New Year! New You!

For many people, the beginning of a New Year typically signifies change and a chance to make a fresh start. That is why some people make resolutions for themselves and figure, “New Year, New You” and new goals. Having goals gives us the opportunity to strive forward and accomplish things we deem important. For many of us, better health and diet often top the list.
goals

The New Year is a great time to take charge of your health and make changes to your diet. It is also a good opportunity to change up your routine and allow yourself the time to exercise more. Many people today are frustrated with their weight or have health problems related to their diets and are looking for help. In my book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living,” I talk about how society today consumes more processed food containing artificial ingredients than real, wholesome foods. Many people don’t know the difference and think “food is just food” and that is a big problem. Many of us are eating the wrong foods, which can cause weight gain and make you sick.
weight gain

Why not start out the year with a life-style change incorporating healthy eating habits? Remember—eating healthy is a choice, which requires a commitment. Following are some things you can do daily to commit to your health.

Ways To Commit To Your Health

  1. Eat Breakfast
    According to many nutrition experts, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, many people, including children and adults, skip breakfast and jump right in to their day, which is not good for you. After a long night’s sleep, your body requires nutrients to get you going. Eating breakfast helps gives you energy for the day ahead and will help you perform and feel better. While you may feel rushed, there are plenty of foods you can grab quickly to take with you out the door, or make in a minimal amount of time. Breakfast doesn’t have to be hard, or complicated. If you are in a hurry, grab a banana or some other piece of fruit. You can also grab a yogurt, nuts or perhaps a protein bar. If you have some time to spare, why not mix some healthful ingredients together to make a smoothie? You can add protein powder, a handful of spinach or kale, fruit, coconut oil and more. You can also make yourself some eggs, a breakfast sandwich or a breakfast burrito. There are many options to make a healthy breakfast.
    Eat Breakfast
  2. Eat More Fruit And Vegetables
    Eating a healthy diet is the best way to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to function properly. Some of the best sources of these nutrients come from fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately, many people do not include enough of them in their diet, especially vegetables. Do yourself a favor and try to include them at every meal. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips to go along with your sandwich, why not grab an apple or banana. If you bring your lunch to work, why not include some healthy vegetables such as carrots, peppers or broccoli to go with your meal? You can also choose to have a side of vegetables with your dinner, instead of fries or bread. Try including fruit and vegetables in your morning meals, as well. Oh—and don’t forget to incorporate fruit and vegetables for a morning, afternoon or evening snack. Try having some carrots, cauliflower and celery with hummus or your favorite dip, or snack on them alone. Apricots, raisins, cherries and grapes also make great healthy snacks. Find your favorites and enjoy their sweet flavor.
    fruit and vegetables
  3. Stay Active
    The morning is a great time to exercise. If you have the time, why not go for a walk, get on your treadmill (if you have one), do some stretches or yoga? You can also jump rope for 10 minutes. There are many possibilities. If you don’t have time to exercise in the morning, make sure you schedule some time in your day for it. Your body was meant to move. Make sure you find ways to stay active. You can go to a gym, lift weights or do kick boxing. You can also get on a stationary bike or get outside to run or go a long walk. If those things don’t interest you, find some other activity that does. There are  many options.
    yoga
  4. Plan Meals
    Many people these days opt for processed foods, go out to eat and eat unhealthy foods on the run. To help avoid these tendencies, try and make more home-cooked meals. The best way to do this is to pre-plan your meals. You can start by making a list of several meals you would like to make for the week. You can write down some of your favorites, or look for some new recipes to try. Why not pull out  your favorite cookbook, or search Pinterest or some other food site. Next you can make a grocery list of any ingredients you don’t already have on hand and then plan a trip to the grocery store. Once you have your groceries, you can prepare some items ahead to make things easier. For example, you can chop vegetables in advance for salads, stir-fries, or snacking. If you are making several recipes with chicken, why not cook them together? You can also cook a few extra chicken breasts to have on hand for salads, a quick stir-fry or some other dish. By planning ahead, you can save yourself time, eat healthier and avoid that usual visit to that local restaurant when you don’t necessarily have items on hand.
    cookbook
  5. Add More Good Fats To Your Diet—
    Fat plays a big part in how a food tastes. Unfortunately, many people are still hooked on low-fat foods, which aren’t all that healthy. Low fat foods tend to have added sugar, chemicals and preservative added to them to make them taste better. It is better to choose foods that contain monounsaturated fats (MUFAS), which are good fats. You can find them in a variety of whole foods including: avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut oil, olive oil, dark chocolate and certain varieties of fish. Make sure you start adding more good fats to your diet to reap their health benefits.
    avocados
  6. Take Time For Yourself—
    Make sure you take some time daily to practice a little self care. We all lead busy lives and can get stressed out from work, running our children around or attending meetings all day. It is easy to get caught up in our daily lives and the needs of others. That is why it is important to take a little time out of your day, just for you. There is nothing wrong with tending to some needs of your own. Make sure you allow yourself time to do a little reading, go shopping, work out, have a pedicure or something else you enjoy.

    reading

Thanks for reading!

