Mediterranean Diet- Greek-Style Lentil Soup with Crispy Olives

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Greek-Style Lentil Soup with Crispy Olives
Greek-Style Lentil Soup with Crispy Olives Served Up on Livliga's Halsa Portion Control Dinnerware

I am beginning to notice that a lot of the Mediterranean recipes I find are vegetarian. It is making me understand why everyone who eats Mediterranean as a way of life is healthier. There are lots of fresh vegetables and not much fat. There are also a lot of spices used which makes each dish wonderfully aromatic and flavorful. This Greek-Style Lentil Soup with Crispy Olives (290/cal) is packed full of flavors from garlic and onion to thyme, rosemary and oregano to cinnamon enhancing the natural flavors of the foods which make up this recipe. This needs a little forethought in making because it takes about an hour to simmer once you have assembled all the ingredients. It is not difficult to make, just takes a little time to cook.

To complete the meal I added a whole wheat pita bread (100/cal) for a total calorie count for the meal of 390. It was delicious and hearty and enjoyed by all the family. A definite repeat.

Great Healthy Living Quote #41

Monday, April 29, 2013


Why Livliga Works- Our Dishware is Right-sized

Friday, April 26, 2013

Healthy eating is the cornerstone of healthy living. Livliga connects our eyes, mind, and stomach to benefit our health.  Eating food from right‑sized dishware that is also thoughtfully and beautifully designed is the key to success and satisfaction.

The designs embedded in each piece of tableware were specifically created to guide the user in eating a balanced meal in appropriate portion sizes. Our mind and body look for external cues and signals to tell us how much we should eat. The visual cues embedded in our tableware have been designed to right-size the environment around us so we can make better and different choices than those currently available that “super-size” all our meals.

By offering a complete set of tableware, including plates, bowls, cups, wine glasses, beverage glasses, a serving bowl and a set of LivSpoons (Measuring/Serving Spoons), that has been right-sized and designed with the psychology of eating in mind, Livliga has created the tools for a healthy eating environment. If all the dishes and glasses used are of the same scale then our eyes adjust to the right-sized environment and will no longer seek super-sized alternatives.

Livliga not only offers visual cues to guide the user to right-sized eating but also makes the properly portioned amounts served in and on the tableware feel like enough so at the end of a meal an individual can believe they have had enough and are satisfied. This is achieved by providing well made porcelain dinnerware of restaurant grade so it feels substantial, making the food on the plate feel substantial as well. Eating off of a plastic plate will not have the same effect. Our glassware is also nicely weighted so beverages served in them feel like enough as well as look like enough. All tableware is designed to support the overall desire to consume right sized amounts of food and feel full as well as satisfied.

Livliga dinnerware is right-sized, not small looking. This has the important visual cue of not making someone feel that they are being denied or deprived. If a person feels denied or deprived, which is much more likely when eating off of a small or child’s plate, they are more likely to end up eating more, not less. Feeling different than everyone else at the table or feeling isolated because your plate is different than everyone else’s can set us up for failure. It is important that our eyes see that what we are eating is plentiful looking and substantive in weight in order to feel satisfied at the end of a meal

We have downsized/right-sized our tableware so that when you put the appropriate amount of food on your plate, it will look plentiful and therefore will send positive cues to your brain so that when you have finished eating, you will feel satisfied. Studies have been done to show that if you downsize the dishware you will eat less and yet still feel satisfied.

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Mediterranean Diet- Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks@livligahome
It seems like spring when I find veal and lamb shanks at the grocery store. It is not as usual to find veal so most often we celebrate spring with a lamb shank. In fact, the recipe I found on line called for veal shank and I substituted lamb shank instead. I picked the recipe- Moroccan Braised Veal Shanks- because of all the wonderful spices included and I also had butternut squash I wanted to use up already in my kitchen. This recipe takes about an hour and a half to cook so it is one I would plan for a weekend meal. It is a little higher in calories as well with 455 calories per serving so it is one I save for weekend special meals. It certainly qualifies for a meal to serve your friends.

My family is not a big friend of couscous. We find it a little dry. When I found out it was a form of pasta and not a grain, it made it easy to go ahead and substitute. In this recipe I used barley instead of couscous. It takes about the same amount of time to cook as the shank so you want to start cooking the barley when you begin preparing your dinner.

To complete the meal I served a Romaine salad with my homemade lemon vinaigrette with oregano (40/cal) for a total calorie count of 495. This meal was a big hit. Not a morsel was left on the bone or in the bowl. A definite repeat.


