Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Why Detox?

I recently was asked to participate in a 3-day detox diet with a colleague of mine. He was looking for a little support and figured it wouldn't be so bad if someone else was doing it too. Makes sense. So, I agreed to the diet.

Sunday morning he sent me all of the instructions for the detox, which I needed to make my trip to the grocery store. I was pumped about it! The pumped feeling was short-lived. I then opened up the attachment he sent....

Not happening! Beet shakes, tea with stuff I would spend all day looking for around the stores in our town. A little too much for me. The word "extreme" comes to mind. I am all about a healthy detox. It sounds good, but before I get to the extreme mapped out in this plan, I need to start small. Baby steps. This seemed more like a plan for people that already eat just fruits and vegetables. As ya'll know...that isn't me!!

So in talking with friends about "The Detox" that never happened, the question everyone asked me was, "Why detox?" Good question. Why put yourself through such torture? There needs to be a reason for it, right? Here is what I have found that seems to sum it up well...

Detoxing can help reset your digestive track and change bad habits so that you no longer crave certain unhealthy foods. A cleanse can also help to improve your energy levels and digestion, promote weight loss, enhance mental clarity, balance your mood and promote long-term dietary changes. ~ livestrong.com

What did I get from that? Basically, detox diets allow you to start with a clean slate. It's a fresh start! As you eat healthier foods and cut out the junk, you crave the junk less. A detox diet isn't going to help you lose 10 pounds AND keep it off. What it WILL do is get your body into the "eating well" mode...in most cases. However there is an opposite effect, which is to crave a Big Mac like my colleague who hasn't had McDonald's is probably 20 years! Not good.
I never called it a detox, but know that I think about it, I will sometimes do a form of my own detox diet. No beet shakes or herbal supplements, just fruits, vegetables, water and lean proteins. When I have wandered far from the "Livin' Lean Path" (typically over certain weekends and holidays), I commit to eating extremely clean for 3-5 days. After that, my energy is up, I am feeling better and I don't feel the cravings for those foods which got me into that mess in the first place.

I like the idea behind the detox. It's good to restart every now and then. Just be careful with the plan you choose and make sure it is best for you. Watch out for the extremes and try just eating clean.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cooking Light with Giada De Laurentiis: Bruschetta with Gorgonzola & Honey

This is an appetizer that I picked to do mainly because it allowed me to showcase a wonderful product; Summer Wildflower Honey from The Mohawk Valley Trading Company (MVTC) in Utica, NY.
A few weeks ago, Betty from MVTC contacted me and offered to send some honey to test out in my cookin'. Naturally, I said YES!!

MVTC offers the highest quality organic and unprocessed natural products we can produce. Their raw honey and maple syrup is used and endorsed by two of the world's most recognized chefs: Bobby Flay recommends their maple syrup and Tom Colicchio recommends their honey. Not only does Tom say their honey is on the his "Personal Pantry Essentials" and "Favorite Gifts", but he also keeps "a jar of the stuff on his desk at all times."

To try out the honey for myself, I chose a very simple recipe that would allow me to really taste the flavor of the honey. I tested it using inspiration from Giada's Bruschetta with Gorgonzola and Honey. I LOVE it! I also love the feeling of knowing that I am feeding my family a little something sweet that is all natural and organic. I can't wait to use this honey in more food and drink recipes as a way to sweeten naturally. Thanks, MVTC!

Serves 5 (2 pieces each)

  • 10  1/2" slices (about 1/4 loaf or 5 oz.) Parisian bread
  • 2 ounces FAT FREE or 1/3 REDUCED FAT Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 2 ounces Gorgonzola Cheese
  • 1 teaspoon honey


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place bread slices on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes. (Optional~Spray the bread lightly with "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" before toasting).

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and Gorgonzola. Spread cheese mixture evenly on toasted pieces.

Return to the oven and bake an additional 3 minutes.

Place pieces on a serving platter and drizzle with honey.


This recipe makeover is more of a lesson in moderation. My only trick to cutting calories and fat was to mix the Gorgonzola with the fat free or light cream cheese. This is something I have found works well. You still get the strong flavors of the Gorgonzola, but the cream cheese allows for a right texture and spreads the flavor without all the fat.

This is meant to be an appetizer. Should a meal begin with 6 pieces of bread covered with cheese and honey? How about we just stick with 2 or 3! That is all you need and all this recipe calls for. Two good size Parisian bread slices topped with Gorgonzola cream cheese and drizzled with honey is just the right amount of savory and sweet to get you going. Stick to a serving size and you will be happy; at the moment and later on.

The star of this recipe is the honey from MVTC. It is amazing! You really can taste the difference between this honey and other store bought brands. The natural sweetness is perfect, plus a little goes a LONG way! Only a teaspoon of honey takes this appetizer to the next level.

The facts below show how a tiny change and an exercise in moderation can be the secret to livin' lean. I have said it before and I will say it again, "Cookin' lean does not mean giving up the foods you love!" Sometimes is simply means eating a little less.


