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Friday, March 31, 2017

Guilty Pleasure #3: Warmed Dark Chocolate and Popcorn

I am a firm believer that we all need to indulge from time to time to revive our spirits, rejuvenate our soul and nurture our psyche. Hence my belief in identifying and celebrating my own “guilty pleasures.” The trick is to find those luscious pleasures that do no harm to our healthy lifestyle but instead actually support it.

The goal is to make a guilty pleasure one that makes you sigh with satisfaction while putting a rye smile on your face without the consequences of overindulgence. With that in mind I have started thinking about things I do in my life that could qualify as guilty pleasures. What do I love to do that allows me to feel secretly indulgent, carves out a moment of pleasure and ends with me sighing with satisfaction, ready to take on my daily life again? I was surprised how many I could come up with. It kind of made me smile with satisfaction.

Guilty Pleasure #3 has got to be a bowl full of warm popcorn with slightly melted dark chocolate chips. It is oh so delicious and rich in flavor.  There are several reasons why is qualifies as a guilty pleasure. On the scale of satisfaction it rates a “Ten Plus” for me. It is simply the perfect combination of various sensations that add up to shear pleasure. And the added benefit is that it is easy to prepare and actually really good for you—popcorn is loaded with fiberand antioxidants while chocolate is high in antioxidantsand minerals good for heart health, brain function and healthy skin.

What adds up to total guilty pleasure satisfaction for me is the combination of sensations the warm popcorn with slightly melted dark chocolate chips provides. The texture is both crunchy and soft. You can smell both the aroma of the popcorn and the chocolate. The taste is savory, a bit sweet and also rich, thanks to the dark chocolate. The experience of eating the popcorn is amazingly complex, pleasing our eyes, nose and taste buds as well as being very tactile as you eat. Not only does your stomach end up feeling harahachi bu (which is a Confucian saying that means “80% full”) or just at the point of being full; you also end up emotionally satisfied. Can’t beat this pleasure. Below is the simple recipe for you to use and enjoy.

Warmed Dark Chocolate and Popcorn Recipe

4 cups air popped popcorn (you can use store bought-- just be aware of the calories and choose accordingly)
1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips (Nestle)

1.     Measure your popcorn and place it in a microwave-friendly bowl.
2.     Measure the dark chocolate chips and toss them in with the popcorn.
3.     Place mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds or until the dark chocolate chips begin to soften and melt slightly. Serve warm. Eat immediately.

Serves: 1. Calories: 194.

Bottom line--you can feel decadent and indulge without over indulging. You just need to discover your own guilty pleasures that fit with living a healthy lifestyle while adding to the spice in your life.  Join me in having delicious fun as you explore the number of guilty pleasures you can identify and indulge in as part of enjoying your life more.

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle-- living plants


Friday, March 24, 2017

Exploring Oprah's New Recipes--Oprah's Turkey Chili with a Livliga Flair

Oprah's Turkey Chili with a Livliga Flair on Celebrate dinnerware

Oprah Winfrey has published a new and visually gorgeous new book Food, Health and Happiness that includes many Weight Watchers friendly recipes. I have enjoyed roaming around in this sumptuous book full of Oprah insights and recipes from her favorite chefs.

The first recipe I tried is the Turkey Chili. It is a classic chili with a lot of heat. It also requires a lot of ingredients and a number of steps to complete. I couldn't resist, I simplified the steps, lightened the heat and made the chili a little more visually attractive with simple changes.

My favorite discovery from this recipe was the addition of a smoky flavor to the chili because of the addition of charred dried chiles. It adds a wonderful flavor and dimension to the recipe. Below is my riff on Oprah's Turkey Chili.

