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Healthy Living: Garlic-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli


Garlic-Parmesan Roasted BroccoliI LOVE broccoli, but I get so tired of just steaming it and plopping it onto my plate.

Broccoli is super healthy. It’s rich in vitamin D, which helps keeps our metabolism in balance. It’s also rich in vitamins A and K.

Broccoli helps the body detox. We all want that unwanted sludge out of our bodies, don’t we? Broccoli helps move unwanted contaminants from our systems. It’s a great antioxidant with its concentrated vitamin C. Broccoli has the most vitamin C of any of the cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli also has concentrated lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene, other powerful antioxidants.

If you steam or roast broccoli, the fiber provides a benefit against cholesterol. Using heat to start to break down the fibers helps your body use it more effectively than if you eat it raw.

It’s great for your heart as an anti-inflammatory and how it lowers cholesterol. It’s also good to support eye health and to help regenerate sun-damaged skin.

Garlic-Parmesan Roasted Broccoli

Ingredients:
24 oz (about 5 cups) broccoli florets
3 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
juice of 1 lemon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with oil or coat with nonstick spray.

Spread broccoli florets in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet. Toss with olive oil and garlic; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with parmesan and lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 162, Fat: 11 g (4 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 14 mg, Sodium: 213 mg, Carbohydrates: 9 g, Fiber: 3 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 9 g.

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Healthy Living: Water


WaterI know I write about this frequently; it’s something I really struggle with.

I read today that the current recommendation for water intake is 80 ounces for an adult. I’ve also read studies which say to drink half your body weight in ounces. Either way, I bet that’s a lot more water than most Americans consume during the day, especially since nothing with caffeine or sugar counts as a “water” drink, no matter how hard I try to convince myself that unsweet tea equals water.

Basically, I have to trick myself into drinking more water.

I love the sparkling waters. They are calorie-free, sugar-free and fizzy, which I love. It reminds me of the years I lived in Europe, and any time you ordered water at a restaurant, they brought you the fizzy variety. It was probably also during that time period that I began to eschew ice. La Croix makes a variety of flavors, including lime, lemon, grapefruit and berry. Lime is my favorite.

Another trick is that every time I use the restroom, I have to chug 10 ounces after washing my hands. Sorry if that was too much information, but it works on getting the water down. I’m not likely to keep a bottle nearby to sip from, so chugging it works for me.

When I do keep a bottle of water handy, I try to flavor it with something. Chunks of watermelon, slices of cucumber or slices of strawberry are my favorite, but you could use any fruit or veggie you want.

I keep a 32-ounce bottle of water with cucumber in the refrigerator overnight, and my goal is to drink the whole thing before I leave for work in the morning. It’s so refreshing first thing in the morning, and it really helps to wake me up.

Another trick is to drink an equal amount of water for every caffeinated beverage you drink. This helps keep you hydrated.

So in theory, if I drink 32 ounces before work and another 16 ounces with my coffee (because I drink two cups of coffee), I’m more than halfway to my goal before lunch!



There is Always a Way


There is Always a WayThere is a phrase I often use when life throws a curveball: “There is always a way to make it work.”  Things may not happen as practically as you want, nor does it happen quite in the time frame in which you’d want it.

You know what? That’s okay.

Embrace your challenges, accept that curveball, and swing your bat with all of your might. What comes out of it – that dedication, passion and persistence – may be even better than what you’d imagined.

A challenge faced daily is exercise. Those of you working in a cubicle environment know it can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle when you’re at a desk all day. In my observations, I’ve found many ways people have used to stay active during work hours.

One of my coworkers sits on a large exercise ball half the day to help with core and legs. Another few have “stand up” desks. No chairs means always upright and always moving! There are several people that, when traveling to and fro, will take a different path back to keep things fresh or put in a few more steps than they would have otherwise. On your break, walk around. Go to your coworker’s office to speak face-to-face rather than by e-mail or phone.

Also, try going to the gym before work. You’ll not only have fit in your main exercise for the day, but it keeps your metabolism going at a higher speed throughout the day and you’ll be more awake and in a better mood! I’ve highly considered a desk cycle (pedals you cycle under the desk) or a kneeling posture chair which helps to keep your spine aligned and helps strengthen back and abdominal muscles.

