Sometimes your personal commitment to healthier eating can be sidelined by the other people you have to cook for! With all due respect to significant others and kiddies, of course :)
This is a time for baby steps. No need to force kale on them at evey meal. "They are chips, damn it! EAT THEM!!"
How about switching noodles in your soup to lentils? I mean, don't tell them about it. Just try it. A nice, cozy, easy to make chicken soup....with the HUGE nutritional benefits of lentils. We all know that the noodles in chicken noodle soup are far from beneficial. So make this small, healthy change and see what happens. I'm not saying they won't notice!! But - your family may surprise you. Lentils taste great and feel even better. So full of amazing nutrients - fibre, B vitamins, zinc, iron and potassium. (these are all things most people are severely lacking, by the way. Just saying.)
Here is a recipe for you to start your "family experiment" with. The flavours are super mild, no other surprises for them. Just start with the lentil thing :)
**The spinach may throw them off even more than the lentils, so choose wisely. You may not want to add this at this time in the food evolution. DO NOT OVERWHELM THEM!
**If you have chicken leftover from a previous meal, just add it (1 cup shredded or chopped) at the end of the cooking time to heat it through. Although, cooking the chicken in the soup adds flavour.
Chicken Soup (with lentils...shhhhh....)
2 tablespoons butter
½ large onion, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrot, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups organic chicken or vegetable broth (may need more, depending on how "soupy" you want this)
1 cup French lentils
½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
A couple of huge handfuls of organic baby spinach (optional)
(I spatter the word "organic" around in all recipes. If you can find/afford organic meats/produce then go for that. If not, don't stress about it. Promise?)
Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Season the vegetables well with salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the chicken stock and lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the chicken. Cover and continue cooking for about 45 minutes (lentils to be softish.). Remove the chicken and put it on a plate to cool. Once cooled, use two forks to shred the chicken. Or cut it into pieces. Not with the forks. Grab a knife for this. Ahem.
NOW- Before you add the chicken at the end, you could blend this soup - a little or a lot. Personally, I like it as is. But, you know your family. What will be the most appealing approach? Return chicken to the pot. Add the spinach at this point, too. (if you are to be so daring, heeheehee). Stir and let sit for a couple of minutes to soften the spinach and warm it up. Taste and correct the seasoning. Don't be shy with the salt - we need salt.
If your family is already somewhat adventurous...add some fresh ginger with the veggies at the beginning (1 or 2 tablespoons, minced), or maybe some cilantro (1/4 cup chopped) at the end. Play around with some herbs and spices. Perhaps a squirt or two of Siracha chili sauce to add some heat?
Double the recipe next time, if they like it!
If they don't - all the more goodness for you :)
Here is a recipe from January, 2013. The update is that my children now eat Brussels sprouts and mushrooms (well not quite....Sophie and the mushrooms - not happening. Yet).
Panko is a cleaner choice than packaged bread crumbs. Have a look at the ingredient list on a tin of bread crumbs (don't let the "whole wheat" bullshit sell you) and you will see what I mean! If you have the time to make your own with some good, clean bread - awesome. Otherwise, buy Panko.
"Inner Athlete, Heather Roe, has inspired me to post a very easy and tasty chicken dish that you could make for dinner quite quickly (under 30 minutes, with very little prep work). My children liked it, although I had to add mashed potatoes and cucumber slices to the menu, as Josh and I consumed all the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms on their behalf. You are welcome, children.
Here is the recipe (serves 4)
1/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 lb. chicken tenders ( or chicken breast that you will cut into strips)
2 Tablespoons Grapeseed oil (or Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried Thyme (I love this herb so I used 1 tsp. but if you have young kids you may want to cut down or take it out altogether.)
salt and pepper to taste
3/4 lb. mushrooms, halved (or quartered if very large)
3/4 Brussels sprouts trimmed and halved lengthwise (quartered if large) - if you despise Brussels sprouts then use broccoli.
Halve your veggies and cut up the chicken (if you couldn't find tenders).
Preheat oven to 450, placing racks in upper and lower positions. In a small bowl, mix the Panko crumbs and Parmesan together. Set aside.
Toss the veggies on a rimmed baking sheet with 2 teaspoons of oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss again. Have a quick taste and make sure you can taste the salt!
Roast them on the lower rack until golden brown and tender, about 25 minutes (this will hopefully be timed perfectly for when the chicken is ready!)
Place the chicken in a 9"x 13" baking dish and then add 1 teaspoon of oil. Toss the chicken around in the oil, then sprinkle on the Thyme and season generously with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken around again (just not up in the air hahahaha). AND don't taste for salt!