Oprah's Turkey Chili with a Livliga Flair

2 Chile De Ristra (locally grown)
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey, 85% lean
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 small can green chiles
2 cups chicken broth, low salt and sugar free (ie., Imagine)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, , drained and rinsed

Optional Garnishes (1 tablespoons per garnish)~
sliced green onions
grated cheddar cheese
Greek yogurt, plain
flat leaf parsley, chopped
lime wedges

1. Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add the dried chiles and toast until darkened in color, about 1 minute, then flip and toast the opposite side. Remove from skillet, remove stems, and shake out seeds.
2. Place the chiles in a small bowl with 1 cup boiling water. Place a small plate or utensil on top of chlies to keep them submerged. Let soak for 20 minutes, until softened. Transfer chiles and water to blender and blend until smooth.
3. In a Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the turkey and stir breaking meat up into small clumps. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
4. Add onion, bell pepper and celery. Cook for 10 minutes. Next add the garlic. Cook for another minute, until softened and aromatic. The add chili powder, cumin and coriander. Stir to blend well.
5. Next add the tomatoes, green chiles,chicken broth, bay leaves and chile puree and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes, until thickened. Add the beans and cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot. Add garnishes. Eat mindfully.

Serves 8. Serving size: 1¼ cup. Calories: 264.

Oprah's recipes include Weight Watchers' SmartPoints

To complete the meal add cornbread. Calories per serving: 110. Total calories for the meal: 374.

Want an easy way to serve up your chili in right sized servings? Try the chic LivSpoon®.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle-- lots of types of shoes


Friday, March 17, 2017

Nutrition For The Soul

There is a lot to be said about nurturing our soul at the same time we are providing healthy nourishment for our bodies. Most in the field of nutrition will say you really can’t do one without the other and truly live a healthy lifestyle. Each helps the other flourish, which supports our whole self.

Finding time to both prepare nutritious meals and also find time to nurture our souls seems nearly impossible. How do we find the time? Perhaps part of the secret is in not thinking of them as separate activities or as mutually exclusive.

 As an example, creating a positive environment in which to eat your meals nurtures your soul. Sit down to eat. Set the table and use napkins and place mats that are attractive and appealing to you. Consider playing music from your phone like jazz, pop or classical to listen to while eating instead of having the TV blaring. Treat yourself to a bouquet of fresh flowers or buy fresh fruit, put it in a bowl and have it be a multipurpose vessel, which includes being a centerpiece for your table. There are many creative ways you can design appeal into your visual environment in order to nourish your soul.

Mindfulness is also an important ingredient that nourishes both our bodies and soul. When we prepare nutritious food, serve it attractively on right-sized plates and then eat it in a visually appealing environment we can enjoy the experience more and feel satisfied at the end of the meal. The hitch is acknowledging that this is occurring. By being aware of what we are doing we actually enhance the experience. The little things we do like eating off an attractive plate or sitting down to eat can have a big impact on our overall happiness. It is a way that gives us the time and space to enjoy life. Acknowledging it lets us realize what we are doing to help ourselves and that we have found the time to nourish both our body and soul.

Doing simple things to be kind to yourself nourishes your soul. Fixing oatmeal in the morning for breakfast (in the microwave it takes 1 minute 37 seconds) or treating yourself to a beautifully designed water bottle you can fill each day with fresh water to drink throughout the day or taking a walk with a friend instead of going to have drinks after work all feed the soul, help you live a healthier lifestyle and can also save you money you can spend later on a healthy guilty pleasure or for saving up for a future vacation. None of these ideas take more time than you are already spending; they are simply alternate ways, which most probably will nurture your soul in a way you currently aren’t in your everyday life.

Breathing as a conscious activity is a wonderful way to nourish your soul, mind and body. This can be done before you get out of bed in the morning, when you take a shower, in the restroom, in the car, waiting in line, waiting on the phone when you are on hold and just before you go to sleep. There are an amazing number of times during the day when you are waiting or performing a task that is mindless or rout that provide the perfect moments to breath. There are even apps for it if you want a more structured approach to beneficial breathing exercises. Just a minutes worth of deep breathing leaves you feeling refreshed, in control and better able to conquer the challenges in your life.

Surround yourself with inspiring words and phrases. Words have a profound effect on us. Seeing, reading and thinking about motivational words gives us hope, perspective and a sense of possibility. Words that support us make us feel more in control and when we are more in control we make better decisions, including about the food we eat.

Providing good nutrition for our souls is fundamental to living a healthy lifestyle and it isn’t as hard as you think to do. Integrate it into what you are already doing each day. It will make your activities and tasks that much more enjoyable.

As always, Enjoy! And Live vibrant!

