Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tips for New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again. Do you typically decide to set New Year's resolutions? Many of us have set them before or choose to not even bother after many years of attempts. It can be difficult to change your lifestyle habits. I encourage everyone to set one to three goals for the year ahead. This doesn't have to be done at the first of the year; goals towards improvement can (and should) be made at anytime.

First, take a moment to reflect on your positive attributes. Think of all the wonderful people in your life and great accomplishments. Consider not only what you would like to change, but what you would like to remain the same. Goals can build on your successes to help fade your negative thoughts. Keep in mind the power of exercise and nutrition to benefit your health when creating goals.

Follow these tips for setting goals towards a healthier you:
  • Be realistic: Set small changes for long-term impact. If your goal is to drop 30 pounds, try an achievable goal of aiming to reduce one pound per week. Focus on one goal and add to it once it is part of your lifestyle. 
    • For example, consume at least five servings of fruits and/or vegetables per day. Once you think of all the nutrition you can add, take away the extra sweets or fried foods.
  • Be specific: "I want to start exercising." How will you increase your physical activity? Set the number of days per week and the duration of exercise. You can increase the frequency and length once you achieve your goal. 
    • For example, start off with walking for 10 minutes a day during your lunch break, three days a week. Increase your exercise towards five days a week for 30 minutes. 
  • Be flexible: Toss the "all or nothing" mindset. Your goals can change over time. Twelve months is a long time to push your resolutions aside. Setting goals each month will allow you to track your progress or set new ambitions.
    • Recognize circumstances can change throughout the year. Your schedule or an injury may interrupt a daily work out. You can shift your goals to balanced meal planning, which still supports your overall goal to lose weight. 
  • Be patient: Progress takes time. Your goals may not change instantly overnight (if only it was that simple). Goals that are worthwhile are worth the hard effort. 
    • If you stray from your meal plan, do not beat yourself up. Accept and recognize the challenge and create a plan to get back on track with your next meal. 
  • Be supportive: Support yourself and others for making changes for the better. Surround yourself with people who will inspire your new goals and offer the same positive support to others in return. 
    • Find friends and family with similar interests. Meet new friends at a local wellness fair or at the gym. Set a walking date or make a schedule to attend the same group exercise class each week. 
  • Be kind: Remember to be kind to others as you start the New Year. Be grateful for your experiences and the people in your life. Spend time with loved ones and discover ways to give back to your community. You can learn from helping others in need. 
    • Volunteer opportunities are everywhere in your area such as helping out a local youth group, fundraising for an organization, donating time or supplies to a food bank, or helping to support a family devastated by a medical diagnosis.  

Recognize challenges. If you set the same goal each year without success, take a step back and reflect about what is stopping this goal from being achieved.

Make your goals important to you. Share your optimistic intentions with your friends and family. Don't sit around waiting for tomorrow; take the time for yourself and your health today!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Be Present

The holidays. Some consider this the most wonderful time of year. Others bring out their inner Grinch. Sometimes, I feel like I fluctuate between the two.

As I reflect on the simple traditions of my small family, I realize I enjoy the lack of present exchange among my family members. Less pressure, saves money and avoids holiday crowds. I place greater value in spending time with family and friends. 

Over the past several years working in a cancer center has brought a new perspective to my life. I have the pleasure of witnessing true strength, compassion and love of humans. Seeing the important "things" in life and learning that the best things aren't ever things - they're people. Relationships. Memories. Experiences. 

I choose to believe people are good. People want to help others. Help during the holidays doesn't always mean purchasing a meaningless gift off a desired list. Sometimes it can be as simple as a smile or a shoulder to cry on. Help ultimately depends on the person and that moment in time. 

Don't just give presents this season. Be present.

Try to be present in your day. Enjoy each precious moment. Regardless of religion, celebrate the spirit of life. Do not take life for granted. Be present in your relationships with others and the relationship with yourself. When you see your significant other, family member or best friend, spend time with each other. Whether you see this person nearly every minute of the day or rarely, put your technology away. I mean spend REAL time with each other. Talk. Listen. Look. Complain about life. Giggle at something silly and inappropriate. Be present. Engage in a meaningful relationship. Next time you're waiting in line at the store or train, stand there. Resist the temptation to check your email or look at the last social media post. Look around you. Perhaps say "hi" to the person next to you and wish them a "happy holiday." Think. Breathe. Be present. 

