Great Healthy Living Quote #70 --Being Thankful

Thursday, November 28, 2013

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EASY RECIPE: Apple Butter For The Holidays

Wednesday, November 27, 2013
We all know I love to cook. Part of the fun of cooking is sharing. During the holidays this is particularly true. We all get out our family favorites, many that have been passed down through the generations. Unfortunately many of those recipes are packed full of fat and sugar and are not that healthy for you.

A couple of years ago it occurred to me that I could choose to make healthier holiday treats which would actually be a greater gift to those I love. You can still choose special recipes for just this time of year that everyone can look forward to but who said those special recipes needed to be unhealthy, artery clogging and diabetes promoting?

One such recipe that is super easy and fun to share as gifts is Apple Butter you can make in your slow cooker. Once it is cooked you can divide it up in jars for gift giving...or just keep it in the refrigerator to enjoy at home with your family. The extra benefit to you and those in your household is the luscious smell of the apple butter as it is cooking in the crockpot. It is a classic holiday spice aroma. You will find yourself humming Christmas songs!

Apple Butter can be used as a healthy substitute for butter or margarine on toast, muffins or pancakes. Our favorite use is topping our oatmeal in the morning instead of using brown sugar. It is really good! Each tablespoon is 33 calories.

Apple Butter Served Up on Livliga
Ingredients Assembled In The Crockpot (by LivligaHome)

Here is the Recipe for Slow Cooker Apple Butter (originally from Cooking Light Slow Cooker):

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 cup apple cider (or juice)
1 tablespoon cinnamon, ground
1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
1/8 teaspoon mace, ground
10 apples, peeled, cored and cut into large wedges

1. Combine all ingredients in your crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
2.  When done just mash with a fork or potato masher to get rid of any remaining big chunks of apple.
3. For gift giving, place the apple butter into sanitized jars while still warm and seal promptly. Make sure to make labels listing the content and date it was made.
Nutritional Information-
Servings: 16. Serving Size: 1/4 cup. Calories per serving 132; Protein .1g; Carb 35.3g; Fiber 3.1g; Sodium 6mg.

Apple Butter
Oatmeal Topped with Apple Butter

Happy Healthy Eating!

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Being Thankful for a Healthier Lifestyle

Monday, November 25, 2013
Being Thankful for a Healthier Lifestyle

I have been considered overweight most of my life. My mom put me on a diet in the 2nd grade! I have 3 children and a husband who have also faced their own weight issues. Our weight struggles challenged me to learn how to cook more healthfully.  One outgrowth of my journey to better health was starting a blog. Being thankful for a healthier lifestyle has been years in the making.

My career choices further educated me about the obesity epidemic. In fact, I have come to understand that we are feeding our kids to death because we love them so much! We live in a super-sized world so that what we feed our kids is 2 or 3 times more than they need or that their bodies can handle. We are also feeding them the wrong types of food that are highly processed and packed with calories. As the Executive Director of the American Heart Association in Denver I had the opportunity to work with many talented and experienced doctors. One of these doctors, who is a pediatric cardiologist, told me at one point that he is now seeing children in his clinic who are 13 or 14 and yet have hearts that look like those of a 40 or 41 year old! Even the Center for Disease Control (CDC) came out with a statement a few years ago saying that we are now living in a generation where the parents are going to out live their children because of obesity!

This newfound knowledge motivated me to find some solutions. I wanted to figure out how to “right-size” my world and the food I served at meals.  No longer could I ignore my weight problem. I now understood it was a problem affecting my family, and really our whole nation. I got galvanized around the reality that in the USA we are killing our kids with food…literally. The good news is that this trend is reversible. We can save our kids and ourselves. We can live healthier lives and eat delicious, satisfying food. To achieve this we do need to create new, healthier habits and retrain our eyes to right-sized eating.

