Happy

This time of the year we say “happy” so many times but I wonder how many times we really stop to think what it means for us. Because let’s agree it has a different meaning for each of us. And that it may have been different for you last year or three or ten years ago. Our own definition of what makes us happy changes. Evolves I think.

Listening to some of my students at the University the only thing that they related with “Happy” was success in their professional career. Success is happiness. Professional success, making enough money to pay their debt and live a “good life” is happy. As I listen to them I could only imagine how , at least for some of them, this concept is going to change, maybe in even less than five years.

I had conversations with few people around me that  expressed to me happiness is just being able to accomplish getting more and more every year. More presents, more health, more food on the table, more people to host.

A couple of my closest friends suffered important losses this year so for them I heard Happy is a feeling they are not there yet, but could think of ” feeling in peace” when trying to explain what “happy” is for them right now.

I always think of my father in law mentioning that Happiness is only moments, and sometimes I think he is right.

Saturday afternoon I could have around my three girls around me engaged in different things they chose. One was baking, the other one watching videos, the youngest one playing a card game, that precise 20  minutes were happiness for me.

Whatever means for you now, just remind yourself to be mindful of the moment or moments. Be present. Enjoy

Happy (?!) Holidays

Holidays represent happiness and lots of family events for some, busy schedules and work deadlines while for others time to reflect and remember family.
Wherever you are at it is commonly associated with indulging. Indulging in comfort food, drinking, sweets or carbs. Statistics show that people gain approximately 2 lbs (1 kg) between Thanksgiving and Dec 31st. That is on top of the average 2 lbs that are gained due to inactivity, age, etc. every year.
We could forget about the scale and keep going or make a wiser choice, today, right now and follow 1 or more than one tip/s to try to avoid it. They may all not suit to you, but the reading never hurts. I am sure you will find which one suits you best and I challenge you to try it. I am positive you will feel much better not only emotionally because you are taking care of yourself but also physically because there will be less going up of your scale numbers.

It is a few years old (from 2013) but still up to date:
https://www.diabetes.ca/publications-newsletters/diabetes-current-newsletter/diabetes-current-archive/diabetes-current-november-2013/healthy-living/7-tips-for-a-diabetes-friendly-holiday-season

 

Yummy, easy and healthy quick recipe. Quinoa zucchini “stir fry”

With the Holidays around the corner it is a good idea to have handy a healthy recipe that is also comforting.

It is easy to make and quick, plus very versatile. You could add raisins, pecans, almonds, rice, cherry tomatoes, onions, carrots, all or a few, your creation!

Using a spiralizer make zucchini noodles. Put 1 tbsp of coconut oil (or olive oil, your choice!) on a pan and warm it up. As soon as it melts, add the “noodles” and move around to avoid over cooking some and leaving others raw. When they are almost transparent in color and tender add 1 cup of cooked quinoa, let stand and serve.

You can twist this recipe adding the above mentioned ingredients or by simply avoiding the quinoa and using zucchini noodles by themselves. Add salt and pepper to taste

.img_5638-1img_5642-1img_5637-1img_5646 img_5643  img_5648 img_5649

Coconut Oil: health, diet and beauty

Coconut oil has become very popular in the last few years. Some cultures (Sri Lankans, Thailand) have this oil as part of their daily cooking. It came to the eastern countries later on.
Nowadays, you can see articles everywhere about its potential (yes, “potential”) health benefits, uses in the kitchen and as a beauty product. I am asked over and over again how to incorporate coconut oil in diet that’s why I wanted to share and differentiate myth from truth about this special vegetal oil.
As you are likely aware, trans fats and saturated are not good for our health. It has been clearly demonstrated that they increase levels of the so called “bad cholesterol” or LDL. Tropical oils — coconut, palm kernel and palm oils — contain a lot of saturated fat. Saturated fat raises your LDL cholesterol. However, there is literature (1,2) that shows that also increase levels of the “good cholesterol”.
In a healthy diet, 25 to 35 percent of your total daily calories can come from fat — but saturated fat should account for less than 10 percent of your total daily calories.

So for now I would stay with Dr Walter Willet (Harvard School of Public Health, Dept. Of Nutrition) that says:”I’d use coconut oil sparingly. Most of the research so far has consisted of short-term studies to examine its effect on cholesterol levels. We don’t really know how coconut oil affects heart disease. And I don’t think coconut oil is as healthful as vegetable oils like olive oil and soybean oil, which are mainly unsaturated fat and therefore both lower LDL and increase HDL. Coconut oil’s special HDL-boosting effect may make it “less bad” than the high saturated fat content would indicate”

As many things in life, if not all, when it comes to baking and ingesting coconut oil: Use in moderation is my approach.

