in one of these exercises while you’re heading out to run your errands.

**Photos courtesy of Dreamstime.com

Cheese and Fruit: What a Pear

^^^See what I did there? All joking aside, cheese and fruit really are the spice of life. In fact the combination made its way into my heart just two short years ago. Alex and I were at the Glasshouse Grille here in Morgantown for dinner and we were nibbling on our usual cheese tray appetizer. I decided to take some of the brie and spread it on a pear slice. I was an instant believer. Since I don’t have the digestive tract income to support my fancy cheese habit, I decided to sub in The Laughing Cow Light Swiss cheese for my version of this wonderful snack.

A pear with a wedge of cheese is always more filling than I expect.

Tasty snacks aside, it’s now time for the bad news. Due to improper timing and a conflicting schedule, I was not able to meet my 75-mile goal by September 20th. I was 2.90 miles shy, however I’m not dwelling on it. In fact, I’m overlooking this small setback and reveling in my 4 mile run glory. On Monday evening, in a feeble attempt to meet my deadline, I finished my first 4 mile run in 39.23 minutes. I wasn’t out to break a speed record or anything, but the fact that I accomplished this first more than made up for the loss of the September 20th goal.

For next month, I’d like to have 115 miles locked down by October 26th so my map route looks better than this.

091911Running to Rome

Sorry such a short entry, but there will be a lot more to come.

Roasted Grapes

A few weeks ago, I was challenged to purchase a new vegetable and a new fruit each time I visit the grocery store. Unfortunately, due to my regional location, some of the more exotic foods I’d like to try are not available. To continue my challenge, I knew I’d have to get creative with the foods I do have available. So, without further ado, I’d like to present the newest creation I’m hoping to try. I found this recipe in the October issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine (I’m so hip) and thought it sounded pretty interesting.

Roasted GrapesGrapes ClipArt

Ingredients:

  • salt
  • pepper
  • thyme
  • olive oil
  • purple grapes

Simply combine all ingredients and roast at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. This unique way of preparing grapes is great for adding to a salad or even making some sort of fruit-based bruschetta.

I’ve never really found grapes to be that appealing. They are sort of boring and have always seemed better off in wine to me. However, upon further investigation, I’ve found that these little guys have way more to offer than I thought.

According to an article on The Perfect Shape, grapes are great for fighting off heart disease.

Resveratrol, a polyphenol contained by grapes, protects against arterial wall damage. Another interesting nutrient contained by grapes is pterostilbene. Researchers discovered that this compound can reduce cholesterol and triglycerides by affecting enzymes responsible with the regulation of fat level in our blood.

Grapes are also great for staving off cancer.

Bioflavonoids, another nutrient contained by grapes, facilitate the absorption of vitamin C into our bodies and help vitamin C maintain healthy connective tissue in our bodies. They also function as antioxidants, by protecting vitamin C from oxidation and by preventing ruptures in capillaries.

Bioflavonoids provide strength to our cells in the battle with cancerous cells and also help kill cancer cells.

If you aren’t much for worrying about these biggies, what about viruses? Well, grapes can help with those too!

In a study conducted at Erciyes University in Turkey, scientists discovered that grapes have an effective antimicrobial action. The study revealed that this action applies for certain bacteria, like Stoph and the famous E. coli.

Finally, grapes are great for helping the aging process. Nobody can stop this, but by consuming grapes a few times a week, we can all help make the produce a much better end result.

As we have previously discussed, resveratrol is a natural antioxidant that can help reduce heart diseases, the risk of cancer and even brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Besides these benefits, resveratrol seems to influence genes controlling the aging process.

According to Harvard Medical School researchers, this substance can restrict calories intake. It activates enzymes that slow aging, thus increasing DNA stability and extending life span by 70%.

I’m not sure how roasted grapes will taste, but I just may learn to love them if they provide all of these benefits!

Since I’ve been a terrible blogger and haven’t posted a yoga pose of the week for quite some time now, allow me to take this time to redeem myself.

Yoga Pose of the Week (courtesy of Yoga Basics) : ARDHA SARVANGASANA Yoga Basics Pose

1. Lying on your back with the arms along side the body with the palms down, bend the knees and kick and rock the legs up and back, bringing the bent knees to the forehead and placing the hands under the hips.

