Archive for December, 2013


Yesterday, I read an article about the role that exercise plays in Priority stampdisease prevention. Over and over, it emphasized the importance of consistent exercise. How do you find time to exercise on a regular basis so that you can stay healthy? Simple…….just make exercise a priority.

I love this advice. If exercise IS a priority, it WILL happen–just like the other priorities in your life: Eating, taking care of your children, brushing your teeth, going to work, paying the bills, etc. These things get done because they are important. We just can’t NOT do them.

If you apply this principle to exercise, it will be a priority. And like all the other priorities in your life, it will get done.

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Roasted Vegetable Pasta (serves 4) LinguineRoastedVeggies_014.tif


2 small zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

salt and freshly ground pepper

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

¼ cup grated pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, plus more for topping

9 ounces fresh linguine

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil


Preheat the oven to 4250. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Meanwhile, toss the zucchini and asparagus with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 more seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the tomatoes and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese.

Meanwhile, add the linguine to the boiling water and cook as the label directs. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water, then drain the pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce. Add the roasted vegetables and the reserved cooking water; toss to combine, then stir in the basil. Divide among bowls and top with more cheese.

NOTE: You can roast any vegetables for this dish. If you don’t like asparagus, for example,  try yellow squash, colorful bell peppers or eggplant!

(Adapted from a recipe found on

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Oh that stress. It gets us every time. Whether it’s getting a may31-2013-foto-stress-fatigueflat tire (acute stress), dealing with a monthly deadline (episodic stress) or taking care of sick loved one (chronic stress), our bodies respond to stress no differently than we did as cavemen: We go into that “fight or flight” response. This means, our heart rate increases, stress hormones explode, digestion slows down, fatty acids and glucose are released into the blood stream, and respiration increases. The body does this so it is ready to either fight the beast or run like crazy. That’s why exercise is the best stress buster………exercising will physiologically get our bodies back to that pre-stressed state.

The problem is most people don’t consider exercise a stress releaser. After a stressful day, who wants to exercise? Instead, many of us would rather have a drink, or catch up on Facebook or watch TV. Unfortunately, these “modern” activities don’t do much for our primitively wired bodies.

So even though you might not think that exercise is YOUR THING to reduce stress, it really is.  Give it a try……you might be pleasantly surprised.

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CUBAN STEW (Ropa Vieja)

Cuban Stew (Ropa Vieja) serves 4

This Cuban stew, Ropa Vieja, is made by braising beef until it IMG_1524can be shredded—thus the name (translated as ‘old clothes’). Serve with flour tortillas or brown rice, and add hot sauce on the side for those who like it fiery.


1 T vegetable oil

1 (1.5-pound) flank steak, trimmed

1 large red onion, thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, cut into strips

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons pitted green olives, thinly sliced

½ t salt

½ t dried oregano

½ t ground cumin

½ t dried rosemary, crushed

½ t freshly ground black pepper

3 T sherry or red wine vinegar

1 ½ cups lower sodium beef broth

½ T tomato paste

1 bay leaves

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the pan. Add the steak to the pan and cook for 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Remove the steak from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook for 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the olives and next 5 ingredients (through the black pepper). Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in the vinegar, scraping the pan to loosen browned bits.  Cook for 2 minutes or until the liquid almost evaporates.

Stir in the broth, tomato paste, and bay leaf. Add the steak and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat, and cook for 1 1/2 hours or until the steak is very tender. Discard the bay leaf.

Remove the steak from the pan and shred it with two forks. Add the shredded beef and the cilantro into pan and serve.

(Adapted from a recipe found in Cooking Light, January, 2008)

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Eating involves psychology.  Let’s take the example of eating chicken wings:

Group 1 eats the wings and the bones are left on the plates.

Group 2 eats the wings and the bones are taken out of the room.

Which group eats more? Why group 2 of course. Group 1 SEES what’s really going on with all of those bones. There is evidence!

This is very similar to when we eat candy. Let’s take the example of  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. They used to come in a package of just two cups. Then came the miniatures. These miniatures come individually wrapped. image-1 When we eat them two things happen:

1. We have to take some time to get the paper off

2. We then SEE those wrappers as a reminder of how cups we actually ate. This is a good thing.

But now comes the dangerous MINIS. Minis are NOT wrapped. All we have to do is open the bag, reach in image-2and they’re all there for us.  Studies have shown that people will eat more unwrapped candy vs. wrapped candy. It’s easy to understand why…….there is no trace or evidence that any eating took place. It’s so easy to lose track!

Bottom line: The wrapper makes a difference. If you’re going to eat candy, make sure that the candy is wrapped. Take your time unwrapping it and keep those empty wrapper in your site—it WILL help! 12627938-colorful-foil-wrapped-chocolate-hearts-close-up

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Shrimp Tikka Masala (serves 4) tikka-masala2 2

If you like Indian spices, this dish is for you!!!


3 T garam masala (see note*)

1 t ground turmeric

½ t salt

1/8- 1/4 t crushed red pepper

1 ½ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 T canola oil plus 2 t

1 large onion, halved and sliced

1 large red bell pepper, quartered and sliced

1 T minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T flour

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes

2 T of light cream


Combine the garam masala, turmeric, salt and crushed red pepper in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the spice mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook, stirring frequently for about 3-4 minutes, or until opaque and cooked. Do not over cook. Remove from the pan, cover and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the pan. Add the onion, bell pepper, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring often, for about 5 to 7 minutes or until the vegetables start to brown. Add the flour and the remaining spice mix–stir until fragrant and coated for about 1 minute.

Add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Return the shrimp to the pan. Stir until heated through, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 2 T of light cream. Serve with brown rice.

*NOTE: Garam masala is Indian spice. If you can’t find it in the store, you can very easily make it. Here’s a link for a very simple recipe:

(Adapted from a recipe found on

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Something strange happens to all of us at this time of byb-christmas-post-blues-puppy-dreamstime_87564021year………we just want to eat more. It could be a combination of…..

  • More eating opportunities (Another holiday party? Another bowl of candy on the desk? More cookies?)
  • The very cold weather, which makes us crave rib-sticking food
  • Knowing that January, and the promise of the “new start” is right around the corner.

Unless you are incredibly motivated, I think you should do the following:

1. Try your best to maintain your body weight. If you get through the season were you started, you’ve accomplished something major.

2. KEEP EXERCISING! If your diet is getting a little slack, your exercise regime certainly doesn’t have to. Sticking to your routine will boost both your physical and mental well-being.

3. If you’re thinking about making a change come January and feel that you need some type of plan or structure, now is the time to figure out what you think will work for you. Do some research and have your plan ready to go.

Finally, please remember that you’re not alone. We all feel a little lazier, a little hungrier and a little less disciplined. Not to worry……January will be with us before we know it!

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