As mentioned above, there are many other uses, and for those give it a try approach is a must!

coconut-oil

(1) Virgin coconut oil and its potential cardioprotective effects://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25387216#

(2) Coconut fats: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17180807#

Blueberries

During this time of the year is easy to find sweet, tender ripe blueberries. They can make it for a healthy snack, easy to carry, easy to eat and low calorie. Among other health benefits we can count: their deep blue color is related to high amounts of phytonutrients called anthocyanidins [1]. These phytonutrients aid in the process of neutralizing free radical damage in our cells. Blueberries are an antioxidant powerhouse!

In a recent post The American Institute for Cancer Research states, “We now know that blueberries are one of the best sources of antioxidants, substances that can slow the aging process and reduce cell damage that can lead to cancer.”

Blueberries are good source of fiber and vitamin C and they have about 10g of sugar per 100g of fruit, being this the only reason to moderate them amount you eat per serving.

(1) Bell DR, Gochenaur K. Direct vasoactive and vasoprotective properties of anthocyanin-rich extracts. J Appl Physiol. 2006 Apr;100(4):1164-70. Epub 2005 Dec 8.

Cauliflower rice and Quinoa meal

Now that the days are getting colder in this part of the world it becomes the perfect time for comforting food.

That doesn’t have to mean adding lots of calories. I created this recipe with that in mind. Hope you like it too!

Please please comment below with the tweaks you are adding ! Let’s have fun with this recipe too.

 

1-2 cups cauliflower florets

1 cup cooked quinoa

1/4 orange pepper finely chopped

1/4 onion finely chopped

Optionals:

Other veggies

Firm tofu in cubes

Make your rice: cut the florets and simply put them in your food processor and finely chop them until “rice look”.

Pat dry them. You can use all of save some in Ziploc bags in the fridge or freezer for future use.

Sauté the veggies in coconut oil, add the cauliflower rice stirring constantly.

Once is cooked add the quinoa, mix and serve.

It can go well with a little bit of soya sauce (careful it is high in sodium!) or parsley on top

cauliflower-rice-pic

Stretching

Stretching before and after any type of workout is as important as the workout itself. I find the series below, easy to follow and really helpful
https://www.verywell.com/warmup-stretches-for-walkers-3436429

STARTING TO WALK

LET’S START FROM THE BEGINNING, A WALKING ROUTINE

If like my very good friend Delia, you are not going to wait for “New Year resolution” (aka Dec 31st) to start feeling better, taking care of yourself, and most importantly doing something for yourself an easy way to start is walking.

If you can afford it, you could take advantage of any of the great sales and get a treadmill, or if space is a problem, it is still nice outside and lastly, there is always the malls that open before the stores are opened and they are open late these days….so no really an excuse here please.

The first thing to keep in mind is to wear a good pair of shoes. You don’t need to spend lots of money however a shoe that has a pretty flexible sole and is high enough to hold your ankles is the best investment you can do when starting any walking program. Also a cushioned sole that will absorb impact will help those with knee problems or to prevent them.

Whether you walk indoors in a treadmill or not, always remind yourself to keep your eyes looking straight ahead, keeping your arms on the side (avoid crossing them in front of your body) in a forward and backward motion and neck relaxed. Some people choose to smile and make sure their face muscles are relaxed too. Maintain a good posture with your shoulders relaxed, tummy pulled in and head up.

When starting to walk, instead of landing or stepping on your heels, make use of the mid-section of your feet. If you roll through the balls of the center of your feet, it will be much easier for you to walk without taking a toll on your knees. This is especially important if you are overweight or have knee pain.

If you are new or just returning to exercise, your speed and length of time spent walking are not as important as getting out regularly to develop the habit of walking, suggests the American Council on Exercise. If it’s hard to catch your breath or hold a conversation while walking, slow down. Divide your walking time into smaller segments spaced throughout the day, if that works better for you.

When using a treadmill maintain a certain safe distance from the control panel standing at the center of the treadmill band and walk to make the process smooth and effortless.

When you are ready to step up the pace, walk five days per week and add two minutes of brisk walking time each week. Always start with five minutes of walking at a moderate pace to warm up, followed by a brisk walking segment, and ending with a five-minute slower walk to cool down. For the first week, walk briskly for five minutes. From week two to six, increase your brisk walking segment by two minutes each week. By week six you are walking briskly for 15 minutes. In week seven, increase the brisk walking time to 18 minutes. From week eight to twelve, add two minutes of brisk walking each week. By week 12, you are walking briskly for 30 minutes, five days per week for a total of 150 minutes each week. This is the amount of time recommended for adults to engage in moderate aerobic activity each week according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Let’s start walking! And improving, one day at a time