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December 27, 2007

Healthy Recipe: Tomato Basil Squares

If you're hosting a party this holiday season, sometimes it's hard to come up with new, tasty and crowd pleasing appetizers that are also easy to make.  Today's healthy recipe is fresh, simple, and delicious - and it makes a great presentation. For larger parties, consider doubling the recipe: guests will gobble up this sophisticated take on 'pizza' long before you ring in the New Year!

1          package (10 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough
2          cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4       cup Parmesan cheese, grated
2          teaspoons dried basil leaves
3/4       cup mayonnaise
1          garlic clove, pressed
4 to 5  plum tomatoes, seeded, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sprinkle a little flour on a large cookie sheet. Press out dough to within 1 inch of the edge. Very lightly oil crust. In a medium bowl combine 1 cup mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil, mayonnaise and garlic. Mix well. Spread mixture over lightly oiled crust. Place thinly sliced tomatoes in a single layer over the mixture. Sprinkle the second cup of mozzarella cheese over the tomato slices. Bake 20 minutes; top will be light brown. Use pizza cutter to make squares. Serve warm.

(Submitted by Nancy Daugherty, Cortland on the Our Ohio website)

For more healthy eating recipes, check out the other delicious recipes listed on this blog or visit Green Mountain Healthy Living Recipe Favorites.

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Posted by Laura on December 27, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 26, 2007

Resolutions for a Healthy New Year

If you know us at Green Mountain, you know we're not into the usual New Year's Resolutions. They just too full of the old way of looking at healthy living, healthy eating, healthy weights, taking care of ourselves. Actually, the old way is not about those things really at all; it's more about diets. Consider this ditty we posted previously in a FitBriefing that best describes how we encourage looking at the coming year.

Important: Read through to the 'after' part or you'll get the wrong message!


‘Twas the month after Christmas, and all through the house,
nothing would fit me, not even a blouse!

The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste
at the holiday parties have gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales, there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber)

I’d remember the marvelous meals I’d prepared,
the gravies and sauces, and beef nicely rared,
the wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese,
and the way I’d never said, “No thank you, please.”

As I dressed myself, in my husband’s old shirt,
and prepared once again to do battle with dirt,
I said to myself, as only I can,
“You can spend the winter disguised as a man!”

So away with the last of the sour cream dip.
Get rid of the fruitcake, every cracker and chip!
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
‘til all the additional ounces have vanished.

I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick.
I’ll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won’t have hot biscuits, or cornbread, or pie;
I’ll munch on a carrot, and quietly cry!

I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore –
but isn’t that what January is for?

Unable to giggle, no longer a riot,
Happy New Year to all, and to all a good DIET!!!!!!!!!


Hey, what am I thinking? That's really old hat!
A 'dieting' mind-set will just make me fat.

So away with restriction! I'll eat what I want.
I'll start when I'm hungry and stop when I'm not.

May all my friends join me in this state of mind.
For then we'll be happy,creative,and kind.

Wishing a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

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Posted by Marsha on December 26, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

December 24, 2007

Getting Rid of a Mean Holiday Hangover

27860_98344143We’ve all been told at one time or another, the best way to get rid of a hang over is to  imbibe in a little of the hair of the dog that bit ‘cha. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem the most prudent solution to an age old problem. After searching through a plethora of “get rid of” advice on the internet, I came up with what seemed to me to be the most reasonable. (Nope, this isn’t scientific).

• Re-hydrate your body. Drink water like the fish you were the night before.
• Drink a cup of coffee or two as soon as possible. Coffee contains caffeine which is a very strong vasoconstrictor which will narrow the swollen blood vessels in your head and might help with a headache.  However, coffee is a diuretic, so you should drink even more water to replenish if you drink coffee.
• Make a nice, hot bowl of chicken soup, as soon as you have overcome any queasiness. Chicken soup will help replace salt and potassium, the body loses salt and potassium when you have been drinking. 
• Check the label before you take a pain reliever to reduce any hangover-induced aches. Some pain relievers, including acetaminophen, aspirin and naproxen sodium, should not be used when alcohol is still in your system.
• Your next instinct will be to stay in bed. Instead, take a brisk walk around your street. The fresh air and activity will do you good.
A Few Tips…For Next Time:
• Drink lots of water and eat some bread or crackers before going to sleep if you expect to have a hangover in the morning. Drink 2 glasses for water between each drink (I know…but it helps keep you dehydrated!).
• Practice moderation. It's not healthy to drink to the point of dehydrating your body. Take a couple aspirin before you hit the hay.

