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Posts Tagged ‘2014’

thanksgiving-cornucopiaThanksgiving – it’s a feeding frenzy and a day of guilty pleasures. We eat more than we should – and oh my – the calories! Here’s how to have an epic Thanksgiving dinner with a nutritional boost, and save on the waistline at the same time.

1.  Serve soup as a first course. A vegetable soup would go nicely with the rest of your Thanksgiving meal. The water and fiber in the soup is satisfying, so we will eat fewer calories.

2. Add parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Two or three parsnips would be fine, depending on how much mashed potatoes you make. Parsnips look like a white carrot and can be prepared the same way. Peel the parsnip, cut in chunks and add to the potatoes when cooking. Whip as usual. Parsnips have vitamin C, folate, and manganese and will add a little sweetness to the potatoes. Use soy milk rather than cow’s milk when making mashed potatoes to forgo the antibiotics and hormones found in cow’s milk. Skip the butter – the parsnips add a subtle sweet flavor everyone will enjoy.

3. Add nuts to your vegetable dish to dress it up. Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts are all good choices. Your dish will look fancy without much effort. Roasting the nuts before adding to the vegetables will add an additional dimension of flavor. These nuts have healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. Walnuts contain B6 and thiamin. Pine nuts have vitamin K, E, and niacin.

4. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of your salad. These add a burst of flavor everyone will enjoy. Wear an apron while removing the seeds, as the juice will stain clothing. One way to minimize the squirting juice is to fill a bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half. Under water, break open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will float to the top of the water. Save time Thanksgiving Day by doing this the day before and refrigerate them. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and several minerals.

5. Instead of candied sweet potatoes, serve whipped sweet potatoes. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes in water. Drain and whip them. Since they are sweet, no brown sugar or butter is needed. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is all you need. If they are thicker than you like, just add a little soy milk.

6. Desserts can really do us in! This Pumpkin Tofu Pie is a hit with all my family – vegans and carnivores alike. Don’t let the tofu scare you. This contains the same spices and tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie minus the eggs and cream. The pie crust is Mary McDougall’s recipe. The filling I adapted from several recipes. Use organic pumpkin and apple juice concentrate if possible.

Crust – 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal, 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix the Grape Nuts and apple juice concentrate. Pat into a 9” pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool before filling.

Filling – 1 1/2 packages Mori-Nu Extra Firm silken tofu, 2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups real maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cloves. Preheat oven to 350º. Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into pie shell and bake for about 1 hour.

7. Finally, spend some good quality time together with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. After dinner, go for a walk together. (Yes, those of us in the Midwest can bundle up and get outside). Set the DVR before you leave. You can go out for a walk and enjoy each other’s company and not miss one play of the game.

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2014 Numbers With Fireworks Representing Year Two Thousand And FThis year drew quickly to an end.  I don’t know about you, but for the last two weeks of 2013, my inbox was inundated with appeals to make last minute tax-deductible donations to charitable organizations that will help among other things preserve the arts, stop cruelty towards animals, improve the environment, save the bees, advance living conditions in third world countries, and support cancer research. Giving to a nonprofit organization at year end is the final opportunity for us to give to meaningful causes and at the same time do what we can to reduce our tax bill.  I have taken the time review my checklist once again – can I add to a deductible IRA account?  Do I have records confirming my business costs so they can be deducted? What else can I do to reduce the amount of taxes I owe? As with all of us, I want to maximize deductions to minimize my tax burden. (Yes, this is a blog on health and wellness – read on!)

As we review how we can minimize our tax obligations, let’s not forget to take to the time to review how we can maximize our health. Although doing both can be a painful process, both need to be done.

While we presently plan for financial wellness in the future, presently planning for our physical wellness in the future is even more critical.  After all, a comfortable retirement is not very comfortable when it is plagued with health problems.  Do you know our health habits of today have an overwhelming impact on the state of our future well being? Chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, overweight, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol don’t happen overnight – they have a tendency to creep up on us.  These conditions are most often are a result of a lifetime of our habits.

So ask yourself these questions.  What did I do in 2013 to maximize good health?  What more can I do in 2014?  What are my strengths?  What do I need to do for improvement, and how do I get there? Just as with our taxes, we need to create our road map for 2014 now. Take an inventory of what you are (or are not) doing on a daily basis. Below are some thoughts to get started in 2014 for better health today and in the future.

How many times a week do you eat fast food? Do these meals include fried foods and soft drinks? There are many restaurants that offer tasty, healthier meals at a reasonable price. Take a pass on the fried foods and soft drinks. Instead try a burrito without the calorie-laden toppings like sour cream and cheese. Adding salsa will give the burrito great flavor and you will be making a healthier choice without making a big sacrifice.

Loading up on the greens, beans, and veggies at a salad bar is very satisfying. These foods have lots of fiber and will fill you up without filling you out.

Are you drinking enough water?  Sometimes being hungry is confused with being thirsty.  Be sure to drink plenty of water.

Are you getting enough exercise?  Finding the time can be difficult.  So grab a co-worker and go for a brisk walk during your lunch hour or break.  Studies have found taking two 10 minute walks a day provide the same health benefits as one 20 minute walk.

When was the last time you ate broccoli, sweet potatoes, pineapple or had an avocado?  Be adventurous! Make it a point to bring these vegetables and fruits back into your diet. Build the courage to venture into “unknown territory,” and try new vegetables and fruits in 2014.

Don’t cheat yourself out of investing in your health.  You will be doing your arteries, waistline, and your family a favor.  It is the best investment you can make for yourself now and for your future!

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