Arrange the pieces so they are a single layer in the dish and then evenly distribute the Panko and Parmesan mixture on top. Drizzle a Tablespoon of the oil over top (if you use a little more to ensure each piece gets some, that's okay) and then place on the upper rack in the oven.
Bake until golden brown on top and chicken is cooked through (20 minutes or so). Check by cutting the largest piece in the middle.
Serve it all together and enjoy!!"
Why this recipe:
Perfect for this upcoming colder weather.
Super good for you.
Perfect for lunch, dinner, snacking or breakfast.
Yes, breakfast (time to think outside the cereal box) - why not? It has protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, clean ingredients and cleansing lemon juice.
Lentils offer both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre is a gel-like substance that grabs onto bad stuff (like toxins and bad cholesterol) in the digestive tract and carries it out of the body. Insoluble fibre not only helps prevent constipation by adding bulk to your poop [gross, I know], but also acts like a broom, sweeping out your digestive system. Giving it a good cleaning, so to speak. This leads to a very healthy body and mind. This extra fibre helps regulate blood sugar levels, too.
Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins and magnesium. These nutrients lead to a very calm body. It's like your entire inside breathes a big sigh of relief and relaxes. When the body relaxes, the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients runs smoothly. It is all very positive stuff :)
The lemon juice in the soup is a gentle cleanser for your liver and helps to alkaline your blood (very important if you live in the world we live in today. Acidity is created by chronic stress [hello], coffee, alcohol, wheat, prescription drugs, lack of sleep.......you know - LIFE.)
PLUS: It is super easy to make and is super quick. Awesome.
LEMONY RED LENTIL SOUP:
*The original recipe is here - in italics are the adjustments I made.
1 teaspoon olive or coconut oil 1 tablespoon - 1 teaspoon was not enough.
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cut into cubes about the size of dice. Don't peel your potatoes. Most nutrients are found in the peel or directly under it. I used a Yukon Gold so the peel was more tender and cleaner.
1 carrot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced. I put in 4 as I find most recipes never have enough of this anti-oxidant rich gem.
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. I put in 1 teaspoon and still think it could have used more.
1/4 teaspoon salt. Put in 1/2 teaspoon - you may even need to add more at the end. Please don't fear salt in homemade recipes. Our bodies need sodium. Stay away from ridiculously high levels, of course....like canned soups, processed foods, fast food - you know where that shit is.
2 cups red lentils, rinsed
6 cups vegetable broth. Organic is best. Could be chicken stock, if you aren't a vegetarian.
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest. Definitely not enough! I zested a whole lemon and threw that in there.
1 Tablespoon lemon juice. Definitely not enough!! Juice of one whole lemon FOR SURE. I mean, it is LEMONY soup after all. Jeez.
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional). Unless you hate cilantro, this is not optional. It is necessary :)
Heat the oil in a large pot. Add the onion and saute until soft. Add the potato and carrot. Saute for another few minutes then add the garlic, coriander and cumin. Stir until the coriander and cumin are well combined with the veggies. Add salt, lentils and broth. If you find that you have some stuff sticking to the bottom of your pan, slowly add the broth before the lentils and salt. As you add it, stir with a wooden spoon and 'scrape' the stuff off the bottom of your pot.
Let it simmer, uncovered for about 15 minutes (until lentils are soft). Stir just once in awhile. Turn off the heat and add the zest and juice. Adjust seasoning to taste.
If you like chunky soup. Stop there. If not, blend it for a smoother variety. "It's your soup, so own that shit".
Top with cilantro.
"Big ass cup of cozy".
This soup feels great. You can sense your body relaxing with every spoonful. It fills you up with goodness. Have it first thing in the morning - it will start you day off right.
Have it as a snack. A cup of this heated up will keep you satisfied until your next meal.
Lunch or dinner with a salad and a piece of clean, crusty baguette - COME ON. How great is that?
Stop reaching for that Tylenol or Advil and give Bromelain a try! If inflammation is the cause of your pain: knee, hip, shoulder, back, elbow....anywhere on the body - Bromelain will help your body heal. Derived from pineapple stems, Bromelain is finally gaining recognition for its natural pain-relieving effects - it has been used for centuries. Sorry, you won't be able to eat the pineapple to gain these benefits (although it is a great fruit choice)
Scientists have recently shown that Bromelain provides powerful anti-inflammatory properties without the problems associated with drug therapy.
Generally speaking, a dose of 250-500 mg. /3 times a day is optimum to reduce chronic pain. Bromelain needs to be taken AWAY from food (11/2 to 2 hours after eating). Otherwise, the body will use it as a digestive aid - helping to digest protein.
Any brand that you find in a good health food store will be fine.
When you start to feel relief will depend on how severe/deep the inflammation is.