If these aren’t for you, there are simple chair exercises you can do that will help. Examples include:

  • Leg extensions – hold legs up one at a time underneath desk, alternating pointed and flexed toes. This also works abs! Do 15 reps.
  • Leg toning – legs straight, cross one over the other and raise off floor. Press top leg down on the other, creating resistance. Do 5 reps and repeat with opposite legs crossed.
  • Abdominal contractions – contract abs for five second intervals, leaning slightly into a crunch. Contract all then go by sections in a circle then all again. This gets easier the more times you do it.

There is always a way to make it work. There is always time to make time to do it. As a personal challenge, I will begin these myself right…now. You should, too! Rep 1 complete already for me. Have you started yet?

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Healthy Living: Cinnamon Apple Chips


Cinnamon Apple ChipsSo far this summer, I’m losing the battle with my kids and fruit consumption, and this practically breaks my heart. There is nothing better than summer fruits.

It also begs the question: If my kids aren’t eating the abundance of fruit I’m leaving in the basket on the kitchen counter, what do they do with the fruit I pack them EVERY DAY in their school lunches? I’m not sure I want to know.

Since I’m often gone in the morning before they wake up for the day, I leave a note. Every day, the note says, among other things, “Eat some fruit. Drink a lot of water!”

My kids aren’t listening. I had to resort to a toddler tactic: turn the fruit into a fun snack.

They helped me make these, and they devoured them. That figures.

Sometimes, though, it’s whatever it takes!

Cinnamon Apple Chips

Ingredients:
4 apples, cored and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 to 2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp granulated sugar, if needed
nonstick cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat oven to 200° F. Slice the apples and place them in a large bowl. Toss with cinnamon and sugar, if using. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Lay the apples on the pan in a single layer, so they are not touching.

Bake 2 to 3 hours until the chips are dry but soft. Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container or zipper-lock bag for up to 4 days.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 210, Calories from Fat: 6, Fat: 1 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 4 mg, Carbohydrates: 56 g, Fiber: 10 g, Sugar: 42 g, Protein: 1 g.

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Healthy Living: Grilled Foil Packets


Grilled Foil PacketsOne of my good friends recently lost about 12 pounds.

I asked him how he did it.

His reply, “I grill pretty much everything. The fat cooks off the food, but the flavor stays in.”

I didn’t run it by a dietitian, but it sounds like pretty good advice to me.

Speaking of the grill and eating healthy, I’ve been pretty obsessed with grill packets lately.

Basically, you take any combination of protein and veggies, wrap them in a foil packet, and grill them! I like doing this with seafood because it cooks up so quickly, but you can do it with chicken, pork or beef. I’d recommend cutting them into chunks or strips, though, to make sure they’re cooked through.

Some healthy combinations I love are salmon with asparagus and lemon, shrimp with bell peppers and lime, chicken with broccoli florets, and seasoned tilapia with zucchini. You can really use any combination.

Here’s the premise:

Choose a protein and some veggies. Toss lightly with extra virgin olive oil, and season with whatever you like. I like lemon pepper seasoning, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, almost all of the McCormick Grill Mates, or just sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. The olive oil will help when you remove the food from the foil. Place an individual serving on a large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Fold the foil over the top and side of the dish, leaving a little space. Seal tightly on every end. Grill for several minutes, and then flip (make sure the foil is tightly sealed so nothing leaks and causes a flare-up). Grill until cooked through. Let packets rest before opening them.



Healthy Living: Scream for Ice Cream


Scream for Ice CreamJuly is National Ice Cream Month, and what better way to celebrate than with a big bowl of your favorite flavor?

I grew up firmly a hot fudge girl, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to really love a fruit topping on my ice cream.

Frozen fruit can be used to make a delicious ice cream topping.

You can literally take fresh fruit, like blueberries, sliced peaches, frozen hulled strawberries or chunks of mango, and drop them into a bowl of old-fashioned vanilla (or chocolate, or cookies and cream, or whatever you like!)

You can also make a compote or berry sauce for your favorite flavor! I love mixed berries on top of vanilla with a sprinkling of toasted walnuts.

Fruit Compote

Ingredients:
3 cups frozen fruit, such as blueberries, strawberries or cherries
3 Tbs orange juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp raw sugar

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a heavy saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the mixture bubbles, reduce heat slightly and let the fruit cook down.

Continue cooking for 10 to 12 minutes, occasionally smashing the fruit with a spoon as it breaks down.

Remove from heat, and transfer to a clean jar to cool completely. Seal the jar and store in the refrigerator.

Reheat and pour over ice cream.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 22, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 1 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 0 g.

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Healthy Living: Dill Cucumber Bites


Dill Cucumber BitesDill is one of those spices that I think is highly underrated.

