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Sunday, 19 December 2010

Sleep Well=Be Well

Getting a good night's rest is vital to your physical and mental health.

Sleep occupies 1/3 of our existence. Sleep affects our physiological and psychological processes and in turn, our bodies and the state of our minds, hearts, and souls affects our sleep.

The timing of sleep is regulated by a circadian clock. Human beings have a circadian rhythm which prefers sleep at night, when it is dark, and awake hours when light, during the day.

Human beings require, on average 8 hours a sleep, during the preferred night time. Teenagers need 8-9 hours, while elderly can function optimally on 6-7 hours.

Is This Living??!!
Consequences of short-term sleep deprivation can make you have a less fulfilled and satisfying life with symptoms and effects ranging from decreased alertness and performance, memory and cognitive impairment, stress in your communications and relationships, occupational injuries, accidents -- particularly automobile, and poor quality of life.

Long Term Sleep Problems -- Truly Pre-Morbid and Morbid
Long-term sleep deprivation is associated with many medical illnesses, such as heart attacks and heart failure, stroke, obesity, psychiatric illness -- depression and mood swings, attention deficit disorder, fetal and childhood growth retardation, non-reversible mental impairment and cognitive function, non-reversible and/or untreatable injury(ies) from accidents, severed relationships due to a disruption of a bed partner's sleep quality, poor quality of life.

Do not let poor sleep habits interfere with a full, great quality of life. Don't accept your restless nights sleep as 'normal' or even 'necessary'.! Many people often think they can't get all that they need to get done over the normal course of a day and stay up until the wee hours or don't sleep at all! Who said you MUST get everything done TODAY? And if 'they' did, it's THEIR problem -- don't make it yours!

Keep in mind these two quotes:

"Work is the greatest thing in the world, so we should always save some of it for tomorrow." Don Herold


"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia." by Charles M Schulz

Take a looks at the following website to get tips to help you to sleep well:

Sweet dreams, everyone!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Do it for YOU!

"I tried so hard to please that I never realized no one was watching. It is here in this unwatched space that peace begins." Mark Nepo

Losing weight, getting fit, eating healthier, drinking alcohol moderately, stopping smoking -- whatever it is that you need to do to feel and look better -- do it first and foremost FOR YOURSELF.

Whenever we feel pressured to look 'that' part of whatever we feel someone(s) ELSE wants us to be -- whether it's our parent(s) or spouse or group of friends we're trying to impress or for anyone else OTHER than ourselves, it can really undermine and frustrate our goal AND the journey to get to our goal. If you feel people 'watching', it can create anxiety, if not paranoia. It's awful. It can DRIVE you to overeat, veg out, drink, smoke like a chimney, and pig out -- when no one is looking, of course! And THAT CAN create a whole new set of problems and obstacles to overcome -- guilt, self-loathing, obsessive-compulsive behaviour, eating disorders,manic behaviours -- and make, what started out as a challenging, but,fairly straightforward issue (ie -- getting in shape, getting fit, curbing your alcohol intake, stopping smoking, etc.), extremely complex and difficult to overcome.

For many years, I felt the pressure to be not JUST fit, but super slim. I thought my patients and their families, the doctors and nurses, and especially all the medical students needed me to be THAT. I thought, somehow, I'd be more credible and they would take nutrition more seriously if they saw that I was this perfectly thin and toned person. The problem was -- I accomplished my 'leanness' by just eating less and, actually, not enough for my long-term needs. I probably ate enough energy-yielding macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein) to give me my MINIMAL daily functional doses, but not what I needed to STORE and develop. I was toned because, basically, I was young! But, I really wasn't building muscle tone -- I was just eliciting the natural tone I had because of being genetically blessed. I also was not practicing the lifestyle of making exercise and a fitness regime a part of a healthy lifestyle life. I used diet alone to get and stay thin -- too thin. Because, eventually, when I came to a point when I no longer was in the medical community 'eye' every day, all day and often, night -- I started to drift back into the horrible behaviours I had as an obese child and teenager -- binging. Thankfully, I never became anorexic or bulimic, but it was extremely dysfunctional. All the knowledge and example of me -- the 'uber-nutritionist' -- completely out the window.

It took years for me to finally come to the 'truth' of my body. I need to CORRECTLY PRACTICE all my knowledge of healthy,BALANCED diet and I DO -- it's a part of me, BUT,I MUST incorporate a REGULAR fitness regime and DAILY exercise. This translates to a body that is NOT skinny, but curvaceous and toned. And that's ME -- at my best! And whoever thinks I need to be thinner or flatter or skinny -- well -- that's THEIR issue -- not mine. What I've also found is that when people who are 'watching' make remarks and critique negatively someone who is really and truly living 'truth' -- it often is out of their own frustration on that very issue or something similar. People project their own failures onto others. This insidious dynamic is so destructive -- for the recipient and the protagonist.
In other words -- no one is really 'watching' ME -- it is themselves they are 'watching'

Peace is a wonderful thing == let it BEGIN TODAY for you! That's what I pray for you for the upcoming holidays and your NEW YOU NEW YEAR! Shalom! Vredeschap!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Make ONE Healthy Change Today!

What you choose to eat is so personal and intimate and SO dependent on many factors: what you like, your budget, access to food(s), where you live, your schedule, your age, your sex, your baseline physical condition.

Whenever I advise people on optimal diet, I MUST consider all of these relative factors, plus a few more that inevitably crop up. I would really be foolish if I ONLY thought about their absolute nutritional needs.

But, a body is SO dependent on its absolute nutritional needs. THAT is THE one factor that makes it healthy or unhealthy. So, it IS absolutely crucial to make nutritional-based choices when you decide what you are going to eat, EVEN IF it sometimes means eating things you must TEACH yourself to like, work into your budget, find time to prepare, and certainly make time to eat properly.

But, an optimal nutritional diet does NOT have to happen all at once. You can better make eventual changes and then make these changes STICK and integrate themselves organically into your daily lifestyle rather than go 'on and off' a totally different way of eating than you are used to. Evidence shows that making a few healthy changes to diet can result in MAJOR benefits which can change your whole health profile. For example, if you would make ONE change of switching from white-flour grain products to whole-grain products, you can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Whole-grains, like oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, brown breads, rice, and pastas effect in clearing the bad cholesterol (LDL and VLDL) from the body and also moderates blood glucose levels.

ONE CHANGE -- switching from white grains to whole grains!

Another example is making a change to include EVERY day into your diet some source of probiotic live-culture bacteria, such as is found in pro-biotic yogurt pots and drinks. This ONE CHANGE can have a tremendously calming and regulatory effect on your digestion and gastrointestinal function. You will have healthier colon flora and better bowel function.

Another ONE CHANGE is to STOP using sugar in your coffee and tea or even to DECREASE the amount you use and to also do the same with sugar-substitutes.

So, until you get to the point when you really feel strong and focused enough to make your diet PRIMARILY NUTRITIONALLY-DRIVEN, make ONE CHANGE TODAY. And then, every couple weeks, make ONE CHANGE more, and so on.

Do IT today!!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Eucryl, Flossing, ANYTHING!

Sometimes you really have to try everything you can to stave off giving in to the temptation to eat when you truly are not hungry. This is especially true during the holidays when there are SO much tasty foods, drinks, and goodies around.