What do the holidays mean to you?

Friday, November 28, 2014

Winter Health

'Tis the season to be jolly. Cheers to the holiday season.

  • Exercise. Regular exercise can beat those winter blues, prevent weight gain, and boost your immune system. At times it can seem easier, cuddled on the couch with warm tea and blankets watching holiday movies. Get up. Move. Even if you do not want to face the bitter cold to exercise outdoors or defrost your car to make it to the gym, try at home workouts. You can effectively use your body weight. Try wall sits for several minutes during your favorite TV show, hold planks, strengthen with push-ups and triceps dips off of a chair - rotate and repeat exercises to create a circuit. Put your technology to good use by downloading exercise apps or videos. 
  • Avoid skipping meals. You're looking forward to indulging at a holiday event, so logically you skimp on your earlier meals. However, this can lead to overindulging at the event, especially if you have a drink or two - drinking on an empty stomach can lead to mindless eating. Enjoy those special "treats" in moderation.
  • Remember to eat fruits and vegetables. The goal to aim for at least 5 servings of fruits/vegetables daily doesn't change during the holidays. Try roasted vegetables or making a warm soup. If you're craving sweets or indulging to a second serving of dessert, try eating fruit or a smoothie first. 
  • Stay hydrated. It's easier to think about drinking water to quench your thirst when it's hot outside. Try to maintain adequate hydration to help curve food cravings, skin integrity, and energy. 

Remember, during all the holiday cheer and stress to be kind to others. Be grateful and thankful for your experiences and the people in your life. Spend time with loved ones, give back to your community, and volunteer at a local charity event.

Happy Holidays! 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce (vegan)

Looking for a simple yet flavorful dish tonight? Try this pasta with pumpkin "cream" sauce!

2 cups of pasta (such as whole wheat Fusilli or Penne)
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 cup of fresh spinach 
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato sauce
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup coconut milk (or almond milk)
pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg
2 Tbsp ground pumpkin seeds

1. Cook the pasta according to instructions. Drain. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil at medium temperature.
3. Add spinach and toss with a spatula or tongs to coat spinach with oil. Add thyme and garlic. Cook until spinach is wilted and garlic has slightly changed color. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Mix in tomato sauce and pumpkin puree.
4. Add coconut milk.

5. Skip the salt and pepper to taste. For this recipe add a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg.
6. Add to cooked pasta and toss well. Cover and let sit for a few minutes. 
7. Garnish with ground pumpkin seeds.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Holiday Giving

Many people look forward to the holidays, and they are almost here!
  • Be thankful, be kind, be appreciative, be happy.
  • Keep your heart filled with love and spread a warm smile.
What are you thankful for this year?
  • There are many wonderful things/people to be grateful for especially family, friends and good health.
Although for some, they may not be able to gather around a table this holiday season. Life events such as financial hardships and medical treatments can impact one's ability to celebrate the holidays. 

Consider giving back to your community and help those in need.
  • For example, the Nutrition Department at my job has gotten together to donate a Thanksgiving meal to a local organization that supports families affected by cancer. All the necessary ingredients/supplies for a delicious healthy Thanksgiving are donated to families with a loved one currently undergoing cancer treatment. This can allow the family to enjoy their holiday together, without the added stress of grocery shopping and its expense. Each member of our team is volunteering to contribute a food item or two, ultimately creating an entire Thanksgiving feast for a family to enjoy.
  • Rather than participating in a "Secret Santa" gift exchange among coworkers or friends where the idea is to give a gift (often times a silly gag gift), consider donating to a local charity. Again, supplying toys, clothes and food for others in need can be rewarding this season. Choose a charity that aligns with the passions of your organization or friends. A small contribution adds up to something powerful!
This small way of giving back to our community can make a big difference in someone's life. Remember this season to spread some holiday cheer and happiness!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice

As the leaves change color and the nights cool off, fall is in the air. This is the season for pumpkin everything. Cut the calories from commercialized pumpkin products, and create your own using this pumpkin spice mix!

