Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Inspiration as We Head Into the Holidays

The holidays can be incredibly overwhelming when you are trying to lose weight and get healthy.  Cookies everywhere, pressure to indulge and the assurance from everyone that you can 'start again in the new year'.  Well, you and I both know that's how we got here in the first place.

So today I am sharing some inspirational stories from Ladies' Home Journal.  These five women found their inspiration and then set forth on their journey.  You may relate and even get tips, a reminder that you are not alone.  Think of these stories I will share over the next few weeks as your 'mental cookies' that may help you bypass the ones in the break room.

Yours in Health,

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Mary Poppins Pop-in

Just popping into work briefly after Mary Poppins at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines.  Really a spectacular show.  While, as a fan of the original movie, the moving around of the plot through me off a little, the show was flawless.  The sets were jaw-dropping, the dancing outstanding and the voices beautiful.  If you get a chance to check it out, you really should.  I walked away feeling more relaxed than I have in weeks and if you have been following the blog lately, you know that's almost a miracle.

Tomorrow it's more things to feed my soul, like a Christmas tree and doing laundry.  No really clean undies will help feed my soul. :)

Yours in Health,

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!

Sorry no post yesterday.  I worked all morning yesterday, then to my mom's for dinner, my dad's for dessert and then fell asleep on the couch watching "Elf".  When I woke up after a half-hour, the sensible thing would have been to go straight to be, but with 30 minutes left in the movie, I stayed up to watch instead.

Not my brightest moment because 4 a.m. came far too soon.  I went and made an appearance at Valley West Mall, had fun with the crowd - gave away 3 iPads with STAR 102.5.  Then a quick nap at home and then here to be on three radio stations and do assorted other duties.

I am about to go take care of KIOA and then home.  Long two days.  Tomorrow, just one station and an appearance at West Glen Town Center for LITE 104.1's Ugly Sweater and Egg Nog party.  Then I have two quick shopping stops and home to do laundry and collapse.

With all of that behind and ahead, I thought I would share one last Thanksgiving link and then move into Christmas mode.  (Although it pertains for any dinner that is made up of similar components.)  My friend Erin Crawford at the Des Moines Register shared this fun slide show with me, so I thought I would pass it on.

Yours in Health,

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Week - Recipe 3

It's time to talk turkey.  This is the one holiday dish that, short of deep fat frying it, you can enjoy heartily.  While you should avoid the fattier, higher calorie dark meat, the white meat is your friend.  Here's the breakdown according to the National Turkey Federation:

3 ounces
Total fat grams
Protein grams
Iron % DV
Turkey Breast
Saturated Fat grams
Cholesterol milligrams
Sodium  milligrams


Not bad at all.  Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird and while the bald eagle is more regal, the turkey makes up for it by being most people's centerpiece on the national day.

If you haven't already chosen a recipe for your turkey or are looking for something new, here is an option that doesn't require brining and is very tasty.

Roasted Turkey
1 (10-12 Pound) WHOLE TURKEY, fresh or thawed if frozen
1 Bunch fresh thyme
4 Whole navel oranges
As needed salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 Medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 Cup cold water

Place oven rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
Slide fingertips between skin and breast meat to loosen skin. Place 1/2 bunch of thyme under skin.
Thinly slice one orange and slide slices under turkey skin. Season turkey with salt and pepper.
Quarter remaining oranges and toss with cranberries and onions in large bowl, place inside both turkey cavities.
Tuck wing tips under and tie legs together with kitchen string to hold shape.
Place turkey on a V-shaped rack in large roasting pan with water in bottom of pan. Cover loosely with foil. Roast turkey in preheated oven for 2 1/2 hours, remove foil.
Continue to roast, basting every 20 minutes with pan juices until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 170-175 degrees F.
Remove from oven, cover with foil and let stand at least 20 minutes before carving. Remove fruit stuffing and discard.
Garnish with Dried Fruit Stew and serve on a platter.

