Welcome 2015!

2015

I can’t believe it’s 2015. Well, it will be soon anyway.

I don’t know about you, but for me, there is something magical about a new year. Like I can wake up tomorrow morning and somehow while I slept, I was transformed into all those things I have wanted to be. The old me no longer exists. The negative voice has been silenced and all my shortcomings are behind me. The slate has been wiped clean and there is only unblemished potential.

I always try to write down my resolutions. Somehow dreams become more concrete when you can see them and touch them. When you waiver, they are there to remind you of their importance and guide you back. Sometimes you have to start over. Sometimes you have to re-prioritize. Sometimes your dreams simply change.

Regardless of how magical New Year’s Day can be, I must tell you that I have never been a positive kind of person. That is when it comes to me. I am hard on myself…always. I am my own worst enemy. And it never worse than New Year’s Eve.

“Well, another year of missed opportunities. Weight gain. Messy house. God, I’m such a loser!” That would be the typical self talk.

Not this year. I’m getting too old for that kind of crap. Anyone else feel the same way?

It’s time to focus on the positive. So, here are some of the things I did in 2014.

  • I made a career change. A small one, but a change nevertheless
  • I got my family through a real shitty, scary time of health issues. And I didn’t have  a breakdown.
  • I got a whole bunch of amazing new followers on this little blog, and I am truly touched by and grateful for each and every one of you
  • I ran a 5k
  • I was more adventurous in the kitchen

Here is my list of resolutions for 2015.

  • The always constant diet resolution, which by the way starts on January 2nd because let’s face it, that leftover Chinese take-out isn’t going to eat itself
  • Simplify. In so many ways.
  • Spend more time enjoying the outdoors. Hiking, kayaking, gardening, going to the beach
  • Blog better
  • Cook more with my kids
  • Write more
  • Learn to use my sewing machine
  • Entertain more
  • Be more productive
  • Be less indecisive
  • Be kinder to myself
  • Give back

Now I’ve shared. They’re written, they’re real.

How about you? Want to share?

All About That Bass

mt

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it
Like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places

I see the magazine workin’ that Photoshop
We know that shit ain’t real
C’mon now, make it stop
If you got beauty, beauty, just raise ’em up
‘Cause every inch of you is perfect
From the bottom to the top

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”
You know I won’t be no stick figure silicone Barbie doll
So if that’s what you’re into then go ahead and move along

Because you know I’m
All about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass, no treble
I’m all about that bass
‘Bout that bass
Hey!

I’m bringing booty back
Go ahead and tell them skinny bitches that
No I’m just playing. I know you think you’re fat
But I’m here to tell ya
Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top

Anyone else digging this song? It’s so catchy and yes I do “shake it, shake it” a little more on my runs when it’s playing. Here is a little playlist I put together of some songs that make me move a bit faster and hold my head a little higher when I feel like I’m struggling during a workout.

Did I miss any? What songs motivate you?

1. All About that Bass..Meghan Trainor
2. Roar…Katy Perry
3. Perfect…Pink
4. If today was your last day…Nickelback
5. Unwritten…Natasha Beddingfield
6. In the middle of starting over…Sabrina Carpenter
7. Fat Bottomed Girls…Queen (Sorry ladies, just keepin it real)
8. Girl In a country song…Maddie & Tae
9. Mean…Taylor Swift
10. I will survive…Gloria Gaynor
11. Firework…Katy Perry
12. Born This Way…Lady Gaga
13. This one’s for the girls…Martina McBride
14. Till I Collapse…Eminem
15. Let It Go…Idina Menzel
16. Survivor…Destiny’s Child
17. Shake it Off…Taylor Swift
18. Dog Days Are Over…Florence & the Machine
19. Brave…Sara Bareilles
20. One Step at a Time…Jordin Sparks

Day 16: Get Your Zzzzzzzzs

Sea_otters_holding_hands

Did you know?

