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June 30, 2005

Southwest Summer Salad

This salad is a quick, no-cook main dish salad for those hot summer days when the last thing you want to do is turn on the stove! Serve with grilled vegetables and grilled tortillas or tortilla chips and salsa. A chilled fresh fruit cup or lemon sorbet topped with fresh raspberries and blueberries for dessert (perfect for a 4th of July celebration) makes a colorful and easy summertime outdoor meal for family or guests.

(Makes about 4 cups)

    1 can (15 ounce) black beans, rinsed
    1 can (15 ounce) garbanzo beans, rinsed
    1/3 cup chopped green pepper
    1/3 cup chopped red pepper
    3 tablespoons chopped green onion
    2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
    3 tablespoons lime juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime zest (rind)
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon cumin
    1/4 teaspoon chili powder
    3/4 cup grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack or any combination)
    Salt and pepper
    Lettuce greens

In large bowl, combine beans, green and red pepper, green onion and cilantro. In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, lime zest, olive oil, cumin and chili powder. Pour lime marinade over bean mixture and toss. Add cheese and season with salt and pepper. Serve on lettuce greens.


Substitute canned black beans with jalapeno peppers for regular canned black beans; eliminate chili powder.

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on June 30, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 29, 2005

Is Weight Loss Hazardous to Your Health?

From my point of view, it’s all in how you go about it. 

If you read or heard about the study mentioned in an article in yesterday’s Washington Post, you might be a bit worried about losing weight .

  The article, titled “Weight Loss May Raise Risk of Death,” shared the results of a study done in Finland that showed “those who were overweight who lost weight on purpose were about 86 percent more likely to die for any reason over the next 18 years compared with those whose weight remained stable.”  It went on to quote various experts who took different sides of the debate.

I think the key issue in the debate is whether the weight loss was intentional or not.  Indeed, that’s what healthy weight loss is really about.  It’s NOT about losing weight on purpose.  It’s about adopting a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating that takes your body to a point that’s right for it.  If you’re at a higher weight because of erratic eating habits or sitting too much or negative thinking about yourself that has you doing both, then changing those habits will likely cause you to lose extra pounds.  But it’s an outcome, not a goal.  And that's in direct contrast to 'weight loss at any cost' schemes that clearly are not healthy, and even 'healthy' plans that, because of their weight loss focus, drive people to obsess about their weights, yo-yoing up and down for years.

Giving up on weight loss as a goal is hard for many of us who have struggled with this for years.  We have a tough time wrapping our minds around the fact that focusing on weight loss can actually be a barrier to it happening.  Likewise, if we’re “doing everything right,” and our weight stabilizes at a point that’s higher than the societal ideal, then we often struggle with accepting our bodies at that healthy weight.

Accepting ourselves at any weight is fundamental to our success, too.  For more help on this, check out BodyPositive, a website that advertises itself as a “body disparagement free zone.”  It’s full of great tips for helping you stand tall in face of societal pressures that encourage you to feel ashamed of your size, and subsequently, for supporting yourself in making healthy lifestyle changes that will help keep you healthy and happy at the size that's right for you. Find yourself a healthy weight loss program.

Posted by Marsha on June 29, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 27, 2005

Creating Successful Changes Through Your Mind's Eye

Portraitwitheyesclosed_1I was with some of my gal pals this weekend, discussing what motivates us to make the big changes in our lives. Most of us agreed that any time we'd successfully met a challenge or reached a goal (like exercising more and whining less), we visualized or fanaticized the desired outcome over and over again.  Granted, sometimes the goals were not that deep, (like looking good for a 20-year high class school reunion), but visualizing the outcome in our mind's eye helped us get off our duffs and begin the work necessary to reach our goal. 

Marie Dalloway, PhD, talks about visualization techniques as a language that builds success.  Visualization techniques are often used by elite athletes to enhance performance.  Although, positive internal dialogue is an important tool in creating changes in behavior and beliefs, visualization involves use of mental images, not just our thoughts. Dalloway says, "Images or pictures are the primary content of visualizations because words cannot be generated at a fast enough rate to describe events as they occur."  There's a physical reaction within our bodies that occurs when we think this way -- a link between belief and behavior.