New Health Risk Identified--Carnitine-- Found in Red Meat and Health Drinks

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

It seems the bad rap red meat has received over the past several years is well founded. Now a new study has come out about carnitine, found in red meat, which with the help of bacteria in the digestive track converts to another metabolite, called TMAO, that promotes atherosclerosis, or a thickening of the arteries. This new study may lead to a better understanding of how cholesterol is metabolized in our bodies because of the existence and levels of TMAO in our bodies. The scary thing is that carnitine is also an additive in energy drinks and dietary supplements. In trying to be healthy we may be adding to our health risks. Please ready on:

Doctors long have assumed that saturated fat and cholesterol in red meat are what raise the risk of heart disease. But a study out Monday in the journal Nature Medicine fingers another culprit: carnitine, a compound abundant in red meat that also is sold as a dietary supplement and added to energy drinks. 

Carnitine typically helps the body transport fatty acids into cells to be used as energy. But researchers at the Cleveland Clinic found that in both humans and mice, certain bacteria in the digestive track convert carnitine to another metabolite, called TMAO, that promotes atherosclerosis, or a thickening of the arteries. 

The researchers, led by Stanley Hazen, chief of cellular and molecular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute, examined records of 2,595 patients undergoing cardiac evaluations. They found that the more TMAO in their blood, the more likely they were to develop cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and death. 

Many studies over the years have linked consumption of red and processed meat to cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The Harvard School of Public Health reported last year that among 83,000 nurses and 37,000 male health professionals followed since the 1980s, those who consumed the highest levels of red meat had the highest risk of death during study, and that one additional serving a day of red meat raised the risk of death by 13%. 

The new findings don't mean that red meat is more hazardous than previously thought, but they may help explain the underlying risk, which some researchers have long thought was greater than the saturated fat and cholesterol content could explain.

Dr. Hazen speculated that carnitine could be compounding the danger. "Cholesterol is still needed to clog the arteries, but TMAO changes how cholesterol is metabolized—like the dimmer on a light switch," he said. "It may explain why two people can have the same LDL level [a measurement of one type of cholesterol], but one develops cardiovascular disease and the other doesn't." 

One surprising finding, Dr. Hazen said, was how long-term dietary patterns affected the amount of TMAO-producing bacteria in the gut and thus magnified the risk. In the study, when a longtime omnivore consumed an eight-ounce steak and a carnitine supplement, both his bacteria and TMAO levels rose considerably. But when a vegan voluntarily ate the same combination, he showed no increase in TMAO or bacterial change. "Vegans basically lose their ability to digest" carnitine, said Dr. Hazen. 
The study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, didn't assess how little red meat people could consume and still have elevated TMAO. Nor did it look at how long someone had to abstain from red meat to end the process. "We know it will be longer than one week, but shorter than one year," Dr. Hazen said. 

Trade groups for meat producers have questioned the link between red meat and cardiovascular disease on the grounds that studies that ask people to recall what they ate over long periods are imprecise. 

As a dietary supplement, carnitine is designated as "generally regarded as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration, but few studies have looked at its long-term safety. A 2006 risk assessment found no adverse effects when subjects consumed 2,000 milligrams a day for six months.

Ads for supplements promote carnitine as helping boost energy levels, particularly in endurance sports, and assisting in recovery after intense exercise; some also claim that it helps reduce belly fat, shed pounds and improve brain function. 

Duffy MacKay, vice president for scientific and regulatory affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition, a trade group for the supplement and energy drink industry, called the Nature study "a new, emerging hypothesis," but said the researchers were drawing large conclusions from small studies of mice, bacteria and human biomarkers. 

"The concept that one component of your diet, or one molecular, is responsible for your health woes is questionable," Mr. MacKay added. Dr. Hazen noted that some energy drinks have more carnitine in a single can than a porterhouse steak. "I worry about what happens in 10, 20 or 30 years of consumption," he said. He said humans generally have plenty of carnitine in their diet, which also is found in small amounts in nuts, beans, vegetables and fruit, and don't need to take it in supplement form. 


Mediterranean Diet- White Bean, Artichoke and Chard Ragout With Fennel Relish

Tuesday, April 23, 2013
White Bean, Artichoke and Chard Ragout@livligahome
There is nothing like a hearty stew, even in spring, when the weather has chilled you to the bone. The challenge with some stews is that they are not very colorful after they have simmered for many hours. This Mediterranean, vegetarian stew is topped with a fennel relish as you serve which makes it an exception. As you can see by the photo, it has a colorful visual appeal.

My daughter loves artichokes which is why I picked this particular recipe on our Mediterranean Diet. The artichokes along with Swiss Chard and the fennel you add to the stew give an original flare to this crockpot stew. The combination made for a flavorful meal. One serving is 290 calories.