  • Research shows you sleep better during a new moon and worse during a full moon, although scientists don’t know why
  • We only dream of faces we have already seen, whether we actually remember them or not
  • Humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep
  • Doing without sleep is likely to make you hungry as levels of leptin, an appetite suppressing hormone drop
  • 75% of us dream in color. Prior to color television only 15% did
  • It takes two weeks to die of starvation and only 10 days without sleep
  • Whales and dolphins, literally fall half asleep.  Each side of their brain takes turns to continue to breathe
  • Insomnia is a natural part of grieving. Taking sleeping pills can disrupt the process
  • Being awake for 16 hours straight decreases your performance as much as if your blood alcohol content was .05% (the legal limit is  .08%)
  • Dysania: the state of finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning. It may signal a nutritional disorder, depression or other medical cause
  • Sea otters hold hands when they fall asleep so they don’t drift.  aw
  • Tiredness peaks twice a day, at 2:00 a.m and 2:00 p.m.
  • Within 5 minutes of waking up 50% of your dream is forgotten. After 10 minutes 90% is gone
  • Different age groups need different amounts of sleep. Babies: 16 hours, Ages 3-18: 10 hours, Ages 19-55: 8 hours, Over 65: 6 hours

 

 

 

Weekend Recap, Yoga and Procrastinating

Photo and article: MindBodyGreenDaily
Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a lovely summery weekend and are refreshed and ready for a productive week ahead.

This weekend I asdvised you to eat dessert first. How many times have you gone out for dinner and ate so much you didn’t have any room left for dessert?

Having dessert first takes care of that problem. I love dessert. I have a sweet tooth. Big time! My mother came up with a genious idea. Once a month or so, she goes out with friends to grab a pastry and a coffee at this little Italian cafe in downtown Newburyport. Then they stroll around the quaint specialty shops and street vendors or just take a walk along the pier. After that it’s dinner time, a light dinner of drinks and appetizers or soup and a salad at one of the phenomenal restaurants there. I wholeheartedly suggest you give this idea a try. It’s a nice change, and you won’t miss out on dessert.

Sunday was World Oceans Day. Are you a seafood lover? Click here to see how you can make better choices for our oceans. You can find also find a free app from Seafood Watch to find a convenient list of sustainable seafood. Click here for a list of ocean-friendly recipes from the New England Aquarium.

Monday morning yoga. Did you give it a try? I actually did a pilates video instead. I’ve got to say, my core is feeling it. It feels gooooooood. If you are interested, here is a good link to some good morning yoga moves to start your day. This is one of my favorite sites lately. Spend some time there. Lots of great information.

So, how’s your challenge going so far? Have you done any of the challenges? Or at least dedicated twenty minutes a day to do something for you? Just you! Because even taking twenty minutes to do something you love but don’t often allow yourself to do, will make you feel happy. And remember, happy is beautiful.

That being said, I had a bad day on Sunday. I forgot something very important someone once said to me, which I will share at a later time. But let me just say, you can never undo, or unsay, but you can move on and let it go and make it better.

We’re all human and we’re not perfect. We just have to be the best we can be. Phew, glad that’s off my chest.

Today, although it says facial (we’re doing that on Friday, I screwed up on my list) I think I’m going to do something that I have been putting off. Do you have something that has been nagging at you that you haven’t done? I’ve read that even a small thing that is plagueing your mind can increase stress, cause anxiety and increase blood pressure. It could be something simple like putting off asking for a raise or telling your signifcant other you screwed up plans. Or it could be a task you keep putting off. It doesn’t have to be huge either. Just something. It could be as simple as making a doctor’s appointment for your yearly physical, or going to the hairdresser, or trying one of the daily challenges that you really wanted to but didn’t get a chance. Or it could be starting a bigger task. Like painting a room, starting a garden, or writing a resume.

That’s the challenge I’m issuing you today. Let me know what your going to tackle.

Easy Homemade Pita Bread

pita

I love pita bread. Fresh pita bread that is. I’ll buy it in the grocery store if it is super fresh. Like steaming up the bag fresh. But it seems like it only lasts a day then it’s no good. Maybe I’m just picky, but it just seems to lose its appeal the next day.

I searched my favorite sites and many had recipes for fresh pita, but this recipe was the winner. I could quickly make the dough, then leave it in the refrigerator all week, just taking pieces off one at a time to make a fresh piece.

When I say the dough was quick, I mean it. 15 minutes tops and five of that was just waiting for the yeast to dissolve. 5-7 minutes of easy kneading and it was ready for the fridge.

The next day I took a small piece, rolled it to 1/4 inch thick disk and threw it onto a 450F preheated pizza stone and three minutes later…magic!

It puffed up beautifully then deflated again to create the pocket. It was flavorful, fresh and absolutely delicious. So much better than even the freshest store pita. This has totally solved my fresh pita problem that has been plaguing my mornings. I used the oven method, but I’m sure the pan method works just fine as well. My first batch couple of pieces came out slightly thicker than store-bought, so don’t be afraid to roll it pretty thin. I personally liked it a little thicker as it didn’t rip like it usually does when I stuff it.

