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February 18, 2021

One of the Healthiest Fruits on the Planet

We are on week #33, counting down with my expectant friend. As some of you know from experience, she is getting pretty uncomfortable. My prayer for he

February 11, 2021

Fun with Jicama

At week #32, baby is a jicama in size. That’s right, a jicama. Starts with a J and sounds like an H. Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with pa

February 4, 2021

Sumo, Coconut, and the Birth Month

If you’re an orange lover, I have some REALLY GOOD NEWS! The Sumo are here. Sumo oranges, that is. I wrote about them last year. If you missed that

January 28, 2021

5 Reasons Why Your Snack Bar May Not Be Your Friend

In a recent conversation, the topic of cereal/granola/protein bars came up. They appear to be a healthy snack, especially for a very busy person who i

January 21, 2021

Getting Back on Track

Baby size at 29 weeks is a butternut squash. And, like last week’s eggplant, butternut squash is technically a fruit. Since I wouldn’t care to eat

January 14, 2021

The Surprising Truth about Eggplant, and a Recipe

A large eggplant. That is the vegetable size of a baby at week #28. Oh, but wait just a minute. An eggplant is actually a FRUIT because it grows from

January 7, 2021

My Least Favorite Vegetable and a Challenge

At week #27 baby is the size of… …a head of cauliflower. Most of you know that I do not care for this vegetable. I’ve tried. Truth is that cauli

December 31, 2020

Cheers to Scallions and a New Year

At week #26, baby is the size of a scallion. The first question that popped into my head is: What’s the difference between a scallion and a green on

December 24, 2020

The Hope and Excitement of a Baby

A bit of background for my new readers: I’m taking the produce journey along with my good friend who is expecting. As we track the progression, we l

Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut…and it’s Okay

I think nuts sometimes get a bad rap, and it’s not fair. Nuts of all varieties (almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.) and seeds (pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower) contain protein and therefore provide us with energy. Peanuts are technically not a nut, but a legume.

Nuts and seeds contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, fiber, folate (a B vitamin), vitamin E, magnesium and potassium. They also contain phytosterols—plant-derived compounds that are similar in structure and function to cholesterol.

Phytosterols actually compete for absorption with cholesterol in the digestive tract, thereby inhibiting the intestinal absorption of cholesterol.

How does all this translate to health? If we are snacking on nuts, we are not snacking on foods that may cause more harm than good, such as candy and fried chips.

A daily intake of nuts/seeds of 1.5 ounces, which is equal to about 3 Tablespoons or a handful, may reduce the risk of heart disease, improve cholesterol levels, and lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Since different nuts provide different benefits, it is good to vary the kind of nuts we consume. Raw, unsalted nuts are the preferred choice. Store in the refrigerator to maintain freshness and keep them from becoming rancid.

And remember, too much of a good thing is not so good. A handful of nuts each day is plenty, especially when trying to lose weight.

Snack idea: mix several varieties of nuts and seeds with a bit of dried fruit and/or dark chocolate chips (the idea here is to keep the sugar content low) as your customized trail mix. Portion it out into small bags or containers that you can take on the go.

 “One secret of life is that the reason life works at all is that not everyone in your tribe is nuts on the same day. Another secret is that laughter is carbonated holiness.” –Anne Lamott

Penne Pasta with Fr. Leo

I recently attended the inaugural Northwest Indiana Catholic Women’s Conference. It was an energizing day spent with over 600 women from the Diocese of Gary, sharing friendship, faith, fun and FOOD!

We enjoyed listening to several speakers, including Bishop Donald J. Hying and Father Leo Patalinghug. What was a bit different, at least from my past retreat experiences, was that part of Father Leo’s presentation occurred while he was cooking.

One of the perks of the retreat was that 10 of us would be chosen at random to enjoy lunch with Bishop Hying, Father Leo, and Father Kevin Huber. How fun! My hope for the past several weeks was to be chosen to enjoy that lunch.

Since I love everything about food–I write about it, eat it, cook it, coach on it, buy it, study it, etc., I really wanted to meet a priest who had competed in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay and WON!

As Father Leo shared words of inspiration and faith, he chopped, sautéed, simmered and stirred. He made penne pasta with vodka sauce.

When it came time to draw the names, I expressed to my friends how much I REALLY wanted to be chosen. As Father Leo called the names and I heard mine, it was as if I’d won the lottery. As far as I was concerned, I had.

