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Friday, February 27, 2015

Healthy Habits--Cooking More At Home

Sheila and Walt making time to cook dinner at home (photo by LivligaHome).
We live such busy lives and have so many responsibilities and obligations. Our lives are spent juggling all the have tos. In order to make it all happen, often it is our health that gets sacrificed. We skip exercise to get to work early, we lose another hour of sleep to work on a kid’s school project or we give up on cooking dinner and buy take out instead because our volunteer meeting ran long and we got stuck in traffic. The list of compromises we make to keep the Lifeboat afloat is honestly endless.

The problem is, if we don’t put our health at the top of the priority list we end up being able to juggle less and less. We can easily become one of the statistics for diabetes, heart disease, cancer or stroke. It is the reality we hate to think about and avoid talking about. Bottom line, ignoring our health shortens our lives and lessens our quality of life. Ugh. Now comes the moment when we start to feel really overwhelmed. There is so much to change and so little time. Where do we even choose to begin?  What one change can be made that will make the biggest difference? The answer is: cook more at home.

Cooking at home can have the biggest impact on our health. We can control the variety of food we eat, the ingredients we put into our food and the amounts we serve. Each of these can positively influence our health.  Changing up the vegetables, grains and proteins we eat throughout the week ensures we are getting the range of vitamins, minerals and fiber we need to keep our bodies fueled and running smoothly. Making our meals from scratch and following healthy recipes helps us manage the amount of sugar, salt and fat we use. Research shows too much of these ingredients puts us at higher risk for disease. By cooking more at home not only are we able to provide healthier foods but we are also able to control the portions we serve. We can serve up right sized servings, following recommended serving sizes, something that is very hard to do when we eat out or buy prepackaged foods that come in supersized portions.

How can we make it possible to cook more meals at home? Here are some pointers:
Spend time each week organizing your menus and grocery list

Invest in having the right utensils in your kitchen to make it easier to cook

Access recipes and menus on healthy websites

Use YouTube to quickly learn the how tos of cooking you don’t yet know

Develop your own “quick and easy” meals for those days when things fall apart

  • Here is one of my go to dinners --veggie burger, roasted red peppers and Brussels sprouts.
  • For more ideas see my easy recipes on the Live Vibrant Blog

Above all you need to find ways to make it possible for you to create and cook healthy at home. Part of what makes it possible is finding a way to enjoy the process.  Personally, I found a sense of satisfaction in being organized. I found I spent less money, spent less mental energy worrying about what was going to be for dinner and also spent less time in the car between work, sports and meetings running to the grocery store or the fast food restaurant. I also found the joy in cooking because it made me feel better, made me feel accomplished as I built my skills and, made me love creating colorful, appealing plates of food for me and my family. Then, mainly on the weekends, I have found the fun in conquering a new or more complicated recipe or spend time in baking healthy breads and muffins. Now I create my own recipes just for the fun of it!

Finally, you need to believe it is possible and stick to cooking at home until it becomes easier and a regular routine. Look to those who have proven its possible. We can support each other all along the way.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Friday, February 20, 2015

Welsh Lamb and Root Soup--good for your heart and health!

Welsh Lamb and Root Soup in Slow Cooker
This soup is made with a homemade bone broth. Bone broths are one of those “miracle” concoctions that are good for our heart and health. They are nutrient rich and full of healthy ingredients that come from the bones they are made from. Below is a recipe for one of my favorite bone broth based soups:

Prep for Welsh and Lamb Root Soup

Welsh Lamb and Root Soup

4 pounds of lamb with bone in
12 cups of water
1 large yellow onion, cut in quarters
20 whole peppercorns
2 bay leaves

1. Combine all ingredients in a stockpot.
2. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
3. Simmer semi-covered for 2 hours and the meat is falling off the bone.
4. Separate the meat from the bones. Cut the meat into medium chunks. Keep a couple of the largest bones to place in the soup, and then discard the rest. Set aside the meat and large bones to put into the soup.
5. Strain the stock, discard the onion and bay leaves and peppercorns. All the remaining broth will be used for the soup.