Autumn Fruit Stew
2 Cups tart apple, peeled and diced
1/2 Cup golden raisins
1/2 Cup dried apricot
2 bay leaves
2 Cups TURKEY STOCK or low-sodium chicken stock
2 Tablespoons brandy or substitute 2 tablespoons apple juice/cider

While turkey is roasting, combine ingredients in saucepan.
Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
After turkey roasts, add any accumulated pan juices to stew. Reheat before serving.

Recipe Source: Recipe and photo kindly provided by Perdue via the National Turkey Federation website

That's it for today.  Tomorrow a last minute dessert recipe.

Yours in Health,

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Week - Recipe 2

Green bean casserole is way yummy - it's also pretty bad for you - 250 calories, 20 grams of fat. Of course, that's the full fat traditional dish created 55 years ago. Today we have a couple of ways to cut that - you can use light or fat-free ingredients or you can cut out some of the offending ingredients - but both still leave you with a lot of sodium.

In the end there are only two true answers - eat this and go easy on everything else or (and I may be about to blaspheme) embrace a new healthier dish that takes its inspiration from the classic. That is today's recipe. I LOVE green bean casserole, but this is yummy too. And you might be surprised by how refreshing a crisp vegetable is during your meal.

Buttered Green Beans and Mushrooms from Cooking Light Magazine

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
6 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 ounces shiitake mushroom caps, thinly sliced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided
1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic


1. Steam green beans, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Plunge beans into ice water; drain. Pat dry with a towel; set aside.

2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; sauté 8 minutes or until mushroom liquid evaporates. Stir in garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and green beans; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine.

Nutritional InformationCalories:44Fat:3g (sat 1.8g, mono 0.7g, poly 0.2g) Protein:1.7g Carbohydrate:3.9g Fiber:1.9g Cholesterol:8mg Iron:0.4mg Sodium:198mg Calcium:23mg 

Sandra Simile Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2010
Yours in Health,

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Week

A week and a half ago I was laying in a hospital bed.  As I lay there I began to feel very alone and sorry for myself.  I had ended up in the emergency room after almost passing out at work.  They couldn't figure out what was wrong with me (and still haven't) and I was at a loss.

I began to cry.  But then my cell phone began to beep - text after text starting coming in from friends and co-workers checking on my status.  I stopped, took a deep breath, and began counting my blessings.

My friend Mary had driven me to the hospital and stayed until my mom dropped everything at work and came to be with me.  I had medical coverage that would help take the sting out of my hospital bills.  And while there was no one physically in the room with me at that moment - the phone calls and texts assured me I was loved.  I was suddenly full of gratitude, I was truly thankful.

So, as this week begins and I face going to yet another doctor in search of answers, I will not hold a pity party.  Instead I will embrace the abundance of my life and move forward with appreciation.

One of the things I appreciate is YOU - those who have stuck with reading my blog and giving me feedback.  Through illness and falter, happiness and loss - you have been here. The way I will say thank you is giving you daily recipes this week.  The Holiday Season is officially beginning and for anyone trying to be healthier there are more pitfalls than can be counted.  Hopefully these recipes will ease some of the stress of making good choices.

Thick and Creamy Spinach-Artichoke Dip

If you have an aversion to mayonnaise, like I do, this is a great take on a classic.  Add a giant platter of veggies to this and you have a healthier snack while dinner readies.

1 (14-1/2 oz.) can quartered or whole artichoke hearts in water, drained
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 (7 oz.) tub 2% fat Greek style yogurt, such as Fage
¾ cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1/8 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper and freshly ground nutmeg


Heat oven to 400°F.

Finely chop the artichoke hearts and place them in a medium bowl. Add spinach, yogurt, ½ cup of the cheese, sour cream, pepper and nutmeg.

Mix well and spread into a 9-inch pie plate or quiche dish. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup cheese over dip and bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 3 cups dip.

Yours in Health,

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I have run out of time

Sorry, the day got away from me.  I am just leaving the office and have no time left to blog.

Preview of tomorrow: TRX.

Yours in Health,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Missing: 13-year old Des Moines Girl

I will be the first to admit, Tiffany Speck could simply be a runaway.  But at just 13-years old, she is still in danger.  Even though I don't know her family, something about this girl feels personal and that's why I am posting it.  

