Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle—Homegrown Herbs

Monday, July 31, 2017

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FitVine Product Review

Friday, July 28, 2017
The FitVine Wines that were Reviewed

Don’t we all hate to admit it? Facebook is a great resource for discovering new things not only about friends and acquaintances but also about new products. I discovered the existence of FitVine. This company caught my eye because its mission is to produce wines with less carbs and calories than other wines we drink. They also use a process that eliminates any residual sugars and extracts more tannins and sulfites. They want to create wines that are made to support a healthy, active lifestyle. 

The Facts about FitVine 

Through processes of malolactic fermentation and dry fermentation they eliminate carbs and reduce calories in their wines. Then through filtering all of their wines with both diatomaceous earth and micron pads they also reduce tannins and sulfites. Not only do they address calories and carbs, they also provide relief for those with typical allergies related to wine. 

FitVine has 95 or less calories and 0.2 grams of sugar (average calories for a glass of wine is 125 calories and sugars are 1.2 grams)/ 5oz glass. The overall carbs for FitVine are 3g of carbohydrates (average carb for a glass of wine is 4 grams) /per 5oz glass. The alcohol content ranges 13.4% - 13.9% (average alcohol for a glass of wine is 11.5%–13.5%)/per 5oz glass. I found it interesting that the calories and carbs were lower than an average glass of wine yet the alcohol level was clearly on the high side. Depending on your definition of “Fit” this could be good or bad news. 

What Wines are Available?

No doubt about it, I enjoy a glass or two of wine on the weekends and sometimes during the week, depending on how well it is going. I am also someone committed to a healthy lifestyle, which means being mindful of what I consume and how much I consume. I also like a variety of wines depending on the time of year and what I am eating. That is why when I saw the FitVine ad on Facebook it caught my attention and I decided to try it out. 

I purchased a bottle of each wine that was available: Chardonnay ($15.99), Sauvignon Blanc ($17.99), Pinot Noir ($19.99) and Cabernet Sauvignon ($15.99). Besides these bottled wines, it looks like they now offer a Pinot Grigio ($17.99) as well. 

How did they Taste? 

I tasted the wines at separate times. For each bottle, I opened it and experienced an initial taste without any food, and then I drank a glass with dinner. The Cabernet Sauvignon I took to a friend’s house so all those at dinner also got to try this wine. 

Bottom line, each wine tasted pleasant, some with a strong finish either in the mid-palate (Sauvignon Blanc) or back of the throat (Cabernet Sauvignon) that I did not find particularly pleasant. I did discover that the longer you let it breathe the milder the aftertaste becomes. This seemed particularly true of the Sauvignon Blanc. 

My favorite of those I tried ended up being the Sauvignon Blanc, once it had been open for a while. In my assessment, these are not wines you would serve at a party, or generally, but you might share them with others that are mindful-eaters, if they understood their purpose. I can see enjoying them at home as part of a healthy lifestyle and certainly as part of a specific program where you were watching what you eat and perhaps the carbs and calories you are consuming whether for an upcoming race or a period dedicated to trimming down. 

How did they make me Feel? 

I really liked the idea of being able to have 2 glasses of wine and not worry about nuking my diet or negatively influencing how I felt the next morning. There were no negative effects with these wines. There is a feel good about this version of wine, FitVine. 

I am glad it exists and that it gives me a choice, just like lite beer does. I look forward to the quality of these wines improving as well as the variety. If you are into enjoying life and being mindful at the same time, these FitVine wines can offer a good choice for living a healthy lifestyle. 

Need a right-sized wine glass to go along with your wine? Try out the Livliga Aveq wine glasses that are artist designed and have discrete fill lines!

My Favorite FitVine wine in a Livliga Aveq Wine Glass

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--lots of water in the refrigerator

Monday, July 24, 2017

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Oprah’s “Maya’s Smothered Chicken” with a Livliga Twist!

