Romaine! The Better Burger…

OK, so I know this might seem weird at first. My dad, who is really good at finding great on-the-go healthy methods, has introduced a simple, yet profound snacking technique to me that I would not have guessed to be this brilliant. One of my brothers does this, and he loves it!

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If you rinse a head of lettuce thoroughly first, you don’t even have to chop it up to enjoy a great snack/meal! It’s tasty, healthy, and convenient. Be prepared for some strange looks around work/school/wherever you eat in public if you do choose to follow this particular grab-and-go method, but give it some time. Before you know it, you’ll most likely have gotten through to your friends who just may have needed that extra inspirational boost to get them back on the health wagon. They’ll probably be leaving the house with a head of romaine soon. 😉 Be a trend setter! Or at least give it a try…

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Just keep the leaves intact and bon appétit!

Stir Fry!

The thing I love most about stir-fry is how creative you can be! Here’s what I used: yellow onions green onions garlic broccoli carrots celery jalapeño pepper mushrooms bean sprouts bok choy …and I sauteed some chicken that was marinated … Continue reading

To fail to plan is to plan to fail.

Superior health is definitely a “lifestyle change” in many different ways.

A healthy lifestyle requires constant learning and research about different cooking methods and open-mindedness about different styles of preparing the food that you might like only one way. Giving healthy food a fair chance is crucial to adapting this change into your way of eating. We must be willing to explore new tastes and methods if we are going to live a long and happy life away from the hospital as much as possible. The good news is that this stuff tastes INCREDIBLE, especially once you stop eating so much of that desensitizing garbage that dulls your taste buds. Healthy food is also beautiful. There are so many different shapes and colors to enjoy as you prepare plant-based/whole foods.

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If all you have time in your schedule for is take-out or pre-packaged freezer meals, being as healthy as you wish you could be will just not happen.  Unfortunately, there are times in all of our lives that we may stretch ourselves too thin. It is through wisdom by experience and through prayer that we can learn how to make health a priority in our lives, and begin with decisions that lead us to good health, even when times get busy. If that means taking a little easier of a load in school or work for a period of time, then by all means! We live in a fast-paced world, and it is our responsibility to fight against the current and stand up for our health, because the world is not going to make it convenient for us to do so.

To fail to plan is to plan to fail. Healthy eating is not just going to make itself available to you as easily as fast-food will. One thing that I like to do is to plan a half-day just for preparing food.

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Romaine lettuce, once chopped, keeps well in an insulated bag for about 4-5 days. I’ve read that by putting a paper towel in the bag with the lettuce can prolong the life of the lettuce, so I’ll have to give that a try.

Here I have chopped romaine mixed with baby spinach, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, and green onions mixed with sunflower seeds in separate Ziploc baggies. For those of you who are worried about the environment, I recycled these bags when I was finished with them. You can get generic versions of these bags for really cheap at any grocery store. By separating these veggies, I prevent them from getting soggy, and my salad is fresh, crisp, and ready right when I want it!

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To save room in the refrigerator, I put the smaller bags inside of the lettuce bag for a grab-and-go-friendly method.

ENJOY!

Green and Lean

They say that the more colorful your plate is, the healthier it is. Excepting skittles and M&Ms (as my clever J.D. husband never fails to remind me) I have found this to be very consistent.

Here are some of my favorite green staples that I always have in my fridge:

I usually steam the broccoli and green beans in my electric steamer that my dad so eloquently depicted for you all.

In addition to maintaining a hefty supply of raw kale for my salads, I love to bake kale chips. They taste kind of like potato chips, and would probably be a great way to introduce this health-packed vegetable to children.

I encourage everyone to eat more GREEN FOODS.

Kale Chips with Lemon–My Favorite Snack

History of the vegetable: Kale dishes were frequented during WWII by Americans because it was easy to grow and it is PACKED with essential nutrients. After the war, it became less popular because of its “metallic taste and the fact that it turned into an unappealing green mush when boiled.” (Poulter, 2007)

…apparently nobody in the 1940s knew about KALE CHIPS.

Apparently since the war, there have been botanical improvements to the vegetable, therefore making it taste better. Seriously, this stuff tastes better than popcorn. I like to eat it on the couch with my husband while we watch movies on weekends. We hardly ever leave leftovers. Heck, if I’m alone, I’ll eat the whole head by myself!

Ingredients:

  • 1 head of kale (I like to buy ones with crunchy, stiff leaves)
  • 1 tbsp light tasting olive oil
  • 1 dash of salt
  • juice from 1/2 lemon

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Using a colander, rinse off kale leaves while tearing away from stems into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Combine kale, olive oil, salt, and lemon juice into a large mixing bowl. Mix well.
  4. Add seasoned kale to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Enjoy!

References:

Poulter, Sean (2007). World War Two vegetable comes back as ‘superfood’. Daily Mail 3. (On-line). Retrieved from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-485506/World-War-Two-vegetable-comes-superfood.html.