2. Cupping the hips like you are holding a big bowl of fruit, begin to lift the legs up, straightening them over your head. Support the weight of the body with the arms and the shoulders, having very little or no weight in the head and neck.

3. Find a position where you can balance the legs over the head and relax the leg muscles, using as little effort as possible to be still.

4. Breathe and hold 4-10 breaths.

5. To release: bend the knees back to the head, and carefully and slowly roll the spine back onto the floor.Breathe and hold for 2-4 breaths.

Benefits

Benefits: Half Shoulder Stand improves the circulation of blood and lymph, stimulates the thyroid and activates the immune system.

Instant Pumpkin Mousse

As October rapidly approaches, I find myself going bonkers for cinnamon, pumpkin and caramel flavors. A few weeks ago, I purchased a large can of instant pumpkin pie to make a PBFingers original Pumpkin Spice Cookie recipe. Since I had more pumpkin than the recipe called for, I stored half for my own personal snacking. Again, being inspired by PBFingers Julie, I threw a spoonful (or three) into my oatmeal every morning. It was like eating dessert for breakfast!

One evening, after jonesing majorly for some frozen yogurt, I decided to try something new. I had a cup of plain, non-fat Greek yogurt in my refrigerator and just enough pumpkin mixture left to make a fast and easy Pumpkin Mousse. I simply combined the pumpkin, some cinnamon, a little Splenda, and my Greek yogurt into a freezer-safe container. I popped it in the freezer for about 10 minutes (although it could have stayed in longer). When I took it out, it was a wonderful, thick consistency and even caused my boyfriend’s head to turn. I let him try the first bite and was shocked to get his approval.  (Side note: When I make a traditional dish healthy and Alex says it’s good, that means I’ll love it.) When it was my turn to dig in, I was so pleased to find it tasted as close to the real deal as I’ve ever had. It still had a bit of a tang from the Greek yogurt, but the cinnamon and pumpkin flavors really complimented everything well. Mmm..

A quick word of advice: If you are planning on incorporating pumpkin into your meals for the next few months, head to the store now and stock up. Pumpkin goes very fast in the fall and will be impossible to find closer to Halloween and Thanksgiving. Trust me, you’ll be glad you stocked up when you start hearing women complaining about it!

So here is what you need for a fast and easy homemade Pumpkin Mousse:

  • Cinnamon spice
  • Plain or vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Can of pumpkin pie mix or plain pumpkin
  • Splenda or other sweetener
  • Pumpkin pie spice, if you go with the plain pumpkin

I suggest for a single serving of yogurt only adding two or three spoon-fulls of pumpkin and test the flavor as you add your sweetener. You might find you prefer it a little more tangy.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Hopping back on the treadmill after a quick stint on the elliptical. Originally, I had only cranked out 2 miles due to sore legs, but after my switch of machine,  I managed to jump back on to finish another half  mile. I only accomplished 2.5 miles of my goal today, but because I listened to my body, I’ll have the strength to meet my goal by next Tuesday!

Birthday Girl

Today was my little girl’s first birthday! I truly can’t believe how big she’s gotten already. She’s climbing all over the furniture and can even say “mama”! I really couldn’t be any prouder. Ok, ok, so my “little girl” is a cat, but at least I get to keep my figure this way. All joking aside, she really does meow “mama” to her actual mother, Karen, and usually has to be lured off the furniture with the temptation of a treat. I guess it just feels like yesterday that she was litter-training herself and hiding under the bed from my mother. (Ok, so she still does this. Sorry Mom!)

When Grace was little and first moved in with me, she had one emotion: fear.

To celebrate her big day, Alex and I will be enjoying a Jersey Subs dinner tonight while Grace opens her present and enjoys her special dinner. She and her mother would be wearing birthday hats if I didn’t think they’d slice me open while I sleep. (If any of you are surprised I’d go this far for a birthday, just wait until Christmas.) Even though I don’t have a “human” child, I’ll keep the kid theme going in today’s post.

About a week ago, I was speaking with a coworker about his daughter. He said that she was always very responsible when it came to watching television and even asked him to change the channel (when she was too young to do it herself) when she saw something she knew she shouldn’t be watching. When I asked for an example, I was surprised to hear “Spongebob Squarepants” was off-limits. I asked him what the problem with that show was and he replied, “Have you ever met a child who watches that show and isn’t completely annoying?” I laughed, but had to admit, a part of that statement was true. Having watched it a few times, I did pick up on some of the more annoying habits the show promotes. (Truth be told, I couldn’t get past the starfish’s laugh.) Apparently, my coworker was right to keep his daughter away from shows like Spongebob, as recent studies have shown that some fast-paced cartoons can actually harm your child’s ability to concentrate.