NUTRITION FACTS (Per Serving using Fat Free Cream Cheese):

BEFORE:383.8 calories / 21.4g fat / 35.8g carbohydrate / 12.6g protein / 1.5g fiber
AFTER: 134.4 calories / 4.3g fat / 17.3g carbohydrate / 6.6g protein / .86g fiber

SAVES: 249.4 calories / 17.1g fat / 18.5g carbohydrate

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Anti-Aging Cures

At some point in her life, every woman looks in the mirror and asks, "Am I starting to look old?" The time for this is different for women.

There are women starting to use anti-aging creams before they even decide on a major in college. We will call them "proactive". Then there are those who don't seem to notice until someone guesses there age is much older than it is, they take a look in the mirror and think, "Shoot! What happened?" This is the "reactive" type.

Then there are those gals like myself that tend to start thinkin' about it more once they move from 3-0 to 3-1...then we are in the thirties and now this stuff is serious. We think about it more and more. We are looking for answers more and more. Thinking and acting on those ideas. We call these women just "active".

There is no doubt that what we do and eat has a large impact on the way we look, as well as the way we feel. So it should be no surprise that the answers to aging well are found in these very two things. But if we can get a little more technical, the real secret behind youth, good health and vitality lies within our body's human growth hormone (HGH).

Rejuvenating our HGH can not only help the way we look, but most importantly...the way we feel! It helps us to live a life of optimal health.

Want to know how to stimulate this master hormone gland? Of course you do! So did I.

Dr. Forsythe, who actually wrote the official United States government protocol from administering HGH safely, describes how to use it to combat aging in his book, Anti-Aging Cures: Life Changing Secrets to Reverse the Effects of Aging.

I have not been all the way through this book yet, but I am likin' what I am reading. The science behind what our HGH does makes sense. Get that HGH workin' well again and reverse the signs of aging. Dr. Forsythe discusses two ways to increase HGH levels in your body; natural biostimulators (such as certain foods) and the injectable form. Injectable form is probably the easiest way, but I prefer to go the food route.

Overall, this book is very interesting and one that I plan to use on my quest for feeling and looking my age (or younger). My next challenge is to track down all of the "super foods" he suggests using to jump start my HGH. Most are common foods (broccoli, kale, flax), but others are new to me.

Maybe I will come up with a few "anti-aging" recipes to make eating for youth a little easier. I'll be back on that!

Hope you are having a terrific Tuesday!

For more on anti-aging by Dr. Forsythe, visit www.drforsythe.com and www.antiagingcures.com.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Cooking Light with Rachael Ray: Broccoli, (Cauliflower) & Cheese Smashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a great side. Who doesn't love some smashed potatoes?!?

My mom made us "Smashed Cauliflower" when the South Beach Diet was first introduced to us some time back. It wasn't bad at all. It just wasn't potatoes. 

When I saw Rachael's recipe for Broccoli and Cheese Smashed Potatoes, I immediately started thinking of the South Beach Smashed Cauliflower recipe. If I took a little from Rach's recipe and little from South Beach, plus my own flare, I could create a dish that satisfies the want from mashed potatoes, yet kicks up the nutrition piece.

So that's just what I did here. My recipe for Broccoli, Cauliflower and Cheese Smashed Potatoes is simple, yummy and nutritious. I have finally found a healthy side that my husband has requested me to make at least three times a week.

You say you want broccoli, cauliflower and red potatoes as part of a healthy dinner three times a week, Rudy? You got it!

Perhaps your family will request this too. Try it out!

Serves 4

  • 4 baby red potatoes, cleaned and quartered
  •  one 12-ounce bag Steamfresh Broccoli and Cauliflower
  • 1/4 cup Fat Free Sour Cream
  • 1/2 cup 1% milk
  • 1 cup 2% Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Quarter the potatoes and add to a large pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook the potatoes for 10 minutes.

While the potatoes are boiling, throw the Steamfresh bag of Broccoli and Cauliflower in the microwave and cook according to package directions (about 6 minutes on HI).

Drain the potatoes and return to the hot pot. Add the broccoli and cauliflower to the potatoes. Stir in the milk, sour cream and cheese.

Mash until the cheese melts into potatoes and veggies. Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.

Place in a serving bowl and your side is ready! Top with a pinch of cheese, parsley and/or pepper if desired.


This side pulls all the good stuff together in one simple dish. You get the vitamins from the veggies, plus the extra antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds from using the baby red potatoes. Let's not forget how the cheese and sour cream will have your brain thinking you are indulging in a rich side, but really you are being pretty good. Not an ounce of butter in these smashed potatoes and you will not miss it a bit!

