Weekly-- Daily Aspiration #20

Monday, December 31, 2012
In Honor of the New Year

Today I will take a walk in a new direction

Ways to Break the Cycle of Comfort Eating- #8 Acceptance

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Mood-Management Strategy: Make an Acceptance Plan

We sometimes use food because we want to eliminate negative moods quickly, but sometimes it’s better to accept the situation. Whether you’re feeling sadness, anger or anxiety, try to identify the source of your low mood. If it is something you can change, sketch out new solutions. For example, if a co-worker is annoying you, role-play with a friend about how you can be more assertive with the person. If, on the other hand, the situation is something you cannot change at this time, try to accept it. Breathe deeply and often. Take time to relax your muscles, especially your head, shoulder and neck muscles. Visualize a pleasant scene. It’s also a good idea to try to remember the big picture -- your values and goals -- and work on a plan of acceptance, rather than avoidance. You may, for example, have a difficult job, but you and your family need the income. 

I found this on iVillage: Ways to Break the Cycle


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

As we break bread with those we love today, may it be with a loaf of bread you have baked to share for the holidays! Here is a link to one of my favorites I shared last year on this blog- Banana-Date Flaxseed. A bread that can be given knowing it is healthy, hearty and a rare treat for those who receive it because it has been homemade! This recipe is also great to send by mail to those far and wide you wish to remember.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


Weekly-- Daily Aspiration #19

Monday, December 24, 2012

Today I allow divine love to permeate my thoughts

Holiday Meal Menu-delicious and 3 times less calories!

Friday, December 21, 2012
Holiday Meal Menu with 3 times less calories!

This is a holiday meal fit for many and kind to all. Here is the menu I devised to suit those wanting to eat healthy. Many were vegetarians and some required gluten-free choices. I wanted to focus on fresh super-foods that might actually make us feel better by the end of the meal. Each recipe had to be tasty and ultimately add to a colorful plate.

The Menu-
Appetizer- Roasted Pumpkins Seeds with Sea Salt (store bought)

Main Meal- Roasted Turkey (simply stuffed with herbs, garlic, orange, onion & apple), Mashed Sweet Potatoes (prepared with parsnips & spices), Sauteed Green Beans topped with Lemon Zest (cooked in vegetable broth with 1 Tbls of butter), Quinoa-Kale-Pecan Stuffing topped with Pomegranate Seeds, Spotted Puppies (drop biscuits with golden raisins), Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce, gravy as a turkey juices reduction with no flour.

Dessert- gluten-free pumpkin pie and pecan pie topped with homemade whipped cream (served in small slices). This was also store-bought and brought by friends.

Wine- Red- Pinot Noir

The prep time for the meal was amazingly reasonable. I baked the Spotted Puppies the day before so no baking was actually done on Thanksgiving. Friends brought the pies and whipped the cream. The Quinoa had the most steps to prepare. Nothing was complicated, however. Other than the Turkey, everything was vegetarian. And other than the Spotted Puppies, everything was gluten-free. Pretty impressive if you ask me.

The flavors were in keeping with what you would expect at a Thanksgiving, Christmas or other Holiday meal. The colors of the different dishes created a beautiful palette for a plate filled with delicious food. There was almost no butter used or cream in the dishes. And it was all fresh, packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals...but not with pesticides or hormones! All was bought at the local grocery store!

The meal was well enjoyed with many compliments. And there was not the usual groaning and glazed eyes after the meal!

Here is the overall calorie count-
Pumpkin Seeds-  83 calories for a handful/.5 oz
Roasted Turkey-  118 calories for white meat/  4 oz
Mashed Sweet Potato-  136 calories for 1/2 cup
Green Beans with zest-  44 calories for 1 cup
Quinoa stuffing-  220 calories for 1/12th the recipe- about 1/2 cup
Turkey Juices Reduction Gravy-  50 calories for 1/4 cup
Naturally Sweetened Cranberry Sauce- 82 calories for 1/4 cup
Spotted Puppies- 186 calories for one biscuit
Pumpkin Pie- 323 calories for a 1/6th slice of the pie
Whipped Cream- 52 calories for 1 tablespoon
Red Wine- 121 calories for 5 oz
If you eat everything- total calories of 1,415

According to the Caloric Control Council the average American will consume more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat on Thanksgiving Day alone. That is more then 3 times the meal I prepared. And clearly, according to the list of foods and the recipes provided, our menu was nonetheless a bountiful, delicious and satisfying meal! It can be done.