Keep at it though, it is worth protecting your liver, kidney and stomach lining, as continual use of pain reliever drugs causes damage to all three.
Please note that Bromelain has blood thinning capabilities. If you are on blood thinning medication, please consult your pharmacist or doctor before taking Bromelain.
Athletes are increasingly turning to bromelain to help manage sports injuries, and those undergoing surgery are using it to speed their recovery time. Bromelain also holds further promise in managing varied conditions such as sinusitis, osteoarthritis and inflammatory bowel disease - all of these involve inflammation.Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory properties have led to its main recognized medicinal use – as an effective pain reliever and healing aid in the treatment of minor injuries, such as sprains, strains, and other trauma.
Bromelain’s efficacy was studied in an open-case observation study of patients who had suffered blunt trauma to the musculoskeletal system. An orthopedist treated 59 subjects with conventional therapeutics plus bromelain for one to three weeks. Bromelain significantly reduced the patients’ swelling, pain at rest and in motion, and tenderness at the site of injury. Not only was bromelain effective, it was also well tolerated.
If you are told you have any condition that ends in "ITIS" -arthritis, sinusitis, tendonitis, colitis.....they all have one thing in common: INFLAMMATION.
These conditions will all benefit from Bromelain.
Bromelain not only helps relieve the pain associated with inflammation, it helps the body heal.
What Makes An Athlete?
The dictionary says, an athlete is “a person trained or gifted in exercises or contests involving physical agility, stamina, or strength; a participant in a sport or exercise, or game requiring physical skill”.
FOR SURE. When I watch an elite athlete perform, I am AMAZED at their physical ability. Since becoming a personal trainer, Cirque Du Soleil is a whole new experience for me!
However, I believe this definition lacks some intangible aspects of what the admirable title of athlete conveys.
Beyond the work displayed by the body, it takes determination, dedication and will power to be an athlete. It takes someone who is willing to START. Who will give as much as they can from the very beginning. An athlete also recognizes the need for growth and is willing to get help when needed. An athlete is open to learning, recognizing that it will only make them better.
The amount of effort an athlete puts forth in order to not just do everything needed, but to do everything needed correctly and to the best of one’s ability is crucial. Stopping when you need to, but ALWAYS willing to start up again. Giving as much as you can each time, no matter what form of exercise.
An athlete has to want to improve and perform. Even on days where you would just rather go out and get some poutine.......you come to class.
Or maybe you can't get to class.....so you go for a walk. You take action.
The strength and drive it takes to come back to class after being away from it for awhile....AMAZING.
The steps you took to finally get to a class - that is your Inner Athlete at work.
Deciding to exercise, signing up and then showing up.
Once there: working as hard as you can, yet respecting your limitations and knowing that you will simply get better and better at what you do.
You all have an INNER ATHLETE.
Inner, because you are not professional athletes.
But, inside - that athlete is there. I've seen so many come out!
Never forget that.
I see your Inner Athlete at work.
I admire your Inner Athlete!!
(Never forget that, too.)
Your Inner Athete: Strong, Fabulous and Smiling
You love her or hate her (or perhaps could care less?!)
I am thankful to her - well, her team, I suppose - for coming up with this versatile fresh herb dressing. You can use it in salads, as a marinade, as a spread on crusty bread (put it under the broiler and add some feta. Yum), or toss it in with your veggies.
You just shake it up in a mason jar. Simple.
Refrigerated, it lasts 5-6 days.
This makes one cup:
In a mason jar, place 2 teaspoons of lemon zest and the juice of 2 lemons. Add: 2 teaspoons of honey (I used just a bit more), 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 Tablespoons chopped chives, 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley and 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (my favourite). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Tighten lid (duh), and shake to combine. Add more of whatever ingredient you think it needs - salt? honey? Dijon? tarragon?
Shake it up again if adding anything and keep tasting until it is to your liking!
Adding fresh herbs to your meal is one of the best things you can do for your health. Herbs are packed with vitamins, minerals, flavanoids and antioxidants - all of which help your body fight disease. The high concentration of chlorophyll purifies your blood, liver and kidneys. Parsley has 3 times the Vitamin C by volume than an orange. It is an excellent source of Folic Acid which helps regulate blood pressure. The Vitamin K in parsley is essential for bone health and blood clotting. Basil is known for it's anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps to ease joint and muscle pain. Basil is also very good for asthma. It helps remove phlegm from bronchial tubes and mucus from lungs. Basil has been known to sharpen memory (I am now going to add basil to my salad tonight - I need all the help I can get).
Start experimenting with these awesome gifts from nature! Throw a bunch in your salad, sauces, soups, guacamole, salsa, potatoes or rice.