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Monday, March 13, 2017

Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle-- bowl of fruit


Friday, March 10, 2017

Eating Dinner Earlier or Skipping Dinner May Help Us Lose Weight

Here is some interesting health news. We often focus on what we should eat and how much we should eat. It is not too often we are aware of the significance of when we should eat. Below is a write up from the Obesity Society that highlights recent research suggesting eating within a smaller window of time and earlier in the day could aid in fat burning and losing weight.

Eating only during a much smaller window of time than people are typically used to may help with weight loss,” said Courtney Peterson, PhD, who led the study at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “We found that eating between 8 am and 2 pm followed by an 18-hour daily fast kept appetite levels more even throughout the day, in comparison to eating between 8 am and 8 pm, which is what the median American does.”

This new research, funded by a TOS Early Career Research Grant awarded in 2014, suggests that eating a very early dinner, or even skipping dinner, may have some benefits for losing weight. The body has an internal clock, and many aspects of metabolism are at their optimal functioning in the morning. Therefore, eating in alignment with the body’s circadian clock by eating earlier in the day can positively influence health, and this new study of eTRF shows that this also applies to metabolism. This first test of eTRF in humans follows rodent studies of this approach to weight loss, which previously found that eTRF reduced fat mass and decreased the risk of chronic diseases in rodents.

To conduct their study, Dr. Peterson and colleagues followed eleven men and women with excess weight over four days of eating between 8am and 2pm (eTRF), and four days of eating between 8am and 8pm (average feeding for Americans). The researchers then tested the impact of eTRF on calories burned, fat burned and appetite. To eliminate subjectivity, the researchers had all participants try both eating schedules, eat the same number of calories both times, and complete rigorous testing under supervision. Researchers found that eTRF improved fat and protein oxidation, and daily hunger swings among other health indicators.

“These preliminary findings suggest for the first time in humans what we’ve seen in animal models – that the timing of eating during the day does have an impact on our metabolism,” said Dale Schoeller, PhD, FTOS spokesperson for The Obesity Society and Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin. “With additional research on early-time restricted feeding on humans, we can create a more complete picture of how this innovative method can best help prevent and treat obesity.”  

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Monday, March 6, 2017

Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle-- mirrors


Friday, March 3, 2017

Nutrition is about portion AND proportion

Do the words “portion” and “proportion” automatically mean anything to you? It took me a while to understand what they meant as well as why both are important to pay attention to when planning meals and menus as part of a healthy lifestyle. It is all about what a balanced meal looks like including the foods that make up the meal as well as the amounts of those foods that are best for us for eating healthy and not overeating.

When I started on my journey to live a healthier lifestyle I hadn’t a clue about what a portion was or that portions were actually different sizes for the different food groups. Ask most Americans today if they know what the correct serving size is for a particular food…like mashed potatoes…and they will not be able to tell you. The answers are not readily evident in our culture. That is why we have portion distortion. There are resources but you have to search them out and find them. That is why I created Livliga. Once I realized that what I was being served in restaurants or buying in grocery stores were portions made up of many serving sizes I knew I needed a mindful tool to help guide me to serving up right sized meals.

A great resource for understanding serving sizes is the USDA and the MyPlate.Gov website. There are many tools to help you organize and plan your calorie intake, daily meals and overall fitness. One of the fun interactive areas of the website is the quizzes offered to teach and test your knowledge about the various food groups. Livliga is proud to be one of The National Strategic Partners of the USDA. We are a great product to use in concert with the education and information offers.

Proportions have everything to do with providing our bodies with the combination of foods that help our body run at its optimal level. The classic proportion guide is the variety of plates that are divided up into quadrants. They show you relatively how much of each type of food you should be eating compared to the other foods represented on your plate. Unfortunately, depending on the size of your plate you may be good on proportions of foods but not on the serving amounts for each food. Livliga dinnerware addresses both proportions and portions so you can serve up a right-sized balanced meal that looks plentiful and leaves you feeling satisfied at the end of a meal. Feeling satisfied is key to eating healthy long term as part of a healthy lifestyle.

Proportions and portions are the cornerstones of eating healthy, balanced meals. To be successful long term it is important to embrace both concepts. Sounds like way too much work, right? It was for me until I landed on the idea for the VisualQs philosophy that ultimately became Livliga, a simple tool for a healthy lifestyle.

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