A tip I've often resorted to is just getting up and brushing my teeth. It helps because it takes your mind away from food, it gets you out of the vicinity of food, it makes you look at yourself in the mirror, focusing on your MOUTH which makes you stop and think that you don't want that mouth to be eating -- especially after brushing. What really REALLY helps is taking the extra steps of flossing, too!

Flossing makes you dig right into the inbetween bits of your teeth and takes even MORE time.....time to think....time to realize how not worth it it is to eat when you're not hungry and to eat high-sugar, high-fat treats -- not now -- after you've so fastidiously cleaned your mouth and teeth.

Taking things a step further, you could also try brushing your teeth with Eucryl. Now, you wouldn't be able to do this more than twice a week, but those 2X/week will make a whitening and brightening difference in your teeth and smile which will further make you stop and think -- 'I want to look good...I want to look great -- why would I eat that piece of cake or pie or cookie or chocolate or whatever-- not after I've worked so hard and I wouldn't want to spoil my dazzling smile,now, would I?!'

Eucryl is a whitening powder. It's sold in the UK. I've never seen it in the States, but I never looked for it there. I would ask at a pharmacy if they have it. It works better than whitening strips, in my opinion, and it's much much cheaper. It CANNOT be used on damaged, teeth, though.

Pick up your tooth brush instead of that handful of chips.

Think Beautiful Smile instead of Bloated Belly!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Chopped Frozen Garlic! An Incredible Find!

One of the most incredible 'inventions' of modern times -- chopped frozen garlic!

Garlic -- whether you use lots or just that taste-enhancing smidgen -- is uber-healthy and really heightens the taste of many dishes. When things taste delicately delectable -- one feels satisfied with sensible portions, ergo, you eat APPROPRIATE amounts and don't feel the need to over-eat.

BUT, as you know -- the smell of garlic can be offensive and can linger -- on your breath, on your hands, on your clothes -- not just after eating something made with it, but, actually, after one has cooked with it.
It can really put you off from cooking with it and from eating food made with it. Shame!

BECAUSE, the important thing to note with garlic is that if you use FRESH, HIGH-QUALITY garlic -- that offensive, lingering odor is MUCH MUCH less, if not there AT ALL! It's the too-old, dried out, and brown garlic that reeks.

When choosing garlic, look for plump, unbruised, milky-white, heavy bulbs. If you don't use it that often, only buy a few bulbs instead of a whole braid. Even if a bulb is still whole, the longer it sits, the less fresh it becomes -- especially if it's not stored in a cool, dark place. I don't recommended keeping garlic bulbs for longer than 10 days.

Better yet -- look for FROZEN CHOPPED GARLIC. This stuff is AMAZING. You, as the cook, completely skip the whole step of chopping fresh garlic -- you know, the part where you walk around the rest of the day, if not week afterward, reeking of garlic. And you, as the 'diner' will enjoy whatever delicacy you're consuming without noticing the difference. When frozen garlic is produced, garlic from the height of the garlic season is used, so you can always count on getting the freshest, highest-quality garlic. I use it now all the time, mainly for my cooked dishes, but it CAN be used in instances where you need raw garlic. I'm not there, yet, though. I still feel it's best to do garlic the old-fashioned way for when I need it raw -- that is -- choosing a couple cloves from a FRESH bulb, whacking the skin off to release the milky clove and chopping.

If you SHOULD need to 'de-reek' yourself, here's some tips:

If you dip your fingers in some milk for a minute, and then rub them on a clean spoon for a few more minutes -- this often takes away the garlic smell. Also, if you sip some milk after you've eaten something intensely garlicky, this often removes garlic breath.

BUT, having said all that -- again, choose the freshest, highest- quality garlic you can find!

And now it's time for NUTRISH and DELISH!

Here's an EASY, QUICK, DELICIOUS, and HEALTHY dish using chopped, frozen garlic:

Garlic Shrimp Diablo


Fresh or frozen UNCOOKED jumbo shrimp (prawns) -- about 1 lb. (500 g)-- or however much you need, depending on servings you need, allowing about 6 large shrimp per person

2 T olive oil

1 small chili pepper, chopped or 1 teaspoon chopped dried chili pepper

3 T chopped fresh parsley

Baby pomodori or cherry tomatoes -- a punnet

1 can chopped or cherry tomatoes

2 cloves garlic or 1 rounded Tablespoon frozen, chopped garlic

1 medium chopped onion

1/2 cup white whine

Salt, pepper, oregano

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and onions, and chili pepper and sautee` until soft, NOT brown. Add shrimp and cook through until they START to turn pink. Add chopped parsley while continuing to stir through shrimp. Next, add and stir through the fresh tomatoes. Lower heat and allow this mixture to meld together for just a couple minutes. Add canned tomatoes and let simmer through the mixture for about 5 minutes. Add white wine, salt, pepper, and oregano and let the whole mix simmer on low for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti with a fresh green salad.


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

5 reasons you're going to succeed in losing weight and getting fit

1. Because you WANT IT! You want it SO bad. You've made the decision and you are going to follow through on doing what it takes to get there.

2. Because you're more informed now than ever before. You have access to really good information from real experts! Great experts share their knowledge for FREE in so many places now -- magazines, newspapers, on the internet, BLOGS. You can always pay for professional guidance, but, it's not the only way these days and not only for the wealthy minority, anymore. You probably know better than anyone, what works for you and now you can log on to so many places to just REFRESH your strategy, get new ideas and recipes, and perhaps, even get an alternative plan or two to help achieve your goal(s). You can check what's long-term, short-term, helpful for this particular need or that specific issue, find answers to questions, etc. etc.

3. Because you don't ever have to feel you struggle alone or in isolation. It's possible, now, to obtain group support and empathy,ALSO,via online sources. It doesn't replace face-to-face group meetings, but it certainly can keep you connected and energized with the positivity and fresh motivation you need to succeed.

4. Because in this age of economic uncertainty and questionable reliable health-care assurance and INSURANCE coverage, you want to do whatever you can to safeguard your precious health and to PREVENT illness and disease. If these things happen, anyway, you can never feel guilty that you didn't try your best. You want to feel that peace of mind that comes with living healthy and well.

5. Because you're absolutely gorgeous and you know it! You know what you look like when you are living a healthy lifestyle -- eating balanced, exercising and/or keeping yourself physically active, grooming yourself as best as you can, and wearing the types of clothes and accessories you WANT to wear -- not only what 'fits' and covers all your rolls and keeps people from looking too long and hard at you. You want to SHINE that REAL you! You want to look like, on the outside, the person you FEEL LIKE you are, on the inside. There's nothing sweeter than the feeling of HARMONY of mind, body, and soul.


Monday, 29 November 2010

"Record" yourself and hold on to that beautiful-you feeling!

Thaksgiving has come and gone. I really enjoyed it this year. I made the trek into London to attend the Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Cathedral. It was a brisk morning and my daughter and I dressed up and went for it! The service was really special.

Afterward, we took the tube to Knightsbridge and did some window shopping. We decided to spend some serious money having a balanced and healthy lunch, instead of taking a sandwich at Starbuck's or Pret A Manger or even E.A.T. These places DO have lower kcalorie, lower-fat selections, but we wanted a hot and GOOD lunch -- so we ventured into 'La Dolce Vita'. I had the most delicious Italian minestrone and then we each had a light pasta dish. We took NO bread with our meal and drank sparkling water and NO dessert. This sustained us as we walked the rest of the afternoon up and down and in and out of the fantastic shops. Harrod's has a Peter Pan theme going on for Christmas and Harvey Nics seems to have an over-the-top kitschy look.