Barb

Recipe: Easy Sausage Spinach Vegetable Lasagna

In this blog, I wanted to share a recipe for some easy sausage spinach vegetable lasagna that I made over the weekend. This recipe is a favorite of my family and I make it quite a bit, especially in the fall and winter months, when your body craves more comfort foods. It combines a healthy dose of vegetables including spinach, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes, onions and olives that not only are good for you, but provide a host of vitamins and nutrients your body needs. I also put in some options if you have a gluten sensitivity, or prefer a vegetarian version. Give it a try if you are looking for a new recipe to try for dinner.

Easy Sausage Spinach Vegetable Lasagna

spinach lasagna

  • 1 small box lasagna noodles (1/2 lb or approximately 9 noodles).
    You can use a gluten-free variety if you have issues with gluten.
  • 1 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce
    I used a local brand called Anna Lisa Spicy Pasta Sauce I got at Whole Foods that had no sugar or preservatives added. I really like this brand, but you can use any variety you like.
  • 1 container cottage cheese
    You can also use ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 cups shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese
    I usually shred my own to avoid the added cellulose in cheese and other pre-packaged foods used to prevent caking. It is derived from wood pulp. Yes-wood pulp.
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
    You can also leave this out if you prefer to make a meatless version of lasagna
  • 1/2 bag of fresh spinach
    You can also you kale
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 small green pepper chopped
  • 1 small package fresh mushrooms
  • 1 small can black olives
  • 1/2 jar green olives
  • 1-2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 medium size tomatoes diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cajun seasoning

Fill a large pot with boiling water and add the lasagna noodles. Turn down heat a bit and boil the noodles for 10 minutes and then strain off the water and set aside.

In a large skillet, brown the Italian sausage. Add the garlic, onion, green pepper and mushrooms. Stir the mixture until the vegetables are slightly browned. Add in the olives and the salt, pepper and cajun seasoning to taste and stir. Add the spaghetti sauce to the meat and vegetable mix and stir to combine all of the ingredients. Add the tomatoes to the top and stir, just so they become warn and then remove from the heat.

Grease a 13″ x 9″ cake pan with olive oil. Place 3 noodles on the bottom of the pan. Then spoon about 1/3 of the meat and vegetable sauce over the noodles. Grab a handful or so of the spinach and place it on top of the sauce. Next scoop about 1/3 of the cottage cheese on top of the spinach and then add a layer of the mozzarella or cheddar cheese.

lasagna layers

Repeat these steps 2 more times to create 3 layers total.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Place the prepared pan of lasagna in the oven and bake for 30-40, or until slightly crisp on the top. Remove from the oven and let set and cool for another 30-45 minutes. Serve warm with a fresh garden salad.

Enjoy!

Barb

P.S. If you are looking for more good recipes to try and ways to live a healthy life-style, you might want to check out my new book, Wholey Cow A Simple Guide To Eating And Living. You can grab a FREE chapter here to preview.

Recipe: Stuffed Peppers

In this blog, I wanted to share a recipe for some stuffed peppers I made the other night. It is easy to make and has some healthful ingredients. Give it a try if you like.

Stuffed Peppers

4-6 large green
12 oz. pork sausage ( You can substitute hamburger, or ground turkey.)
2/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 package fresh sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup thinly sliced celery
1 cup diced fresh tomatoes (You can also substitute diced canned tomatos or a good quality pasta sauce.)
1 small can sliced olives
2 fresh cloves of garlic (crushed)
1 cup cooked rice (Choose your favorite variety.)
1 egg beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Cajun to taste
1 package grated cheddar cheese

Cut tops off peppers and scrape out seeds. Boil some water in a large pot, (enough to cover peppers,) and add the peppers for approximately 5 minutes, to cook slightly. Remove from heat, rinse and drain to cool.

Cook the pork sausage in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently to break up the meat. Add the onion, celery, olives, mushrooms, garlic, salt, pepper and Cajun stirring occasionally until the sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are tender. Transfer the sausage mixture into a large mixing bowl and allow it to cool slightly. Add the diced tomatoes and egg. Add the rice, to the cooled sausage mixture. Scoop it into the peppers. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top of the peppers. Bake until the peppers are tender and crisp in a 350 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

Barb

8 Ways To Overhaul Your Diet

With the New Year upon us, many people are ready to make a change to their diet. If you have been frustrated with your weight or have health problems, you might be eating the wrong foods. Many people eat too many processed foods and sugary snacks, which can cause weight gain and make you sick. People often look for a quick fix for a growing waste line or a medical problem. What is really needed is a life-style change incorporating healthy eating habits.