The trick is to eat lightly around the big meal. For breakfast I had a muffin and latte. For lunch I fixed a greens-based salad. Light and non-destructive.

All in all it was a great day filled with family, friends and healthy, delectable food...just as it should be! I prepared this for Thanksgiving but it can be a great Christmas meal as well.

Happy, Healthy Eating!

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Farfalle with Lamb Ragu- delicious and hearty!

Thursday, December 20, 2012
Farfalle with Lamb Ragu

Honestly, this recipe could be viewed as a different take on a spaghetti meal. This time you use ground lamb which is leaner and has much more inherent flavor than the classic ground beef. I was in the mood for a comfort food dinner with flare. I found it in this Farfalle with Lamb Ragu recipe. This is an easy two pot meal- one for the pasta cooking and one for the lamb ragu. All you have to chop is 1/2 cup onion (which you can buy already chopped in the freezer of the grocery store) and 1/4 cup chopped carrot along with 2 garlic cloves minced (which can also be bought minced in a jar). The rest is just assembling. The yield is 4 servings, the calories are 464. We completed the meal with a simple tossed green salad, which can be store bought already pre-washed in a  bag, with 2 tablespoons lite balsamic dressing (I like Newman's Own) for 45 calories. The total calorie count for the meal is 509. It was a tasty and satisfying meal, fit for family and friends. It was a definite repeat that my husband and daughter really liked!


Ways to Break the Cycle of Comfort Eating- #7 Change Your Music

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
New Mood-Management Strategy : Change Your Music
Music is one of the most powerful mood changers. In fact, researchers conducting psychological experiments often use mournful music to create sad moods in volunteers. Conversely, you can use your favorite dance music or popular music from your teenage years to boost your mood. Have fun while you create some upbeat playlists. There may well be times when you want to listen to the blues or a violin symphony to fully experience your sadness. But when you want to escape, turn on the cheerful music. 

I found this on iVillage: Ways to Break the Cycle


Vegetarian- Eggplant Parmesan

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Eggplant is a hearty vegetable, almost meat-like in its density. Looking for a hearty meal when there is a chill in the air, Eggplant Parmesan seemed like the right choice. One of the challenges with a traditional Eggplant Parmesan is that it is very caloric. How to keep the flavor and ditch the calories? I found a great recipe from Cooking Light. Although there are a couple of steps to prepare the sauce and the eggplant, they are easy to follow and not too time consuming. In fact, this recipe is probably less complicated than most for this dish. The recipe serves 8 (so it is good for company or leftovers) and each serving is 303 calories.

We completed the meal  with a simple tossed green salad with 2 tablespoons of lite balsamic vinaigrette for 60 calories and a slice of grilled garlic bread for 112 calories. The total calories for the meal are 465. It was a delicious and satisfying meal, a definite repeat for another winter weekend.

Learn More About the Psychology That Makes Livliga Plates so Effective


Weekly-- Daily Aspiration #18

Monday, December 17, 2012
Today I will focus on living in the moment, being present both physically and mentally 

Childhood Obesity rates--declining!?!

Friday, December 14, 2012
I found this article online and thought it was worthy of sharing. With 73% of Americans overweight and obese and children's rate of obesity rising each year nationally over the past ten years...this is good news! But we need to make it a trend across the nation!

PHILADELPHIA — After decades of rising childhood obesity rates, several American cities are reporting their first declines.
The trend has emerged in big cities like New York and Los Angeles, as well as smaller places like Anchorage, Alaska, and Kearney, Neb. The state of Mississippi has also registered a drop, but only among white students. 

“It’s been nothing but bad news for 30 years, so the fact that we have any good news is a big story,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, the health commissioner in New York City, which reported a 5.5 percent decline in the number of obese schoolchildren from 2007 to 2011. 