Dinner was fantastic -- with friends -- and we enjoyed every morsel and ate EVERYTHING, but not OVER-ate.

And, now, I'm right back on track -- eating healthy,taking brisk walks in the frigid, but exhilarating fresh outdoors, and regularly going to the gym.

What helps me SO much is to keep looking in the mirror, having my daughter take snapshots of me, and keeping track of my weight and measurements once every couple weeks. I don't want to obsess, and I'm certainly not looking in the mirror or posing for snapshots, because I'm vain. It's just a way to "record myself" -- to keep AWARE that all my discipline and hard work is worth it and makes me LOOK great and feel great. I am SUPER tempted right now by all the wonderful sights and smells of all the holiday goodies around -- the aroma of mulled wine wafting from some of the pubs, the honey waffles being sold at a stall near a local church for their annual Christmas fayre, the chestnuts being roasted on an open fire by the train station. My daughter and I could've shared the roasted chestnuts -- they were dry-roasted and there's no added sugar or salt -- BUT, we had just finished lunch less than 2 hours before we passed the stall and decided to forego the temptation. We just weren't hungry even though the delicious aroma called out our names! We ducked into a beautiful dress shop and I kept looking in the mirror. This made me take stock and reign myself in.

So, keep up the great work and DO keep admiring how great you look and how wonderful it feels when your beautiful holiday clothes glide over your toned body. Enjoy every treat over the holidays, but don't lose that beautiful-you feeling! Think of THAT first before you take a goodie that you really don't need or want. And, if you do partake of the holiday fare and treats -- do so in moderation. The treats will taste better and you will still look and feel a treat!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Homemade Cranberry Sauce Makes ALL the difference!

In, 1991, I was living in the Highlands of bonnie Scotland. I was cooking my first PROPER Thanksgiving dinner for friends we had met there, one of whom was an American.

Although I had already made a couple Thanksgiving dinners on a few previous years while we were living on the continent, it was only for my husband and me. My European husband was somewhat 'clueless' about what a REAL Thanksgiving dinner included, having only really experienced Thanksgiving once during the one year he was a visiting fellow at university in the States. And even though he has fond memories of that dinner (actually 'those' dinners as in one night he hit THREE dinners -- popular man!), he only remembers CANNED, gelatinous type cranberry sauce -- not MY homemade version -- AT ALL! Also, during those first five years I lived abroad, I was 'clueless' about where to buy what I needed to make a Thanksgiving dinner happen. We just usually had a chicken (turkeys were never available until Christmas) with stuffing (I DID make my own -- there were no boxed or bagged pre-mixes available which was a GOOD thing), normal potatoes (didn't yet know about the Moroccan market in Den Haag where sweet potatoes were available),a green vegetable (always plenty of cabbage or Brussels sprouts available and year-round to boot!),and a sauce I made using juniper berries (the berries that Dutch 'jenever' is made from). Now, this juniper berry sauce LOOKED like cranberry sauce, but didn't really taste like it. And, cranberry sauce was nowhere to be found in any shops I shopped at nor could I find fresh cranberries. (Later I found out that I COULD have bought canned cranberry sauce in a shop where 'ex-pats' frequented that stocked all kinds of 'essential' products from the States like Oreo cookies, Tide detergent, Skippy peanut butter, and , of course, Ocean Spray canned cranberry sauce and Libby's canned pumpkin). Cranberry sauce would have cost me the equivalent of $6.00/can, so good I didn't know as we couldn't afford such an extravagance -- sometimes, ignorance really is bliss! But, I also later found out that Vlieland -- one of the northern-most islands in The Netherlands is actually loaded with cranberry bogs and known for all kinds of fresh cranberry concoctions, including cranberry sauce and that they DO carry fresh cranberries, year-round! But, Vlieland was at last 3 hours and a ferry-ride away from where I lived, so I wouldn't have been able to make the journey anyway!. I did manage to make pumpkin pie, but using fresh pureed pumpkin I bought from the American Women's Club in The Hague. Ah, the good old days!!

Anyway, when we moved to Scotland, I found out I could get fresh turkeys in November from a local poultier. I also found fresh or frozen cranberries from a local shop that carried seasonal fruits and vegetables -- cranberries being one of them which were also available from end-November. So, I took the plunge and invited our minister and his wife for Thanksgiving dinner. He was Scottish and she was American. I made everything from scratch -- including the cranberry sauce/relish. I found the recipe from a very English 'Good Food' magazine which is published by the BBC. And, I have NEVER looked back. I will NEVER have cranberry sauce from a can ever again and neither will you once you make this and offer it on your Thanksgiving table. Thanksgiving dinner will not be the masterpiece it is supposed to be unless you offer this 'real-deal' cranberry sauce, no matter how wonderful and succulent your turkey comes.

Cranberry Sauce


600 grams ( about 1 1/2 lbs. fresh or frozen cranberries -- I prefer fresh)
1 cup sugar (240 g) (caster or granulated -- can be all white or 1/2 white, 1/2 light brown)
1/2 cup (120 ml) port or sherry or dry white wine -- whatever you have on hand
1/2 cup water(120 ml)
1 orange (need grated rind and juice of the whole orange, plus 2 thick slices from orange)
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick


Wash berries thoroughly, picking out and discarding any that are crushed or brown.
Place berries in medium saucepan. Add juice of whole orange, alcoholic fluid of choice, and JUST enough of the 1/2 cup of water to JUST slightly cover berries. IF you want a thicker 'sauce' and the finished product to be more like a cranberry relish, then do not add water to 'cover' but only to come 3/4 of way up to berries. Add sugar, grated orange rind, the two orange slices, cloves, and cinnamon stick. Bring entire contents of pan to the boil on a medium high heat and then simmer on low for about 20 more minutes or until berries start to pop. Remove from heat and allow to thicken. It is now ready to serve (will be warm) or chill. You can serve chilled (that's how I like it) or re-heat gently to serve warm (how DH likes it) next to the rest of your Thanksgiving platter.

Leftover cranberry sauce/relish is delicious in plain yogurt, over vanilla ice cream, with pancakes, and with pork dishes, too!

Can be kept for up to one week in fridge.

This homemade version is fat and additive-free, high in fiber, Vitamins C and A, and is rich in potassium, phosphorus, and choline and is low in sodium and kcalories.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Pomegranate 'Parties'

I have always loved pomegranate. I remember how enamored I was, as a child, whenever my dear Dad would open up one of these round red balls, only to reveal the juiciest, most flavorful ruby 'jewels', that he'd scrape out of it's 'innards' -- much to my delight. We were never allowed to eat one in the house as the juice would spurt out everywhere. So, pomegranate-eating was often a summertime treat, when I would spend time with my Dad, on the porch at home, or on the steps at my Grandmother's house -- popping the kernels and talking about the world. I also remember how totally surprised friends were whenever we had the opportunity to share -- which was quite often as it became well-known that we always had good food and aplenty. They had never even seen a pomegranate, let alone taste one.

