Healthy Dinner Idea

I love to experiment and try new things with healthy foods.  Last night, I made a very interesting spaghetti.  I used texturized vegetable protein (otherwise known as TVP or soy protein crumbles) instead of ground hamburger or turkey meat.  I also put the sauce on top of spaghetti squash instead of noodles.  I served it with a side dish of salad (romaine lettuce, spinach, and red & green peppers).  So, basically the entire meal was nothing but vegetables (except for the 2 different kinds of cheeses I used on top).   I didn’t go by a recipe when making the sauce, but here’s the gist of what I did:

one 15 ounce can of tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

water (about enough to fill up 2 of the tomato paste cans)

parsley (to taste)

oregano (to taste)

3 or 4 cloves of garlic

minced onion

one cup of TVP

spaghetti squash

I heated up the tomato sauce and tomato paste, then added the above ingredients and simmered it while I was heating up the spaghetti squash in the microwave.  I cut the spaghetti squash length-wise, and then pulled out the seeds.  I heated 1/2 of it in the microwave for 8 minutes.  When it was done, I used a fork to scrape the sides so that the squash flaked out in a very thin texture, kind of like noodles.  I then served the sauce over the squash with the salad.  My husband LOVED it!  I was concerned how he would like it since I snuck in the TVP (it’s a little different texture than regular hamburger meat).  He said it was very hearty and that I could make that again!  So, I thought I would pass along that dinner idea.  It really didn’t take long at all to prepare, and the ingredients are super inexpensive.  If anyone decides to try this, I would love to know what you think!

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Is eating healthy a “buzz kill”?

I was talking to a lady last night who has been diagnosed with diabetes, and she just insists that it is just not as much fun to eat anymore.  She feels like she’s on a constant diet, and when she goes out to eat – she just can’t bring herself to order a salad when “everyone else” is eating the “good stuff”.  I suggested to her that she is only thinking in terms of black and white… where is the gray area???  I have been eating healthy for years, and I rarely, if ever, feel deprived or like I’m missing out on life.  I told her that eating healthy has caused me to be much more creative with foods, and I enjoy experimenting with new and different flavors and dishes.  We then started talking about eating out on vacation (she just got back from Florida last week).  It was just TOO MUCH for her to think about avoiding the fried seafood when she is on vacation in Florida!!  She said the food is the main reason she goes to Florida!!  That’s when it hit me… some people really are RULED by food.  When I go on vacation, I look forward to all of the new and exciting adventures I will experience; the beauty of nature; spending quality time with my husband… things like that.  I rarely come back talking about the food I ate!!!  I don’t even remember what I ate most of the time. 

 So, I conclude with these questions.  Do you let food rule your life?  Do you eat to live, or live to eat?  I promise you, there is so much more to experience in life than just food!! 

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Do you sabotage your weight loss?

I facilitate a weekly weight loss class/support group, and last week we had a very interesting discussion.  We talked about how many of us sabotage ourselves whenever we get close to reaching our “ideal weight”.  Someone mentioned how she has a “magic number” on the scale that she wants to weigh.  She can do very well with her eating, but then when she comes within a few pounds of that number, she will intentionally start over-eating and binging again.  She knows that she does that, but she doesn’t know why.  Others mentioned that, although they are far from their ideal weight, they will only get so far and then do something to “blow their diet”.  I mentioned how weight is “easy” to fix, because you know that all you have to do is follow a plan or a program.  However, a lot of the time, the “weight problem” really disguises a much deeper emotional issue that is not quite so easy to fix.  Therefore, if we can keep ourselves distracted with weight – never quite being able to succeed – then it will prevent us from really having to deal with the deeper issues.  In other words, we sabotage ourselves so that we will always just keep our focus on the weight problem.  Emotional issues are often VERY deeply routed and require a non-judgmental outside party (usually a counselor or therapist) who can see things in us that we can’t see ourselves. 

So, I challenge you to think about this.  Are you sabotaging yourself with your “weight problem” in order to avoid dealing with the much deeper emotional hurts that need to be resolved?  Just a little “food for thought”…

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Are you an emotional eater?

I have found that the 3 main culprits for weight gain are overeating, mindless eating, and emotional eating.  Take this quiz to see if you are an emotional eater:

  1. Do you think about food often or all the time?
  2. Do you eat to relieve tension, worry, or upsets?
  3. Do you eat when you’re bored?
  4. Do you continue to eat after you feel full, sometimes to the point of feeling sick?
  5. Does eating relieve your anxiety?
  6. Do you eat without thinking?
  7. Do you have to clean your plate?
  8. Do you eat in secret or hide food?
  9. Do you eat quickly, shoving in the food?
  10. Do you feel guilty after you eat?
  11. Do you eat small portions in front of people, but go back for more food when people aren’t around?
  12. Do you binge (eat large amounts of food in a short time)?
  13. Can you eat one serving, or do you eat the entire amount (a bag of cookies, or the whole half gallon of ice cream)?
  14. Do you feel out of control and impulsive when eating?
  15. Do you eat when you’re not physically hungry?
  16. Do you lie to yourself about how much you really eat?
  17. Do you have trouble tolerating negative feelings?
  18. Do you have impulse problems in other areas of your life (shopping, gambling, sex, alcohol, pornography, drugs)?
  19. Have you been on numerous diets over the years?
  20. Do you experience constant weight fluctuations?