In order to make better choices and help guide our families in healthier eating I did some sleuthing and read a lot of research. Here is some of what I found out:
  • 73% of Americans are overweight and/or obese;
  • Mom’s make 85% of the decisions regarding food and the household;
  • Dinner plates have grown 51% over the past century;
  • Colors and sizes of plates can influence how much you eat at a meal;
  • There is big confusion about the difference between a portion and a serving;
  • A Portion can be made up of a number of servings…like at McDonald’s;
  • Most of us do not eat a balanced meal;
  • All of us are genetically engineered to eat everything that is put on our plate;
  • Diets don’t work because we see them as having a beginning and an end;
  • Effective changes have to be permanent, embracing new habits for a healthier lifestyle;
  • Integrating new habits that engage the entire family increases their success;
  • Then make it a community endeavor so that a healthier lifestyle looks “normal” and manageable doing it all together.
This information got me thinking- how could I create a right-sized eating environment in our home? My first thought was to right-size our dishware. Even with smaller dishware, how do you know what the right serving amounts are for  the types of food you are serving at a meal? More research was needed. It seemed to me what I wanted to do was to figure out what right-sized dishware should be and then create a design on or in each piece of a place setting to show me how much I should put on my plate…like a “cue”. This took me to the ‘paint your own pottery’ store.  Before I realized it, I had painted a set of dishware- dinner plate, salad/luncheon plate, bowl and mug that would become the springboard for my new company- VisualQs. Good news is that I have hired talented artists for the dishware (Livliga) and serving spoons (LivSpoons) since research also proves that eating in an attractive environment with beautifully designed dinnerware makes for a better eating experience where you are more likely to eat slowly and consume less food.

Through the use of my prototypes, my family and I have all lost weight. I have lost over 50 pounds in the past year and kept it off. The dishware makes mealtime positively easy. For instance, I love using the bowls for cereal and soup and healthy snacks like berries because I know exactly what I am serving up. My children really like them too. It is like fitting the pieces of a puzzle together for them. I no longer have to worry if they are over serving themselves since the dishware is now right-sized and has portion specific indicators. Since we are all using the dishware there is now a sense of family solidarity. We are all learning what right-sized eating is all about... together. Perhaps one of the most important things is that as parents we are modeling healthier eating for our kids. We can’t expect our kids to be healthy if we aren’t. I now realize this. As parents we are creating an environment that says, “we care about a healthy lifestyle in this household” and “we are making it enjoyable and inclusive” to be mindful about what we eat as part of a lifestyle…not a diet. This is relevant for everyone. Learning good habits when you are young helps you avoid becoming overweight later on in life. If you or members of the family are already challenged with being overweight, establishing practical and consistent healthy habits will improve everyone’s health and can be life saving.  Good habits are good for everyone.

It is fun, it is easy and it is about a lifestyle. A simple solution for healthy eating…one person, one meal and one day at a time.  I am hardly perfect, but I know I have improved a really important part of my life and my family’s life. Food is no longer controlling me, I am controlling it one right-sized serving at a time. And I am thankful and appreciative that I am part of a community struggling with the very same reality. I hope my journey, what I have learned, and what I have developed with my new company, VisualQs, and what I have shared on my blog, will help others on their journey to a healthier lifestyle. Think of all the healthful benefits we can look forward to together like living longer, sleeping better, avoiding diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, etc…. If you haven’t already, please come join the journey and be thankful for a healthier lifestyle.

Re-posted from Sheila's Blog on

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My Daughter's Crockpot Recipe-Pork with Apricots, Dried Plums, and Sauerkraut

Friday, November 22, 2013
Pork with Apricots, Dried Plums, and Sauerkraut (LivligaHome)
It is that time of year again when our crockpot comes out of storage. There is nothing better than an easy supper that has been simmering in the slow cooker all day emanating delicious smells of spices and garlic, making everyone eager for dinner. This week my daughter prepared Pork with Apricots, Dried Plums, and Sauerkraut. We don't often eat sauerkraut but my husband has been reading about its benefits in the book Cooked by Michael Pollen, so I thought I would track down a recipe to support his new found fascination.