Now, THIS is the PLUS side of being born into a food-loving Italian family -- there was ALWAYS not just MORE than enough food in the house despite not having the smartest-looking house on the block -- but the food was the absolute BEST, TOP quality -- FRESH, HEALTHY, VARIED, INNOVATIVE -- not the typical lower middle-class fare of the day. The wealthy folks on the other side of the tracks had nothing over us when it came to our food and dining habits. AND, we ALWAYS, ALWAYS had enough to SHARE and we often would end up sharing to anyone and everyone. I'm proud to say, that even though my folks were not nutritionists, I think they probably exposed the children and families in our large neighborhood and in the neighborhoods of both my grandparents', early-on, to the benefits of a varied, balanced and HEALTHY diet of fresh fruits and vegetables to include many that these people would, otherwise, have never tried; grilled and steamed fish and poultry of all kinds, whole-grains like home-made pasta and polenta; the freshest cheeses and meats,like fresh wet mozzarella and lean proscuitto; and nuts and seeds.

This is what life is about -- finding the true 'jewels' the world has to offer, enjoying them as God intended, and sharing them with friends and folks along our way -- to make ourselves and others feel and look good and be the best they can be.

Pomegranates are an excellent source of potassium. They also contain vitamin C, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6, fiber, and even a bit of calcium and protein. They have negligible fat and have about 100 kcals for a WHOLE pomegranate.

In the UK, I have found the neatest thing -- SEEDED pomegranate kernels found in packets. I ALWAYS have a pack in the fridge waiting to be sprinkled in my morning porridge, in salads and couscous or rice dishes, and just to nosh on when I want to have something intensely flavorful and fun. I ALWAYS think of my wonderful Dad, and folks he and we made happy along the way.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Some handy links and apps

A sampling of highest-rated health apps for your smartphone, from the Harvard Health Letter - #healthapps

One Body -- One Lord

Ok, so I grew up obese. The science tells me that this increases my chances of staying obese, even if I lose the fat for 'x' amount of time. This means,I am inevitably going to get fat again and struggle to lose it again and the vicious cycle will repeat over and over again. So,why bother? I might as well just 'give in' and eat whatever I want and just relax and not keep trying to get all this recommended blasted exercise in. Why can't I just be happy the way I am?

Because it would be wrong. It would be succumbing to the human condition. Because it wouldn't be being true to myself. More importantly, it would be turning my face away from God and His Love for me. God created me with this most beautiful body and I love Him for that. I'm thankful for that. Because my parents, out of genuine ignorance and misguided love, raised me to become obese, doesn't mean I have to continue the ignorance and misguided love. The Lord has led me to the truth about how to better nourish my body and I can do no other but follow and OBEY Him. In eating healthy and committing to regular exercise and to work for others,in my field, in whatever jobs I get or have ever done, I actually seek to obey God's greatest commandments --

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself' Matthew 22: 37-39

You see, getting up each day and living a healthy lifestyle is, for me, giving glory to God. Of course, I falter and relapse -- but I will never stop seeking to live His Plan for me and my body. Of course, I don't have the perfect body, even though I'm a committed Christian and pray for this blessing to be bestowed upon me. But, I must keep working at keeping my heart open to His will and disciplining myself to live His truth. That's all I ever wanted -- as far back as I can remember when I first opened my heart to God -- I think I was about 7 or 8 years old. It's EXTREMELY difficult for me, but it is through my trial that I have gotten to know God and CONTINUE to get to know God better and better and become even closer to Him, as my life goes on.

The other day, I read something that Mark Nepo, one of my favorite poets, wrote. Mark is a brain tumor survivor who has come to know and love God, deeply, through his trial. Mark wrote:

'We are not responsible for all that befalls us,only for how we receive it and for how we hold each other up along the way.'

So, for me, that's what it's about -- receiving my cup with a grateful heart and offering it up in as best a way as I can to the glory of God. And, serving others who I can 'hold up' in whatever ways I can -- again to share His Truth, His Way, His Love.

And, I am ALWAYS amazed at how, through the trial and the struggles and just when I'm about to succumb and say 'nah, I'm just going to eat what I want and forget about all this exercising and fitness stuff', God blesses me!

Not too long ago, I was in the gym, much to my chagrin, doing the step machine. I detest this exercise, but it's one of the most effective for my body. One of the personal trainers, who has an utterly perfect body, came up to me. Now, by NO means, do I have a body that looks fit and trim and 'buff', but she told me that she couldn't help but come over to tell me how fantastic I looked. She said that she often would see me on the machines, lifting weights, often race-walking outside and doing all kinds of different movements and that I radiated such a healthy, fit glow and that 'there was something about me that draws people to me'. She wanted to know my 'secret' -- how I looked so good!!!!!
She said she had asked around about me and the other personal trainers told her I was a dietitian and that, it was probably that I ate healthy. So, she wanted me to tell her EXACTLY what I eat and drink. Needless to say, I was so taken aback and felt so humbled. At that moment she asked -- in my mind, heart, and soul, came the words -- 'I eat of His Body and drink of His cup'. I actually wanted to shout this out to her and jump up on top of one of the bench presses and scream it out to EVERYONE working out! But, of course, I didn't do that. But, instead of FIRST telling her what and how I eat when I'm striving to eat healthy and follow all the 'state of the art' nutritional guidelines and studies and recommendations and what shops and farm markets sell this and that -- I simply FIRST shared with her that what I HOPED she saw radiating in me is my love of Jesus Christ and what it looks like when one is obeying His Word and living life as Christ would be living today on this earth with all that's 'out there' and around us. She and I have such a wonderful relationship now, as she shows me all the best and most effective exercises for me and I share with her everything she needs to know to nourish her body optimally. She had very bad skin, but she now includes several potent sources of Vitamin A in her daily diet and her skin has cleared up. AND, we talk about our walk with Christ and lift one another up as we strive to follow His Plan for each of us.

God loves me SO much that it has spilled over into me loving myself, too, and loving my neighbour as myself. So,I AM happy the way I am -- but I see myself through God's eyes -- THAT'S who I am! I seek to obey His Word, through His Body and Blood, which has made me whole, and healthy, and beautiful in His Eyes. I want to be and shine THAT for Him and for all the world to see!

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Nutrish and Delish -- Polenta

When you are trying to eat healthy, you really need to have easy foods/recipes that can give you variety in taste, texture, and versatility. And, YET, they need to packed with nutrients and hit the hottest button these days that assures you WILL include it in your diet regularly -- CONVENIENCE.

Polenta is one of those foods. It is as convenient to prepare as pasta, IF you choose the fast-cooking type. Regular cooking-type polenta needs to be cooked longer and more carefully as lumps can form and you can end up with a big mess of muck. Unless you ARE handy in the kitchen and plan to spend time cooking your polenta dish,I HIGHLY recommend looking for the quick-cooking type -- which will indicate on the directions that it takes 5-8 minutes to cook. Although you will STILL have to stir the whole time it is cooking, as you do with regular polenta, it is quicker and milled so that lumps form much less readily than the regular type. Regular polenta takes about 30 -40 minutes to cook through. I MUST admit, though, that IF you take the time to properly make the regular polenta, it does result in a superior flavor, texture and yields a much tastier dish. BUT, the fast-cooking is perfectly delicious and acceptable.