I remember 13, it sucked.  My parents had split up a few years before, I was helping raise my two younger brothers, I got my curves before all of the other girls (and was made fun of for it) and I was depressed.  The last in that list was the hardest, because nobody put a name on it.  Instead I was sent to a psychologist who told me, "You are a rebellious brat who is trying to make things more difficult for your parents.  You are not special.  You should be drugged until you cooperate."  Nice. 

I don't know Tiffany's world.  Her life could be idyllic, she may have never had a blue thought.  On the other hand, even in the best of homes, you can sometimes feel alone.  And that loneliness can lead you down a path on which you may be too young to see the danger.  Personally, I am praying she's safe, tucked away at a friend's house that is great at keeping a secret.  Either way, let's find her.  Her picture and info are below.

13-year old Tiffany Speck

Tiffany Speck was last seen November 5th around 8:30 am on the corner of South Union and Kirkwood on the Southside of Des Moines, IA.

She was wearing a black sweatshirt with a McKee School logo on the left shoulder, jeans and grey sweater boots. Tiffany is 5’ 2”, 145 lbs., brown eyes, her hair is blond on top, brown on the bottom.

If you have any information on her please contact Detective Jeff Shannon at 515-237-1550 or the Des Moines Police at 515-283-4811. A witness reported seeing her coaxed into a red Cadillac after missing her school bus.

Yours in Health,

Monday, November 8, 2010

ActivTrax, a New Tool for the Y

The YMCA Healthy Living Center has added a new benefit for members - ActivTrax.  It's like having a computerized personal trainer.

My trainer Gwyn helped guide me through baseline tests to see where my fitness was, then we entered it in the system.  From there the software extrapolates what my workouts should look like.  Now I can use the prepared workouts when Gwyn is out of town.  Or like I did yesterday - I still can't put my head underwater and decided it was a sign to try it out.

I was able to not only print the workout at the kiosk, but there were a couple of moves I didn't recognize by name, so I was able to print out pictures and instructions.  It's really pretty sweet.  I am hoping to really take my workouts (on non-Gwyn days) to a new level.

Here's a link to their website.  You can't really dig too deeply without a sign-in, but it gives you an idea.  I haven't been able to look at the nutrition section, because it's not set up for me yet, but I am interested in what that has to offer too.

Every new tool gives me higher hopes and better results.

Yours in Health,

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday, that's all

I didn't really get an 'extra' hour of sleep last night.  I stayed up watching a "Dr. Who" episode I had not seen before.  It was really good, so no regrets.

Today I have been at work.  In a little while, it's a trip to the YMCA Healthy Living Center for a workout. Because of my double ear infection, no laps until at least Tuesday.  That's what I do for at least a half hour on Sundays, swim laps.  I really love it - great cardio and, while hard, somehow relaxing.  Instead I will do weights and running in the water.

Then dinner at my mom's.

Then a quick trip to Target and Half-Price Books.  The former has "Robin Hood" with Russell Crowe on sale.  The latter is to see if I can finish a collection for my nephew for Christmas - a project I started in April.

Then home to laundry.

I am boring.  But today, boring is okay.

Yours in Health,

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Holidays Have Begun - Low Fat Oyster Stew

I know... you don't want to hear that.

You didn't want to hear it when Younkers put up their display in August or when the Christmas commercials started the morning after Halloween or possibly even two weeks from now.  But, it is inevitable, so why not be prepared.

That's why I will be posting recipes on a regular basis between now and the end of the year.  I plan to search out healthier versions of my favorites.  Today is oyster stew or in this recipe, bisque.  I beg my mother to make it every year for Christmas eve.  No one else in the family likes it.  But my mommy loves me and most years I get a small batch.  However, her recipe is all butter and cream - y-uh-ummmm!

Knowing that we should be a little better than that, I went digging at Cooking Light magazine and found this version.  Substantially less fat and it looks pretty good too.  In fact, it sounds good now, fall weather makes me constantly want soup.