As part of my research in tracking down recipes, I also read about the benefits of sauerkraut. There are many. Since sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, it is a natural probioitc that provides us with good bacteria while also inhibiting the growth of bad bacteria. This improves our immune system. It is a great source of vitamins C and K which both help our bones be strong. Additionally, vitamin C is an important antioxidant while vitamin K has a key role in blood clotting. Then there are the heart healthy benefits of sauerkraut because it is high in fiber. Last but not least, sauerkraut is packed full of iron which is important for our red blood cells and their role in providing oxygen to all our cells which gives us more energy to do the things we need and love to do. Sauerkraut definitely qualifies as a superfood!

How did the recipe turn out? My daughter found the recipe easy to follow and the ingredients super easy to assemble. After 7 hours it tasted delicious! The pork was moist and the sauerkraut and dried fruit made for a yummy sauce for the pork. Each serving has 261 calories. To make it a meal we added a spinach and strawberry salad for 136 calories a serving. The calories for the meal are 397. Everyone enjoyed the meal. It is a definite repeat.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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November is National Diabetes Month

Thursday, November 21, 2013
Life with Diabetes Infographic (curtesy of American Recall Center)

November is National Diabetes Month. There is a reason why a month has been dedicated to raising our awareness about diabetes. It is a killer disease. According to the World Health Organization over 1.1 million people die from the disease each year. In reality many more die from diabetes but it is recorded as kidney failure or heart disease.  Deaths from diabetes are projected to rise more than 50% in the next 10 years and, not too surprisingly, to 80% in middle to upper income countries.

Diabetes has now been labeled an emerging global epidemic, which can be traced back to the rapid increase in obesity. According to the American Recall Center, diabetes affects over 25 million people in the United States, or 8.3% of the entire population. Within those 25 million people, over 8 million are undiagnosed, or do not know they are living with diabetes.

What are the symptoms of diabetes? According to the American Diabetes Association common symptoms of diabetes are:

    •    Urinating often
    •    Feeling very thirsty
    •    Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
    •    Extreme fatigue
    •    Blurry vision
    •    Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
    •    Weight loss – even though you are eating more (type 1)
    •    Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)

The good news is diabetes can be prevented. Just like with obesity it is all about diet and exercise. Research shows we can dramatically reduce the risk of developing the disease if we engage in moderate physical activity for 30 minutes each day and eat a healthy diet. For inspiration please check out my healthy and diabetes-friendly recipes and other resources.

Please spread the word and help raise the awareness about diabetes. It can be as easy as sharing this blog. You could be saving a life,  including your own.

Live Vibrant!

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Re-posted from Sheila's Blog on

Binge Eating "Safe" Food--Frozen Greek Yogurt

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

frozen greek yogurt
I confess. I try not to but I still binge eat from time to time. Instead of just giving in and eating the thousands of extra, unwanted calories I used to, I have been on the prowl for less harmful foods I typically binge with.

If you love ice cream and tend to turn to a pint of ice cream after a traumatic day, I discovered, thanks to Dr. Oz, that a pint of Greek Yogurt is a great binge alternative.

It is important to understand the choices, however. Not only is there a difference between ice cream and frozen yogurt but there are also big differences between the choices of frozen yogurts.

Here is what I found:
Type                                            calories in 1/2 cup   calories in pint    fat         protein
Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream     160                              640                       8g           4g
Ben & Jerry's Frozen Greek     200                              800                       7g           6g
Stonyfield Frozen Greek         100                               400                       0g           6g

Eating a pint of Stonyfield frozen yogurt can satisfy a binge without the calories and self loathing that can often follow the binge.


Ice cream and frozen yogurt are both frozen treats made from dairy, but there is a significant difference that sets them apart. In order for a frozen treat to be legally labeled as ice cream, it must contain at least 10 percent milkfat. This requirement is usually met through the addition of cream, and premium ice cream can contain as much as 16 percent milkfat. Frozen yogurt is not made with cream and does not have a fat requirement. Instead it is made with cultured milk such as yogurt though probiotics do not survive the freezing temperatures.