I remember when we had a guest for dinner who ended up taking over the kitchen (which does not sit well with me, by the way) and coating our beautiful ribeyes with dill.

As much as I didn’t like his interference, it was delicious.

Now, I will admit that I didn’t pursue the use of dried dill on my steaks, but I do use it liberally on salmon, in potato salad and in other savory dishes. Dill has a fresh, earthy flavor that reminds me of clean, summer grasses and bright flavors.

This snack is low in carbs, but it is high in protein and flavor. The fat from the cream cheese keeps you satisfied, and the tomato adds a bright burst of summer flavor.

Dill Cucumber Bites

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
3/4 cup whipped cream cheese
1 Tbs dried dill
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Whip cream cheese with dried dill. Slice cherry tomatoes into halves. Toss with sea salt and pepper. Place a dollop of dilled cream cheese onto each cucumber round, and top with a cherry tomato half. Chill and serve.

Makes 12.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 20, Calories from Fat: 2, Fat: 0 g (0 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 1 mg, Sodium: 80 mg, Carbohydrates: 2 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 2 g.

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Healthy Living: Watermelon


WatermelonI bought the cutest, personal-sized watermelon at Brookshire’s today.

Other than tasting great and being easy to handle in a small, personal size, watermelon is a healthy summer fruit and a wonderful option for staying hydrated this summer.

Each bite of watermelon contains about 92 percent water and 6 percent sugar. That’s really not that much sugar, all things considered.

Watermelon has a lot of lycopene, which supports cardiovascular health. You’ll get the most lycopene when the flesh of the watermelon is dark red.

Watermelons also have properties that make them wonderful for anti-inflammatory and antioxidant support. They also contain a lot of vitamin C, about 16 percent of the recommended daily value. In addition, vitamins B6 and A are also found in abundance in watermelon. There’s also some potassium, while the fruit is very low in calories and is fat-free.

I love adding a few cubes of frozen watermelon to my water, and then enjoying the cool, refreshing flavor as they chill my water.



Healthy Living: Paddleboarding


Paddleboarding	A few summers ago when we were on our annual beach vacation, my siblings and I rented paddleboards, and we took them out in the Back Bay in Sandbridge, Virginia.

The Back Bay is calm, much calmer than the ocean, for sure. It has ripples and eddies and swells, but nothing like the vigorous waves of the Atlantic. It was the perfect place to learn how to paddleboard. None of us had ever attempted it before.

I’ll tell you that I was nervous. I had no idea how I was going to get from a crouching position to a standing position on the board.

Basically, paddleboarding is as simple as standing on a heavy board similar to a surfboard and paddling to move yourself forward, backward or in a direction with one oar, similar to what you’d use in a rowboat.

My lithe and nimble sisters and sisters-in-law hopped right onto their boards. I took it a little more slowly. You kneel on the board, plant your hands in front of you, lift with your legs into a standing position, and then slowly stand upright. The board is pretty heavy and weighted, so you need less balance than you’d think. That’s not to say you don’t have to stay balanced, but it wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined.

We headed out into the open water with the breezes at our back and the smell of ocean air wafting over the sea grasses. We paddled out to a duck blind, circled it and raced around it. We all had the hang of the boards.

Paddleboarding builds great core strength. You need it to maintain balance. It also works your legs because you are also using them to stay erect and your arms as you paddle.

To me, it was a great way to relax and get exercise at the same time. The water is my happy place, so the serenity and stillness of gliding through the water was good for the body and soul.

After about two hours, we were worn out but not tired enough for my sister-in-law, a devout yogi, to execute a backbend and handstand on her board.

I stuck to standing without falling.

So many lakes and rivers have paddleboards for rent now. Try it today! I recommend it for any skill or fitness level or age (as long as you’re a proficient swimmer). Always wear your life vest!



Healthy Living: June is National Dairy Month


June is National Dairy MonthThe slogan “Milk, It Does A Body Good” has been around for a long time for a good reason: Dairy does your body good!

Not just milk but yogurt, cheeses and other dairy products are also essential for strong bones, great teeth and good gut health.

Dairy products provide you with calcium, which (when consumed in a dairy product) is easily processed by the body. Dairy projects also provide you with vitamin D and protein, both essential for strong bones and muscles.

Cultured dairy products, like yogurt, infuse your system with probiotics that are essential for good gut health.

Dairy products are also a good source of potassium, vitamin D and iron.

Simply put, dairy is good for every part of your body!



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