Add parsley to your smoothie!
Here is my daughter's favourite bruschetta recipe. Toast up some delicious, clean bread and enjoy. Dollop some on top of your chicken or fish....toss it in a salad! :)
PS: Please don't omit the oil. Your body needs it to gain the benefits of lycopene (antioxidant) from the tomatoes. Some fats are good for you!
6-8 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh basil - chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley - chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil
1 Tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
2-3 good pinches of salt (start with 2, then to taste)
a couple of rounds of freshly ground black pepper
COMBINE AND DIG IN!
I am fortunate enough to not be spending a great deal of time sitting at a desk.. Multiple back and posture issues stem from excessive sitting, even with good posture in the chair. When seated, your low back is in constant, low-grade flexion. Continuous or repeated flexion in the lower back will eventually lead to the outer collagen rings of the lumbar discs wearing away. This will then lead to painful conditions such as bulging or herniated discs.
Another issue with continuous sitting is the shortening of your psoas (hip flexor muscle) and the weakening of your gluteals (bum). Your pelvis becomes misaligned and your low back will then be in permanent flexion, even when standing. All of this makes standing upright very difficult and leads to our shoulder rounding forward - your upper back muscles then become weak and overstretched and your chest muscles become very tight. When the shoulders are rounded forward our necks are forced to extend more than usual to look straight ahead - compressing cervical spinal discs.
You can see how one thing will lead to another and it all ends up with tension, pain and immobility.
It is so important for those of you who do a great deal of sitting during the day (at a desk and/or travelling by planes, trains or automobiles) to TAKE A BREAK EVERY 20 - 30 MINUTES. Stand up and, if you can, walk around. The core musculature that supports the lower back shuts down after approximately 20 minutes. Moving around will help reactivate it.
It sounds so simple, but it is very important. Make sure you take the time to do it!!!!
Here are the other important moves for you:
1.. The lunge stretch. Yes, it has the evil word "lunge" in it, but it helps to stretch out your shortened hip flexors and then allow for greater flexibility in the hip joint.
2. Shoulder shrugs. Stand up and try to relax your shoulders. Then squeeze your shoulder blades together by pulling your shoulders back as much as possible followed by shrugging your shoulders halfway up towards your ears. Hold it here for a couple of seconds and then - keeping the shoulder blades together- lower your shoulders down. Then release the squeeze.
3. Stand in front of a door way and bring your arms up as if someone yelled: 'Put your hands up, this is a robbery!!" Then place your hands on either side of the door way and slowly lean forward until you feel a nice stretch in the chest muscle and shoulder.
4. See if you can lift your computer monitor up to eye level so you aren't looking down all the time.
The stretches can be done 2-3 times a day and will greatly improve your posture and your comfort.
Although this image really does say it all, I have added 5 reasons to pump up the jam with weights - just as a reminder of why we do what we do!
1. Increased Metabolic Rate – adding new muscle to your body increases it’s ability to burn calories even at rest. Muscle is WAY more metabolically active than fat and, as you can see, takes up far less room. As you replace fat with muscle you become smaller. Just remember, muscle mass is dense. You can see from the photo that you can fit more than 5 lbs. of muscle into the space that 5 lbs. of fat fills. Never judge your improvement by how much you weigh! Get off that f**cking scale!!!
2. Increased Tone & Bone – Lifting weights will start to create new muscle definition - ready for you to show off any time!
Adding muscle stimulates the body to build new, stronger bones in order to support your new muscle mass. You will increase your bone density and be less likely to develop osteoporosis as you age. Strength training is your best defence against osteoporosis.
3. Better Posture – As you build muscle strength you are more able to hold your body in the upright, tall position it should be in. Eventually, your will feel your supporting muscles tighten as you stand, sit, walk, get up from a seated position, and exercise. You are able to fight gravity with strong muscles holding you up - no more leaning forward and slouching!
4. Increased Functional Strength – By increasing overall strength you will be able to perform the activities of daily living better. Laundry, grocery shopping, lifting the kids, dogs pulling on the leash, shovelling, lawn mowing......these all become so much easier.
5. Decreased Chance of Injury – Your body will instinctively know what muscles to fire when needed after you have taught them, using proper form during strength training. For example – you’re out for a walk in the winter. You slip on some ice and feel your knees buckle, but - you don't fall down!! This is because you have strengthened the muscles in your legs that provide stability in the knee. You have built a strong core to keep you braced for any sudden jolts. Compare that to someone with poor muscle development and they will likely have torn a ligament in the knee and done some more damage to themselves as they hit the ice.
So there you have it. And, of course, we can't forget the great feeling we get after working out with weights - strong and fabulous!!!!