Check your sleep.

Check the quality of your sleep. This monitors how long and how well you slept. It can even wake you up with a gentle vibrating alarm that won't awaken your partner.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Desserts!

I'm going to round out this healthy eating series with desserts.
Many times, I don't make desserts. I want my family to eat healthy foods and often send them back for more vegetables if they are still hungry. But some desserts are both healthy and economical and I'm not talking about fruit here.
Not being a great fruit fan, I was never one to offer it as a dessert.
But having said that, my daughter often cuts up a pear, then adds a few slices of cheese and is quite happy with that and a cup of herbal tea.
But even dark chocolate can be a nice dessert in moderation.
An important thing to note is that if you're eating a bit of chocolate for your dessert, take a small piece, put the rest away in the freezer, and eat the chocolate with a hot drink. The warmth from the drink helps to smooth out the flavour over your tongue as you savour it. You'll get maximum flavour from the small piece.
Another good dessert is rice pudding. The traditional rice pudding we ate in England has only three ingredients. Milk, rice and sugar.
Mix 4 cups of skim milk, 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup sugar in a large, deep casserole dish. Bake for one hour at 300 degrees, or until rice is tender and the top is brown.
This is economical in that you make it only when the oven is turned on. My mother used to make a roast beef dinner every Sunday and cooked the rice pudding in the oven, maximizing the heat. I have one in my oven right now, because I decided to bake bread and a casserole for my sister in law who has hurt her knee. The rice pudding is forgiving about the temperature, so don't worry if your other dish needs 350 degrees.
If you're into making muffins, throw in some shredded carrot or zuchinni for extra nutrition.
I have grown zuchinni in my front flowerbeds because it's such a decorative plant that loves full sun, and then shredded the zuchinni and frozen it in 1 cup baggies. Bring it out in January, thaw and drain it. You can add it to a muffin mix, or even a chocolate cake mix. You can do the same for apples, especially those that don't live up to your children's high standards of quality for lunch. I've always asked my children to return the food they don't eat back home, not just to see what they have eaten, but also to not waste expensive fruit or other snacks. I don't mind them giving some of their lunches away, as they have when other kids forgot theirs, or say they forgot theirs, it's just that I don't want perfectly good food to end up in the garbage, and if you've ever been to a school cafeteria, you know what I mean.
If you like fruit, and ice cream, especially bananas, consider buying the cheaper over ripe bananas, peel them and freeze them. Later on, put two or three into a food processor while still frozen, and puree them. They taste like the best ice cream ever. Top with thawed fruit for a really healthy dessert.
And remember that over ripe bananas are really just ripe ones. We've just got so used to eating green bananas, that we don't realize a good ripe one when we see it.
So you've got a few good ideas on how to save money and how to eat healthily. Enjoy! And don't forget to leave a comment.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Real Healthy cinnamon

Cinnamon
The name conjures up toast, buns, sweets of all kind. Now it’s also beginning to give hope for triglycerides, blood sugar problems and digestion.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinnamon has a great article on it, but often we just don’t realize that the cinnamon at our stores is not true cinnamon at all, and worse, it’s about 50% fillers.
It’s cassia. Cassia is like a cousin to true cinnamon, and stronger in flavour, hence the use of all the fillers, but with less of the health benefits, I’ve been told. And worse, it’s the only cinnamon generally available in North America. Yes, there’s some question as to which cinnamon is being tested, as these two articles used different kinds of cinnamon,
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10641152?dopt=Abstract
And this study which used cassia,
http://care.diabetesjournals.org/cgi/content/full/26/12/3215
but most articles I’ve read insist it’s Cinnamomum verum that matters, the real stuff. Still the jury seems still out on this matter, so I’ll let you know as I learn more.
This begs the question, where can we get true cinnamon? Some sites say they can import it for you, but before you rip out your credit card, why not check around in some unlikely sources?
You see, I’ve found true cinnamon at our local apothecary. We have one in Moncton New Brunswick that dispenses the real stuff in both capsule and powdered form. For 450 grams, or half a pound, approximately 2 cups, I paid $15.00. So if we are to compare it with the spices in the grocery store, it’s a pretty good value, and better still, it’s 98% pure. The pharmacist told me that it’s only true cinnamon that has the benefits for type 2 diabetes.
I’ve been told that one quarter of a teaspoon three times a day is a good measure of what I should be taking. (My own triglycerides are up) and I’ve sprinkled it on toast, mixed it with plain or sweetened yogurt, and even put it in curry dishes or on porridge.
I haven’t been for my annual bloodwork yet, (I’m due) so we have to wait to see if there is any health benefit to taking this stuff. But it’s certainly a tasty and benign way to help your body, plus it’s cheaper than I expected, and forces me to eat yogurt every day, which we all know is good for us.
So consider searching out real cinnamon in your area, and try some for your health.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chicken fried rice that's full of veggies

In this recipe, you get a full meal. I usually throw in some frozen veggies because my son wouldn't eat that many unless he's forced. If you don't have chicken, consider any leftover meat, or sliced sausages from breakfast, or cubed tofu that has been dipped in soy sauce.
Also, remember my previous post on cooking chicken thighs? I hope you saved the broth, because here you can use both the thighs and the broth.
Want less salt? Use low sodium soy sauce, and refuse to put the salt shaker on the table. Increase the spices instead for extra kick.