HAAAPPY HOLIDAYS! (Sh-h-h, not so loud!)

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Posted by Cindy on December 24, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 20, 2007

Healthy Recipe: Festive Cranberry Relish

Cranberries are a staple on any holiday table, but why not make it a little more festive this year? Walnuts, apples and red wine all add crunch and flavor as well as vitamins and nutrients.  It's a healthy recipe packed with antioxidents, omega-3, and flavinoids - all which protect the heart. How's that for healthy eating? Hey, this is one side dish that just might upstage the main course!

Did You Know?

"Cranberries contain bacteria-blocking compounds that are believed to be helpful in preventing urinary tract infections, and scientists now think this same function may be useful in blocking the bacteria responsible for ulcers and certain oral bacteria that can lead to gum disease." (Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association)

Makes 3 servings

1 Bag of Fresh or Frozen Cranberries (12 oz.)
3/4 C. Sugar
1/2 Cup Red Wine
2 Apples Cored, Unpeeled and Chopped
1/4 C. Finely Shredded Orange Peel
1/2 C. Walnuts, Chopped and Toasted

Combine cranberries, sugar and wine in a saucepan. Cover Saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. The skins will pop on the cranberries and the sugar will dissolve. Reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from heat and stir in the chopped apples and orange peel. Set aside to cool. Stir in toasted walnuts. Relish will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Cut oranges in half and remove pulp, leaving the orange shell intact. Spoon cranberry relish into orange shells.

(Today's healthy recipe is from Ann Marshall, Hudson, MA and the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association)

For more healthy eating recipes, check out the other delicious recipes listed on this blog or visit Green Mountain Healthy Living Recipe Favorites.

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Posted by Laura on December 20, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 19, 2007

A Bite of the Best

The title of my post today is that of a website I thought I'd share with everyone. It's called Bite of the Best, and is written by a food writer and registered dietitian and her two foodie sons. Each week they send an e-letter focused on a new food or food-related product or idea they think is, well, the best. In the several months I've subscribed to it, I've read notes about everything from Uncle Ben's whole grain brown ready rice, ready to eat in 90 seconds, to Saco dried buttermilk for those recipes that we make infrequently and hence have a slightly-used carton of buttermilk left that we don't know what to do with, to this week's fun idea of hosting a Black & White New Year's Eve party, with a black and white menu, etc. (The picture for today's post is from that e-letter.)

I like the website, too, because as well as being practical, it's a good example of how healthy eating for healthy weight loss and healthy weights can be quite tasty, fun and indulgent, too. That's important to making healthy eating a lifelong practice. I stlll observe folks who say they're going to 'start eating healthy,' and immediately cut out all the 'good stuff,' e.g., it's carrot and celery sticks galore with nary a piece of chocolate to be found. At least for the day they're able to stick with the 'healthy eating.'

As 2007 rolls to a close, and 2008 welcomes us, many of us will partake in that annual rite of resolution making. This year, consider the themes of balance, variety and moderation when it comes to healthy eating. That means no extremes, which generally translates to all or nothing for people who struggle with weight.

Hope your holidays are going great!

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Posted by Marsha on December 19, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 18, 2007

Holiday Treats Are Meant To Eat - Mindfully!

412245_christmas_candyWe’re officially in the middle of December and that means houses and office buildings across our land are filling up with yummy holiday treats. Fudge, frosted cookies, peanut brittle, baklava, brownies and candy canes, just to name a few. You name it, it’s out there.

