Posts Tagged ‘Achievable Health’

Cranberry and Goat Cheese Salad

Mesclun isn’t the name of a plant, it’s a term for a mix of salad greens that are harvested and eaten together. The greens are sown close together and picked young, like spring mix.


  • mesclun greens
  • dried cranberries
  • candied walnuts or pecans
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • balsamic vinaigrette or cranberry vinaigrette
  • salt and pepper (optional)


Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl, adjusting portions to taste. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Happy Holidays!

‘Tis the season… for overeating!  This is such an exciting time of year.  There are plenty of opportunities to get together with family and friends.  If gift giving is included, you get to watch the recipient of your gifts’ face as they open it, and the FOOD!!!

I, for one, find it very easy to get caught in the moment and not take in to consideration the amount and quality of food that might find its way to my mouth.  Now I’m no scrooge, the holiday season shouldn’t be about resisting the urge to try a piece of your Grandma’s famous peanut brittle or your friends’ home-made cheesecake.  That would lead to a bad attitude and lots of resentment.  No thanks!

How about just planning ahead a bit and getting through the holidays without gaining a bunch of weight and fueling our bodies with high in fat, sugar and empty calorie foods.  Does that sound like a compromise?  Here are a few of my tips that have helped me out in the past.

  • First, if you know you’re going to a function that will most likely have all snack foods and desserts and not much of an option in foods with substance, eat before you go.  Eat a healthy meal that will leave you feeling satisfied so you won’t be as tempted to fill up on the sweet stuff.
  • If they have a fruit and veggie tray available, fill your plate with that first.  Then, if you absolutely can’t live without a macaroon, have one, not five.
  • Between get-together’s, focus on a clean, healthy diet to keep your body fueled and well-balanced.  Lots of water and plenty of exercise will compensate the good times that shouldn’t hinder your holiday season or your healthy eating habits.
  • Above all else, enjoying a splurge isn’t a deal breaker to healthy eating.  Just don’t make it a daily occurrence and you’ll be fine.  Enjoy the holidays, they only comes once a year!

Another great salad recipe!

A few changes…  I used Edamame instead of lima and also added red wine vinegar.

Black Bean-Quinoa Salad with Basil-Lemon Dressing
Quinoa contains more protein than any other grain. Edamame makes a tasty substitute for lima beans in this recipe. For an attractive presentation, serve the salad on a bed of baby greens or spinach.

Cooking Light MARCH 2006

-Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 1 cup)


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
  • 1 (14-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 (14-ounce) package reduced-fat firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans
  • 4 cups chopped tomato (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained


Combine quinoa and vegetable broth in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender. Remove from heat.

Place tofu on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sauté tofu 9 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; cool completely.

Combine remaining 2 tablespoons oil, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, basil, and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Stir in quinoa.

Cook lima beans according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Cool completely. Add the lima beans, tofu, chopped tomato, green onions, chopped carrot, and black beans to quinoa mixture; stir gently to combine. Store, covered, in refrigerator until ready to serve.

Let’s talk about compromise…

Living in a household where everyone might not be on the same page when it comes to eating habits, compromise is a must.  My home is no different.

My husband is all about the butter!  He loves flavor and fat and creaminess.  I’m not going to say that I don’t love these palate pleasers as well, but not on a daily basis like my husband would prefer to have them.  Do you find yourself in this position?

It has taken years, literally, to get to an agreeable compromise between myself and my husband.  And it’ still a work in progress.  For instance, when we first started dating, he would eat the Hungry Man frozen dinners.  It took me a little “educating” to explain how much salt, preservatives and lack of nutrients there are in them.  But, he finally agreed that there plenty of other options out there to fill his belly.

Then it was cold cereal every morning.  Again, not harping but “educating” led me to get him to eat a true breakfast in the morning instead a bowl full of sugar and refined carbohydrates.  Actually, when he realized how much fuller his stomach was for longer, I could easily rest my case.

Even just the other night, he wanted fried shrimp.  We compromised on coconut encrusted, sautéed shrimp over a spicy edamame salad.  It was delicious and we both loved it! So what is your compromise looking like at your house?

Get at it!

Now that the weather is turning colder, it is really hard for me to get out of bed and get motivated.  Does anyone else have that problem?

A few tricks that seem to work for me are stretching in bed to get the blood pumping before you get out.  Also, I always set out my workout clothes the night before so I can get out of bed and directly into the clothes.  That way I’m less likely to just hop in the shower and bypass the workout all together.

There are days that a hot shower does win over a workout.  But I will say, when I do get up and at it, I always feel fantastic and more energized for the rest of the day after I’ve worked out.   Even just 15 to 30 minutes of stretching, at the very least, can make a HUGE difference in your metabolism.

What are your tricks?  For those of you who prefer to work out in the evening, how do you keep yourself accountable to fit it in and not just head to bed?

Salad recipe

This salad is time-intensive but SO worth it!  I did add walnuts for more crunch.  Hope you like it!

Hearty Rice and Farro Salad


  • 1 cup red rice, available at most Whole Foods stores (you can also substitute wild rice)
  • 5 cups water
  • 6 oz. farro, available at most Whole Foods stores (you can also substitute wheat berry)
  • 3 tsp. salt
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, small dice
  • 1 celery stalk, small dice
  • 1 carrot, small dice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 Tbsp. arugula, chopped
  • 2 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 oz. cranberries
  • 2 oz. Kalamata olives, chopped
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Place red rice in a medium saucepan with 4 cups water and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 to 35 minutes until tender. Drain and cover with cold water to cool rice. Drain again and place in large mixing bowl.