The penne pasta was fabulous! It was accompanied with a green salad, boneless chicken breast, bread, butter, sparkling water and red wine. Lunch with my new friends was so much fun, I had to share the story with you.

Father Leo is the driving force behind a movement known as Plating Grace, founded on the belief that shared meals strengthen family relationships and marriages. He travels widely as an inspirational speaker, is an award-winning cook, and has a TV show, all while being a priest.

I left the retreat with nourished body and soul, and two cookbooks written by Father Leo: Grace Before Meals and Spicing Up Married Life. He personalized them for me, and took a selfie of us.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, he beat Bobby with his “Fusion Fajitas” back in June 2009. The recipe is in Grace Before Meals, along with many others that sound delicious and are quick to put together.

This week, I challenge you to throwdown a simple meal and share it with family and/or friends. And remember, it’s about much more than the food.

Bon Appetit!

“In my experience, nothing creates a better environment for a great
conversation than time shared in the kitchen.” –
Fr. Leo

Enjoy National Prime Rib Day

April 27 is the day that has been designated National Prime Rib Day. This is important for all of you meat lovers out there. I’m not a big steak/prime rib eater, so this one is not usually on my radar.

I draw attention to this because last week I promised to give you some tips on the diet vs. exercise dilemma. If you missed it, the bottom line is that we cannot out train a bad diet. 

Here are some tips, based on this knowledge:

  • If you are planning to celebrate National Prime Rib Day by enjoying said cut of beef, make sure it is amazing and be fully present to the experience.
  • Enjoy the salad and baked potato, or whatever accompanies it because that’s how it’s done.
  • Since this day is associated with the anticipation of happiness and joy, do not feel any guilt about celebrating.
  • Share the good news about this special day with all your friends, unless they are vegetarians.
  • If you overindulge on this meal, remember that sometimes healthy indulgences are necessary in order for us to truly feel alive, when they are done as part of an intentional way of living—code for eating real food, exercising on a regular basis, practicing good sleep habits, being fully present to the experience, etc.
  • Plan right now to celebrate Hug a Vegetarian Day, (and hug your vegetarian friends who aren’t celebrating National Prime Rib Day) which is devoted to celebrating cheerfulness and fun. It happens annually on the fourth Friday in September, which this year is September 28.
  • AND plan to participate in Eat Brussels Sprouts Day, celebrated annually on January 31, which also happens to be Hell is Freezing Over Day. (I thought this would be good to know, just in case you have ever said that you would do something when hell freezes over, like eat Brussels sprouts.)

Now perhaps you are wondering who decides on these special days. Any individual or any company can declare any day something special. There is nothing official about them.

These are not the same caliber as the federally observed holidays—the ones you see on your calendars, get the day off work and still get paid.

As for me, I’m going to plan my healthy indulgence for July, which President Ronald Reagan declared as National Ice Cream month. Oh, and no need to mark your calendar—I’ll be sure to remind you!

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.”
―Julia Child

You Can’t Out Train a Bad Diet

Fitness begins with food. Why? Because you can’t out train a bad diet.

When it comes to diet vs. exercise, you need both for best results.

CLICK HERE to watch an official experiment of pizza vs. cardio

I did my own experiment as well, so I could share my personal results. Here’s how it played out.

I spent 30 minutes on the rowing machine, doing some interval sprints to push up the calories I would burn. At the end of my workout, I had expended approximately 200 calories.

Just for the fun of it, I did 30 minutes on the stair-stepper another day. My arms were moving too so that I would use up even more of those calories I would be consuming later in the day. Once again, the result was about 200 calories expended.

The good news: If I eat one-half cup of ice cream, I only consume about 140 calories, depending on the flavor.

The bad news: When I do eat ice cream, I doubt it’s one-half cup…I’m being honest here. It’s probably more like one cup. YIKES! So much for my workout negating my splurge.

The BOTTOM LINE: Workouts are good for mental clarity, cardiovascular health, better mood, improving self-esteem, reducing stress, boosting your immune system, improving eating habits, increasing energy, and much much more! However, eating a treat or indulging in a big meal because you “earned” it, is setting yourself up for disappointment when you’re expecting a fat loss.

Coming up next week: Tips on how to manage the diet vs. exercise puzzle.

(Important Note: Do not begin a new exercise routine without first checking with your physician!) 

“Just like keeping a healthy diet is important to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, eating the right foods is just as important for getting the most out of your workout.”--Marcus Samuelsson