Visualization somehow seems to activate a unique power within our brains that tells us what we see is real, even if it hasn't materialized itself just yet. There's a significant difference between talking to ourselves about wanting to be healthy, fit and more active and creating a realistic and detailed movie inside our head creating that scenario. Think of it, you're the producer of your own theatrical production where you're the writer, director and star! 

We all look for inspiration, motivation and support when trying to make important changes in our lives. So, why not stop thinking about being happier and start visualizing it?  For even more interesting insights around how this practice may help you meet your healthy lifestyle goals visit this e-zine article written by Dr. Annette Colby, RD, on Creative Visualization.

Painting by Yolanda Gonzalez. Click here to view more of her beautiful portraits of women.

Posted by Cindy on June 27, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2005

One Day at a Time

Angry_woman_pulling_out_hair_lg_wht_1 “I try to take one day at a time -- but sometimes several days attack me at once.” Jennifer Unlimited

A friend just emailed me this quote among several others by women. Rarely do I take enough time to ponder a personal meaning out of these types of things, but coincidentally several days are attacking me right now.

So I stopped and thought about how this happened, and what could I actually do about it. I realized fairly quickly that not everything that I was doing really had to be done right now, although it felt that way.

So a minute looking at one of “those” emails has saved me a ton of time, worry, and hair pulling! I hope this post does the same for you today!

Note to Georgia - thanks for the email, and see you soon!

Posted by Gina V. on June 24, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

Summer “Thyme” – Easy Herb Cooking

With summer upon us, it’s time to plant that herb garden. Or just a couple of pots on the back step will provide plenty of enjoyment all season. Simply adding a few fresh herbs transforms an ordinary dish into something special. For example, this easy pasta side dish is a tasty accompaniment to grilled chicken or fish. Combining the flavor of fresh lemon and fresh basil is quite delicious.

Simply Pasta with Lemon & Basil

(Makes 4 side dish servings)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
3 cups cooked spaghetti
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

In large bowl, whisk oil, cheese, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add spaghetti, zest and fresh basil and toss.

We’ve got plenty more healthy recipes that are just as delicious and easy to prepare, such as Summertime Potato and Green Bean Salad, Grilled Chicken with Fresh Tomatoes and Thyme, Sautéed Bay Scallops with Lemon and Thyme, Orzo Summer Salad, Tarragon Chicken Salad in Cantaloupe Boat, Fresh Strawberries Italian Style.

Buon Appetito!

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on June 23, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 21, 2005

Déjà Vu – Low Carbohydrate Foods Ain’t Where It’s At

Here’s a news flash straight from the pages of last week’s USA Today:  the many low-carb foods on the market are creating problems for people who are trying to lose weight!  They’re ‘eating too many of these new low-carb protein bars, muffins and brownie mixes, which are low in carbohydrates but often high in calories.”  Who wudda thunk it? 

Of course, it was predictable – after all, we went through the same experience with foods that had been reduced in fat when reducing fat was all the rage.  But whether you’re talking about foods that have been reduced in carbs, fat or otherwise modified to serve the latest diet, none are a substitute for good, old-fashioned healthy eating – that contains all the naturally low fat and healthy carbohydrate foods you’d want.  Look at Canada’s ‘rainbow’ guide for a little different take on the subject. 

And next time you’re choosing between a protein bar and a sandwich, try the sandwich.  It has a lot more going for it nutritionally – and it tastes better, too!

Posted by Marsha on June 21, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 20, 2005

Separating the Cream from Medical Hype

Catch the latest Milk vs. PMS advertising campaign? Where boyfriends and husbands sheepishly scour the land to gather up as much milk as they can, at any cost, to stock up on the miracle nectar which promises to rescue them from their pre-menstrual domiciles.  Or, the new 24/24 milk campaign which encourages 24 oz. of milk a day to keep the fat away - from around your middle.