According to a recent post on the CNN blog The Chart, Researchers from the University of Virginia showed 60 4-year olds a 9-minute chunk of what they call an “animated kitchen sponge” cartoon. The experts then tested the children’s memory and thinking skills and compared their scores to other youngsters, who had watched a slow-paced educational cartoon or drew pictures with crayons and markers.

But what this means for children long term is still an open question. Several other studies have found a link between heavy television viewing and problems with children’s attention spans, especially in young children, while others have not. Some researchers are concerned, however, because the ability to concentrate and not get distracted often shapes how well children do in school.

In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends parents “limit children’s total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day” and “discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years” entirely.

“The important take home message here is that the content of viewing actually matters. Many, many parents have rules about the quantity of programming their children watch but far fewer have restrictions on what they watch,” says Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at the University of Washington in Seattle and author of an editorial in Pediatrics.

So before you plop your kid in front of the television just so you can get some housework done, think about what this could mean for the brain development of your child. Instead of an hour of television, try 30 minutes of television followed by some other brain-stimulating activity or for the older kids, encourage reading. You’ll be glad you did in the long run!

Happy Birthday Grace! You’re such a good kitty!

Grace, the Gray Beast

Eat This…And That…And That…

A coworker of mine is in the process of cleaning up her diet by a doing a vegan “cleanse.”  She says although it’s a great way to reset the body, the first few days are pretty rough due to her body’s dependency on sugar and caffeine. Apparently it’s a real eye-opener to the additives in food we don’t even think about consuming. Although I wussed out nearly a year ago when I tried a vegan diet, I did make more of an effort to eat more naturally. Because of this choice, I now have difficulty enjoying the “normal” foods I once loved.

As many of you know, I started my journey to a healthier life three years ago when I began exercising regularly. The first year was really focused on getting into a routine of exercising 5-6 days a week and the second year I tried to work on limiting or completely eliminating meat from my diet. The third year has by far been the most successful on two fronts: my diet and finding the joy in fitness.

When I first started trying to clean up my diet, I was very stubborn about hanging on to certain foods. For example, I loved **French fries, so I opted to exercise an extra 15-20 minutes just so I could enjoy these little buggers. I wasn’t willing to give up much, so imagine my excitement when I found the wonderful online version of Eat This, Not That. It offered better-for-you alternatives to the traditional foods I loved and also helped me understand how much I was consuming when I went to restaurants. Before I knew it, I was flying over my second year plateau and still enjoying my goodies.

By my third year, or more accurately, June of 2011, I was two years (soda) sober and had really started thinking about what I was putting into my body. The fast food was almost completely eliminated (with the exception of Subway) because of a combination of the vegetarian diet and finally being able to ***taste my food. I had started food journaling, which I absolutely stand behind, but realized I was opting for low-calorie foods over ones with nutrition. I had started to plan my Running to Rome challenge and knew these foods wouldn’t do me any favors on my longer runs. I hit the produce section hard and started loading my cart on broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and fresh fruit. I tried to opt for fruit for dessert and decided to lay off the granola for a while. Before I knew it, I was actually turning my nose up to anything with a long ingredient list and gobbling down the fresh stuff. I finally felt full at lunch and noticed I was staying well within (sometimes under) my caloric goal.

Fitting a ton of filling veggies into a big salad is a fast and easy way to get some serious nutrition.

Although Eat This, Not That helped me tremendously when trying to decide what to order at a restaurant, I now know that for me, the best choice is always the cleanest, simplest dish on the menu. I do encourage all of you who are easing your way into a healthier diet to visit this site and examine the many lists of alternatives. This site also offers many grocery store guides that really helped me navigate my way through the middle aisles when I needed pantry staples.

My Healthy Choice of the Day: Since I didn’t post one yesterday, I’ll cover two. Yesterday, I listened to my body and only did a 2.45 mile run. I was coming off an 8 day hiatus from running and knew too much too soon would wreck my week. Today, my healthy choice was loading up on fruit and veggies for lunch. I enjoyed leftover tomatoes, cucumbers, and cauliflower, as well as fresh broccoli and a plum for lunch. (Don’t forget the Atheno’s Roasted Garlic Hummus!)

