Archive for September, 2014

CHILI-SPICED CHICKEN SOUP

You can play around with soup and truly make it your own 1003p172-chili-spiced-chicken-soup-stoplight-peppers-avocado-relish-mcreation. I used less chicken, but added some brown rice and sprinkled the soup with Parmesean cheese. Have fun with this–it’s a great soup with wonderful, spicy flavors!

Spice Blend Ingredients

2 ½ t chili powder

2 t ground cumin

1 ½ t ground coriander

1 t dried oregano

1 t cracked black pepper

½ t kosher salt

Soup Ingredients

1 T canola oil, divided

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

2 cups chopped sweet onion

1 ½ cup chopped red bell pepper

1 ½ cup chopped yellow bell pepper

1 T minced garlic

½ t salt

2 cups fresh corn kernels (use frozen if fresh is unavailable)

1 (32-ounce) carton low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, undrained

2 T fresh lime juice

cilantro sprigs (optional)

Directions

To prepare the spice blend, combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl.

To prepare the soup, heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken; sprinkle 1 ½ tablespoons of the spice blend over chicken. Sauté for 8 minutes or until done; cool. Chop the chicken and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil in large saucepan or stock pot over medium-high heat; add the onion, peppers, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle the vegetable mixture with the remaining spice blend; sauté 8 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the chicken, corn, broth, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 15-20 minutes. Add the lime juice and garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired.

(Adapted from a “Cooking Light” recipe, March 2010)

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CHANGE THE LINK

I recently had an interesting encounter with a massage workout2-1024x1024therapist.

He was a lovely man in his 50’s and when he heard that I was a personal trainer he told me all about his obsessive-six-day-a-week-weight training regime (1 ½ hrs each day) that started from the time he finished college. When he hit 50, he threw in the towel and stopped doing anything. Since then, he told me that he has gained a lot of weight.

I encouraged him to go back to weight training in a much more moderate way: 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes each session. (Starting, of course, with one day a week and then and then gradually building up.) His first thoughts were “Yes, I have to because I need to lose weight.” Notice how he associated exercise with weight loss. This made him feel overwhelmed, which has prevented him from starting. That association paralyzed him.

My advice to him was to stop linking exercise to weight loss. We all need to exercise to feel good, to move our bodies and to give ourselves energy. And yes, in this instant world that we live in, we WILL get immediate gratification from the exercise buzz. (You gotta love those endorphins!) Since weight loss will take a lot more time, why not focus on something that you can gain immediately?

So, if you’re associating exercise with something complicated and overwhelming, change the link. It could be the best way to get going.

 

 

 

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COUSCOUS WITH PINE NUTS

You can definitely play around with this recipe. I used Israeli couscous and cranberries instead of currants. It’s a very, easy, tasty side dish!

ingredients IMG_1938

2 t butter

3-4 shallots, chopped (about ¾ cup)

3 cups of low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth

1 ½ cups couscous

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted*

¼ cup dried currants

2 T fresh parsley, chopped

directions

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over a medium-low heat for about 3 minutes, until the shallots are translucent.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Add the pine nuts, currants, and parsley. Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve hot.

*NOTE: You can toast the pine nuts 2 ways:

  1. Use an oven or toaster oven: Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet or foil pan and bake at 375°F, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown, 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Use a skillet: Put the pine nuts in a dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden in spots, about 3 minutes.

(I found this recipe years ago in a cookbook, that I no longer have so I cannot name the source.)

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THE REAL LESSON OF POWERLIFTING

I recently entered my second powerlifting competition. Since10610817_10152490926153645_479970541353913737_n I am tall and have long limbs, I am NOT built for this sport. So why do it? Well, there is something to be said for working hard towards something. But honestly, the real challenge is putting myself in a situation where I feel EXTREMELY out of my comfort zone.

Pushing yourself to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable teaches you that you can achieve things that you never thought you could. And this doesn’t have to be a physical challenge—it could be anything that makes you feel nervous.

So, if you’ve been thinking about trying something new or making a change that feels overwhelming, just do it! The sense of accomplishment will be worth it.

In my case, it wasn’t the weight that I lifted that was most challenging: Showing up was the real victory.

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CHOPPED HERB SALAD WITH FARRO

I love how the creator of this recipe, Martha Rose Shulman, 27recipehealth-master675made it mostly about the herbs!

ingredients

2 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (from 2 large bunches)

¼ cup chopped fresh mint

1 cup chopped arugula

2 large ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped

1 bunch scallions, finely chopped

1 cup cooked farro

1 t ground sumac

juice of 1 to 2 large lemons, to taste

salt to taste

3 T extra-virgin olive oil

Small leaves from 1 romaine lettuce heart, leaves separated, washed and dried (optional)

directions

Cook the farro according to the instructions on the package. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the parsley, mint, arugula, tomatoes, scallions, farro, sumac, lemon juice and salt to taste. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours so that the farro marinates in the lemon juice.

Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. The salad should taste lemony. Add more lemon juice if it doesn’t. Serve with lettuce leaves if desired. Serves 6.

(Adapted from a recipe found in the NY Times on 8/27/14)

 

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THE DANGER OF “TOO”

I know I’ve written about this before but it’s time, once again, to talk about the biggest mistake people make when it comes to weight loss: Getting TOO hungry. Here’s the sequence: stuffing-face

  • You get TOO hungry in between meals.
  • It’s time to eat and you’re so hungry that you start eating TOO fast.
  • And because you’re hungry and eating TOO fast, you wind up eating way TOO much.
  • And it’s not until 20-30 minutes go by that you realize that you’ve eaten TOO much and that you’re way TOO full.
  • And this way-TOO-full-feeling makes you feel lousy and cranky. TOO cranky.

I’m sure most of you can relate to this.

Snacking definitely has a bad rap since it can be extremely detrimental. Grabbing a family-size bag of potato chips and munching mindlessly in front of the TV is NOT the way to go. But mindful snacking, to ward off excess hunger at your next meal, is very helpful.

Healthy portable snacks include fruit, a small handful of nuts, whole grain crackers with low fat cheese, a bag of cut up vegetables or even things like Greek yogurt if you have access to a fridge at work. If you’re home, you can slice up a juicy tomato and have it with some avocado slices. Or dip some vegetables in a few tablespoons of hummus.

Mindful snacking requires planning. So be prepared in order to avoid the danger of “TOO”!

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MIRIN GLAZED SALMON

Mirin is a Japanese sweet rice wine and makes this dish just  maindelicious!

ingredients

¼ cup mirin*

3 T soft light brown sugar

¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

1 lb salmon (4 x 4oz, cut from the thick part so pieces are narrow and tall rather than wide and flat)

2 T rice wine vinegar

1-2 scallions (halved and shredded into fine strips)

directions

Mix the mirin, brown sugar and soy sauce in a shallow dish that will hold all 4 pieces of salmon. Marinate the salmon in it for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second. Meanwhile heat a large non-stick frying pan on the stove.

Cook the salmon in the hot, dry pan for 2 minutes and then turn the salmon over, add the marinade and cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove the salmon to whatever plate you’re serving it on, add the rice vinegar to the hot pan, and warm through.

Pour the dark, sweet  glaze over the salmon and top with the scallion strips.

Serve with brown rice.

*NOTE: Mirin is not difficult to find—you don’t need to go to a special Japanese market. I found a bottle at my local supermarket.

(Adapted from a recipe found on Nigella’s Lawson’s website: http://www.nigella.com.)

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