Polenta is basically cornmeal or maize. It is high in carbohydrate, but it is a slow-burning, complex carb and packed with fiber AND it is higher in protein than other carbohydrate choices. Thus, it is satisfying and creates a sense of fullness and sustains you. It is also high in the B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and even has calcium.

On its own, polenta has a bland taste, but if you add small amounts of sharp cheese and olive oil, salt, and pepper and/or other herbs, it picks up these flavors very well. When you eat it next to or over a stew or a ragout of your choice or even with bolognese sauce or tomato sauce and meatballs, it can really make for a wonderful alternative to pasta or potatoes. You get a flavorful, tasty product which is extremely filling. This is an important advantage that polenta has for people who are trying to eat healthy while eating less. That is, to feel full with pasta or potatoes, you might need TWO servings or platefuls. But, with polenta, you will find yourself quite content and satiated with one serving.

I encourage you to google for polenta recipes and try them!

Here is a favorite recipe of mine:

Easy Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta


4 chicken breasts, 2 chicken legs, 2 chicken thighs (with skin)
1 large onion or 2-3 small onions, chopped or sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 punnet chestnut mushrooms, sliced thickly
1 can chopped tomatoes or 4 fresh pomodori tomatoes, chopped
1 cup white or red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
chopped fresh parsley
oregano, fresh or dried, 2 Tablespoons
1 dried chili pepper
salt and pepper

Heat 2 T olive oil in a large iron pot or skillet. Add seasoned (salt and pepper)chicken and cook on all sides until golden, turning frequently. Take chicken out and place on a plate until you need it again. Add 1 teaspoon butter to pot or skillet. Add sliced mushrooms, onions, and garlic. Stir while cooking until softened. Add chicken back into pot/skillet and stir together lightly with mushroom/onion/garlic mixture. Add the one dried chili pepper. Now pour cup of wine in, covering whole mixture. Cover and let come to a gentle boil for about 8 minutes and then reduce to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Next, add tomatoes, and gentle boil for another 10 minutes. Season now with oregano, parsley, and salt and pepper. Let chicken simmer on low until you notice flesh starting to break apart from bone of legs. This takes about 15-20 more minutes. You can remove and discard the skin of chicken pieces quite easily at this point or you can remove and discard just before serving. Keep chicken cacciatore on very low simmer until polenta is finished.


Bring a liter of salted (1/2 teaspoon)water to a fast boil. Reduce to a rolling boil and add fast-cooking polenta. While constantly stirring, let polenta thicken while adding 1/2 cup grated parmesean cheese, 1 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, and other herbs, for example -- rosemary or tyme. Be VERY careful to keep lowering heat of pot so polenta doesn't splatter and burn you while stirring. The polenta should be soft and done to a golden mash within 6 minutes.

Serve chicken/mushroom mixture over polenta mash and sprinkle with parmesean cheese.
Serve with green salad.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Chicken Soup For the Body

There's a crisp chill in the air and 'golden grove' is 'un-leaving'. The colors at this time of year in the London suburbs are breathtaking -- golds, reds, caramels, browns, mixed in with sage, heather, and deep greens. It's also a time of year when folks start sneezing and coughing and passing it on your way, as you dash in and out of the trains,shops, and your office. So, as SOON as you feel those first wheezy, scratchy, tickly symptoms -- I GUARANTEE -- if you put together this delicious, hearty, warming, and healing stew -- you will feel much much better and probably stave off the worst.

'There's Nothing Like Home-made Chicken Soup' Chicken Soup

A small whole chicken (giblets and 'innards' removed) or cuts of chicken (with or without skin) -- can use any cuts, but preferably with white and dark meat and best to use free-range
Cabbage, any kind, whole head -- chopped into chunks
1 large or 2 medium onions, chopped into large chunks
1 clove chopped garlic (optional) -- gives a subtle flavor boost, not a real garlic taste
Carrots, 2-3 cups, sliced or chopped into bite-size pieces
Celery, 4 large stalks, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 fresh pomodori tomatoes, chopped into small chunks or 1/2 can pomodori tomatoes or can use any tomatoes, fresh or canned
Chicken bouillion cubes or sachets or can of chicken broth, if extra-strong chicken-flavor desired -- shouldn't be necessary, though
Fresh parsley(curly or flat-leaf), roughly chopped
Salt, Pepper, and other herbs, as desired, to taste(like rosemary and thyme, preferably fresh and roughly chopped, but can use dried or frozen)

Place chicken in large soup pot with COLD water, just to cover. Bring to a gentle boil, then simmer while skimming 'scum' until broth is relatively clear and chicken is cooked through (takes about 45 minutes). Remove chicken and place in large bowl to cool. Remove skin, unless skinless chicken used. Add all chopped vegetables to broth and bring to gentle boil. Can add any stock cubes, sachets, or cans at this point. Simmer until vegetables meld together and carrots are tender. You can actually add any vegetables to chicken soup, not just those listed above, but carrots, onions, and celery are vital for a good basic stock. Spinach, watercress, chard all work well in this soup. Add parsley, herbs, and seasonings, to taste. Can also add chopped chicken back into soup, if desired. Otherwise, use cooled chicken meat to make chicken salad.

A bowl of this soup counts as 3 vegetables. If you add chicken, must count meat exchange(s), depending on how 'meaty' you make it. You can also add boiled rice (remember BROWN, if possible, please!), pasta (orzo is great in this!), but must count bread/starch/grain exchange(s), accordingly. I often sprinkle a teaspon of fresh-grated parmesean cheese right before serving.

by Mary-Jo R. Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD

Monday, 1 November 2010

Important Relationships and Your Weight

Last Friday was my birthday. I had some lovely surprise calls, visits, and even presents, thus, I felt cared for and special, despite the fact that it was a tough one this year as it was the first one without my Mom.
I'd have to say, my relationship with my mother was as double-edged as it can get when it comes to my weight struggle. For the first 12 years of my life, she made food the emphasis of my being -- cooking, feeding, and often, overfeeding, to show me how cared for and special I was. She made me feel that I could eat freely and almost, endlessly, because somehow when I 'turned into a teenager', I would miraculously shed my 'baby fat' and become svelte and 'normal'. When that didn't happen, she then criticized and often even scolded me for the rest of my teens into early adulthood for not being 'svelte' and a 'normal' weight. At one point, in my early teens, she put me on diet pills. This made me lose weight, but it also made me break out into a terrible body rash and made me sick. A soon as I stopped the pills, the weight piled on again. The dynamic of my weight struggle really dominated my whole relationship with my mother for so many years. It was crazy. But, it led me to find a way to break that domination and to find my own way in life, really. Once I took control of my own 'weight struggle',it wasn't really so much about all the degrees and titles I've obtained that came with the uber-knowledge of foods, nutrition, metabolism, and (patho)physiology that helped me, as it was the realization that my Mom UNWITTINGLY led me down a path that would set me up for struggling with my weight my entire life. She wasn't negligent or abusive or purposefully inappropriate -- which is what some 'experts' today are trying to proffer as reasons for childhood obesity. Although, perhaps, in some cases, this may be true, I believe in MOST cases, parental mal-influence on childhood obesity is totally unintended and only happens out of ignorance and frustration, but,nevertheless, out of love, as it did in my case. Mom truly believed that feeding me, as she did, was GOOD for me and it was the BEST she felt she had to offer. She TRULY believed that I would slim down and 'even out' once I started menstruating and physiologically and hormonally change. And, actually, she wasn't so wrong! It IS normal for pre-pubescent children to experience a surge in body weight right before the pubescent growth spurt and many children, especially females, look, and may actually BE,'chubby' right before the hormones kick in to restore the body's homeostasis to a better fat:muscle ratio. But, of course, her 'oversimplified', uneducated misunderstanding of the reality of the situation, was the crucial difference between 'getting it right' and 'getting it wrong'. But, she did everything she did out of love.
Once I realized this, it helped to re-establish my relationship with my Mom. We had a very strong, close, and loving relationship and I miss her very much. Oh, I still struggle with my weight -- but it's MY struggle, not hers. And it's EXACTLY why I do what I do -- that is -- work hard to help others become AWARE and knowledgeable and correct about how to PREVENT childhood obesity and obesity, in general. If ONE health-care practitioner would have been forthcoming in not only providing my Mom with the facts, but in guiding her to LIVE through the correct way to feed and nourish me and to get me more active and in tune with my growing body -- then, perhaps I wouldn't be struggling today.
So, look at your relationships and PLEASE -- don't hold onto anything that's holding you back any more than you need to! You have MORE information and awareness today of all that you DO need to 'get it right' and really work at it. It may be hard and it may be a 'struggle', but, if you keep at it -- you will overcome. Nobody, even my beloved Mom -- ever said it would be easy! And, anything, anything in life -- when it's a struggle -- taste that much sweeter when you reach a point when you find yourself overcoming it!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Peace Of Wild Things by Wendell Berry