If you think pita bread is something you can not do at home, think again. If you are a fan of fresh pita, then this is for you. You’ve got to give it a shot. Really, it is by far the easiest bread I have ever made. And bread making has really never been my thing. If I can do it, you can do it.

Here is the recipe, but go to the original for a wonderful pictorial.

Ingredients
1 cup warm water (not hot or boiling, 112F)
2 teaspoons active dry or instant yeast
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1-2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)

Form the Pita Dough: Mix the water and yeast together, and let sit for about five minutes until the yeast is dissolved. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour (saving the last half cup for kneading), salt, and olive oil (if using). Stir until a shaggy dough is formed.

2. Knead the Dough: Sprinkle a little of the extra flour onto your clean work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or the work surface, but try to be sparing. It’s better to use too little flour than too much. If you get tired, stop and let the dough rest for a few minutes before finishing kneading.

3. Let the Dough Rise: Clean the bowl you used to mix the dough and film it with a little olive oil. Set the dough in the bowl and turn it until it’s coated with oil. Cover with a clean dishcloth or plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in bulk, 1-2 hours.

At this point, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

4. Divide the Pitas: Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and gently flatten each piece into a thick disk. Sprinkle the pieces with a little more flour and then cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap until you’re ready to bake them.

5. Shape the Pitas: Using a floured rolling-pin, roll one of the pieces into a circle 8-9 inches wide and about a quarter-inch thick. Lift and turn the dough frequently as your roll to make sure the dough isn’t sticking to your counter. Sprinkle with a little extra flour if its starting to stick. If the dough starts to spring back, set it aside to rest for a few minutes, then continue rolling. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.

6. To Bake Pitas in the Oven: While shaping the pitas, heat the oven to 450°. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven to heat. If you don’t have a baking stone, place a large baking sheet on the middle rack to heat.

Place the rolled-out pitas directly on the baking stone or baking sheets (as many as will fit), and bake for about 3 minutes. I’ve found it easiest to carry the pita flat on the palm of my hand and then flip it over onto the baking stone. The pita will start to puff up after a minute or two and is done when it has fully ballooned. Cover baked pitas with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

7. To Bake Pitas on the Stovetop: Warm a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until a few bead of water sizzle immediately on contact. Drizzle a little oil in the pan and wipe off the excess.

Lay a rolled-out pita on the skillet and bake for 30 seconds, until you see bubbles starting to form. Flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side, until large toasted spots appear on the underside. Flip again and cook another 1-2 minutes to toast the other side. The pita should start to puff up during this time; if it doesn’t or if only small pockets form, try pressing the surface of the pita gently with a clean towel. Keep cooked pitas covered with a clean dishtowel while cooking any remaining pitas.

8. Storing the Pitas: Pitas are best when eaten immediately after cooking. Leftover pitas will keep in an airtight bag for several days and can be eaten as they are or warmed in a toaster oven. Baked pitas can also be frozen with wax paper between the layers for up to three months.

Additional Notes:

• Storing the Dough: Once it has risen, the pita dough can be kept refrigerated until it is needed. You can also bake one or two pitas at a time, saving the rest of the dough in the fridge. The dough will keep refrigerated for about a week.

• Pitas That Won’t Puff: Sometimes you get pitas that won’t puff. The problem is usually that the oven or the skillet aren’t hot enough. Make sure both are thoroughly pre-heated before cooking. Even pitas that don’t puff are still delicious and can be used wraps or torn into pieces for dipping in hummus.

Photo and recipe courtesy of The Kitchn This site has amazing tutorials. Go check them out!

28 Days To A Healthy Heart: Day 26 Make 1/2 Your Plate Vegetables

Feb_26

So here we are at Day 26! The finish line is in sight. But really, it isn’t. For me, the #MYHEART28 challenge was just a starting point for a healthier me. And hopefully a healthier you too.

Today is about getting in your veggies. They say we need five servings a day, but some now say nine a day. That’s a lot of veggies! For me, this is easy. I love my fruits and veggies. But many don’t. I live with a few, actually.

Here are some helpful ways to squeeze in your daily allowance.