Place farro in a small saucepan with 1 cup water and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to low boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 18 to 20 minutes until farro is tender. Drain and cover with cold water to cool farro. Drain again and place in mixing bowl with red rice. Stir to mix.

Place diced onion, red bell pepper, celery, carrot and garlic into the rice and farro mixture. Stir to mix. Add arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, cranberries and olives. Stir again to mix.

Add olive oil, balsamic, remaining 1 tsp. salt and goat cheese crumbles. Toss gently. Best if placed in a container, covered and refrigerated for 1 day before serving. This salad will keep for up to 3 days.

I’ll take that as a compliment!

So yesterday I decided to go for a run.  I should say jog because I was by no means pushing myself.  I was out for a half hour or so, mostly staying around the neighborhoods.  It just happened to be around the time that kids were being picked up by the buses.

As I ran past a group of kids waiting on the other side of the street, I could hear one of the girls say, “Look at that girl.  She looks like Jillian Michaels.”  One of the other kids said, “Biggest Loser, Jillian?  Yeah, but she’s not as old as Jillian.”

So first of all, I’m mostly out of breath by this time and laughing at the same time.  Not an easy task!  Second, due to the fact that I’m probably twice the size of Jillian, I was thankful that young kids would even put me in the same category of looking anywhere near as fit as her.  And lastly, all I could think of was that if Jillian was there she would have been yelling at me,” Push yourself!  Run faster!  Go harder!  HARDER!!”

LOL!  Funny thing, I did try and push myself a bit harder after that!

Daily Goals

The alarm goes off and you stumble out of bed to begin your daily grind.  One by one, items and routines are mentally marked off as you make your way through another day.  Do you have room for one more thing to add to your list?

Along with the usual hustle and bustle of a day, why not set a goal for yourself?  Could be a small goal or it could be a big goal.  Although it might take a few tries to keep it in your thoughts throughout the day, the rewards will be well worth the effort.  Write it down and keep track of when you take actions steps towards meet your goal.

For instance, you wake up and make it a goal to drink 60 ounces of water throughout the day.  Right there you are creating a mindset to actively think about what fluids you are consuming.  Then, midway through the morning when you would usually go for another cup of coffee, you choose water instead to help reach your goal.  Logging that you are getting closer to your goal will be a bigger ego burst than you think!  Trust me, setting goals and reaching them is very addicting!

So what are some ideas for goals?  There are plenty to choose from but here are some of my favorite daily goals to keep you motivated.

  • Drinking 60 ounces of water a day
  • Limiting yourself to 1 cup of coffee
  • Counting all the grams of sugar you drink in a day (remembering that the average intake of sugar TOTAL a day is 40 grams)
  • Writing in a food journal
  • Taking stairs anytime they are available
  • Using a pedometer, set a goal for 8,000 or more steps a day
  • Walking outside for 30 minutes
  • Cutting back your portion sizes by a quarter
  • Getting to bed in time to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep

After you master the daily goals, move on to bigger and better.  The sky is the limit!

Soup recipe

This is a great recipe!  I used sweet potato instead of russet and added rosemary as well.  Enjoy!

Quick Fall Minestrone

Make the most of fall produce like butternut squash and kale in this hearty vegetarian soup. Pasta and beans make it especially filling.

-Cooking Light OCTOBER 2003

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups soup and 1 tablespoon cheese)


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 1/2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 2 1/2 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
  • 1 cup (1-inch) cut green beans (about 1/4 pound)
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 2 1/2 minutes or until tender. Add broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through salt); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes. Add kale, orzo, and beans; cook 5 minutes or until orzo is done and vegetables are tender. Sprinkle with cheese.

Nutritional Information (Amount per serving)

Calories: 212

Calories from fat: 21%

Fat: 5g

Saturated fat: 1.6g

Monounsaturated fat: 1g

Polyunsaturated fat: 1.2g

Protein: 9.6g

Carbohydrate: 36g

Fiber: 3.9g

Cholesterol: 5mg

Iron:  1.9mg

Sodium:  961mg

Calcium:  164mg


“Good for her!”

The other day, my husband and I were driving down a busy street in Ankeny.  It was kind of a chilly, windy day and the sun was nowhere to be found.  I was enjoying the fabulous fall colors when I noticed a younger gal jogging down the sidewalk.

Most often, my first thought would be of jealousy that she was enjoying a good jog and I wasn’t.  But this scenario was a bit different.  First of all, it wasn’t that great of a running day. And also, the girl didn’t seem to be having a great go at it.  She was on the larger side and it looked as though it was her first try at jogging and it was taking all her effort just to get the body to move in the same direction.

Now, I just want to clarify that this situation is not one of judgment.  Let me tell you why.

I told my husband to look over and I said, “Good for her!” to him.  He saw her, waited a second and replied, “I wonder what happened to make her decide to go for a run?”

A couple of things… I love my husband for not being judgmental.  Could you imagine what other less open-minded people were saying driving by her?  Secondly, wouldn’t it be great to know what the reason was that she decided to go for a jog that day?  In the cold, on one of Ankeny’s busiest streets, obviously not caring about what people thought of her?

So here’s a question to you?  Have you been in a situation like this?  What was the situation that made you want to jump with both feet first?  Also, was there someone to cheer you along or was it squarely on your shoulders to keep yourself accountable?

I hope this gal has continued with her jogging without injury or setback and that she is well on her way to meeting her health goals.  Seriously, good for her!!

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