Pumpkin Spice Mix
Blend 1/4 cup Cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground Ginger, 2 teaspoons Nutmeg, and 2 teaspoons Allspice Powder. Store in an airtight glass jar.
  • Add to your coffee for less simple syrups/sugar than those pumpkin-spiced lattes
  • Sprinkle in your oatmeal or yogurt
  • Enjoy with baked apple slices
  • Mix in with almond butter, which pairs great with fruit, crackers, or just a spoonful
  • Control the ingredients and make your own baked goods such as muffins, pies, cupcakes, bread

Halloween Treats

Halloween is approaching us. Before you head to the store and fall into the sales trap of the large snack sized bags of candy, consider some healthy treats. These snacks can still bring a smile to any witch or goblin's face. You can smile too knowing health benefits accompanying these snacks without the added preservatives and sugar/sweeteners.
  • Dark chocolate-covered frozen banana slices: Slice bananas, dip in melted dark chocolate and freeze to perfection. 
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds: Add unsweetened cocoa powder and cayenne pepper for a spicy, chocolate kick.
  • Air popped popcorn balls: Lightly coat popcorn with honey, olive oil and cinnamon, Form into baseball-sized balls.
  • Baked apple chips: Thinly slice apples horizontally, spread evenly on a baking sheet. Bake for one hour at 250°F, then flip and bake for another hour. Sprinkle with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice. 
  • Yogurt covered craisins: Use vanilla or plan Greek yogurt to coat craisins, freeze and then enjoy. 
  • Fall spiced walnuts: Toast walnuts in a skillet over warm heat. When lightly brown, coat with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil, then toss a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. 
Simple to make yet sweet, enjoy these horrifyingly healthy treats! 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sleep Hygiene

An important lifestyle factor for your wellness is sleep hygiene. Some days it feels like "there are not enough hours in the day" and often sleep is sacrificed to accomplish your goals. However, getting adequate shut eye is essential for energy, mood, weight status and health. The goal length is 7 to 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night.

Tips to improve the quality of your sleep:
  • Create a nighttime routine.
  • Make your bed comfortable and use it only for sleeping, not other activities (reading, watching TV, studying).
  • Remove all electronic from the room. 
    • I know it's difficult, we have become so attached to our technology, but it will help improve your sleep as well as reduce stress.
  • Avoid a large meal before bedtime.
  • Regular physical activity may aid in consistent sleep patterns
    • Watch the timing of your exercise since if you exercise right before bedtime, it may actually boost your energy. Plan physical activity into your schedule that it works best for you.
Sleep Well! 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Revise Your New Year's Goals - Tips to Reduce Stress

Remember the start of the New Year you made those healthy resolutions? Wait, it's July! It's easy to stay motivated at the beginning of the year with gyms offering discounts. Think about your accomplished goals. But how to keep and continue to improve those goals in the peak of summer can be challenging. Personal reflection helps you determine where you are, and where you want to be. This is essential for planning the steps for your health.

Tips for your goals during the summer:
  • Bring a healthy side dish to your next BBQ - share your delicious recipes with family and friends. 
  • Stay hydrated - drink water instead of sugary, high calorie juices and sodas.
  • Treat yourself to a massage - nearby locations often offer a new client discount rate. 
  • Go for a swim - whether it be at the beach or in a pool, cool off while you exercise. 
  • Find free outdoor fitness classes - check out your town's community calendar for a variety of complementary classes. 

For example, my New Year's Resolution was to find ways to reduce stress
  • Took a four-class stress reduction series offered at work, which reviewed relaxing, mindfulness, breathing and mediation techniques. 
    • A journal was encouraged to focus on our reflection and learning during the practice. I discovered that I frequently hold my breath during everyday tasks, even when I do not feel stressed - driving, studying, writing, basically anything that involves intense thinking. Am I holding my breath as I write this blog?
  • Being more mindful of stress.
    • Stress happens every day. Everyone's definition of stress is variable and may change depending on a specific day/moment. Being aware of stressful situations can help trigger management techniques such as breathing.
  • Simply breathe.
    • How can full, deep breaths be difficult for me at times? Don't I need to breathe to maintain life? Slowly inhale for 5 seconds through your nose until your lungs are completely filled with air. Then, exhale over 5 seconds out through your mouth. This technique switches your thinking from a stressful situation to your breath. You can do this anywhere without those around you even noticing. 
  • Accept the ability to focus on YOU.
    • Being mindful is one factor, but you must understand the importance of allowing yourself to take time to relax. This is about your health and controlling chronic stress as you are able.
  • Join a local yoga studio.
    • When I moved to my new apartment, I searched nearby studios and did a trial period at each to find the perfect fit for me. Each studio offered either a beginner class or a new student 7 to 10 day card for a discounted price. Also, fitting into any budget, studios varied in monthly memberships or without any obligation, a card could be purchased for a set price for a number of classes.
  • Get a monthly massage.
    • A massage may not fit into everyone's budget, but studios typically offer a new client one-time discounted rate. A local place offered a Wellness Program, with no additional fees and no required duration - signing up gave a discount rate for a monthly massage (which could roll over if I was unable to use one month and can be transferred to one other person if I wanted to give as a gift). The perfect excuse for me to stick to my monthly goal, I'm saving money over time, especially factoring in my stress reduction and improved health.
  • Future plans: 
    • Free yoga in the city during the summer through September - offered at different locations and on various days.
    • Join a running club.
    • Continue to write. 
    • Consistently aim for 7 to 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep a night.