Friday, July 21, 2017
An Update Oprah Recipe with a Livliga Twist!
It has been a fun journey to read from and discover recipes in Oprah’s first cookbook Food, Health and Happiness. It is an interesting insight into her life, loves and life long weight challenges. I relate. Most of us do.
What surprised me about some of her recipes was how caloric they were and how much fat, flour and overall carbs there were in them. For a general cookbook I would totally get it but for one that is specifically tailored to the Weight Watchers community, I was a little more than surprised. Additionally, with so many people experiencing specialized diets like gluten free, dairy free, low carb, vegetarian, Paleo or Whole30, I thought there might be more sensitivity towards them in her range of recipes. This insight into her recipes gave me a challenge. I decided to pick a few and see how I might be able to stay true to the flavor, texture, smell and overall yumminess while making them more relevant to people’s needs today. My Oprah recipe updates focus on being Calorie Sensitive, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Whole30 and Paleo compliant, mainly Dairy Free and as Easy as possible to make. Below is one such offering.

Oprah’s “Maya’s Smothered Chicken” with a Livliga Twist


  • 8 chicken thighs, skin on and bone in
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ¼ cup clarified butter
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup almond flour (not meal)
  • 2 medium onions, sliced and rings separated
  • 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 ¼ cups chicken stock, low sodium and with no added sugar (i.e., Imagine)
  • ¼ cup arrowroot flour


  • Wash chicken and place it in a sealable bag with the lemon juice and enough water to coat. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, turning every couple of minutes. Can be marinated longer in the refrigerator, up to an hour.
  • Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry. Season with Salt and Pepper.
  • In shallow bowl place the almond flour and dredge chicken, coating lightly.
  • Place coated chicken in hot skillet with the heated butter and oil. Use a skillet that can hold all eight thighs.
  • Cook chicken until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate or platter.
  • Add the onions, garlic and mushrooms to the liquid left in the skillet. Cook for 5 – 10 minutes until onions are softened and translucent. Stir constantly scraping loose anything that starts to stick on the sides or bottom. When it seems too dry in the pan add up to a ¼ cup of chicken stock to avoid any burning.
  • Return chicken to the pan and add the remainder of the chicken stock. Bake in a preheated oven at 375° for 25 – 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked thoroughly.
  • Remove the skillet from the oven. Add the arrowroot roux (see Tip) and whisk into the mixture to thickened the liquid and make it more gravy like.
  • Serve up hot. Eat mindfully.

Serves: 8 (1 chicken thigh with ½ cup vegetables with sauce)

Calories: 348 Calories   Original Recipe Calories: 536 (that's a 188 calorie improvement!)

Make it a meal: Serve over ½ cup roasted cauliflower“rice” crumbles (35 calories) and as your vegetable, serve up 1 cup steamed green beans with 1 teaspoon of lemon zest (31 calories).

Total calories for the meal: 414 (making it a meal is still less calories than Oprah’s original recipe AND more visually appealing!).

Tips: Make sure to only add the arrowroot flour to the liquid in the skillet at the very end when you are ready to serve up. Add some juice from the pan, about ¼ cup, to a small bowl, carefully adding the arrowroot and whisk until blended, then add it to the skillet to avoid clumps.

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Your Very Own Kayak

Monday, July 17, 2017

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What is this “Whole30” thing?

Friday, July 14, 2017

I don’t know about you but more and more of my friends have been talking about the “Whole30.” When it started showing up on my Facebook feed I thought it was time to find out what this conversation is all about. The first thing I learned is that people call it a variety of terms like “program”, “lifestyle” and “diet.” Here is the definition on the Whole30 website:

The Whole30 is a 30-day diet that emphasizes whole foods and during which participants eliminate sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes, soy, and dairy from their diets.

It is a way of eating that was co-created by Melissa Hartwig and Dallas Hartwig. A really healthy way of eating. It takes us back to whole foods, hence the “whole” in Whole30. What I find most interesting about this diet is that, unlike any other diet I have seen, it eliminates grains and legumes. I totally get removing highly processed and highly refined foods from our diets but I have not seen a diet that eliminates whole grains and legumes. Admittedly they are made up of carbohydrates too but unlike refined sugars that are simple carbohydrates, grains and legumes are complex carbohydrates so they take more energy to break down giving us longer lasting energy.