The drops are small, just 5 percent here in Philadelphia and 3 percent in Los Angeles. But experts say they are significant because they offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course. 

The first dips — noted in a September report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation — were so surprising that some researchers did not believe them.
Deanna M. Hoelscher, a researcher at the University of Texas, who in 2010 recorded one of the earliest declines — among mostly poor Hispanic fourth graders in the El Paso area — did a double-take. “We reran the numbers a couple of times,” she said. “I kept saying, ‘Will you please check that again for me?’ ” 

Researchers say they are not sure what is behind the declines. They may be an early sign of a national shift that is visible only in cities that routinely measure the height and weight of schoolchildren. The decline in Los Angeles, for instance, was for fifth, seventh and ninth graders — the grades that are measured each year — between 2005 and 2010. Nor is it clear whether the drops have more to do with fewer obese children entering school or currently enrolled children losing weight. But researchers note that declines occurred in cities that have had obesity reduction policies in place for a number of years. 

Though obesity is now part of the national conversation, with aggressive advertising campaigns in major cities and a push by Michelle Obama, many scientists doubt that anti-obesity programs actually work. Individual efforts like one-time exercise programs have rarely produced results. Researchers say that it will take a broad set of policies applied systematically to effectively reverse the trend, a conclusion underscored by an Institute of Medicine report released in May. 

Philadelphia has undertaken a broad assault on childhood obesity for years. Sugary drinks like sweetened iced tea, fruit punch and sports drinks started to disappear from school vending machines in 2004. A year later, new snack guidelines set calorie and fat limits, which reduced the size of snack foods like potato chips to single servings. By 2009, deep fryers were gone from cafeterias and whole milk had been replaced by one percent and skim. 

Change has been slow. Schools made money on sugary drinks, and some set up rogue drink machines that had to be hunted down. Deep fat fryers, favored by school administrators who did not want to lose popular items like French fries, were unplugged only after Wayne T. Grasela, the head of food services for the school district, stopped buying oil to fill them.
But the message seems to be getting through, even if acting on it is daunting. Josh Monserrat, an eighth grader at John Welsh Elementary, uses words like “carbs,” and “portion size.” He is part of a student group that promotes healthy eating. He has even dressed as an orange to try to get other children to eat better. Still, he struggles with his own weight. He is 5-foot-3 but weighed nearly 200 pounds at his last doctor’s visit. 

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, I’m obese for my age,’ ” said Josh, who is 13. “I set a goal for myself to lose 50 pounds.” 

Nationally, about 17 percent of children under 20 are obese, or about 12.5 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which defines childhood obesity as a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. That rate, which has tripled since 1980, has leveled off in recent years but has remained at historical highs, and public health experts warn that it could bring long-term health risks.
Obese children are more likely to be obese as adults, creating a higher risk of heart disease and stroke. The American Cancer Society says that being overweight or obese is the culprit in one of seven cancer deaths. Diabetes in children is up by a fifth since 2000, according to federal data. 

“I’m deeply worried about it,” said Francis S. Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, who added that obesity is “almost certain to result in a serious downturn in longevity based on the risks people are taking on.” 

Obesity affects poor children disproportionately. Twenty percent of low-income children are obese, compared with about 12 percent of children from more affluent families, according to the C.D.C. Among girls, race is also an important factor. About 25 percent of black girls are obese, compared with 15 percent of white girls. 

Some experts note that the current declines, concentrated among higher income, mostly white populations, are still not benefiting many minority children. For example, when New York City measured children in kindergarten through eighth grade from 2007 to 2011, the number of white children who were obese dropped by 12.5 percent, while the number of obese black children dropped by 1.9 percent. 

But Philadelphia, which has the biggest share of residents living in poverty of the nation’s 10 largest cities, stands out because its decline was most pronounced among minorities. Obesity among 120,000 public school students measured between 2006 and 2010 declined by 8 percent among black boys and by 7 percent among Hispanic girls, compared with a 0.8 percent decline for white girls and a 6.8 percent decline for white boys. 