Nutritional Value

Since the difference in the ingredients of ice cream and frozen yogurt is cream, the main nutritional difference is the fat content. One cup of regular vanilla ice cream contains 275 calories, 5 grams of protein, 31 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fat and 9 grams of saturated fat. One cup of regular vanilla frozen yogurt contains 221 calories, 5 grams of protein, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 6 grams of fat and 4 grams of saturated fat.


If you're watching your fat and calorie intake, you may opt for the frozen yogurt. However, the lower fat and calorie content may vary depending on your portion size and what you put into it. Frozen yogurt is commonly offered with many sugar and fat-laden additions such as syrups, marshmallows and candy pieces. These will not only increase the fat content but also the sugar and calories.

Tips for Healthy Choices

If you choose to eat frozen yogurt, remember to still moderate your portion size and choose the healthier toppings. Choose toppings such as fresh fruit, granola and nuts to get the antioxidants, protein and fiber. These toppings will also likely be lower in calories, fat and sugar than other toppings. If you prefer ice cream, try decreasing your fat intake elsewhere in your diet to make up for the higher fat content. Another alternative is to choose reduced-fat ice cream.

Found in the San Francisco Chronicle

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Great Healthy Living Quote #69-- Be Kind to Everyone

Monday, November 18, 2013
Great Healthy Living Quote #69


Where in the World are Sammie & Sax?... Headed for a home in Traverse City, Michigan, of course, with Their New Young Friends!

Friday, November 15, 2013
First Young Customers to Take Home Sammie & Sax in Traverse City, Michigan (photo by LivligaHome)
What a wonderful time we had in Traverse City, Michigan at the Traverse City Annual Children's Book Festival. It was our first book festival. It is nice to see that the world of books is still alive and well. There were many authors present sharing their various books...all with young readers in mind. We are a creative and passionate group when it comes to our books and the stories they tell to amuse, inspire and educate the next generation. Their smiles and interest keep us going.

Moonbeam Award Winners Who All Went to The Book Fair (photo by LivligaHome)
At the end of the day, and after the book fair, we went to the Moonbeam Children's Book Awards ceremony. It was a great way to end the day amongst new friends who tell powerful stories that are now being shared with the world.

To view all the 2013 award winning books here is a link to the Moonbeam Book Awards area at Amazon:

To go to Sammie and Sax directly on Amazon and read our reviews here is the link: Sammie & Sax in the Land of Quinoa on Amazon

To go to our website to check out Sammie & Sax, Kidliga and Livliga here is that link:

It is a great time of year to start scouting out fun and special gifts for the kids in your life!

Happy Shopping!


Seasonal Signs of Depression

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thought this article was a good reminder of how the change of seasons can effect our moods, how it is important to take note and steps we can take to manage how we feel, avoiding destructive behaviors.  

The Signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Do you gain weight and get blue, miserable, and tired once the days get shorter? These are all symptoms of a condition called seasonal affective disorder.

By Beth W. Orenstein
Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

People who find they have mild to severe depression in fall and winter, when the days grow shorter, may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — sometimes called the winter blues. Women, especially those in their twenties, are most susceptible to seasonal affective disorder, but it can affect men and people of all ages, including children and teens. Very often, people with seasonal depression have at least one close relative with a psychiatric disorder, typically major depressive disorder or alcohol abuse.

SAD symptoms emerge during the darker winter months, then disappear as days grow longer and brighter come spring, says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School.

It's estimated that a half-million people in the United States may have seasonal depression.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms of SAD include:

Weight gain. Cravings for sweet and starchy foods lead to excess weight. Daytime fatigue. People with SAD are tired during the day and have less energy. They may also find themselves sleeping a lot, but getting no relief from their fatigue. “With SAD, you eat more and sleep more,” Dr. Duckworth says. “It’s hibernation-like.”

Increased irritability and anxiety. People with SAD worry more about everyday events and can be easily irritated. They can have trouble concentrating, too. Social withdrawal. Those with SAD prefer to be alone; they shun the company of friends and family and do not participate in activities they normally enjoy. Often their social behavior is hard to understand.

SAD is treatable, and there are various treatment methods.