Autumn, also, is a great time to get out and take a walk. Perhaps you haven't been exercising and taking time to breathe in some fresh air. Just breathing in more fresh air can make you feel better. Certainly, taking time to take more walks is a great way when one is starting out a lifestyle change to include more exercise. If you walk, say -- 4-5 times a week -- you'll feel the difference in your sense of well-being and your body awareness. Perhaps, your weight will drop, if you need to lose fat weight. Alternating your pace from brisk walking for about 10 minutes to leisurely for 10-15 minutes, seems to enable one's heart rate to prime your body into fat-burning mode. It IS a weight-bearing activity, so you also get the advantage of strengthening your bones. And, it's actually rather enjoyable -- taken alone whereby you can think and reflect (be sure you're in a safe area!) or taken with someone you love -- need I say more! So, DO IT! Take a walk and take in all the wonders of nature around you. It's free and it's FREE-ING!

Love this poem:

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Monday, 25 October 2010

Nutrish and Delish -- Fruity Fall Recipe Ideas That Help Keep You Eating Healthy While Enjoying Every Bite

I love fall -- the colors, the scents, and the crisp chill in the air. Also, my birthday is October 29th, so I get a chance, every year, to look back on fond memories and to look ahead to new adventures. It seems to be the time of year where I do my reflecting and resolving to make my 'new year' the best yet! Life sure isn't easy and every year, it's something, isn't it?! But, I've resolved to make my health and fitness a priority no matter what. What's the use of having poor fitness and PREVENTABLE health issues on top of all the other worries that life inevitably throws your way. So, just for a moment -- I'd like to share with you a way to instantly make your whole home feel cozy and comforting as you fill your place with an amazing aroma, while providing you with a wonderful fall fruity dessert as the extra bonus. It's also a way to economically use up any fruit you have in the house that may be starting to rot -- DON'T throw it away!!!!

Fall Fruity Favorite

Take any fruit you have -- apples, pears, figs, peaches, even berries. Cut up in chunky pieces, except for the berries -- just sprinkle those inbetween and over all the chunky fruit pieces and place in a VERY lightly greased (with some sort of vegetable oil, but not olive oil) baking dish. Sprinkle some chopped nuts -- about 1/2 cup -- any will do -- I like walnuts. Sprinkle over some cinnamon or ginger or nutmeg -- whatever you prefer. I've even grated some fresh ginger over the fruit mixture if I have it. Ginger is particularly good over pears. And berries -- particularly blueberries, but any berries, really -- sprinkled through chunky fruit pieces always add an extra 'thickness' and 'jam-iness, and 'moorish' quality to this dish. You CAN add a Tablespoon of brown sugar, sprinkled over the whole fruit/nut/spice mixture, but it's not really necessary unless your fruit is really sour -- say if you added cranberries -- and if you're watching your total kcalorie intake per day. Add about 1/2 cup of water over entire mixture. You can also use diluted orange or any juice to give the dish an extra kick. Bake in a medium oven (350F or 180C) for about 40 minutes, until fruit is cooked through and nicely browned. It's best to have some 'bite' left in the fruit, as this adds to the eating pleasure. Serve warm or cold with low-fat (or better-yet, fat-free, if you're watching kcalorie and fat) custard or yogurt.
If you don't have an oven, you can make the same recipe over the hobb. Just place everything in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until fruit is softened and has some 'bite' left. The recipe doesn't brown as nicely, but the flavors and aroma are still wonderful. This version creates more of a 'stewed fruit' dessert.
For both versions, you can also splash in your favorite liquer or dessert wine to pick up that hint. The kcalories and alcohol evaporate away.

I also sometimes add an oat crunch topping -- but this DOES add kcalories, sugar, and fat to the dessert and is not really necessary for the enjoyment factor, but it is a nice touch. For oat-crunch topping: Take 2 cups of quick-cooking oats. Mix in 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light), 1 Tablespoon flour (whole wheat is best), and cut in some fat of some sort until the mixture is crumbly and made easy to sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Butter chunks is WONDERFUL to use -- for flavor AND texture, but it adds a source of saturated fat -- not good if you are watching your cholesterol and total fat intake. So, vegetable oil, other than olive oil, can also be used and yields a satisfactory result, too. You only need about 1/3 cup oil or 3 scant Tablespoons butter. You can also add crushed nuts to the topping mix. Sprinkle topping mix over fruit mixture before baking. You CANNOT do this if you're making the 'stewed version'.

Another idea that is a crowd-pleaser and doesn't break the 'kcalorie bank' is to use ready-made meringue nests. These are basically sugar and protein. They can be crushed roughly over the fruit mixture before dolloping on your custard or yogurt or, if you have the big nests, you can fill them with the fruit and dollop over the custard or yogurt.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Internet is the new smoking

Activity- and health-wise, that is. We finally seem to have gotten past the lure of smoking as the 'thing' to do to be cool, to make us look 'attractive', and frankly, to give us something to do when we're bored or needing some sort of 'crutch' to latch onto. The cues, examples, and depictions of smoking in the media and public have drastically subsided from restriction on advertising, to less glamourization in movies and TV (except , of course, on 'Mad Men', which actually shows how ridiculously 'normal' smoking looks), to no-smoking in public places. SO, you'd think our overall health would be improving and, importantly, our children would, certainly, be growing up with this yoke of a huge poor health habit lifted off and enabling them to be the healthiest generations ever.

Sadly, not happening. Why -- because NOW there's internet! Kids spend SO much time sitting -- chatting, youtubing, lurking, gaming,you-name-it on the internet. So, now, aside from ever-increasing time sitting watching TV -- they are occupied with ADDITIONAL hours of inactivity -- in itself a poor health habit -- to all kinds of exposures of violence, sex, misconduct,and voyeuring.