1. Make fruit salad. If it’s all ready to go, you have few excuses.
2. Make a bowl of fruit part of your decor. A bowl of apples on the table is hard to pass by.
3. Toss some fruit into your breakfast. Bananas in your cereal, blueberries in your pancakes, whatever.
4. Throw some veggies in your omelet or frittata
5. Crunch on a green salad. Use a nutrient-rich green like baby spinach or kale
6. Pair fruit with cheese. Apples, pears and grapes are great choices
7. Munch on dried fruit. They are easy to grab on your way out. just watch the calories!
8. Add veggies you like to dishes you love.
9. Spoon up some soup. Satiating and healthy. Just watch the sodium if you are eating canned.
10. Drink your vegetables (and fruits). “I shoulda had a V-8!
11. Vegi-fy your pizza. Skip the pepperoni and sausage and add some veggies
12. Toss some on the grill. Any veggie is good on the grill. Fruits like pineapple are great too.
13. Get them at the drive-through. You can get a salad with low fat dressing instead of a burger
14. Dress up your dinner plate with fruit. Add a little color garnish. YUM!
15. Drizzle on some cheese sauce. My kids will gobble up their broccoli if it has a bit of cheese melted on top.
16. Serve your veggies raw. A little low fat Ranch dip goes a long way with my daughter. She’s a big dipper!
17. Keep fruit in heavy rotation. Keep it handy and they’ll eat it
18. Have prepared fruits and veggies ready to go in the fridge. Again, if it’s handy, they’ll go for it!
19. Try a little salt. Cooking fresh vegetables in a little salt water is a great flavor enhancer
20. Sneak in some fruit into your baking. Applesauce, prunes and zucchini are great for reducing fat and keeping things moist.

What are your favorite tricks for sneaking in some fruits and veggies. Any favorite recipes? I’d love to hear them.

28 Days To A Healthy Heart: Day 23 and Olympic Pasta Salad

Feb_23Today I am so honored to have been chosen as the Ambassador of the Day for the #MYHEART28 challenge.

The Heart Truth is a program dedicated to raising awareness of about heart disease. It encourages women to take action to improve their health everyday and lower their chances of heart disease, which is the #1 killer of women in this country.

I have enlisted the help of my kids to do this challenge with me, as we can all use a little extra physical activity. Today’s challenge is 3 jumping jacks for every USA gold medal at Sochi. As of today, the total gold was 9. The kids and I decided to celebrate all the USA medals (27 total) for a total of 81 jumping jacks!

In sticking to the Olympic theme, I wanted to come up with a recipe using the Olympic colors of blue, green, red, yellow and black. Oh, and yes it needed to be heart healthy too.

Whole wheat pasta, black beans, baby kale, yellow peppers, cherry tomatoes and bleu cheese make up the Olympic colors and the delicious sun-dried tomato vinaigrette bring all the flavors together. Perfect for a light lunch or as a side to a piece of grilled chicken, this salad is a winner.

I hope you enjoy!

Have a healthy day!

olympic pasta

Olympic Pasta Salad
1 box whole wheat rotini pasta
1 yellow pepper, chopped
2 c. chopped baby kale or baby spinach
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 c. black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. finely chopped sweet onion
1/3 c. crumbled bleu cheese
Sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

1. Cook pasta according to instructions, drain and rinse with cool water; set aside
2. Mix pasta, vegetables, beans and blue cheese together and combine with the vinaigrette, chill and serve.

Sun-Dried Tomato Vinaigrette
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil (about 1 oz)
1 c. boiling water
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato juice
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 Tbls. balsamic vinegar
3 tsp. tomato paste
1 small garlic clove peeled
1 c. light mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Combine sun-dried tomatoes and 1 cup boiling water in a bowl; let stand 20 minutes. Drain.
Place sun-dried tomatoes, 3/4 cup water, and remaining ingredients (3/4 cup water through garlic) in a food processor or blender; process

Vinaigrette adapted from Cooking Light

28 Days to a Healthy Heart: Day 20

They say laughter is the best medicine. Today’s challenge is to share a joke or a video that makes you smile or laugh.

This video KILLS me everytime I watch it. You may have all seen it, but watch it again. Then, if you’re like me, you will refer to yourself as this creature anytime somthing (or someone) starts to get on your nerves. Some of my co-workers have honey badger pictures on their desk. It’s our secret society. Well, not anymore.

Anyone have a joke they want to share? I’m always up for a laugh.

*Warning…there are some F-bombs in there, just sayin

28 Days to a Healthy Heart: Day 18 and 19

Day 18: Add a Stretch Break to your calendar
I stretch all the time. I sit at my desk and stretch, I do leg lifts while at the computer and if no one is watching I may do some high knees or touch my toes at the copier.

Today at home, I added some resistance bands. Here is a printable resistance band workout from Women’s Health magazine. Give it a shot!

Day 19: Swap the Sweets for a Piece of Fruit
I have a massive sweet tooth. Is there any other kind of tooth? Not over here! They are my downfall. If I have sweets in the house, I’m doomed. DOOMED I tell ya! Needless to say, since I do the grocery shopping, I have the power to keep the sweeties out.

