Friday, May 24, 2013

Mother's Day Reflections

Special day's can be more than a bit hard on healthy eating plans. Mother's day may mean breakfast in bed, dinner out, and specially made sweets by the ones who love you. And plenty of extra unhealthy calories...

We're a society that loves to celebrate every occasion with food. Lots of it. And, most of it not so healthy. Weddings, new babies, birthdays, graduations, winning ball games, dance recitals, retirements. And, those are in addition to all the other food holidays throughout the year. 

This year, my Mother's Day started with me sleeping in a bit, which isn't easy with a dog that has an earlier wake-up call than most roosters.  When I go up, my husband had ready a wonderful bowl of steel-cut oatmeal with an apple-walnut-cinnamon topping he made himself. Not only did it taste great, but it was a fantastic way to start the day.

My daughter (who recently graduated from college) gave me an insulated water mug all decked out in yellow and blue polka dots and her school logo. It even came with a lifetime warrantee, which is perfect for me and my tendency to drop them on concrete every once in awhile, like I did just this week! I love drinking ice water out of big 24 glasses with straws, and take one most everywhere I go. The insulated walls keep them from weeping with condensed water.

After a long walk and calls from my out-of-state sons, my husband served a yummy dinner of BBQ pork loin, fresh fruit salad and colorful coleslaw (Ellie Kreiger's Comfort Food Fix) topped off with a lighter version of strawberry-rhubarb crisp. Just perfect.
And the moral of the day? It certainly is possible to enjoy special days keeping health in mind.

Pat's Rhubarb Crunch Cake

Pat G sent a yummy dessert recipe that was a big hit in her family. Rhubarb desserts are a fun part of spring for many, but a boat-load of sugar is used in most recipes to counteract the sour. This recipe uses heat-stable sucralose, bringing down the sugar load considerably. Pat gives this one two thumbs up!

Pat's Rhubarb Crunch Cake                                                                  ---makes 12 servings

1/2 cup butter and canola oil blend
1 1/2 cups sucralose (Splenda) 
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts*
4 cups rhubarb, chopped

Streusel topping:
1 tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
3 Tbsp butter and canola oil blend*
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup packed brown sugar blend (1/2 sugar sub, 1/2 brown sugar)


  • In a large bowl, cream together butter blend and Splenda. Beat in egg and vanilla.
  • In another bowl, sift together 2 cups flour, soda, and salt. Add sifted ingredients alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture.
  • Toss rhubarb with 1 tablespoon flour, and stir into batter.  Add walnuts.
  • Spoon batter into buttered 9 x 13 inch pan, and smooth the surface.
  • For topping, blend together 1/4 cup butter blend, cinnamon, and brown sugar blend, and sprinkle evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Best served warm.  
Nutrition Data: 5 units, 252 calories, 11 g fat, 86 mg cholesterol, 31 g carbohydrates, 4 g fiber, 11 g sugar, 8 g protein.

*I took the liberty of cutting the walnuts in half and reducing the butter in the topping to bring the calorie count down. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Competitive Edge?

I really don't think of myself as competitive. Just the opposite, in fact. When I

was a kid, I remember letting my older brother win at Monopoly because I just hated the way he acted when he lost. Years ago, I made the mistake of telling my new card-shark mother-in-law that the game we were all playing was only a game. I never lived that down. And, I'm still like that. I'd rather do everything in my power to help create calm instead of focusing on winning a game myself. The peacemaker.

On the other hand, I do have some competitive nature in me. I've recognized that it pops up when I'm exercising with people I don't even know, especially if they appear older than me. When I'm walking with a friend, I've never felt the urge to go faster. It's just that watching those fit, older strangers excel makes me want to kick it up a notch. What can I say? I just hate the idea of being a slower, weaker younger person.  

For most people, any sort of competitiveness serves as a great motivator to improve fitness. That is, unless it's not. Since chronic neck issues have come my way, I've had to temper that desire to push harder. And, it's not been easy. I've been trying not to notice how fast the person next to me is going or how long they've been on the cardio-machine next to me.  I've been doing much better. I'm to only focus on what I can do and celebrate slow improvement. 

Recently, however, I've noticed that competitiveness sneaking up again. In stretch class, no less, and one filled primarily with people in their 50's and up. I love how great my body feels afterward, even those arthritic joints. But, yesterday, I peeked. I did. I have more flexibility than most, except those 2 others who were there.  I fought down the urge to press my stretches further.

Today, I shared a lane at the pool with a really nice older gal who was doing slow laps even before I got in. After swimming my doctor commanded limit of 10 minutes, I had a pang to keep going. It's probably a little, "if a she can, I can," type of thing. I got out of the pool at 11 minutes.

Perhaps it's not competitiveness per se. Maybe what I'm feeling is motivation. Either way, if I ever hit a couch potato slump, all I need to do is hang out with an active older crowd. 

What about you and your competitive edge?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Reflections on Graduation Week

Whenever routines are interrupted, chaos ensues. I don't know if that's fact, law, or just an all too common occurrence.  It just is. And, it can play havoc with healthy eating and exercise goals.

My daughter, and youngest of my three, graduated from the University of Michigan over the weekend. This was, of course, a wonderfully proud moment for me as her mom. Family from out-of-state gathered here at our home for the week to help celebrate. Since there were 2 days of ceremonies to attend an hour away, some serious driving was part of the equation. And, so were meals at favorite restaurants, exhaustion, and just a wee bit of stress.

My healthy routines were certainly interrupted, but in a good way. I've become used to my yogurt and oatmeal breakfast, mini lunches and snacks on the go, and easy meals at night for my husband and me. This past week, I ate differently. And if I hadn't been ready for it, these challenges may have become overeating events.

Recognizing your at-risk-for-overeating times is half the battle. Mine are when I'm both tired and stressed: STRESSED=DESSERTS for me. During times like that, I need to be extra vigilant around my sugary trigger foods. 

And, how did I do last week?
  1. I recognized my fatigue and stress.
  2. When baking cookies, I made sure to sit down and eat one hot, perfectly shaped cookie with a cup of coffee instead of acting like the clean up crew and popping broken or weird shaped ones into my mouth. 
  3. We ate 3 dinners, 1 breakfast, and 2 snack/drinks out. 
    1. I ordered a luncheon sized portion when we were given the option. 
    2. I made sure I had a big green salad before each entree arrived.
    3. I focused on eating slowly and mindfully.
    4. I ate only enough of my meal to be full, either sharing it or bringing it home. 
    5. I ordered coffee toward the end of each meal to give me the sense of "meal's over" and to still be part of the meal as others finished eating.
  4. I went to bed at a decent time each night.
  5. Although I may have over done the caffeinated beverages at times, but I still tried to get plain old water in, too.
And the scales? Up one pound on Monday, back down on Tuesday. I can deal with that. 

Now, who else is part of graduations coming up? What are your plans to keep your "healthy on?"