If you answered yes to some of these questions, then your emotions often trigger your desire to eat.  In order to address this, you need to get to the bottom of why you are eating.  Most often, there are some unresolved emotional issues in your life that you need to deal with in order to stop the cycle of emotional eating.

(This quiz was taken from Lose it For Life by Steve Arterburn and Linda Mintle).

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Sometimes eating healthy just isn’t worth it!

Last week-end, my husband and I took a rode trip to Florida to visit my sister and her family.  We left Friday before rush hour, so we needed to stop to get something to eat.  As I was already a bit anxious about what kind of food choices would be available all week-end, I was dead-set determined to eat healthy on the road – regardless of what I had to do.  So, we stopped at a Moe’s Southwest Grill in Montgomery, AL.  I had already decided to avoid the rice and the tortilla, so the only thing I could eat was salad (without the shell).  Since I’m trying to cut back on the amount of meat and dairy I eat (due to the hormones), this left me with tofu as my only remaining alternative.  So, basically my salad consisted of lettuce, cucumbers, tofu (which I’m not sure was even cooked), VERY little cheese, black beans, and salsa.  I had a little chipotle sauce on the side, but that didn’t help.  Basically, there was NOTHING on this salad to make it taste good at all.  Literally, as I write this I feel like vomiting just thinking about it.  My husband sat there and watched my face turn a lovely shade of pale green and felt so sorry for me that he cut off large parts of his “homewrecker” tortilla just so I would have something to eat! 

So, the moral of the story is sometimes there really ARE no healthy choices that are palatable, so you just have to do the best you can and resume your routine as soon as possible.  I have to say that I’m glad to be home and in control of what I cook and put in my mouth! 

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What is the best type of cardio?

Honestly, I think the best type of cardio is the one that you enjoy and will actually do!  However, I would like to make a personal observation.  I used to be partial to the elliptical, because according to the calorie-counter on the machine, I was burning A LOT of calories.  I did that for years, but of course it got boring and monotonous.  I’ve tried running several times.   However, last Spring I ended up getting bronchitis due to breathing in the pollen… so I stopped.  This year, I tried it again… this time I sprained my ankle (that was a few weeks AFTER my embarrassing face-plant after tripping over the curb… who knew that was there???).  Although I enjoy running (mostly because it’s outdoors), it doesn’t seem to be the cardio of choice for me.  After I sprained my ankle, I couldn’t do anything upright because it hurt my ankle too much.  So, I bought a spin bike.  I LOVE THE SPIN BIKE!!!  I’ve been doing that consistently now for a couple of months, and I’ve actually noticed a difference in the shape of my legs.  I have always depended on my weight training sessions for my body sculpting goals, and my legs have never taken the shape that I would like.  Now that I’m doing the spin bike nearly every day, I’m actually getting the definition and curves in my legs that I’ve been wanting.  At least to me they don’t look as “tree-trunk”ish as they did before.  Even my husband can tell a difference.  So, for me I’m hooked on spinning. 

However, I still say that the best cardio for you is whatever you actually enjoy the most and will do consistently.  I also think it’s a great idea to do several different types of cardio, because this will confuse your muscles and speed up your metabolism.  It will also prevent boredom.  All of these things will help you stay motivated and consistent in your exercise program. 

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How to have a fantastic workout in 20 to 30 minutes

I do understand that most people are extremely limited on time, and exercise is usually the first thing to cut from their schedule.  Unfortunately, the problem with this is that at some point, the lack of exercise will begin to negatively impact energy, efficiency, and productivity in virtually every other area of life.  Then, health problems may set in.  At this point, exercise becomes much more difficult and crucially necessary at the same time. 

If you are not currently exercising because you can’t seem to find the time, I would suggest that you start with a 20-30 minute exercise schedule 3 days a week – preferably Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Choose 3 large muscle upper body exercises to work back, chest, and shoulders (for example:  a row, a push-up, and a military press).  Do these exercises one after the other with very little rest between sets (this is called a circuit).  Do each circuit 2 to 3 times.  Then switch to lower body exercises like seated leg press, squats, lunges, or romanian deadlifts.  Again, do each circuit 2 to 3 times.  End the session with some abdominal/low back work to strengthen your core.  Then cool down with a good stretch.  This type of workout will challenge both your strength and your endurance.