Following are 8 Ways to Overhaul Your Diet:

  1. Eat Breakfast

    Breakfast is thought to be the most important meal of the day, according to many nutrition experts. After a long night’s sleep, eating breakfast gets the body going and gives you energy for the day ahead.  It is ironic that breakfast is the most skipped meal. Both children and adults are guilty of missing this important meal. Many of you feel rushed in the morning and don’t necessarily give yourself  the time to grab something to eat before you head out the door. Do yourself a favor and take a little time to eat something healthy. Breakfast doesn’t have to be hard, or complicated. Try mixing a few healthful ingredients together to make a smoothie. Maybe try a banana, handful of spinach and some protein powder. Use whatever fruit and vegetables you like. The are many possibilities. If you are in a rush, grab a banana and yogurt. If you have a little time, make yourself some eggs. Try adding in some healthy vegetables and maybe some left over chicken or ham. Again—you have many options. The point is to eat something healthy preferably with protein and vegetables.
  2. Pre-plan Your Meals

    When it comes to cooking, it is important to pre-plan your meals. Make a list of some meals you would like to make. If you want to try something new, find some recipes you would like to try. You can use one of your favorite cookbooks, or search Pinterest. Make a grocery list of any ingredients you will need for the recipes you choose as well as any other items you may need. Once you have your groceries, you can prepare some items ahead to make things easier. Chop vegetables in advance for salads, snacking, stir-fries, etc. If you are making a dish with chicken, you can cook a few extra chicken breasts to have on hand for salads, or another meal such as chicken fajitas. Pre-planning saves time, gives you a set plan for meals and allows you to eat healthier. By planning ahead, you will be less likely to visit that local restaurant for a greasy burger and fries.
  3. Replace Bad Oils With Good Oils

    Calories are often hidden in unhealthy oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil and others. Try replacing these unhealthy oils with olive oil or coconut oil. These oils are anti-inflammatory and contain healthy antioxidants. Update your pantry with these healthy oils.
  4. Replace Crackers & Chips With Nuts & Seeds

    Processed foods, including crackers and chips, are often loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Although they may taste good, many have addicting properties that keep you eating and wanting more. Try replacing some of these snack foods with nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds contain good fats your body craves. They also contain protein and fiber, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals your body needs. If you are looking for something crunchy to eat, snack on almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds. Nuts and seeds fill you up and give you extended energy. Enjoy 1 to 2 handfuls.
  5. Watch Out For Condiments

    While many people love condiments, many are loaded with sugar and chemicals. Ketchup and mustard seem to go hand in hand with a burger and fries, but when is the last time you looked at the ingredient list? Many people slather on the ketchup, not knowing they are consuming a large dose of sugar. Ketchup is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, which essentially is sugar and is horrible for your body. Other condiments including sauces and dressings are also loaded with sugars and preservatives. Manufacturers often mask sugar in the ingredient list by  using other names such as high fructose corn syrup, maltose, molasses, dextrin, fructose, dextrose, dextran, barley malt, evaporated can juice, rice syrup, sucrose and the list goes on. When choosing condiments, be selective and use sparingly.
  6. Make Your Own Dressings

    As I mentioned, many dressings contain sugar and other chemicals. If you like eating salad, you might want to consider making your own dressing. Many people like vinegar and oil, but there are many other options. You can make a healthy dressing using olive oil, lemon and your favorite herbs. Check out Pinterest for some healthy dressing choices. If you are eating out, ask for your salad dressing on the side. That way you can add the amount of dressing to your salad you like. Some restaurants have healthier dressing selections. Ask in advance what your options are.
  7. Look For 5 Ingredients or Less When Buying  Processed Foods—

    Consumers are often swayed into buying processed foods products because they are convenient, tasty and easy to prepare. Many processed foods however, are loaded with sugar and fat and contain a variety of chemicals and preservatives. Most processed foods also have a long ingredient list. If you are looking to overhaul your diet, look for products that have 5 ingredients or less. For example, you would be better off choosing a bag of Tostito’s over a bag of Dorito’s. Tostito’s contain 3 ingredients, whereas a bag of Dorito’s has a long list and many of the ingredients are long and hard to pronounce. Who know’s what they really are? A better idea is choose more whole foods. Many whole foods come with out an ingredient list, as they are made by Mother Nature. Fill your refrigerator and pantry with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, meat and good oils.
  8. Eat More Good Fat

    Although low-fat foods are popular, they aren’t all healthy. Fat plays a big part in how a food tastes. Low fat foods often have added sugar or other chemicals added to them to make them taste better. Opt instead for healthy fats found in assortment of whole foods. Add avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, coconut oil, olive oil, dark chocolate and a variety of fish to your diet for a healthy dose of fat.

Thanks for reading!

Barb