If you’re at all like me, you're bound to be experiencing a little stress around holiday eating. Having all those tempting treats right under your nose can put even the strongest resolve to the test. Here are a few things you may want to think about: (note to self!)

• Traditional holiday goodies are a good thing! They’re part of what makes the season special, don't be afraid to indulge.
• Eat treats when you really want them. Not just because they're there.
• Give yourself permission. No sneaking!
• Sit down. Be mindful. Savor the experience.
• Taste what you’re eating. If you’re not crazy about fruitcake, leave it be, eat something that really rocks your boat.
• Put closure on your eating. Treats are just that - a treat – not a substitute for lunch!
• Make it count. Indulge in special holiday treats only in conjunction with a healthy diet. Don't skip or skimp on meals because you had a piece of fudge!
• Rejoice in the season.

Happy Holidays!

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Posted by Cindy on December 18, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 17, 2007

Healthy Eating: Healthy Eating During the Holidays

I love being with family during the holidays - well, MOST of the time!  There are chaotic moments, however, and learning how to manage stress can be the difference between maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle or subcoming to emotional eating.

In my family, different schedules, tastes, and levels of hunger often create conflicts over when, where and what meals will look like. Since I'm often the guest, I usually end up going with the flow.  That means more restaurants, late dinners, and fast food choices than I'd normally prefer.

There are three key strategies that I've adopted in order to stay true to my desire to maintain a healthy eating lifestyle without creating conflict:

  • Exercise - I'm an early riser and starting my day with a jog or walk on the treadmill helps to relieve stress. It also gives me some time to myself to plan the day ahead. I'm not focusing on weight loss, simply maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Planning ahead - Breakfast I can usually have on my own, but the other meals are mostly decided on the fly.  I'm managed to work around these 'unknowns' by taking along a granola bar and juice so that I'm not overly hungry at family mealtimes. Sometimes I'll even have a regular lunch on my own and opt for salad if everyone is going to a restaurant or fast food joint.  That way, I'm still joining in socially, but not tempted by foods that are less healthy choices for me.
  • Eating mindfully - At parties, I try to really savor what I'm eating.  I tend to eat a little more if I drink alcohol, so usually I opt to have some wine or cocktails after dinner. I don't deny myself anything because I only end up feeling deprived.  So, if that chocolate truffle calls to me, I definately answer!

In general, I'm able to carve out a healthy eating lifestyle with family at the holidays.  There are times when I'm not making the healthiest of food choices, but allowing myself the option of enjoying holiday foods IS a healthy lifestyle choice in and of itself. 

For more articles about coping with family during the holidays, please read: Coping with People from Home, Enjoy Your Holidays without Weight Worries, and Mindfulness During the Holidays.

Posted by Laura Brooks

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Posted by Laura on December 17, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2007

Healthy Recipes: French Toast with Maple Pears

There's nothing better on a cold wintry weekend than a delicious hot breakfast!  This french toast, made using brioche, features a scrumptous topping that will make you ask 'true love' to leave behind the partridge and just bring you more pear trees!  A healthy eating fruit, pears are packed with potassium and are also an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C.  (Nutritional information from USApears.com; free clip art picture from FunDraw.com)

Makes 4 servings

Maple Pears:
3 pears*, sliced lengthways
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup maple syrup

French toast:
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
8 slices brioche loaf (substitute whole grain bread for a heartier version)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or margerine)

In lemon juice, lightly marinate the pear slices. Pour the maple syrup into a large frying pan to heat. Then simmer the pears for 10 minutes in the syrup until they are a little soft. Flip the slices over a couple of times and keep them warm while you prepare the French toast.

Beat eggs, milk and vanilla in a large shallow bowl that will be used for dipping the bread. Combine cinnamon and superfine sugar and put aside. After dipping bread (turning once), heat half of the butter or margerine in another large frying pan (non-stick).  Be careful not to burn the butter.  When pan begins to sizzle, add bread slices.

Flip the bread to cook evenly on both sides until golden brown and repeat.  Finish with a dusting (or more) with the cinnamon/sugar and top with pears and the liquid from the maple syrup and pear juice.