Be well and have a happy 4th of July! 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Grilled Meat and Alternatives

As the sun shines and brings on the summer season, grilling outdoors is an enjoyed pastime. However, consumption of meat that is tossed on the grill should be decreased to reduce overall cancer risk.

Potential risks of red meat:
  • Has been related to cellular damage
  • Stimulates production of N-nitroso compounds that can increase cancer risk
  • Tend to be calorie-dense 
  • High in saturated fat and cholesterol
  • Carcinogens can be formed in meat preserved by smoking, curing, salting or added preservatives
  • Cooking animal foods at high temperatures can produce carcinogens such as heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) 
If consumed, aim to keep your portions of red meat small (three ounces per meal) and no more than six times per week. Avoid processed meats; save these foods for special occasions. 

Tips for grilling meat:
  • Marinade meat for at least 30 minutes - can protect against the carcinogens and improve the flavor. Try vinegar, lemon juice, spices and herbs (rosemary, thyme, garlic, sage, red pepper) 
  • Choose lean cuts and trim the fat
  • Do not char or burn the meat
  • Pre-cook meats in the oven to reduce the time spent on the grill
  • Flip your meat frequently
  • Lower the temperature (although still meeting the minimum cooking temperature for food safety)
  • Scrub the grill - cleaning after each use prevents the harmful chemicals from building up and transferring to your next meal

Power up with plant-based meals:
  • Use plant protein sources such as tofu, tempeh and plant-based burgers
  • Consuming a well-balanced diet can provide adequate nutrients for your body to prevent and fight cancer 
  • Plant-based diets play a protective role to inactive damaging compounds 
  • Plant foods are low in calories but nutrient dense
  • Examples of vegetarian grilled meals: bean burgers, stuffed portobello mushrooms, flatbread with grilled vegetables or eggplant roulade

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Skin Care

As the warm weather approaches us, naturally we want to spend time outdoors and get our dose of vitamin D. However, sun exposure can cause skin problems including wrinkles, age spots and skin cancer, so be mindful of your skin care.
  • Sun Protection: The sun is the strongest between 10am and 4pm, so cover up or seek the shade during this time. Apply sunscreen about 20 minutes before going outside and reapply periodically (about every 2 hours). Reapply after heavy perspiration, water, and towel drying, even if it is "water resistant." Also, wear UV-blocking sunglasses. 
  • Avoid Tanning: Avoid UV tanning booths and laying out for long periods of time in the sun. Tanning indicates DNA damage to the skin, and the body's attempt at preventing further damage by creating a barrier of darker pigment.
  • Stay Hydrated: Aim for a minimum of 64 oz fluids (mostly water) daily. Drink even if you do not feel thirsty.
  • Caution near water: Water and snow can reflect the sun's damaging rays and increase your risk for sunburn. Also, be aware that clouds do not block UV rays but diffuse them, so you can still get sunburned on a cloudy day.
  • Avoid Smoking: As always, ditch the cigarettes and avoid tobacco products. Smoking accelerates premature aging and can negatively impact your overall health.
  • Look for skin changes: Examine your skin monthly, and report concerns to your physician. 
Review tips established by the Environmental Working Group to select a non-toxic sunscreen. Check out the database that rates the safety and effectiveness of skin care products. 
  • Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays. 
  • Select a water-resistant cream
  • Choose SPF (sun protection factor) 15 to 50.
  • If possible, avoid products with chemicals such as fragrances, Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) and oxybenzone. 

Stay safe and enjoy the nice weather! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

"Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" Challenged by Cancer Therapy

"Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" is the theme of National Nutrition Month® March 2014.

However, taste can be challenging during chemotherapy. Altered taste can potentially decrease overall intake resulting in weight loss and nutrient insufficiencies/deficiencies. Foods can have no taste or heightened sense of salty, sweet, bitter, or metallic. It may take time for taste to normalize following treatment. Caution: limit acidic foods and spices if mouth sores are present. As patients are at increased risk with a decreased immune system during cancer treatment, taste can also be altered due to oral infections.

Nutrition tips:
  • Encourage good oral hygiene
    • Oral rinse that may be used before eating: 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. baking soda in 4 cups water. Rinse mouth with 1 cup 3-4 times/day. Sometimes a clean, fresh mouth can help food taste better
  • If foods have no taste or an "off" taste
    • Choose fruit marinades (try mango salsa on top of chicken or fish) or start your meal with a piece of fruit
    • Use marinades, balsamic vinaigrette, flavorful salad dressings, or sweet-and-sour sauce
    • To season foods try lemon, herbs & spices, pickles or hot sauce
    • Try sugar free lemon drops, gum, or mints/mint tea to improve taste
  • For bitter or metallic taste
    • Eat with plastic or bamboo flatware or chopsticks
    • Use spices or seasonings such as onion, garlic, chili powder
    • Try tart flavors such as lemon, lime, citrus 
    • Flavor water with lemon or other fruits/fruit juices
    • Sip on mint tea or suck on lemon drops
  • For too salty, bitter, or acid flavor
    • Use low sodium products
    • Choose foods that are naturally sweet 
  • Meats taste "strange" or bitter
    • Add fruit based marinades or sweet-and-sour sauce
    • Choose alternative proteins such as eggs, tofu, dairy, beans, lentils, nuts
  • Additional tips
    • Consume a variety of cold foods (especially if smells are bothersome): smoothies, cold sandwiches, crackers with cheese, yogurt, and salads (chicken salad, egg salad, tuna salad, pasta salad, seafood salad, fruit salad, and green salad)
    • Freeze fruits to help with taste or as a frozen treat: cantaloupe, grapes, oranges, watermelon
    • Zinc supplementation may be an option in a form to provide 50 mg elemental zinc. Limit to 60 days due to possible copper deficiency with long-term use
    • Increase water/fluids for adequate hydration

Managing nutrition impact symptoms during cancer treatment is important to aid in a patient's ability to tolerate scheduled treatment. Other potential benefits include reduced infectious complications, delayed disease progression, managed body composition, and improved quality of life.

Speak with your health care provider about optimizing nutritional status and seek advice from a Registered Dietitian Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition (CSO).

American Cancer Society. Taste and smell changes. Available at http://www.cancer.org/. Updated March 15, 2013. Accessed March 8, 2014.

Leser M, Ledesma N, Bergerson S, Trujillo E, eds. Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice. Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; 2013.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spring into National Nutrition Month®

As I hope the snow will melt and the sun will bring on the warmth of Spring, I look forward to the change of season. Depending on the time of year, I change the flavor of my foods to keep healthy eating exciting!

"Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right" is the theme for National Nutrition Month® 2014 in March. 

Flavoring plant-based foods
  • Cilantro - combine with pasta, salads, or salsa
  • Dill - add to carrots, potatoes, or other vegetables
  • Lemon - squeeze into your water or create a vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Oregano: - delicious with vegetables or pasta 
  • Mint - flavor water, add to fruit or salads
  • Rosemary - add to potatoes or mix with vegetables
  • Turmeric - add to tofu
  • Basil - Mix with pasta, tomatoes or add to sandwiches 
  • Cinnamon - sprinkle on your oatmeal, rice pudding, baked goods, teas 

Helpful tips for increasing your water consumption
  • Create your own fruit-infusion - being primarily water cuts the calories and preservations compared to commercialized juices and sodas
    • Mash berries at the bottom of the glass and top with water
  • Blend mixtures of herbs to improve the flavor
    • Rosemary, lemon and/or mint combine well with watermelon or cucumber 

Choose foods that fit your taste preferences. If your goal is to reduce salt or sugar to make healthier choices, allow your taste buds time to adjust. Also, your choices may vary throughout your lifetime and can be altered during medical treatment such as medications and chemotherapy.

Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for more information and finding a Registered Dietitian for near you. http://www.eatright.org/

Monday, January 27, 2014

Loving Relationships

Regardless if you are looking to improve relationships with friends, family, or significant others, think about what makes you happy. Look beyond this commercialized time to send Valentine's Day cards and buy expensive flowers and dinners. This blog is encouraging you to find the important relationship with yourself. The more I experience relationships, hear about others and read expert advice... I realize does anyone really understand relationships?

While defining yourself, realize that relationships involves two people. Relationships require effort. What works for one couple will likely not work for another. Don't compare yourself to others; work together to establish what works for you. While acknowledging my past, learning from my experiences and lending a listening ear to others, here are some underlying qualities that I have learned to be important.
  • Communicate
    • Be kind to one another, but do not be afraid to speak your mind. If something is irritating or upsetting to you, discuss your thoughts. Your loved one should want to listen to your emotions as you do the same for them. 
    • Discuss your expectations and what you want from a relationship. Take the guessing game out of exclusively dating or casually having sex. Be able to talk about important issues. As things are getting serious, how do you budget your finances and do you want to eventually get married or have children? Certain opinions can be deal breakers, so it is best not to tip toe around the difficult conversations. 
    • Do not assume you know what the other is thinking. Simply ask.
    • Put your phone and social media aside and spend quality time with each other.
  • Respect
    • You must respect yourself first before others will start to show you respect. 
    • You will not always agree with one another, but you need to respect others' thoughts and opinions to have a relationship. 
  • Honesty 
    • Be honest with yourself. Sometimes you either like someone or you don't. You may not always know why. As practical and realistic you try to be, you can't help who your heart loves. 
    • To build trust, you must be honest with one another.
    • Honesty ties in with respect and communication. Do not build a relationship on secrets and lies that won't last. 
  • Be comfortable alone
    • Do not depend on someone else for happiness but find happiness in yourself. 
    • Many people stay in relationships because they're afraid of being single. They would rather be unhappy with another than alone. 
    • Find "me time" to avoid burnout and stress. Read a book, take a painting class, write in a journal, exercise, sip on tea - make time to prioritize yourself rather than putting your health last when too busy trying to please others. 
    • Don't settle. Your opinions matter.

It's not about finding the "perfect" match. What may seem "perfect" right now may change as you age and life experiences occur. People aren't perfect, so relationships aren't perfect. It's simply about finding someone you enjoy spending time with. Someone who makes you happy. Someone to tell you when you're being irrational and ridiculous at times but will support your strengths and successes, and vice versa. Relationships should be about learning and growing together.

For those of you who have found "the one," I am happy for you - remember to take the time to love and appreciate one another. For my single readers, "the one" is out there, so keep loving life and yourself.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Lentil and Bean Chili

Readers on the east coast warm up with this vegan chili.  This dish is made with black beans and two varieties of lentils.

Health benefits of lentils

  • Great plant source of iron and protein. About 1/4 cup (dry) lentils provides 13 grams of protein and 20% daily value of iron.
    • Tip: Pair plant-based iron sources (non-heme iron) with vitamin C to enhance iron absorption.  Examples of high vitamin C foods include broccoli, tomato, red and green peppers, oranges, and strawberries. 
  • High in fiber
    • Tip: To ease tolerance, slowly increase fiber consumption along with increasing water intake. 
  • Low in fat
    • Tip: Swap out or reduce the portion size of animal proteins for lentils.  This will cut saturated fat content to improve overall health and weight control. 

Lentil and Bean Chili Recipe
Combine in a large pot and let simmer for about 45 minutes.
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup (2 medium) sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup (2 stalks) diced celery
  • 1 medium diced onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 cup (1 small) chopped zucchini
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 cup (1 large) diced tomato
  • 1/2 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup black lentils
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 16 ounce jar of tomato sauce 
*Note: The lentils do not require soaking prior to use.  The lentils and beans will absorb some of the liquid from the water and tomato sauce, use larger amounts for increased liquid texture if desired.