Your in Health,

Friday, November 5, 2010

Food Safety - This Means You, er.... Rather Me

Experiment:  I ran through the door after 8 on Wednesday night.  I was too impatient to wait out the food in the oven and looked to the fridge for a 'quick fix' to the gnawing in my stomach.  Me: "Hey Lori, you think these (pause to count days in head), 5-day old shrimp Rangoon would be okay if I microwave them."  Lori: "Yea, they're only 5 days old, it should be fine."

Result:  The FDA, CDC and USDA would be disgusted.  Ugh.  About 90 minutes after I ate them I 'felt funny'.  I tried to go to bed with sweats and stomach bulging.  I had no idea what it was.  Even crawling from bed to bathroom to be ill, didn't clue me in.  Duh.  Yes, it was food poisoning.  Though sadly, not the worst case I have ever had.

Lesson:  The 5-day old crab Rangoon in the refrigerator is dead! DO NOT EAT IT!  Almost 40 years into my time on Earth I should know better.  Chances are a combination of shrimp and cream cheese left uneaten for more than 48 hours could turn toxic.  We now have plans to be much more careful at our house.

So, I decided to share this link for any questions you may have about food safety.  It answers all of your basics and I am going to reiterate one more - don't go more than 48-72 hours on leftovers.  That way you will never have to fight the kitten for the water in the toilet bowl.

Yours in Health,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Inspiration is like Chocolate - You can never get enough

Stam's Fall Bon-Bons
It's time for our weekly dose of - 'if they can do it, I can do it!'  Today I am sharing a link to one of my favorite places to pop inspiration like bon-bons.

It's Women's Health Magazine. Each month they feature another woman who took control and made the change.  These women may have lost 30 pounds or 130 pounds, but the thing they have in common is empowerment.

So, flip through and see if you don't just find someone that makes you feel like you are looking in the mirror and inspires you to be better.

Yours in Health,

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Feel Better - Vote

This blog is about my journey to be a healthier person.  I workout, I try to eat better, but there is a mental health aspect as well.  I address it briefly from time to time, but today is a good day for a reminder.

Sometimes we feel like everything is out of our control - truthfully it often is - but you can do your part to effect your preferred outcome.  Voting is one of those things.

You may never have met a candidate for governor or congress.  You may not have been following all of the issues that will appear on the ballot.  But you are an intelligent person who, with a few clicks on news sites and a Google search or two, can catch right up.

Using your intelligence and just a few minutes, you can release the pent-up frustration often felt when you don't believe anyone is listening.  Marking that ballot can be like letting the air out of a balloon, suddenly you don't feel so full - you feel looser, more pleasant and the stress is no longer pushing against you.

Will your candidate win?  Will your issue pass?  Maybe, maybe not.  The important part is that you participated, you released.  Plus, you can have a sense of pride because you showed your respect to our founders and every generation since that has fought for that right to vote.

And who couldn't use a little more feel good?

Yours in Health,

Monday, November 1, 2010

How Many Calories Does That Mini Candy Bar Have?

I vowed I would not be a Halloween Grinch and ruin the frivolity of the weekend with the reality of the calories.  But, it's Monday and November, so now is probably a good time to tell it like it is.

Candy, like everything else, can be consumed in moderation.  But when the portions get smaller, the reality meter is distorted.  They're so small, so I can eat 10 right?  Um, yes and no.  Yes, if you are accounting for them in what you eat.  No, if you are just blindly shoving them down because they seem harmless.

Besides a look back at what we have eaten, I wanted to blog this because most of these candies don't go away. On the contrary, they are repackaged featuring snowmen and reindeer and become 'holiday treats'.  That means this information isn't late, it's early. :)

I was going to go dragging around the internet and find calorie counts and serving sizes and then lay them out from best to worst.  Instead this morning I opened my Twitter and I found Hungry Girl had already done all the work.  In fact, she did an awesome job.  So, I have decided to share her hard work with you - Hungry Girl Halloween Candy Guide.   (I am a big fan of work smart and you don't have to work hard.)

Yours in Health,