Friday, October 28, 2011

Pasta e Fagiloi

Anne, one of our long time MM follower's, mentioned our version of Pasta e Fagioli  is one of her very favorites.  Unfortunately, in my original post, I didn't have the nutritional data listed.  So, just in time for a chilly weekend here in the mid-west, here it is, Anne, complete with all the nutritional info and units!

Pull out your crock-pot or simply put this one together in a big pot on top of your stove. For variety, you may want to try this soup with lean turkey, turkey sausage, or even skinless chicken chunks.  Enjoy a bowl this weekend!

Pasta e Fagioli

Place into slow cooker:
1# extra lean ground beef or turkey, cooked and drained (optional)
1 c. onion, diced
1 c. carrots, julienned
2 c. zucchini, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 - 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 - 15 oz. can light red kidney beans
1 – 15 oz can white beans
1 – 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 - 12 oz. vegetable juice
1 tbsp. white vinegar
½ tsp. salt, or to taste
½ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. basil
½ tsp. thyme           
Cook on low for 6 -8 hours.
Stir In:
            3 oz. cooked small whole wheat pasta
Heat through and enjoy!

Makes 16 cups
1 cup = 169 calories, 4 g, fat, 19 mg, cholesterol, 176 mg sodium, 23 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber, 12 g protein. 2 1/2 Units.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Struggling with Stress

It's been a tough month. My husband's brother, died 2 weeks ago at age 47.  He was in the hospital---3 states away---for almost 3 weeks. We made 2 long weekend trips to see him.  Then, last week, we went to  his memorial service, driving 9 hours, then 4 hours, then 5 hours, then another 9.  All to reconnect with family. Important miles to travel. But hard ones.

Things like this happen.  They just do. It's part of life. And it's tough on the family. Emotional stress, physical stress, exhaustion. All sorts of mental and physical responses all rolled up inside of each one of us as we deal with loss.  

I know a few things that went well for me as I struggled to continue to take care of myself during this past month:
  • We made sure to to take fruit, whole grain crackers, little packages of nuts, a case of water, and V-8 juice cans with us as we traveled.  This did make a big difference in making sure both my husband and I had nutritious things to nibble on when we didn't feel like eating a big meal, or needed a little snack.  I grabbed water quite frequently between the cups of coffee I was consuming along the road, which helped me keep well hydrated.  
  • I forgot to take my own pillow with me on the first trip. Between that and having a cup of tea too late in the evening,  I didn't sleep very well at all.  I made sure to take that pillow on the next two trips!  I also took my lumbar pillow for my back and little neck roll pillow to help me with driving comfort.  
  • I provided the memorial service luncheon (ordering most of it from a local grocery store!) I made sure there were big trays of fresh fruit and veggies available and big pitchers of water for everyone.  That was appreciated by a number of people, I noticed.
  • I grabbed non-fat, sugar free lattes when I needed a little pick me up, which provided an extra milk for me...only once forgetting to ask for decaf!
What I know I need to manage better in the future:
  • Sleep.  I need to learn to stop processing things, relax and sleep. That's really hard for me. It has taken me a full week to recover from each trip out west.
  • Breathe. Frequently. Relax. Roll shoulders and stretch...I didn't even think about this!
  • Chocolate.  Normally, my husband would have just bought one little candy bar and we would share it when we decided to have something chocolate.  This time, he came back with 2 when the chocolate decision came. We both just simply ate our own. I was tired enough that I didn't exercise control over a decision to stop when I was full.  Next time, one candy bar, split. Eat slowly. Enjoy. Done.
  • Exercise.  Walk everyday, even if only for 15 minutes.
  • Alone time.  Go into my own space for 10 minutes or so, just because I need to.
If you ever have occasion to send something to a grieving family, think healthy. My mom's been known to send a fruit basket which I think is great.  Or you could make up a veggie platter, or a low-fat cheese and whole grain cracker tray. Or just care enough to give someone a hug or talk awhile. Many times, too many cookies and cakes eaten under stressful times just add more stress when you gain weight and your jeans get too tight.

With more rest, sleep, water, and healthy foods, I'm back on my path to greater wellness...


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Treats and Tricks

They're so little. One won't count. So tiny, cute in fun size and mini size. Maybe two. How much can one little handful of candy really matter? I can't really gain weight from something that small. And, candy corn only comes out once a year, plus it's in the shape of a vegetable!

It's that time of year, when all things candy come in unique shapes, itsy-bitsy sizes, and are wrapped in  festive orange, yellow, and black wrappers.  

Our MM On The Way To Wellness Groups were challenged this week to an active game of "Calorie Match." The goal of the game was to match 30 calorie cards to 30 different foods, including a number of seasonal Halloween treats. This was a team project, which opened itself up for lots of great discussion.