Battling illness with the color orange

Due to the high level of stress associated with being a college student, I hereby pronounce myself a sniffling mucus monster. Being sick in the summer is the worst. 1. Nobody else is sick. 2. It’s so beautiful outside. 3. It’s hot, so snuggling up in a blanket has the effect of making things feel sticky and gruesome.

The good news is that the best remedy for this sickness is inexpensive and tasty.

Some side benefits: Carrots have been known to be “good for the eyes” due to their high content of hydrocarbon carotenoids. (Arscott and Tanumihardjo, 2010, p. 223). Nice to know that wasn’t just a wives tale. Apparently, the color of carrots used to be primarily purple and yellow! Next time you’re on a trivia game show, you can thank me.

“Increased levels of stress suppress the body’s immune function, and during these times many people tend to cuddle up with comfort food. For this reason, it is especially important to feed stress-related cravings with healthy foods that help build the immune system.” (sunkist.com) When I read this, a thought crossed my mind. How often do we just “throw in the towel” when we get sick, thinking that no matter what we eat or do, our sickness is going to run its course? I know I’m just as guilty as anybody, and I feel that it’s time for a change.

So next time you’re feeling the sniffles, remember to stock up on the color orange to help boost your immune system. Treat yourself to some yummy oranges, grapefruit, nectarines, mangoes, peaches, and carrots. The flavors are extremely satisfying, and the results are healthy! Your body will thank you.

References:

Arscott, Sara A. and Tanumihardjo, Sherry A. (2010). Carrots of Many Colors Provide Basic Nutrition and Bioavailable Phytochemicals Acting as a Functional Food. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and in Food Safety, 9, 223-239.

The ivory tower prevails…this time.

In my kitchen, most everything is fairly practical. Even the decor is practical.

But everyone has their “thing,” right? That thing where they must (and I mean MUST) allow themselves a little high maintenance?

Fresh spices:

  • Price: about $2.99 per box
  • Shelf life: about 4 days
  • Accessibility: inconvenient
  • Prep time: about 3 minutes–2 minutes and 95 seconds longer than dried spices require
  • Quality of experience: to die for

Coming home from a long day full of researching dead guys, I needed something hands-on and tangible to inspire me. As I was preparing some roasted chicken for my husband today, I took a little extra time chopping up my sage, rosemary, and thyme while snorting whiffing the wonderful fragrance of serenity. (Sage is my favorite.) I even provided myself with some Deuter spa music via Pandora.

Most of the time when “food snobs” rant about random little heme heme’s and *patooeys* that so-called “true cooks” must do to qualify as competent, I get annoyed. But this time, whether it was the music or the smell, it didn’t matter. I was a happier woman.

Sleep: Am I Making it Important Enough?

Many of us know that we should get “enough sleep,” just like we know that we should save for retirement, drink enough water, or read up on the news more often. We know that we are happier if we have slept enough. We also know that we tend to look and feel ill if we routinely do not get enough sleep. But do we know how important sleep really is?

In my experience watching mothers of infants and small children, sleep is probably one of the most vital considerations regarding their child’s daily schedule. Nap-time is sacred, and young people are praised for going to bed early and sleeping through the night.

When we are teenagers, we glorify the practice of “all-nighters,” particularly amongst those preparing for exams. (This does not exclude college students.) We will stay up all night attending “midnight showings” of our favorite new films, and we will routinely browse social media sites until the wee hours of the morning.

More surprising than that, though, why do we as human beings place such little importance on sleep in the workplace? Medical residents and doctors are very often expected/forced to work long hours in order to meet demands of the job. And these are the people we typically turn to in order to learn how to become healthier! “Many hospitals’ schedules are structured in such a way that residents’ night call and long hours are an integral part of the way in which care is provided to patients.” (Samkoff, 687) It’s normal, it’s expected, and it’s just how it is.

But does it have to be that way?

I’m going to play mamma for a moment here. Not getting enough sleep has adverse affects on the immune system, causing one to become sick much more easily. It also ages you more quickly (trust me, graduate school is making me OLD) and affects one’s ability to be able to fully concentrate. Not only does sleep deprivation have negative effects on your mood, but it slows your senses as well.

Another thing: make sure you are comfortable when you sleep! As a teenager, I used to LOVE falling asleep to a movie on the living room couch. Sometimes I would just turn on a movie to fall asleep! Somehow, I just don’t think that sleep was very valuable.

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How many of us wait until we see THIS before we start getting ready for bed?

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I am not perfect at this, but here are some things that help me get to bed on time:

  • Start getting ready for bed 30 minutes before you think you should. (I usually start about 45 minutes before I want to be asleep.)
  • Turn Facebook off BEFORE you start getting ready for bed.
  • Do some exercise each day. It’ll make you sleepier at night.

Sweet dreams!

References:

Samkoff, Judith S. and C. H. M. Jacques, “A Review of Studies Concerning Effects of Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue on Residents’ Performance,” Academic Medicine 66, no. 11 (1991): 649-93.