The past couple of weeks, much to my daughter’s dismay (she also has “the tooth”) I have been buying a lot more fruit. I even made fruit cups for her Valentine’s Day class party. Which is probably the equivalent of passing out toothbrushes and floss for Halloween, mind you.

We are loving Fuji apples and mangoes right now. Well, I am the only one loving mangoes and since they are in season they are always on sale. SCORE! This is a perfect time of year to incorporate fruit into your diet. Processed sweets actually suppress the immune system, and with cold and flu season well underway the addition of fresh fruits and is even more important.

Besides mangoes, here are a few other fruits to enjoy this winter.

Clementines
Grapefruit
Kiwifruit
Mandarin Oranges
Papaya
Oranges
Passion Fruit
Pear
Persimmons
Tangerines

I have the kids pick colors at the beginning of the week and we get those fruits and veggies in their color choice. It seems to help by giving us for a variety and also allows us to try new things. Give it a try.

Have a healthy day!

28 Days to a Healthy Heart: Day 17

apple

Hey there!

Wondering where I’ve been? Did you think I gave up? Threw in the towel? I sorta did and sorta didn’t. Let me start from the beginning. Last month I was having weird pains in my chest. So I did the worst thing anyone can do and I hit the internet for some answers. Bad idea! If you want peace of mind, cyberspace is NOT the place to go. You will have yourself diagnosed with pretty much everything after a couple of minutes of searching your symptoms.

What I did find was the Heart Challenge and I realized that even being nervous about the health of my heart was enough for me to take some action. So I have been following the challenge and so far it’s been pretty helpful

Remember Day 4: Schedule a Physical? I scheduled an appointment with a cardiologist due to aforementioned chest pain and saw him last week. It was an eye-opening experience. And since I love you, I’ll share. Because if you haven’t scheduled your appointment, maybe you will.

In a nutshell, my blood pressure was high and my EKG was abnormal. I have white coat syndrome, so the elevated blood pressure wasn’t a shock. He told me he wanted to do a stress test and that until then he didn’t want me to exercise. Instantly the panic set in and if my blood pressure wasn’t high enough at the time, it went up more, I’m sure when they told me the next appointment was in 2 weeks.

Now ladies, I’m all for women’s lib and all that jazz, but sometimes you just have to pull out all the stops a girl has. For me, that’s tears. Tears works wonders! Needless to say, I had an appointment the very next morning for labs and a nuclear stress test, which should show exactly what was going on.

8:00 a.m. the next day I arrived, my blood pressure was good (nurses were wearing bright colors…no white lab coats!) and I took my test, which showed that I did indeed need blood pressure medication but my stress test looked good. The pain in my chest was believed to be muscular, probably from lugging my daughter and her gigantic cast around for weeks and apparently an abnormal EKG is pretty normal for me. Go figure.

*Sigh of relief*

My question to the doctor immediately was, “How do I get off the medicine?”

“Take off some significant weight and relax”.

Duh. I’m working on it, but now with a much more sense of urgency than before.

So there! If you haven’t made that appointment. Please go do it! Not only is it important to your physical health, but important for you mentally. I was emotionally being held back when I exercised for fear I would push my heart too far. Now I am free to physically exert myself and break through the walls that was stuck behind. The fear and anxiety are gone and I feel a great relief.

Here is a bit of a catch up for the days I missed. Well, I didn’t miss them, I just didn’t post them.

Day 11: Calculate your BMI…Check (but I’m not telling)
Day 12: Share you favorite inspirational quote…”A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong it is until it’s in hot water.” or pretty much anything that came out of Eleanor Roosevelt’s mouth
Day 13: Give the elevator a day off and take the stairs…Always!
Day 14: Protect your sweetheart’s heart. Plan a healthy date…does napping count? I think so.
Day 15: Saturday Night Fever! Dance to your favorite song…Pul-leaze! I am a dancing fool!
Day 16: Stress less! Practice mindful mediation for 10 minutes…10 minutes workouts on On Demand has some great relaxation sessions. I try to do one every day.
Day 17: Give meatless Monday a try! Sorry meatloaf is on the menu tonight, no pre-planning. How about Steak-free Saturday or Squash Sunday? We’ll see.

So there it is. Not much more to go. Stay tuned for tomorrow, Add a stretch break to your calendar. I’m going to have to elaborate on that. I stretch daily. How about stretching with bands? Ooooooh yeah, that’s a bit different.

See you tomorrow!