Among some of the interesting observations:
  • A handful of M&M's (3 mini-packages) is a whopping 270 calories, while a handful of almonds (1 oz) has 160 calories.  Laying on a dinner plate, those M&M's looked so small and harmless.  Some people guessed they only had 50 calories! When comparing nutritional value, the almonds are the big winner in nutrient density, providing a great source of healthy fat, fiber and protein.(Nutrient density is the amount of healthy vitamins, minerals, grams of protein, etc. per calorie.)
  • Mini and fun sizes are only fun in name and mini in how few you actually get!  (By the way, the words mini and fun don't provide a regulated, accepted size by weight.)  It's a game of marketing. Who wouldn't want to have fun and be mini? 
  • Most of these treats cost between 50 - 90 calories for each little package. You can find a mini box of Junior Mints or fun size Twix bar for 50 calories, but you'll be spending 80 calories on a fun size Snickers or Milky Way and 90 for your M&M's.
  • Vegetables came in at only 25 - 37 calories per half cup serving. These were the most nutrient dense group of all. They are so healthy, with so few calories, that you really don't have to count how many calories are in them..just make sure you get them in!
  • A handful of dried cherries came in at 120 calories.  But a 1/4 cup of these little sweet gems are so rich in nutrients that they count as 2 fruits! 
  • A bowl full of my chili has fewer calories than 2 Halloween frosted Loft House Cookies.  One cup of chili, 210;  2 cookies: 320 calories, which is typical for a homemade-type cookie. 
  • Which would you rather have for 100 calories: a medium size apple, large grapefruit, or 4 mini Smarties packs?  
  • Drinking a 24 oz regular soda delivers 300 calories . Drinking 12 oz. apple cider gives you 180.  Both are loaded with sugar. The soda in the real failure in nutrient density: all calories and no other nutritive value.  The apple cider does have 60 calories in each 1/2 cup serving, along with potassium and a fair amount of vitamin C--enough to count the 12 oz glass as 3 fruits!!
The goal of "Calorie Match" was to increase the awareness and mindfulness of the real cost and value of different food choices at this time of year. Yes, one mini-pack of candy may taste good.  That's just fine if you only eat one and don't go overboard. But if one mini bar leads to 6, you may need to fully aware of the consequence of overeating sugary, non-nutrient dense foods.  You may need to decide not to take the first one and reach for a big carrot or apple instead.

This week, be mindful of what different types of food do inside your body. If you choose to eat candy, be aware of how you feel after you eat.  Are you fully energized, tired, bloated, feeling rotten?  How about when you eat the carrot?  How do you feel after that?

It's really OK to chose an occasional candy.  Just don't make them half your day's food intake!  I heard from one woman this week who ate an entire bag of candy in one day. She felt life and total failure. I know some of you can certainly relate to her.  Try to be in control of your treat choices this week. If you do lose it, like our MM groupie and end up sliding down into the deep, dark chocolate pit of despair, let it go.  Shake it off.   Then, grab onto your healthy goals and remember:

"Whenever you make a mistake or get knocked down by life, don't look back at it too long. Mistakes are life's way of teaching you. Your capacity for occasional blunders is inseparable from your capacity to reach your goals. No one wins them all, and your failures,when they happen, are just part of your growth. Shake off your blunders. How will you know your limits without an occasional failure? Never quit. Your turn will come. "Og Mandino

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Quest for Wellness

Most people think wellness is simply the absence of illness.  It makes sense.  If you aren't sick, you must be well. While there is truth in that, there is really much more to it...

Seeking wellness is the process of striving for better health. It's accepting responsibility for your own health and taking action as described in the Illness-Wellness Continuum developed by Dr. John Travis. It's not your doctor's responsibility to keep you healthy; it's yours. Of course, your doctor does help.

If you want to be healthier, you start by assessing your level of wellness. You learn to recognize when something is amiss. You learn about your body, how it works, and gain knowledge in areas that help improve your health.  You work to improve your wellness level by exercising, eating nutritious food, and getting supportive help.  All of these facilitate your quest to become as healthy as you can be at every stage of your life.

Part of working toward wellness is reducing your individual risk factors for developing different diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer. For you, this may or may not include weight loss, exercise, smoking cessation, reducing alcohol intake, improving nutritional balance, or following your doctor's advice to manage an illness. As these risk factors diminish, you may become happier, more social, and find you function at a higher level:  your level of wellness increases!

To help in quest for wellness, it helps to work on mindfulness.  Be mindful of what you eat, where you eat, and perhaps even that you are eating in the first place.  Be mindful of how your body feels and what it really needs at any given moment in time. Does your body need food, water, sleep, a friend, quiet time, or exercise?  Learn to listen and respond.

  1. Keep your eye on your prize: a healthier, happier YOU!
  2. Reach for a good dose of support: friends, like-minded group, family
  3. Let go of perfection, it's highly overrated: forgive, learn, move on
  4. Perseverance is Power! Take one step forward at a time.