2 tsp olive oil
3 chicken breasts, cooked, or 6 boneless chicken thighs, cooked, and chopped coarsely
1 onion finely chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ cup frozen peas and carrots
½ cup frozen corn
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 cups of the broth you saved from cooking the chicken thighs

1 cup long grain rice
Dash soy sauce
1 thinly sliced green onion
Preheat frying pan over med. high heat, then add oil, onion, celery, garlic. Sauté until onions are transparent, then add chicken and cook until browned.
Reduce heat to med., then add water, bouillon and rice.
Simmer until rice is cooked, stir in soy sauce and green onion.
Makes 5 1 ¼ cup servings. Each serving is only 350 cal, 5 g fat, 45 g carbs, 4 g fibre.


Next time, I'm going to talk about cinnamon and what I've started to do with it.
Enjoy!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

chicken thighs

Chicken thighs. They're cheaper, tastier, and two little ones can be substituted for one breast. They can give you more value for your money, and can be used in low calorie recipes just as easily as the breasts.

Boil them until just cooked. Remove skin and fat and gently pry meat off bones. The meat is an excellent and flavourful alternative to more expensive and drier chicken breasts.
Take the bones and skin and boil them in the water you cooked the thighs in for about 10-15, and then cool in fridge. Chip off the fat that has set on the top and you have a great chicken stock for soups and casseroles. You can flavour to taste with either herbs and garlic, or salt and pepper, or one teaspoon of chicken bouillon per two cups of stock.
Freeze in ice cup trays. One cube equals about ¼ cup of stock.

Next, we'll look at some recipes in which you can use chicken thighs.
And of course, the broth you made, too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a few great recipes!

Here is a really fast, yet hearty recipe. You can even do this in the slow cooker all afternoon, then puree and add the cream just before you're ready to serve it.

Cream of carrot soup
Cook until tender in lots of boiling water, about 2-3 cups of winter carrots and one onion.

(The more vegetables, the thicker the soup)
When done, transfer into a 3-4 cups of preferably homemade chicken stock, or Campbells’ low sodium chicken stock.
Heat until warm. Puree or mash vegetables thoroughly.
Cool slightly, add ¼ cup cream and ½ tsp dried parsley. Add ¼ tsp cumin, pinch of nutmeg, coriander and chili. Or, as as an alternative, ½ to 1 tsp curry or garam masala.
Stir and serve. Makes about 5 servings.

Garam Masala is a mix of curry-like spices usually found in Indian food. It comes in small boxes and can be bought in most grocery stores in the international foods section. It's mild enough for most children to appreciate.
For a lower fat variety, substitute 1/4 cream with lower fat 1/4 cup evaporated milk.
Not enough carrots? Try mixing carrots with squash, pumpkin, parsnip, or potatoes.

Next, I'll be giving you some substitutes that are not only better tasting, but also money saving, as well.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

eating smart in the new year

The new year always brings about challenges, and usually, we find ourselves sick of our December eating habits. We want to change them, but we know how difficult keeping long term dietary goals alive can be.
We need to implement smaller changes, the type that don't feel like harsh diets or denying ourselves things. We need to change our attitudes and think healthier.
My sister-in-law has asked me to give her some ideas that her brother, my husband, and I have used regularly. She's the typical mother. She works outside the home, has two kids, one a teen, her husband works odd hours and she often comes home too tired to do too much. Add to that checking in on her parents, and housework, she's left with precious little time to cook up healthy meals.
So, in the next few blogs, I'm going to put together some ideas we can all use in order to make healthy choices.
Do you have any? Feel free to comment on mine, and offer your own.
Okay, the first one:
When making your own pizza, which is just as easy as buying one nowadays with the bread machine, try these simple tips:
Cut down on the mozzarella cheese by one half, and sprinkle on about 1 tbsp to 1/4 of parmasen cheese. This adds flavour, while cutting fat.
Instead of pizza sauce, use ground tomatoes. Many brands of canned tomatoes are offered in pureed or ground tomatoes. Smear the tomatoes on, then sprinkle with powdered garlic, dried oregano, basil and pepper. Avoid the salt, as the canned tomatoes usually have enough. This change will often cut out sugar, as many sauces have sugar and adulterates in them.
Do you like pepperoni on your pizza? Try a meatless version, available in the deli section of most grocery stores. They are often less fatty, and have less chemicals. The strong flavours in your pizza often compensate for the usually milder meatless pepperoni, and many people don't notice the difference.
if you make your own crust, substitute 1/4 of the flour for whole wheat flour. Do this for a few months then increase the amount of whole wheat flour slowly, weaning your family off the white flour.
While the pizza is cooking, offer a salad, or raw veggies or hot tomato juice that has had a few drops of worchestershire sauce or hot sauce added. This will help to fill your family up (with good stuff) so they don't eat as much pizza.
Next, we'll talk about trying different dishes that can be very low fat, but high in flavour. A few small changes like these aren't as intimidating as full blown diets that are hard to stick to.
See you later, and eat right!
Barbara