To complete the menu I added a slice of store bought artisan Olive Bread (116/cal) for a total calorie count of 406. It hit the spot with everyone. A definite repeat.


Great Healthy Living Quote #40

Monday, April 22, 2013

Livliga healthy living quote

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The cunning nature of sugar

Friday, April 19, 2013
Varieties of blood sugar triggers@livlighome

It is amazing to me to realize how much sugar/sugar substitute I added to my food regularly and during the course of a day. I think I talked myself into believing it wasn't much...but it was. There was the tablespoon of brown sugar in the bowl of oatmeal. Then there was the mix of sugar-free vanilla and sugar-free hazelnut I but in my lattes...multiple mug-fuls during the course of a morning. Then there was the honey I added to my Greek yogurt or the sugary fruit already added to the yogurt cups I buy at the grocery store.

I discovered that these were all triggers for me, whether refined, sugar free or healthier sugars like honey. And I was re-triggering myself multiple times a day all throughout the day. My poor blood sugar levels were being treated like a yo yo. No wonder I am a Master Grazer. I couldn't help myself nor could I stop myself. I kept setting myself up to want more and yet never feel satisfied. Very unfulfilling daily cycle, right? Yep, you bet.

Since I have stopped adding sugar to my oatmeal, coffee and yogurt, I feel so much more in control. I, of course, stopped the cookies and crackers as snacks as well. I am much happier and a lot less cranky late afternoon. It does make a difference!


Mediterranean Diet-- Greek Style Frittata

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I think I have mentioned it before, I love Frittatas. They are a lot like quiche but they don't have the crust and carbs. You can also put anything and everything in them depending on your mood and what you have in your refrigerator. They are great for cleaning out the fridge! Frittatas do not take long to cook either.

They can be served for brunch. lunch or supper. When I was in the Peace Corps, we would pack up leftover frittata for traveling meals. I have even been known to eat frittata cold for a snack. Some may eat cold pizza, I prefer cold frittata for breakfast!

Recently I fixed a Medterranean Frittata (253 cal). As you can see from the photo, it was beautiful fresh out of the oven. It sliced well after sitting on the counter top for a few minutes after taking it out of the oven. I altered the recipe slightly to reduce the calories, make it healthier and to use what I had on hand. It called for 1/4 cup olive oil; I used 2 teaspoons. It called for fresh basil; I used arugula instead. It also called for 1/2 teaspoon salt; I used none.

To make a menu I added Asparagus vinaigrette (50 cal/6 spears) and a low fat, freshly baked Morning Glory muffin (203 cal).  Total calories for the meal were 506. Everyone loved the meal with all its flavors and plentiful ingredients. It was a hit and a definite repeat.

Enjoy! and Live Vibrant!

You Ate A Chocolate Filled Croissant--Now What?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I came across a listing of foods we sometimes treat ourselves to. I like how the facts were broken down, including the various ways we could burn off what we just ate. Allows us to take responsibility and avoid the guilt. I hate looking at Croissant on my I can avoid it!

Here are the facts:
You ate: a chocolate-filled croissant
Calories: 350
Fat: 19 grams

Now burn it off with:
80 minutes of brisk walking
75 minutes of mopping
50 minutes on the Stairmaster

Read More:

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Springtime Recipes-- Asparagus Vinaigrette

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Marinated Asparagus@livligahome

There is nothing more delicious than fresh, seasonal produce. It is so fun in the spring to see the baby lettuce and the small stemmed asparagus. After the doldrums of winter it is a delight to be re-inspired by newly available foods. Good, fresh food does not need much preparation.

One of my family's favorites is to blanche (briefly steam for about 3 to 4 minutes) asparagus and then put a light vinaigrette on it. It is great as a salad or cold vegetable at any meal from brunch to dinner. We are even known to snack on the leftovers!

The main thing is to not put too much dressing on the asparagus. A light coating is all you need. You also don't need a heavy dressing with lots of oil. You can serve it right away or leave it to marinate and chill for a couple of hours or more in your refrigerator.

My easy, light vinaigrette is as follows:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon olive oil
Pinch of dried basil
Pinch of sea salt

Put all of this in an empty jar (I save mustard jars). Shake until completely blended. Pour over the asparagus. You may only need half of the recipe amount depending on the size of the bunch of asparagus you prepared. Also, you can double the vinaigrette recipe easily if you think you will need a larger amount of the dressing. It is a very flexible recipe.

Enjoy! and Live Vibrant!