In researching Whole30 I found there is much controversy about this program. There are those that condemn the diet as being restrictive and misleading regarding whole grains and legumes. Then there are those who wholeheartedly support the diet emphasizing that grains and legumes are hard to digest and therefore too hard on our bodies to eat. From my point of view I do not see the harm in eliminating grains and legumes for 30 days, particularly with the goal of rerouting the brain to not be triggered by too many sugars/carbohydrates in our bodies, which has now become an addiction. On the other hand vilifying grains and legumes doesn’t make sense to me. They are a healthy source of carbohydrates and provide much needed vitamins and minerals not always found in other food. It is not logical to me to lump these in along with the gluten free issue. In what I read it seems people are confusing the two or at least combining them. They are not at all the same and the conversation needs to separate them.

What is wonderful about this diet is that it is all about eating fresh, whole foods low in carbohydrates. In looking over the menus and recipes provided by FREE downloads made available through Whole30, they also combine interesting ingredients and spices so the meals are tasty and visually appealing. Livliga believes strongly that it is important to have delicious foods served in an attractive manner to make meals filling and fully satisfying. Unlike this diet, however, we do believe you should always be mindful of the amounts you are eating.

When you look at other sources for recipe inspiration it is actually easy to find Whole30 compliant ones. I went through many of my recipes on my blog and found many of my own recipes that where already Whole30 easy. The main thing to remember is to eliminate legumes, grains and soy but also anything with peanuts or dairy. Rule exceptions include eggs, clarified butter, which are considered in the dairy category, as well as Green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas, that would normally be considered legumes. It is easy to substitute with Whole30 approved foods in just about any recipe you like so it is not as limiting as you might think.

From my admittedly focused view as someone well aware of the triggers and addictive nature of carbs…this program is really all about the limiting of carb intake. I see this as a good thing. In the culture and times we live in, we need all the help we can get to restructure our diet and overcome our sugar addiction.

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--Convertible in the Garage

Monday, July 10, 2017


Ten Quick Tips for Bariatric Friendly Mindful Eating

Friday, July 7, 2017

The key to mindful eating is being fully present when you eat. It is about eating with intention and attention. This allows you to be aware of your food environment and the food you are eating. Being mindful also creates a positive space for you to eat right-sized healthy foods, enjoy the process, and feel satisfied at the end of the meal.

Since we have spent most of our lives grazing when we eat, not paying attention to what we eat or the amounts we eat, it is a journey to become fully mindful and present when we eat. This is particularly true in the bariatric community. Thinking ahead about how to support ourselves in making a manageable space for being mindful when we eat helps us prepare to be present.

  Below are Ten Quick Tips for Bariatric Friendly Mindful Eating:
  1.  Right size your food environment, starting with your dishes 
  2.  Eliminate any distractions at mealtime—turn off the TV
  3. Make time for your meal, don’t rush it, slow down and enjoy
  4. Sit down to eat
  5. Create an attractive environment to eat that makes your feel good as you eat. Feast your eyes as well as your stomach
  6. Chew slowly to allow you to savor the flavors
  7. Put your cutlery down between bites to help you slow down and appreciate your meal
  8. Plan out when you eat and what you eat for each day. Think about making your meals colorful and interesting. Vary your menus. 
  9. Measure your food. Busy week? Prepare your recipes and pre-measure multiple meals. This helps you become effortlessly mindful
  10. At the end of the meal take a moment to be aware of how you feel both physically and emotionally. Become aware of what it feels like to feel full and satisfied.

There are many benefits to becoming mindful. First and foremost it helps us succeed long term in living a healthy lifestyle. It assists us in changing our relationship with food. Other benefits for the bariatric community are:

    •    Knowing when you are full sooner
    •    Feeling satisfied with less food
    •    Reduces chances of over-eating
    •    Improved digestion

Enjoy! And Live Vibrant!

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Sign of a Healthy Lifestyle--A Grill

Monday, July 3, 2017