4 ounces salt pork, chopped
1 large leek, pale part only, cut in half, clean and then slice crosswise
1 large parsnip, diced
1 large turnip, diced
2 large carrots, diced
2 large potatoes, diced
All the lamb bone broth
3 cups water
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
½ cup parsley, chopped
4 tablespoons lemon juice

1. Spray a skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Add the salt pork and leeks, sautéing for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. 
2. Add all other vegetables to skillet and sauté for 5 additional minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Then add the meat, broth, water, thyme, salt and pepper. Place a couple of the larger bones into the soup.  Cook on low for 5 – 7 hours.
4. Just before serving remove the bones and thyme sprigs then add the parsley and lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Serves 8. Serving size: 1½ cups.

Welsh Lamb and Root Soup Meal
This is a great recipe to make a day ahead. The flavors in a bone broth based soup only improve with age. It can even be frozen.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Great Healthy Living Quote #134--You Deserve Your Love

Great Healthy Living Quote #134--You Deserve Your Love (photo by LivligaHome)


Friday, February 13, 2015

An All American Romantic Dinner

Meatloaf made with Homemade Barbecue Sauce
They say the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. After years of observation, I know it is true. When you think about it, it makes sense. What better way is there to get to know someone or enjoy someone’s company than over a leisurely and healthy meal? And then what better way is there to show someone how much you care about them than to fix a home cooked meal? Especially in this day and age when time is precious. To create a meal is a true gift.

Another truth is that sometimes simple is the best choice. There is something classic and comforting about a dinner made of meat and potatoes. And there is nothing to say it can't be healthy. Just choose your recipes wisely or use the links I have provided. Keeping it simple can evoke hums of joy and murmurs of delight. There is nothing sexier.

For your next romantic dinner consider an all American menu of meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. For the appetizer deviled eggs are a fun choice and can have creative toppings like bacon, green onions or capers. For dessert there is nothing more American than apple pie. To make it easier, consider making it an apple crisp (and to make it gluten free use oat flour rather than all purpose flour). Voila! You have one delicious dinner to be savored and remembered.

For the meatloaf here is my recipe made with homemade barbecue sauce (a very American food)-

Homemade Barbecue Meatloaf

For the sauce:
¼ cup ketchup (simple is best without added sugar or salt)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon worstershire sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the meatloaf:
1 pound 83% lean ground beef
Homemade barbecue sauce, divided in half
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
¼ cup whole wheat bread crumbs (Panko)
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ cup liquid egg whites
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
Olive oil cooking spray

For the sauce:
1. Mix all ingredients together. Once mixed it is ready to use.

For the meatloaf:
1.Combine ½ of the homemade barbecue sauce with all other ingredients.
2. Place mixed ingredients into a loaf pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.
3. Top with remaining barbecue sauce.
4. Bake at 370 degrees for 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Cut into 8 slices. Serves 4: 2 slices each.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Great Healthy Living Quote #133--How Much Can Your Heart Hold?

Great Healthy Living Quote #133-- How Much Can Your Heart Hold? (photo by LivligaHome)

How much can your heart hold? Imagine more.


Friday, February 6, 2015

Marital Stress Escalates Heart Disease

How good are our relationships for our health? (photo by LivligaHome)
 We have all heard about how being married is considered healthier for our bodies and minds than being single. I have always wondered about that. Could it really be true being married is better for us than remaining single? It always seemed to me it would depend on the type of marriage someone has-- is it a marriage where spouses like each other and support each other or are couples always snarking at each other, arguing and spending most of their time apart. It turns out, according to a recent study, it does matter what kind of marriage you are in. A bad marriage can actually hurt your heart! Here is what I read:

Being in an unhappy marriage can break your heart—literally. A new study from sociologists at Michigan State University indicates that people in contentious marriages are much more likely to develop heart disease than their more happily wed contemporaries. Studying five years of data taken from 12,000 adults ages 57 to 85, researchers were able to compare overall heart health—measured by such factors as cholesterol levels and the occurrence of heart attacks or strokes—to how participants answered a series of questions about their marriages. Previous studies have shown that married people tend to be healthier overall, but this study found that the stress of an unhappy union outweighs the usual benefits of marriage. “It’s not that every marriage is better than none,” study author Hui Liu tells “The quality of marriage is really important.”

Source: The Week

Monday, February 2, 2015

Great Healthy Living Quote #132--Hope it. Know it.

Great Healthy Living Quote #132--Fate as a Fruit Tree (photo by LivligaHome)

How do we know a tree will bloom again or that we can change? We hope it. We know it.