Innovative Idea: Want an easy way to serve up your dressings in single servings of 2 tablespoons (⅛ cup)? We have the perfect choice--LivSpoons! They come in 4 sought after serving sizes--1 cup, ¾ cup, ½ cup and ⅛ cup. They make measuring in the kitchen easy and they are so attractive you'll want to use them at your dinner table at every meal. Finally there are beautifully designed serving spoons that measure!

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Great Healthy Living Quote #39

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jumpstart Your Livliga Lifestyle with our Get Started Guide!

Why Livliga works- positive "cues"

Friday, April 12, 2013
Why Livliga works- positive "cues"

Each design embedded in each piece of dishware was specifically created to guide the user in eating a balanced meal in the appropriate serving sizes.  Our mind and body looks for external cues and signals to tell us how much we should eat. Livilga right-sized dinnerware has been designed to right-size the environment around us  and provides positive visual cues so we can make better choices and different choices than those currently available that “super-size” all our meals.

Mediterranean Diet-- Greek-Style Kale Salad

Thursday, April 11, 2013
Greek--Style Kale Salad
Kale is the hot "queen of greens" to use these days. It is no wonder when you read about its many benefits from being packed full of calcium, vitamins and minerals to its mighty power against cancer and heart disease. It is definitely a food to build into our diets on a weekly basis.

A couple of challenges to this is its chewy nature as a rough and tough green. You also need to find recipes that accentuate its positives. To the first issue about its chewiness, the good news it that there are now many more varieties offered at the local grocery store because of its popularity. Even at Costco they are offering baby kale which is very palatable.  To the second issue, Mediterranean Diet recipes are a great resources for tasty salads that use kale.

One such recipe I selected I found on The Greek-Style Kale Salad I chose had all sorts of yummy ingredients in it. The recipe included Swiss chard, cucumber, olives and feta. The dressing was flavorful as well. It did call for 1/2 teaspoon refined sugar which I replaced with honey. One bountiful serving is a mere 79 calories. This is a salad that can be made and included in a variety of menus and with such a low calorie count it can round out a hearty entree without pushing you over your overall calorie goal for a meal.

My daughter wasn't wild about the chewiness of the greens but she did like the combination of all the ingredients in the salad. Next time I plan on using the baby kale I found at Costco. Overall it was a thumbs up for the salad and a definite repeat.


You Ate A Slice Of Birthday Cake--Now What?!?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I came across a listing of foods we sometimes treat ourselves to. I like how the facts were broken down, including the various ways we could burn off what we just ate. Allows us to take responsibility and avoid the guilt. I hate looking at Birthday Cake on my I can avoid it!

Here are the facts:
You ate: a slice of birthday cake
Calories: 240
Fat: 10 grams

Now burn it off with:
80 minutes of sweeping floors
35 minutes of hiking uphill
25 minutes on the rowing machine

Read More:

Get your free healthy  holiday recipe ebook!


Mediterranean Diet-- Greek Red Snapper with Potatoes

Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Greek Red Snapper
We tried out a new Mediterranean Diet recipe-- Greek Red Snapper with Potatoes (296 cal). This was an easy recipe to assemble. It simply requires layering the various ingredients in a Pyrex dish. With the slices of tomato and yellow pepper it is colorful. The challenge was finding the red snapper. It is not regularly offered in my local grocery store. I substituted Swai.

It calls for cooking the assembled casserole for 1 hour and 20 minutes. This is a long time for a week night. I think it is becasue of the potatoes. Nothing else requires that much time to cook. I think it makes sense to brown the potatoes for 10 -15 minutes in a skillet, sprayed with olive oil cooking spray, before layering in the casserole. I think it will improve the taste of the potato and make it more attractive looking in addition to diminishing the cook time in the oven by half. I am planning on trying this out next time.

To complete the meal I added a Greek-style Kale Salad for 79 calories. Total calories for the meal were 375. Everyone enjoyed the meal and gave a thumbs up to prepare it again.

Great Healthy Living Quote #38

Monday, April 8, 2013


Time To Use Those Hard Boiled Easter Eggs—Time for Egg Salad!

Friday, April 5, 2013
Easter Eggs Made into Egg Salad
Hard Boiled Easter Eggs


We are a family that loves decorating Easter eggs. Nothing terribly fancy, we just use colored crayons and Paas egg dyes. When the kids were much smaller we did dozens of eggs around Easter becasue we were the ones that had the family Easter gathering and annual egg hunt. We may not have the gathering or egg hunt anymore but we still love decorating those eggs!