Although the science seems to be more about calcium, they're both very effective pitches for milk. There's an abundance of information that tells us calcium is necessary in our diets, for a variety of reasons, but is there really sound scientific methodology applied to this newest finding about milk, PMS and belly fat - or is it just another very clever advertising campaign?  In this case there may very well be, but generally how do we know?

Luckily, in the next month or so, there will be a healthy lifestyle website, the patientINFO project that will offer consumers a place to go where they can read the most up-to-date and important research available about the diagnosis and treatment of major diseases, cancer, heart disease and diabetes with more diseases and health related organizations to eventually join. Participating groups are the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association.

PatientINFO will offer medical journal articles and provide explanations in layman's terms to show what studies mean, how they compare with what's already known - allowing patients to make more educated decisions when it comes to their own medical treatment.

You can find a comprehensive account of the website, the medical groups involved and how they will communicate their findings in an article written by Laura Landro of the Wallstreet Journal.

In the meantime, here are some key things to look for in any medical study:

  • Was it a randomized controlled trial? One group receives the new therapy, a control group receives standard treatment or placebo, and subjects are randomly assigned.
  • Is the study double blinded? Neither patients nor researcher know who is in which group.
  • Was there a large sample size?
  • Were subjects followed for a long time?

Posted by Cindy on June 20, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2005

Weight Loss, Diets and Costs

Last year, Americans spent an estimated $46 billion on diet products and self-help books and another '$40 billion on vitamins and supplements.'  That's billions, with a "b". Combined, this would rank 42nd in world 'GNP figures',   higher than the GNP of Philippines, Columbia, UAE, Chile and 174 countries.

While this can be fodder for arguing about efficacy, treatment, and causes, to me this is more indicative of the desperation, anxiety, and misery that being "overweight" causes, especially for women. 'Body dissatisfaction'  among women is at an all-time high - it seems that women have begun to believe in record numbers that they can never be thin enough to be satisfied.

And yet, this very 'body dissatisfaction'  combined with 'roller coaster dieting'  is what kicks off behaviors that can either turn into an 'eating disorder'  or gaining more and more weight after each bout of dieting.

While I'm not the kind of feminist that sees conspiracies everywhere, it does occur to me that we're all spending a lot of energy focused on what we put into our mouths, and whether our thighs look as good as the airbrushed model we see….this would be a fantastic plot to keep women down, but it appears we've done it to ourselves, by believing the fantasy of the perfect body equating with the perfect life. 

I'm reminded of a comedian I saw once that talked about not feeling comfortable if everything was too good in his life…he would start to look around for something that was wrong, to make himself feel better. He looked at his body and exclaimed, "Ah-ha! I have a hangnail!" Then he described pulling it off, then getting an infection and needing to be hospitalized.

Is this what we've done to ourselves with diet, exercise and the pursuit of a good enough body? What starts out as a minor issue can turn into a life altering situation if you keep picking at it. Maybe we should quit picking on ourselves, and take stock of our accomplishments and abilities, regardless of weight. I don't know that 'Sojourner Truth'  or 'Susan B. Anthony'  would have accomplished as much if they were worrying about carbs all the time.

To me, I think Susan C. Wooley, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Co-director, Eating Disorders Center University of Cincinnati Medical Center, best describes the waste of women's talents with this quote, "Our emphasis on thinness has created a monster.  There is this army of overweight women, hating themselves, waking up every morning feeling that they are inadequate, spending energy they should be spending getting a doctorate or becoming president, counting the calories in a box of cereal or counting out individual raisins."

Today's Weblog author: Gina Vescio

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Posted by Cindy on June 17, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 16, 2005

Sautéed Bay Scallops with Lemon and Thyme

If you are looking for fast and easy, try this scallop recipe! You can make sautéed scallops in less than 10 minutes: just sauté them and sprinkle with a little lemon juice and fresh thyme and serve. For a bit more flavor and glamour -- but still quite easy -- serve the version below.