“The needle is actually moving,” said Gary D. Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University. He first noticed the change while conducting a study of middle school students. Even children who made up the control group that did not take part in anti-obesity measures had a weight drop of nearly 4 percent, compared with 5.5 percent for those who did. 

Here at William H. Ziegler Elementary in Northeast Philadelphia, where most students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, the day begins with a nutrition tip over the loudspeaker. Teachers give out colorful erasers and stickers instead of Tootsie Rolls. Fund-raising events feature fruit smoothies instead of chocolate. Some students had never seen broccoli or cauliflower, so Jill Dogmanits, a sixth-grade teacher, started taste tests to acquaint students with those vegetables and healthy snacks like hummus, fresh pineapple and whole-wheat bagels. 

But school is only part of the day. Children buy an average of 350 calories worth of snacks in corner stores every day, according to a study by Dr. Foster’s center at Temple University. About 640 corner stores are now part of a program of stocking healthier food, according to the Food Trust, a nonprofit group that runs it. “Parents tell their kids, ‘Take this money and go buy a snack,’ ” said Josh, as children streamed into a store across from his school where crayon-colored sugar drinks called Hugs sell for 25 cents and generic soda is 40 cents.
Dr. Donald F. Schwarz, a pediatrician who is the city’s health commissioner, said: “I think we are beginning to turn the tide with the many things that have gone on now for a decade.” 

It is too early to tell whether the trend will hold. “I’d like to see another year of measurement before I go out and party over this,” said Mary Currier, Mississippi’s state health officer. And some public health experts say that without broader policy actions like a soda tax, which Philadelphia tried but failed to pass in 2010 and 2011, deeper change will be difficult. Still, new data from Philadelphia — from more than 20,000 children in first through sixth grades — show a further 2.5 percent obesity decline from 2011 to 2012, Dr. Foster said.
Josh lost weight this summer, exercising outside with his stepfather, an Army reservist. But now that it’s cold he has gained some back. Still, he believes he can influence others. His 2-year-old cousin now asks for bananas instead of chips at the corner store. Josh takes full credit.

September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. To foster awareness and help make a difference, Livliga, a healthy lifestyle company, will be donating 10% of all its Kidliga sales during the month to the Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition, a nonprofit dedicated to research and programs to help kids live healthier lives. In addition, all orders of Kidliga will receive a FREE Sammie and Sax ebooklet! For fun and healthy cooking classes for kids in Kansas City, MO check out the Kid Chefs Cooking Classes at Function Junction. Help us Help Kids Be Healthy and Join the Fun!


Pork Medallions with Cranberry Sauce

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have been talking a lot about about the good benefits of both cranberries and sage in my previous blogs. Here is a recipe that uses both. It is a festive recipe that fits with this time of year...yet not difficult or time consuming to make...which is also very helpful when you have lots of other things you want and need to be doing! This recipe came from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast 24/7 cookbook on page 285:

Pork Medallions with Cranberry Sauce


  • 1 (1 pound) pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • Cooking Spray


  1. Cut pork crosswise into 8 pieces. Place pork between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet. Sprinkle both sides of pork evenly with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine cranberries, broth, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil; boil 6 minutes or until berries burst and sauce is reduced to 2/3 cup. Stir in sage.
  3. While sauce cooks, heat large nonstick skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Serve pork with sauce.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 pork medallions and about 3 tablespoons sauce); calories 202.

To complete the meal I served the Pork Medallions with Cranberry Sauce with 1/2 cup brown rice with roasted pecans (108 cal) and Sauteed Swiss Chard (see previous blog/75 cal) for a total calorie count of 385. It was delicious, festive and a definite repeat!

Learn More About the Psychology That Makes Livliga Plates so Effective


Ways to Break the Cycle of Comfort Eating- #6 Get Active

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


New Mood-Management Strategy: Get Active

Now that you are eliminating food as your mood manager, identify other techniques that work for you. Regular exercise improves mood overall. If you’re feeling sad or anxious, try a short burst of any physical activity, like taking a short walk. Many women climb some stairs to burn calories and release tension. Keep a pair of sneakers at the office so that there are fewer barriers to getting moving at work.