But what to do with the leftover eggs? They are, of course, delicious as is. A hard boiled egg makes a great snack. But they are also delicious as an egg salad. I love egg salad. But I am picky about the dressing. Often there is too much mayonnaise so it is too "gloopy". I like a dryer dressing. Here is the recipe I have developed and that can be scaled depending on how many people are going to be eating it.

       Egg Salad

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon California garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix. Makes 1 serving. Calories per serving 209.

Easter Egg Salad Served Up on Livliga's Halsa dinnerware
For an extra treat discover Livliga's Egg Salad with Lox Served up on our Halsa!

This is a great recipe as a salad on a bed of lettuce or made into a sandwich. Easy and cheap to do. It can even become part of your Easter tradition, as it has become ours. Enjoy!

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Mediterranean Diet- Moroccan Roasted Salmon

Thursday, April 4, 2013
Moroccan Roasted Salmon with Mango Salsa

It is so much fun plunging myself into the Mediterranean diet cuisine. Last night we enjoyed a Moroccan Roasted Salmon with Mango Salsa for 334 calories. This is an easy recipe to prepare. It calls for salt on the salmon before cooking which I ignored. It does have a kick to it with the harissa. Because I knew there would be heat to the salmon, I made a cooling cucumber salad to accompany it for 38 calories. to complete the meal we had 1/2 cup brown rice for 102 calories. Total calories for the meal was 474. It was delicious and satisfying. 2 out of 3 called for a repeat. My daughter, who does not like "peppery hot" food did not like the flavoring on the salmon. My husband and I loved it, however. May not end up being a regular repeat since it is not to everyone's liking.


What is so Cool about the Mediterranean Diet?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Key Ingredient of the Mediterranean Diet-- Olive Oil

Recently I wrote about my desire and commitment to give up sugar. It just wasn't working to keeping ignoring it as a daily trigger to my healthy diet. In order to do that I felt I needed to truly "change things up". I thought it would be a good idea to find a diet, really a way of eating, that did not incorporate sugar in the preparation of foods. As I read and roamed around the internet I found the Mediterranean Diet showing up in all my searches. It is all about fresh foods, aromatic spices, lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, oil not butter, not much meat and very little sugar, if any.

Here is what I learned from an article published on WedMD By

For the past 50 years, scientists have studied the eating patterns characteristic of the Mediterranean diet -- and they continue to find additional health benefits. Recently, a large study published in journal BMJ showed that healthy people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. 

Further, a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that a restricted-calorie Mediterranean diet (as well as a low-carb diet) could be even more effective for weight loss than a low-fat diet, while also offering other health benefits.

"Research continues to demonstrate that being physically active and eating a nutritious diet of primarily whole foods that are filling and satisfying can enable people to control weight, lower blood pressure [and] cholesterol levels, reduce risk of diabetes, heart disease [and] Alzheimer’s disease, and basically protect against chronic diseases," says cardiologist Arthur Agatston, MD, creator of the South Beach Diet, based on the Mediterranean diet model.

What Makes the Mediterranean Diet So Healthy?

A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, beans, and seeds provides thousands of micronutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can help protect against cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions, experts say.

The multiple factors at work in the Mediterranean diet, Agatston explains, provide health benefits that "cannot be replaced by a supplement."

The Mediterranean diet also emphasizes minimally processed, fresh, and preferably local foods.  Typical meals include plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, olive oil, whole grains, pasta, and cereals, with lesser amounts of fish, poultry, eggs, and low-fat dairy, and even smaller amounts of meat. A glass of wine is almost always served with lunch and dinner.

According to the May Clinic website key components of the Mediterranean diet are-
  • Getting plenty of exercise
  • Eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts
  • Replacing butter with healthy fats such as olive oil and canola oil
  • Using herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods
  • Limiting red meat to no more than a few times a month
  • Eating fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Drinking red wine in moderation (optional)
The diet also recognizes the importance of enjoying meals with family and friends. 

As you can see, it is about a healthy lifestyle using fresh whole foods and very little processed or refined ingredients...which includes sugar.

The wonderful thing about the Mediterranean approach to cooking is it is reflected in many different cultures. We are having so much fun exploring the spices and styles of Morocco, Spain and Greece as well as Italy and the cooking of Southern France.

Without the sugar, my grazing in the late afternoon is just not a problem. I feel in control and I am loving the cooking! Stay tunes for up coming recipes and reviews that follow our newly adopted lifestyle. And please share yours!


Arugula and Shredded Cheddar Quesadillas

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

For more of my Livliga recipes that are easy to use and print go to

Live Vibrant!


Great Healthy Living Quote #37

Monday, April 1, 2013

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