Nuts About Valentine’s Day!

Today I’m going to spread some love, not with chocolate like last year, but with some heart healthy nuts. Do we really need candy and big heavy meals to show our loved ones that we care? No, of course not! After finally getting some space and perspective between us and the last long holiday season (October 31st through January 1st), now is not time to blow it all on some foil covered heart shaped treats! Unless of course it is really really fabulous, and then I urge you to indulge in moderation!

Try treating your loved ones (friends, family, co-workers, employees, neighbors, postal worker, and whoever else you may love) to some nuts. You may have heard the news lately about this study (Association of Nut Consumption with Total and Cause-Specific Mortality) published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study showed an inverse association between nut consumption and total mortality among both women and men as well as inverse associations between nut consumption and deaths due to cancer, heart disease, and respiratory disease. What does that mean? In a nutshell (sorry, couldn’t help it) it means that the people in the study who regularly ate nuts had lower rates of death.

Give the gift of nuts (and health) to those you love today and enjoy – in moderation of course! Happy Valentine’s Day!

What’s to Love in February?

I have had a love/hate relationship with dear old February for many years. It always seems to be the coldest and bleakest month of the year here in the Northeast, but on the other hand it is also the shortest! This year along with celebrating Valentines Day and National Heart Month, it is also time to honor athletes from around the world in the Winter Olympics! These three things alone are helping me to bear up even though we are suffering from sub-freezing temperatures.

As you may remember, I love the Olympics! I am so inspired by these elite athletes and the dedication they have shown in order to reach the pinnacle of their sport. As someone still working to recover from injury (plantar fasciitis takes forever to heal!) I am using this inspiration to help me keep focused on my own goals and ultimate success in recovery. Even though I will never be an olympian, it doesn’t mean that I should never attempt to reach my own personal potential! We can all eat and train like athletes to get the most out of life.

There is a great article from last year, about the Olympic Training Center and how the dietitians help athletes to perform their best. The advice given (such as to embrace whole foods, hydrate properly, and commit fully) can be put to good use by all of us. It is sometimes all too easy to give up in the face of uncertainty. We have all bargained with ourselves before: “It’s too cold outside for a run”, “a few doughnuts for breakfast aren’t the end of the world”, “I don’t really need to give 100% this time”; the problem comes when all of this bargaining keeps us from achieving our goals.

Next time you hear that inner voice talking you down, ask yourself what those olympians might have said to themselves during all of the years leading to this moment. Hopefully this will bring you a little inspiration as you work to achieve your own health goals.

Image from http://www.olympic.org

365 Days of Vegetables

One of my favorite christmas gifts this past year, was a book from my son called Vegetable of the Day. I love this for so many reasons. He not only picked it out, he also told my husband that he would willingly try the new recipes in the book.

So when I opened this present, I got buy in from all three boys that they would try at least one new vegetable recipe every week this year. I know, I know, the book is vegetable of the day not the week, but I like to make my goals S.M.A.R.T. As you may recall, this means they should be Specific, Measurable Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. By setting the goal at just one per week, it will be much more attainable and takes some pressure off.

I’ve been very inspired by all of the new recipes in the book and they boys have been game (for the most part) to try some new foods. So far we have had Beet Gratin with Fontina & Walnuts, Butternut Squash & Pear with Rosemary, Farro with Caramelized Root Vegetables, Edamame Hummus with Grilled Naan, Spanish Tortilla with Leeks, and Quinoa Pilaf with Shiitakes Edamame & Ginger. That last one is from America’s Test Kitchen and not this new book. The recipe is free until April 30th so if you are interested you can check it out – it was really delicious!

You don’t need to buy a vegetable cookbook to try out a new vegetable dish each week like us. There are so many websites these days that can give you vegetable inspiration. Eating Well, Vegetarian Times, and Cooking Light, are just a few. Another technique I like is to go into the produce section of the grocery store and pick something you’ve never tried before. Once you get it home, spend a little time googling around to figure out how to cook it. This can be particularly fun for children. Having them say “what the heck is rutabaga?” and then taking one home, cooking it and putting it on the dinner table, is a fun experience; plus it’s really fun to say rutabaga!

Farro with Caramelized Root Vegetables

 

Auld Lang Syne

Ah that old chestnut! Auld Lang Syne (days gone by or for old times sake) is as much staple of New Years as writing resolutions. Instead of the usual resolution post this year (for that you can look at last year’s or the year before, they still ring true for me!) I thought I’d revisit an old favorite of mine from auld lang syne.

I love different variations of oatmeal (plain, blueberry, apple, peanut butter, banana, pumpkin, etc) but I usually stick to old fashioned oats instead of the longer cooking steel cut variety. I made an impulse buy of steel cut oats the other day which coincided with me stumbling upon America’s Test Kitchen‘s recipe for overnight steel cut oatmeal that cooks in just 10 minutes the next morning! It’s so simple and invites many variations. They did one with apple that sounded good and I thought I could make even better by simplifying and including more apple!

Boil 3 cups of water, drop in the oats, cover, and turn off the heat. The next morning, turn the heat on low and stir in another cup of water plus 3 shredded apples, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. To make it simple AND keep the nutrients in the peel, I just cored the apples and shredded peel and all with a box grater. This also gives the oatmeal a pinkish hue which is nice. This recipe yields 4 servings which can be portioned out into containers for quick breakfasts that take just about 1-2 minutes to reheat when you want them. It really couldn’t be simpler!

Here’s the result

Bon Appétit and Happy New Year!