I found this on iVillage: Ways to Break the Cycle.

Sauteed Swiss Chard

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
Sauteed Swiss Chard
Swiss chard is a new find for me. It is hardy so it is filling; it is a handsome green so it is an attractive addition to a plate; and it is easily found in grocery stores so it is no longer relegated to a spring time vegetable. It is also easy to prepare. In two previous blogs I write about the many health benefits of this green as well as how to prepare it for cooking. It is worth the effort to find out about this Italian, not Swiss, vegetable.

I recently prepared Swiss chard to compliment Pork Medallions with Cranberry Sauce (see blog on December 13/ 202 cal)) for a festive holiday menu. The complete meal I served was Pork Medallions with Cranberry Sauce with 1/2 cup brown rice with roasted pecans (108 cal) and Sauteed Swiss Chard (75 cal) for a total calorie count of 385. It was delicious, festive and a definite repeat!

Here is the recipe I used which comes from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast 24/7 on page 285:

1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, trimmed
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Cut chard into 1/2-inch-wide strips to measure 8 cups.
2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chard. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, and crushed red pepper. Cook 1 minute or until liquid evaporates. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup); calories 75.



Weekly-- Daily Aspiration #17

Monday, December 10, 2012
Today I will strive to feel completely satisfied at the end of each meal

Daughter's Crockpot Recipe- Autumn Chicken Stew

Friday, December 7, 2012

This week we picked a recipe I had done before in the crockpot for my daughter to prepare. I wrote about this recipe last fall- Autumn Chicken Stew on this same blog. It is a delicious hearty meal. It truly suits being a colder weather meal.

I did learn a few things this time around about the preparation of the meal. My daughter would have had a hard time preparing it all by herself. The recipe uses a whole medium butternut squash. Cutting up a butternut squash is not for sissies. It requires peeling and a cleaver to chop it up...not something easily done by someone in a wheelchair or for younger children! If I had thought ahead, our grocery store usually carries already cut up butternut squash in the fresh vegetable area. That could have eliminated one of the hassles. The sweet potatoes are also tough to slice into but she did manage to do those herself...smaller potatoes are better to choose since they are that much easier to cut up.

Overall she did a terrific job of preparing this crockpot recipe. She had the pot filled to the brim! When finished it was tasty and satisfying. A great Thursday night supper. The serving size is 1 1/2 cups stew with a 1/2 cup of couscous for a total calorie count of 380. We added a cup of raspberries to complete the meal with a menu calorie count of 432. A definite repeat.


How to Prepare Swiss Chard

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Swiss chard
I have talked about the health benefits of eating Swiss Chard in a previous blog. As a big, leafy green with thick stems I thought it might also be helpful to write about how to prepare this vegetable. It is honestly pretty easy. It does need to be cleaned well so I usually start by submerging the leaves in water to get out the dirt grit that can be in the folds of the leaves. The stems are also big and rigid. They need to be trimmed before cooking. Once washed I slit the leaves away from the stem on either side, going up the body of the leaf until the stem is diminished, cutting and removing the stem from that point down. Once this is done, it is easy to coarsely chop the leaves for steaming or sauteeing. I found a helpful guide providing by Cooking Light that I thought was worth sharing. It gives a ste-by-step visual instruction for prepping Swiss Chard. Here it is below:

How to Prepare Swiss Chard


Ways to Break the Cycle of Comfort Eating- #5 Plan Ahead

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Plan Ahead

If you want to change your relationship with food, you’ll need to change your environment. Use your food diary to determine whether you need to clean house. Literally. Packages of cookies, bags of chips and quarts of full-fat ice cream must go if you’ve identified them as unhealthy mood managers. Smaller packaging will help, as will more attractive displays of fruits and vegetables you enjoy. Make it easy on yourself: Cut up celery, carrots and peppers, and keep them toward the front of the fridge, not in the vegetable drawer (which Jerry Seinfeld appropriately refers to as “the Rotter”).

I Found this on iVillage: Ways to Break the Cycle

Weekly-- Daily Aspiration #16

Monday, December 3, 2012
Today I will commit to both listen and hear what each person is saying to me