*See USApears.com to learn how to select the best pears.

If you have overnight guests for the holidays, this healthy recipe is sure to please!

For more healthy eating recipes, check out the other delicious recipes listed on this blog or visit Green Mountain Healthy Living Recipe Favorites.

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Posted by Laura on December 13, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 12, 2007

For Healthy Weights, Try Whole Grains

I've mentioned Sally Squires column in the Washington Post before. Although I don't always agree with her advice (or that of the experts she quotes) about how to lose weight and keep it off, I do think she often has some interesting columns and some good tips to share.

This week's column was about whole grains and healthy weight loss. Recent research shows people who eat whole grains tend to be leaner and have smaller waistlines. I took notice for two reasons. In a previous life (almost 20 years ago now), I was part of a food industry team that was pushing whole grains. We were trying to get the public, the food industry and the government to realize that whole grains were something we all needed to be eating more of. At the time, the average American wasn't getting more than 1 serving a day, if that. Probably aren't getting any more now. Still, it's good to think the message may be finally getting through. Any time we see a weight loss benefit attached to something, it gets noticed!

The second reason is that this research confirms once more that we don't have to eat low carbohydrate diets to achieve healthy weights. Unfortunately, that old saw is still making the rounds. It's the type of carbohydrate we eat more than the quantity (as long as we're eating carbohydrates within a balanced eating plan). So it's up with the oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat, bulgur and even spelt, and staying moderate with the refined flour products, sugary items, etc. Nothing really new as far as good nutrition goes, but people got pretty far from good nutrition with faddish low carbohydrate diets.

If this news doesn't really sound that positive in the midst of the season's indulgence, you might take heart from the fact that there are now whole grain flours that look like refined white flours. So the nutrition is there, but as far as what it looks and tastes like, it's your basic white stuff. As I understand it, you can substitute it for regular white flour in many if not most recipes, and the taste and texture will be similar.

We've got lots of white stuff here in Vermont these days...the snowy kind. Here's hoping it hangs around for Christmas!

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Posted by Marsha on December 12, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 11, 2007

Holiday Shopping, The Workout

913327_seasons_sale_3When the holidays roll around there’s lots to do. Every year I start out with great intentions, but no matter how well I plan ahead I still find myself running around like a crazy woman, picking up last minute stocking stuffers or trying to find something essential like chestnuts.

When our daily schedules are thrown for a loop like they are during the holidays, other things can get thrown to the wayside – like our fitness programs. Although, it may only be an hour out of your day (counting prep time), with all that juggling it’s still an easy ball to drop.

It’s important to think about activity during the holidays a bit differently. There are many ways to make all that activity work for you. This doesn’t mean you should throw the baby out with the bath water, it just means there are many ways to incorporate some purposeful fitness activity while you’re running around doing Santa’s business.

Here are some tips to start you thinking:

• While standing in those long lines, remember to keep your feet shoulder width apart and remain soft in you knees. Hold your tummy in tight for 30 seconds and release. If you’re hold heavy bags and they have handles (most bags do), try some curls. (This also works great with laundry detergent in the supermarket).
• Walking briskly, with purpose, to and from stores – hold your head up breathe!
• When taking the escalator ‘up’ – walk, don’t ride.
• Sometimes you have no choice, but park far away from your intended destination. If you normally walk for exercise, you’ll be able to enjoying the benefits of all that all that ‘training.’ Walking will not seem like a chore.
• The ladies dressing room is a great place to get a few stretches in. When your back is aching or your feet are about to give way – sneak in and go through your stretches.
• Remember when you’re squatting or lifting during the holidays use legs and really think about what you’re doing
• Pack healthy snacks and toss them in your handbag before you take off and eat frequently, this will stave off hunger and keep you feeling focuses and energized.
• Wear comfortable clothes and definitely wear tennis shoes!

Here’s to Healthy, Happy, Holiday Shopping!

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Posted by Cindy on December 11, 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack