Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Stay Calm and ZZZZZZZ

Get your Zzzzzzzz!

While there is no ‘magic number’ when it comes to hours of sleep a person needs, studies agree that too little sleep reduces productivity, mental functioning and can lead to serious health consequences. Sleep allows the body to rest, refresh and repair – so purpose to get sufficient, quality sleep.  

In general, experts recommend adults get between 7-9 hours a day.  Sleep needs for children range greatly depending on age.

  • Newborns (0-3 months ): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day 
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours 
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours 
  • Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours 
  • School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours 
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours 

  To move towards healthier lifestyle and sleep patterns, make sleep a priority, see how you respond to different amounts of sleep and  pay attention to your mood, energy and health after good vs restless nights of sleep.  

For more information, check out the reference source sleepfoundation.org

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Eat your Greens

Eat Your Greens!
   Grandmother was right. 
Greens do your body good.  Real good.

ANDI, (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index), is a scoring system that rates foods on a scale from 1 to 1000 based on nutrient content. The number takes many measures into account including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidant capacities.  The higher the number, the better the food is for you.  

Well, Mustard, Turnip, and Collard Greens top the list with a score of 1000. (Ranks right up there with Kale, Swiss Chard and Watercress). 

Growing up, greens were on the our dinner table regularly (and growing in our backyard most of the year as well).  Mush a bowl of greens (the bowl is needed for the pot liquor) with some cornbread, add a few dashes of hot sauce or a cut up hot pepper and it is on!

A few adjustments can help.  To keep this healthy food healthy, go light or omit the fatty pork and bacon drippings when cooking. Try using broth, spices, and/or smoked turkey instead for flavoring.

Need ideas?  Check out these healthy collard recipes:

SmokyCollard Greens from Whole Foods

What is your favorite Southern Style leafy green (I adore Mustards).

How do you prepare them?

For more information see the ANDI guide
Image source: foodnetwork

Monday, March 23, 2015

{Recipe} Vegan Chili

It was the last day of spring, 82 degrees here in Louisiana, I was in the mood for chili.
Actually, it could be 92 degrees in the middle of July and if chili called, I'd answer.  I heart chili and enjoy it all year long.  Chili con carne with beans or without, green chili, white chili, chicken chili... all hit the spicy spot.

I miss the rich, smoky bowls of chili from small restaurants across the state of Texas enjoyed during my years working on the road and the hunt continues for a single scrumpdilioscious chili recipe to become my home staple.

For the past few months I've been exploring different levels of vegetarianism. Keeping in that theme, I decided to try my hand at a vegan chili.

It came out good - really good.  Good to the point that my carnivorous husband and son gave it enthusiastic thumbs up.

Here's how it came together:

Dice a red onion, a yellow bell pepper and 1/2 green bell pepper (a whole green bell was the plan but I only had half of one on hand.)  Saute the veggies on medium high in a tsp of olive oil for about 4 minutes.

Add 6 cloves of finely chopped garlic to the pot.

Cook until the onions are translucent, being careful not to let the mixture brown or burn.

Drain and rinse a can of pinto beans and a can of kidney beans (to reduce the amount of sodium).

Add this to the pot along with a can of seasoned black beans (I used Trappey's Black Beans Seasoned with Olive Oil, Onion & Garlic - not pictured). Do not drain - include the liquid from the black beans.

Also add a cup of corn.

Pour in a 28 oz can of stewed tomatoes and a cup of vegetable broth.

Add the spices - 1 Tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cumin, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder.

Give the mixture a good stir and bring to a slight boil over medium heat.

When the mixture boils, add 2 cups of veggie crumbles.

When the mixture returns to a boil, add a few splashes of soy sauce or Braggs liquid aminos. Stir to combine, reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour or more.

When ready to enjoy, test seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste if needed.  

Ladle into bowls and garnish with your favorite chili toppings and sides.  In keeping it vegan, I skipped cheese, sour cream and cornbread and instead topped with finely chopped jalapenos, (seeds and ribs removed), a squeeze of lime and served with tortilla chips.

So good!
Recipe recap follows. If you give it a try, let me know your thoughts.

Nettye's Vegan Chili

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 15.5 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15.5 oz can seasoned black beans - undrained, include liquid (I like Trappey's Black Beans seasoned with olive oil, onions and garlic)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 cups vegetable crumbles (I like Morning Star Farms)
  • soy sauce or Bragg's liquid aminos
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat a stockpot over medium-high and saute the onion and bell peppers in the olive oil for 4 minutes.  Add garlic and carefully cook until onions are translucent being careful not to brown or burn the mixture.   Add the next 11 ingredients (pinto beans thru unsweetened cocoa powder).  Stir to combine and bring to a slight boil.  Stir in the veggie crumbles.  When the mixture returns to a slight boil add a few splashes of soy sauce or liquid aminos.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour or more, stirring periodically to prevent sticking.  Sample to test for seasoning. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with your favorite toppings.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Bye Bye McDonald’s French Fries

My cardiologist was very strict. He focused heavily on lifestyle, taking most of the appointment time asking questions, educating and challenging me with behavior changes to manage my condition and improve overall health. (I luv that.)  At the end of each appointment, he gives his patients a grade. I learned a lot and each year made good health strides. At one of my last visits, after reviewing my blood work, test results, general nutrition and exercise regimen, I knew I was on target for that A. Then he asked:

“Do your children know what a Happy Meal is?” 

Huh – My response:
“All children in this country know what a Happy Meal is.”
How ya like that avoidance. 

He rephrased: 
“Do your children eat Happy Meals or other fast food?  If so, how often?” 

My response: 
“…yes and more often than they should.”

He looked at me and said:
“You avoid fast food because you know it is junk. Why do you feed junk to your children? 
Your health extends beyond you – you get an A minus“ (Emphasis on the minus.)

Dang. I had no response.

His statement stuck with me.  Personally, I am focused on clean eating and that influence is seen in my household. But I am more lenient with my children when it comes to food. For example, I give them sweets far more often than I indulge in them. I also periodically give them fake food, (i.e. fast food, junk food etc), because I believe moderation is important. But I also think I held a mindset that it is ok because the kids are young.  Their little young strong bodies can handle it.  Although food x might not be good for me, it’s alright for our kids… 

True. Nutritional needs and tolerances change with different life stages.  Children through their teenage years require extra energy to fuel growth spurts.  They can benefit from some ‘extras’.  Anyone with a preteen or teenage son has probably marveled at the amount of food they consume.  But no one needs an abundance of empty calories, preservatives or chemicals.  Truth be told – many of the extras I allowed were just that.

So, I placed a keener eye on what kind of treats I gave my kids and how often.

An example: McDonalds’s French Fries

image source: mcdonalds.com
For years, my Momma and I have joked that they put something in McDonald’s Fries. Little children jones for them and have you noticed a french fry that has been under your little one’s car seat for a long while never rots?  (Sad to say I have noticed this.)

There is something in those McDonald’s French Fries.  A lot of somethings.
From mcdonalds.com:

Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [Wheat and Milk Derivatives]*, Citric Acid [Preservative]), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Prepared in Vegetable Oil: Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness. Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent. CONTAINS: WHEAT AND MILK.
*Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients.

Really!  I thought French Fries were made of potatoes, oil and salt.
(Maybe with a secret seasoning thrown in to make them unique.)

If a jar of baby food had Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, TBHQ and Dimethylpolysiloxane on the ingredients list – would I give it to my baby? Hecky no.  But I’ve sure handed Mickey D’s fries to my babies as soon as I thought they were old enough to not choke on them.  And called it a treat.

I now know better and will choose better.

Last school year, we passed a McDonald's twice daily in the school commute. Two, dare I admit sometimes three times per week, I’d pull in and get an unsweet tea with light ice for me and an order of fries for Baby Girl’s after school snack. (She asked for them every day.)  That foolishness is long over. Fries are rarely an after school snack anymore and when the kids have fries, I make them at home or choose restaurants that don’t serve them up with TBHQ or Dimethylpolysiloxane. At first, the kids complained "Momma fries aren’t like McDonald's fries". SMH & LOL! That’s the point children. That’s the point.

Thinking back, I haven’t given the kids any McDonald's in a long while.  They didn't die when I stopped going there and now its a rare occasion they ask for it. I’m not the fast food police and still believe in moderation, so I won’t say they will never have McDonald's french fries again. Momma won't be the one rolling through to buy it for them. Bye bye McDonald's fries.

Know better, choose better.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Michelle Obama #GimmeFive Challenge and Dance

I just love our First Lady!

Last month, in honor of the fifth anniversary of Let's Move, First Lady Michelle Obama announced a new initiative called the #GimmeFive Challenge

As part of the fifth anniversary of Let’s Move!, the First Lady is encouraging Americans across the country to give out high-fives when they see someone making healthy choices. And she’s challenging everyone to #GimmeFive things they are doing to eat better, be more active, and lead a healthier life. 

(Note our President's swag on this PSAs! - Yesss! )

To continue this theme, #GimmeFive is taking over the 2015 White House Easter Egg Roll with a group dance. First Lady Obama discussed it, (and danced it), with another dance lover Ellen DeGeneres on the Ellen show. Check it out.

("Look, look! Don't let me take off my jacket!  Don't make me take off my jacket!")

What a fun way to keep the message of health and fitness in the forefront!

So what you got?

What five things are you doing to live a healthy life?  
Share with #GimmeFive