SAD: Light Therapy

“Light therapy does seem to have some effectiveness,” Duckworth says. Light therapy boxes are available that mimic the outdoors. You can buy them without a prescription, but they cost about $400 and are not covered by insurance.

The best time to use light therapy is in the morning. “You sit in front of the box in the morning before going to work and give yourself some sunshine,” Duckworth says. Light therapy typically takes about 30 minutes a day. Note: Do not try to use tanning beds as a treatment for SAD. Tanning beds use ultraviolet rays, which can be harmful to your eyes and your skin.

SAD: Professional Help

“Find a relationship with a clinician who can coach you through this and figure out if it is indeed SAD or if you do worse at Christmastime because your father died on Christmas Eve, for example,” Duckworth says.

A medical professional also can prescribe antidepressants if necessary.

SAD: Other Treatment Methods

Taking a vacation to where it’s warm and sunny. “Go to Florida or to the Bahamas. Go some place south with a lot of sun,” Duckworth says. “If you can take a vacation to a sunny climate it likely will help.”

Maintaining relationships with friends and family. “Don’t stop going to church if you go to church,” Duckworth says. “If your family is a big source of stress, figure out a way to be with them that is not overwhelming to you. Maybe plan your longer visits for the summer when you seem to be doing better.”

Because SAD occurs during the winter months — when holiday festivities are in full force — self-medication is tempting.

“Alcohol use tends to go up in the winter as people attend more parties,” Duckworth says. However, he says, “If you’re using alcohol or drugs to change the depressed way you feel this time of year, it’s probably compounding your problems as opposed to helping them.”

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Where in the World are Sammie & Sax?... Headed for Israel, of course, with New Friend, Leon!

Friday, November 8, 2013
Sammie & Sax are Headed for Israel with New Friend, Leon! (photo by LivligaHome)
It has been a great adventure for us all in Boston this year at the 141st APHA Conference. We have met many amazing and accomplished people doing important work around the globe to improve our enviroment of health. One such person we met, Leon, is headed back to Israel....with Sammie and Sax! He loved the concept of Kidliga and the book Sammie & Sax in the Land of Quinoa: The Search for a Balanced Meal. He is excited to give the dishware to his grandson and read the book to him. How cool to know Sammie & Sax will now be in another country around the globe! We know they are ready for the adventure! As they would say "Spoon Zoom Away!"


Childhood Obesity Causing Parents to Outlive Their Children

Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Childhood Obesity Causing Parents to Outlive Their Children @livligahome

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that we are now living in a generation where parents are going to out live their children due to childhood obesity. According to the CDC, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years. The percentage of children aged 6–11 years in the United States who were obese increased from 7% in 1980 to nearly 18% in 2010.  In 2010, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. We have to face it: we are killing our kids with food. Click here to read the entire article...

re-posted from Sheila's Blog on


Great Healthy Living Quote # 68-- One Small Positive Thought

Monday, November 4, 2013
livliga healthy living quotes
Happy Monday!


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Food Challenges Are Not About Food

Friday, November 1, 2013
As we recover from the Halloween Bingeing I thought this insight from Mark David would help clear the sugar fog from our brains today. Read on:

Time to Cozy Up with our Weight and Food Concerns (photo by LivligaHome)

Food Challenges Are Not About Food - As odd as it may sound, a majority of our food challenges are not merely about food. Yes, it’s a great idea to eat healthy food. Yes, certain foods can be rather addictive. And yes, there are so many different kinds of junk foods out there that have the power to hook us, but, I believe that at its core, our challenges with food go deeper, are way more interesting, and more telling than we might ever imagine. In other words, overeating doesn’t mean we have a mere willpower issue with food and we need to learn to control our appetite. Binge eating does not mean that we’re complete and total losers who have absolutely no control because we’re fundamentally damaged. Excess weight does not mean that we’re undeniably lazy when it comes to food. And our inability to change our body to the hot and sexy creature that we want it to be isn’t because we simply need to get better at diet and exercise. Our challenges with food, body and weight are here for a beautiful reason. They have a purpose. They have a message. It’s time to listen to our eating concerns and cozy up with them like never before.

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