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving):

Before: 391.25 calories / 21.6g fat / 37.54g carbohydrate / 18.25g protein / 4.25g fiber
After: 244.3 calories / 6.8g fat / 33.4g carbohydrate / 14.25g protein / 3.9g fiber

Saves: 146.9 calories / 14.8g fat / 4.14g carbohydrate


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Fuel Your Workout...with Music

Who needs energy drinks and bars when you have great music? It's easy to turn to sugar and caffeine when feeling less than excited about upcoming workouts, but the right tunes can have you pumped and ready to go better than anything! Haven't you been driving in your car, spacing out and tired, when suddenly your favorite song comes on and you are boppin' around in your seat, singing like crazy? I know it's not just me. Please tell me I'm not the only one. I blame my last speeding ticket on Shakira for this very reason. I was driving home from class (this was during graduate school in Leesburg) when "Hips Don't Lie" came on. The energy in the song got me going...70mph to be exact. I am now a little more careful after that one.

The point is that great music can give you the energy boost you need for a fabulous workout!

Chris from http://www.runhundred.com/ shared his recent list of top workout songs for 2012. These songs were voted in by his readers and his music database happens to be the most visited music workout blog out there. Chris also writes about music for Shape and Men's  Journal. Pretty cool! Here's a little something from Chris, along with the list of "reader's choice" top workout songs.

The Top 10 Workout Songs For Winter 2012

San Francisco, CA -- Jan 5, 2012 -- Traditionally, winter is the time of year when folks find it hardest to get out and exercise. In the hopes of keeping folks motivated, readers from RunHundred.com the web's most heavily-trafficked workout music blog--were polled regarding their favorite, current workout songs. The resulting top 10 list has a little of what you'd expect---and a little you might not. Flo Rida, who's no stranger to this list, shows up in two recent tracks. Enrique Iglesias continues his transition from balladeer to club rocker. And Kelly Clarkson, after faltering with the first single off her new album, bounced back ferociously with the second.

As for surprises, they're mostly entries from folks relatively new on the dance scene. Highlights include songs from Tim Berg (who remixed his own track under his Avicii moniker), Skrillex (whose collaboration with Kaskade is the first dubstep track ever the make the Top 10), and Wolfgang Gartner (who's made the chart with a little help from the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am).

Here's the ful list:

1.  Tim Berg - Seek Bromance (Avicii Vocal Edit) - 127 BPM

2. Katy Perry - The One That Got Away - 135 BPM

3. Alexandra Stan - Mr. Saxobeat (Maan Studio Remix) - 126 BPM

4. Flo Rida - Good Feeling - 129 BPM

5. Wolfgang Gartner & Will.I.Am - Forever - 128 BPM

6. Hot Chelle Rae - Tonight Tonight (Goldstein Remix) - 118 BPM

7. Taio Cruz & Flo Rida - Hangover - 129 BPM

8. Enrique Iglesias, Pitbull & The WAV.s - I Like How It Feels - 129 BPM

9. Kaskade & Skrillex - Lick It - 128 BPM

10. Kelly Clarkson - What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - 117 BPM
To find more workout songs--and hear next month's contenders--folks can check out the free database at RunHundred.com. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era--to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.

Chris Lawhorn
Run Hundred

I did not contribute to the voting on this list, but there are a couple I could see myself running to. What are your favorite workout songs that get you going? You know one of mine is "Hips Don't Lie"! Leave a comment with your favorite "gettin' lean" workout song and we can put together a "Top Ten" of our own!

Thanks for sharing with us, Chris!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Livin' Lean Topic Tuesday: Phrasing Your New Year's Resolutions

I consider myself to be a "glass half full" kind of person. Don't get me wrong, I have my moments of negativity, but those just leave me feeling terrible. Who likes feelin' like that? Not me! So when I feel a little negativity creepin' in...I just tell myself to "knock it off" and I start lookin' at things from a happier perspective. A new look at things brings on a better attitude. A better attitude means better progress and performance. It's this need I have to put a positive spin on everything that has formed my take on New Year's Resolutions.

I like the idea of New Year's Resolutions. It's a new year. It's a great time to change what you don't like about things in your life; your job, your diet, your attitude, whatever. I get it. But what I don't like is how we sometimes tend to focus on stopping the negative instead of introducing the positive. Sometimes just looking at the present and not focusing on the past can be an incredible motivator and allow you to really make the change you want to make. Here's what I mean...

The not so positive perspective would have you thinking, " I drink way too many sodas during the day. I need to quit that. No more sodas for me." However, the new, supportive, positive self would look at the same issue and say, "I am going to drink more water. I will make an effort to drink water throughout the day." See the difference? They both achieve the same goal of not drinking soda, yet one focuses less on what you are giving up. The focus is on introducing more water to your day. The simple act of  how we phrase goals or the lens we choose to view our resolutions through can have a big impact in our ability to change.

When it comes to sticking to your resolutions, YOU are the only one in control. YOU are your  biggest cheerleader. Phrase those resolutions in a positive way. Think about what you ARE going to do and less of what you ARE NOT. Keep it positive!

Wishing you all a very happy and healthy 2012!


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