(Makes 4 servings)

1 pound fresh bay scallops
2 tablespoons butter (divided into two pieces)
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1/4 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped thyme

Rinse scallops and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Add oil and 1 tablespoon butter to a large skillet; heat over medium high heat about 1 minute. Add scallops to pan, a few at a time, cooking 1-2 minute per side or until they are golden brown on the outside but still translucent in the middle. Place scallops on a heated platter and cover with foil.

Return skillet to burner and add shallots and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add wine, lemon juice and thyme to pan and cook another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon of butter. Return scallops to the pan and toss with the sauce. Serve immediately.

Note: You can sauté scallops in olive oil or other oil only; adding some butter, however, gives them a nice golden brown color.

If you enjoyed this recipe, come and enjoy our complete collection of healthy eating recipes.

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Posted by Laura on June 16, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2005

Food Addiction – Is It Real?

Food ‘addiction’ isn’t a new topic, but one that resurfaces periodically when there appears to be nothing else to blame for a person’s weight struggles.  These days, with faith in low-carbohydrate diets waning, it seems that people are almost looking for another carbohydrate-free code that will explain their seeming inability to eat certain foods without overeating them.

While it seems so common sense, what escapes most people is that trying to avoid specific foods – as well as keep calorie intake low – sets us up for overeating those foods and anything else that’s in our line of sight when we’ve gotten too hungry.

An experience this past weekend confirms this.  I sat next to an acquaintance at a dinner party; I knew she was a former Atkins dieter who wasn’t being so successful with it these days.  She’d aged a few years, which had taken her into perimenopause, when no matter how hard you work at it, some of us find our bodies getting a little larger.  (The experts don’t really know why, but it’s not uncommon for women to gain 5,10 or even more pounds during perimenopause and/or menopause.  I believe there’s definitely more to it than women just getting older and slowing down – which is what you will commonly read is the cause of the weight gain.)  She made a few comments about her struggles; I talked a little about the non-diet approach, and we left it at that.

During the meal, however, I couldn’t help but noticing how she ate.  We both ordered steak, and with it came salad, mashed potatoes, green beans and bread.  She had missed the cocktail portion of the party and was hungry, so proceeded to eat all her salad, steak, and green beans. But she didn’t touch the potatoes or bread. 

Okay, I saw what was happening – she was still trying to cut carbs, a holdover from Atkins.  But then the dessert came out – a cake that was very pretty but wasn’t very tasty.  I took a few bites and that was enough.  My tablemate, however, proceeded to eat not only her piece, but also her husband’s, laughing guiltily all the while. 

Someone who believes in food addiction might say this woman was addicted to sweets.  She couldn’t stop at a few bites.  But I saw something entirely different.  If she’d eaten other carbohydrate foods, and didn’t have a lingering belief that she shouldn’t eat sweets, she’d probably find she didn’t want as much cake as she ate.

There are times when ‘food addiction’ could be considered a real phenomenon.  But those times are not really about the food – they’re about using food as a salve for difficult emotions.  Someone has turned to food to bury those emotions, much like someone would turn to alcohol or drugs.   Even in this case, however, I’d prefer not to call this an addiction.  Because the very word 'addiction' implies that a person is at the mercy of a substance.  Instead, I'd rather help people empower themselves by believing that they are the ones in charge, and if they deal with the real problems, then the food struggle can disappear.  That is, if it isn't compounded by notions of good and bad foods, diet 'shoulds' and 'shouldn'ts', etc., etc. -- all those notions that take us outside of using common sense to feed our bodies in a supportive manner and use our internal cues that are fully capable of guiding us in choosing the right foods for us.

Bottom line: It doesn’t seem to be helpful to categorize foods as addictive, and it’s certainly not helpful to confuse a person’s misuse of food for emotional purposes with diet-induced cravings for specific foods.

In fact, if we could all step back and think about food a little less emotionally and use common sense when it comes to making food choices, we’d probably find the subject less noteworthy, and we could get on with the really important things in our lives.

Posted by Marsha on June 15, 2005 | Permalink | Comments (14) | TrackBack