Running to Rome Update: I’m currently 20 miles from my September goal. I fell quite a bit behind, but intend to catch up this weekend. My running total is 54.10 miles since July 4th. The number is so much smaller than I thought, but hopefully I’ll improve.

**Eat This, Not That Swap:

EAT THIS:

KFC Potato Wedges

Yes, please.

260 calories

13 g fat (2.5 saturated)

740 mg sodium

NOT THAT:

Wendy’s Medium Fries

410 calories

19 g fat (3.5 g saturated)

350 mg sodium

***When I was fifteen, I took a trip to see my family in Seattle, Washington. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant one night and noticed the waiter tossed me a side glance when I ordered a Coke. At the time I assumed it was because I was new to the Thai cuisine and he had heard me asking the pronunciation of certain dishes. However, after he took our orders, my cousin Emily informed me that in some Asian cultures, it’s insulting to order a carbonated beverage, because it distills the taste buds. I didn’t give up soda until several years later, but I did notice a big difference in taste when I did.

12 Hours Later

 

Due to recent travels, I have been forced to neglect my blogging; however I hope to get back into the swing of things ASAP.

 

On Saturday I traveled with my parents to visit my family in Kentucky and left on Monday. The drive is around 5 ½ hours from my parents’ house in Lewis County and about 6 hours and 45 minutes from my house. Because we had to get home for work on Tuesday, we were forced to cram a whole lot of eating socializing into 1 ½ days. This also meant a slim chance for any calorie burning except from running our yaps. I won’t bore anyone with the details, but it was a nice trip. I spent quite a bit of time with my cousin, aunt and catching up with my grandpa.

 

For whatever reason, I’m not really into sleeping in when I travel. Even though I know I’m exhausted and need to sleep, I generally get no more than 5 or 6 hours when I’m away from home and blame the combination of excitement and feeling strange sleeping the day away in someone else’s house. On Sunday, after a very limited amount of sleep, I woke up around 7 a.m. to find nobody else was up. Since I was staying with my aunt, I assumed she’d be up getting ready for church, but no such luck. I decided to seize the opportunity and sneak in a few sets of my favorite Pilates moves. I did a mix of legs, core, and stretching exercises and eventually got busted by my aunt, who proceeded to laugh at me. Later, I had another opportunity to go for a classic dirt road walk back to my Grandpa’s old barn. I wasn’t speed walking or anything, but getting up and moving around a bit still made me feel great. It also got me thinking about the fitness lessons I’ve learned…

 

1.       Don’t do something you hate. If you hate running, avoid it. If you despise the stationary bike, find something else to do. When trying to lose weight and get into shape, a lot of people make the mistake of diving into the tough stuff and end up really hating the process. They either try tackling something too difficult for their level, or they expect too great of results too quickly. Find something you enjoy (even if it is just going for an afternoon walk) and keep at it. It’s the easiest way to form lasting fitness habits.

 

2.       Listen to your body. Again, the mistake people often make (myself included) is trying too much too soon. When I first started working out, I’d try to go on these long runs and would end up too sore to do anything for the rest of the week. I didn’t enjoy the process and ended up taking nearly a year off from running. Thankfully, when I decided to give it another go, I eased into it, making the whole process much more enjoyable.

 

3.       A little can go a long way. I used to think that if I couldn’t do some serious exercising while on vacation or traveling that I might as well just eat junk and become a bum. What I didn’t realize was that even doing a few push-ups or stretches gave me the motivation to make better health choices throughout the day. Although I didn’t eat anything terribly healthy after my Sunday morning Pilates session, I did notice a difference in my portions. If you travel somewhere and don’t have access to a treadmill for your normal cardio routine, simply take a quick walk around the area or crank out a few sit-ups to keep your body responding.

 

4.       It’s okay to take a few days off. Life happens and you can’t beat yourself up if you don’t even have the time (or energy) for those few sit-ups or push-ups. Some days I come home from work and don’t even want to think about anything other than curling up on the couch. The decision to lace up my shoes and head back out is my own and I usually will just avoid a workout if I know I’m going to have a bad attitude about it. (Though my boyfriend always reminds me that I always feel so much better when it’s over.) Taking a day off once in a while is fine, but remember, the longer you stay away from the gym, the harder it will be to get back.