This has to be contributing to the incidence of obesity in countries where kids are just not moving more to compensate. While travelling a bit last month, I noticed that, thankfully, kids are still cycling in The Netherlands -- they have to -- it's the way they get around. Thus, thankfully, the prevalence of obesity in The Netherlands remains one ofthe lowest in the world, despite the incidence slightly increasing, probably due to factors mostly coming from the dietary intake change and, indeed, increased 'automobilization' in some pockets across the country. In Italy , and many other parts of Europe, people still do walk regularly, as a means of transport. The point I'm trying to make, is that there MUST be compensation in SOME way to help make up for all those hours of sitting and 'vegging' for our children. Do NOT allow your children to miss out on engaging in some kind of sport and/or physical activity. In the former post-war 'boomer' generations, physical exercise was not emphasized as much as it is now, because there was no need -- the prevalence and incidence of obesity was not yet alarmingly high. Actually, these very same 'boomer' kids, who are now middle -age and aging adults, are having a high prevalence of obesity BECAUSE they were not brought up with the stress on the importance of including physical activity and exercise. So, more reason for, NOW -- parents MUST make a concerted effort to get their kids moving. AND, parents need to be unobtrusive, yet firm, consistent, and regular. Exercise and physical activity has to be made to be 'normal'. Or else, you will have your kids digging their heels in and reverting to their beloved habit of 'internetting' even more.

I'm not saying the 'internet' is all bad. It's here and it's not going away and it HAS improved life on many levels. But, like anything else, OVER-use of it, is the problem. It's all still about balance.

We've succeeded in controlling smoking amongst our children. Don't allow them to suffer the legacy of poor fitness, by turning a blind eye to them habitually 'lighting up' their laptops and PCs. It really and truly is hazardous to their health!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Self-regulators and Self-regulation

Let's talk about SELF-REGULATORS:

These are the people who say things to you like "Oh, I eat whatever I want" or "I eat as much as I want of whatever I want and STILL never gain an ounce" or "I eat TONS", etc. etc. And you look at them and, indeed, they look fit as fiddles and absolutely fabulous. So, DO they eat whatever they want and as much as they want? Are they to be believed?

Yes!! I believe them! BUT, you MUST realize that WHAT these people eat is probably very healthy -- HOW MUCH they eat is most likely totally within the range of reasonable intake for their needs, and their selection of high-calorie, high-fat, sugar-dense foods is very very likely few and far between and OCCASIONAL. They, very likely, INHERENTLY TREAT themselves every once in awhile, BUT, to them, this is eating 'whatever, whenever'. So, PLEASE be very aware of this. It is no accident that people who are already self-regulators, by nature, do not have problems with their weight. Their definitions of WHAT, HOW MUCH, WHENEVER are different than yours and mine. They WANT to eat this way!!

Let's talk about SELF-REGULATION:

The quality of SELF-REGULATION CAN BE LEARNED, though! So, those of us who, INHERENTLY, DO have issues with overeating and reaching for truly all the wrong foods, too frequently, and in amounts that FAR exceed our needs--can absolutely become as adept as inherent self-regulators in managing what we eat, how much we eat, and how frequently we take (or leave) sugar-,fat-, kcalorie-dense foods. We just need a little more practice -- that's all! We have to train ourselves to be AWARE and to get to know and love our bodies, to exercise regularly, to be DISCIPLINED, to FIND FOOD ALTERNATIVES that are healthy and tasty and which makes US feel satisfied and happy so that we will WANT to EAT that way! Practice, practice, practice and before you know it -- you make living like this a habit. You get yourselves in the 'zone of fitness' which, in itself, makes you WANT to self-regulate. Then, when you DO go back and relapse into the old bad habit(s), you feel SO lousy, that you WANT to return to the 'zone of fitness'.

SELF- REGULATION, as I said before, is my 'holy grail'. I've got it right now -- thankfully. Right now, I'm in my 'zone of fitness' and it feels SO good -- I feel great! I really and truly am an inherent 'NON self-regulator', so can you imagine how good this feels for me?! MY desire is for everyone who is like me, to get into this 'zone of fitness' and to feel this great. If you need and want help, please feel free to ask how I can personally help you, via, this blog. Your questions and frustrations probably reflect similar ones to many other folks. We're in this together and as long as we're here and somebody has to feel great on this earth -- it might as well be US!!!!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

If you are going to indulge -- PLEASE make it worth the TREAT

On the 'ShareItFitness' Twitter page, the author noted that yesterday was 'National Dessert Day'. Now, I had no idea about this day or that it even existed -- especially that I really and truly TRY to keep my mind off of desserts and 'indulgences' as I strive to eat low-fat and controlled kcalories. BUT, he posed the question -- what is your favorite dessert? As much as I STILL enjoy DAILY 'desserts' of fresh fruits, fruit salad with plain yogurt and a dash of cinnamon, frozen yogurts, and in winter, I make fresh-fruit bakes and cobblers made with oats and walnuts. I will post a recipe or two on those lovely HEALTHY, wonderful-tasting desserts another time. But, for today, I will post the recipe for one of my FAVORITE, all-time indulgences. Look, if you are going to 'indulge', it might as well be worth it! This IS a high-kcalorie, high-fat dessert, but it is relatively difficult to make, thus, I would only make it once, perhaps, every couple years. Or, I would order it out, only IF it was a place that had it made WELL -- which is ALSO difficult to find! Which, actually, is a GOOD thing as it means I would only have it as an uber-TREAT -- which it should be -- for me, at least. I am the type of person that cannot have treats TOO often as this may TRIGGER me to veer off course. I know this about myself and I just have to do what I have to do. Some people CAN have high-kcal, high-fat desserts, say, once a week and be perfectly fine as they keep right back on track to healthy eating for the rest of their week. One of my goals is to achieve, one day, that level of SELF-REGULATION. This, to me, would be MY 'holy grail'. But, for now, I can't. BUT, facts of life are that these lovely desserts EXIST and it's no use completely and FOREVER abstaining. So, every once in awhile, I will choose something like this and completely savour and enjoy it. You can find a great recipe for it here:

Delish and Nutrish-- 'My Mama's Meatballs & Gravy'

I love to eat! And eating great food when you are TRULY hungry makes the experience of eating the gift and blessing that it really is. As I live my life now, so aware of health and fitness and working at achieving and maintaining my health and fitness, I've actually learned the joy of food -- much much more than when I was indiscriminately eating whatever I wanted or THOUGHT tasted good in whatever amounts it took to make me full. So often, if not all the times I ate like that -- I really didn't enjoy the eating of the food OR the food itself. PLUS, I would feel guilty and defeated emotionally, on top of feeling and BEING bloated, puffy, often 'crampy', overfed, and uncomfortable.

NOW, I get to enjoy food and eating. I am STILL a 'comfort-eater', but I find alternatives for snacks that help alleviate my 'yearnings', but yet that are healthier (see my previous post). I also make and eat versions of the recipes I grew up with that are SO delicious, YET nutritious. That's the key to lasting success in this whole effort to lose weight and keep it off for good AND to get and stay fit. One HAS to eat and ENJOY the foods that they LIKE and that also they associate with happiness, comfort, goodness, wholesomeness, and balance. Foods are meant to nourish our bodies -- yes -- but also our souls! Now, if you find that you are a person who has to totally chuck all your previous preferences and associations with food and start all over with a new diet plan, then so be it. You probably were never really eating a balanced diet to begin with. It's never too late to seek out and re-learn new and more appropriate selections and habits. But, I was raised in an Italian home where the Mediterranean diet was practiced. Unfortunately, my grandparents and parents were so fascinated with all the fast foods and convenience foods that were rapidly being developed and rolled out that, often, AFTER we ate dinner, just for 'fun', we would drive to the 'new' McDonald's or Burger King and get a burger, fries, and a Coke!! This was about an hour AFTER we had just eaten a full healthy meal of lean meat, vegetables, and salad!!! I remember eating watermelon for dessert -- this is what we were offered after meals -- fresh fruit in season. But, THEN, my Dad, God love him, would pull out from behind his back the newest 'invention' that he found at the grocery store -- snack-pack puddings! He thought this was so neat! One didn't have to slave away over a hot stove stirring milk and eggs and cocoa -- you simply flipped the top of the can and tucked in. So, here I was, full-bellied after a wholesome wonderful meal and then I would eat a pudding on top of it. They did this out of love and ignorance. They had NO idea that they were overfeeding us or fostering habits that would be our undoing as we got older. But, it's been a long, hard struggle for me to 'undo' the BAD habits while keeping hold of the GREAT habits and preferences I ALSO learned as a child. I'm an adult now and there's NO excuses. I KNOW better and I have to wake up every day and LIVE my 'knowing-better'. In the end, it makes me better and rather, GREAT!

Here's one of my mother's best recipes -- nutritionally, for sure -- but also for comfort. I've modified it slightly, but not too much as to take away from its original grandeur.

My Mama's Meatballs & Gravy
(feeds 4, but can double recipe for 8+)

Ingredients for Meatballs:

1 lb.LEAN (5% fat or less) (500 g) ground beef
1 beef or pork rib or lean, thin pork chop
3 -4 cloves chopped garlic
4 Tablespoons chopped parsley (curly leaf)
3-4 sprigs celery leaves, chopped finely
2 eggs
4 Tablespoons (or so) grated fresh parmesean cheese
2-3 tablespoons fresh grated whole-wheat bread crumbs (optional-- can omit if following Paleo or high-protein/low carb type diet)
salt and pepper

Method for meatballs:

Mix all ingredients except the pork rib or chop into a medium bowl. Add enough grated cheese to make mixture smooth. If you need less than the amount listed above, that's ok, especially if you are using the bread crumbs, too. If not using bread crumbs, you will likely need all of grated cheese. Add ICE COLD water if mixture actually needs more moisture. The mix should be moist enough, but not too wet so as to enable you to make firm meatballs. Best to make meatballs the size of a ping-pong or golf ball rather than bigger. Once all meat mixture is made into balls, set aside on plate, sitting on top of ice or cover and place in fridge.
Take a large non-stick skillet and sprinkle about 2 Tablespoons olive oil over it. Bring to a medium high heat. When oil just starts to bead, add the pork rib or chop and brown well on all sides. Remove from pan and place on plate to rest. Add 2 more Tablespoons olive oil to skillet and allow to just bead. Then add as many meatballs as you can to the heated skillet, but do not crowd them in. Keep turning them, until they are nicely browned on all sides. As they are done, transfer to a fresh plate to let rest, and continue this process until all meatballs are browned evenly on all sides and are more or less, cooked. Test one to see that they are not raw inside -- they really should be thoroughly cooked through. They are now ready to add to gravy.

Ingredients for Gravy:

4-5 16 oz. cans chopped or crushed tomatoes or 2-3 large cans chopped or crushed tomatoes (really, it's up to you how much tomatoes you want to add depending on how much gravy you want to make)
1 small can tomato sauce
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
2 generous Tablespoons olive oil
red wine, to taste (about 2 Tablespoons should be enough)
salt and pepper to taste

Method for Gravy:

Sautee` garlic and onions in olive oil in a medium large pot over a medium heat. Do NOT allow garlic and onion to brown -- only to soften. You can add a tiny bit of water if the garlic and onions look like they are browning while softening. Add chopped/crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce and bring to a GENTLE bowl. Immediately lower to a simmer. Add the red wine and salt and pepper to taste and simmer for about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to a very gentle simmer while slowly now adding all cooked meatballs. Now add cooked pork chop/rib. Let this meat/tomato mixture simmer gently for about 45 minutes. Keep tasting and add salt and pepper and, maybe more red wine, to taste.

At very end, you can add fresh basil for added 'zest'.

This sauce is wonderful over freshly cooked whole wheat pasta,sprinkled with grated parmesean cheese and basil or parsley sprigs for garnish, It's always best to have your pasta 'al dente' like the Italians like it. Serve with a big, green salad made of the freshest leaves!

Lower Carbohydrate Option:

You can also serve over spaghetti squash. This latter option is great for those of you on a low carbohydrate type diet. To make spaghetti squash, you can rinse a whole squash, slice in half, remove seeds, and place, halved sides down on a baking sheet that has a thin layer of water, in a medium hot oven (350F or 180C or Gas Mark 5) for about 40 minutes. Stick a fork through a half to test for done-ness. If soft and fork easily sticks through, it is done. If not, you need to cook it for as long as it takes for a fork to easily push through a half. This should take no longer than an hour. When done, take out of oven and turn halves over. Let cool a few minutes. Scrape out contents to form spaghetti like strands onto your plate. Ladle sauce over the squash and place meatballs on top. Garnish with basil or parsley. You can sprinkle more grated parmesean if you like. Enjoy.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

"Healthy" snacks

I'm seeing so many more products on the shelves -- here in Europe and the UK and in the USA that are being advertised and marketed as 'healthy snacks'. Often, thankfully, these items ARE better, nutritionally, than most other of the conventional snacks that people have been noshing on for years, but I feel it's important to give some information and perspective on what to choose.

If you are a person who is fit and active, whatever you're eating is working for you. You are the folks who have an inherent ability to self-regulate, habitually, and probably are choosing many of these 'healthy' items and not eating them as if they are 'free foods' -- that is, because they are 'healthy' you eat copious amounts of them. You are the people who CAN snack on nuts and dried fruits -- foods that are very high in kcalories and, for nuts, fat, BECAUSE they ARE healthy when they are eaten in SMALL amounts, which, of course, fit, active people do naturally. Nuts and dried fruits are NOT good choices for obese people UNLESS they really and truly make a concerted effort to LIMIT the portions and overall amounts to scant handfuls. I can't tell you how many clients I see who cannot seem to shift their pounds, even while exercising, who finally fess up about 'snacking' on nuts and dried fruits "like the other people in the gym and their personal trainer does".

People who need to lose weight need to be snacking on fresh fruit and vegetables, fat-free or low-fat yogurts, whole-grain cereal bars, perhaps dried beans/seeds. So, now we get to the new products, like cereal bars and dried beans/seeds. These are, indeed. great choices for aspiring weight/fat-losers, BUT, I recommend choosing the products that are NO MORE than 150+/- 20 kcalories, 22 gms carbohydrate, and 5 gms of fat PER serving! When snacks PER SERVING go over these rough guidelines, then you are getting into MEAL kcals, carb, and fat amounts. I would also HIGHLY recommend that any snacks you choose contain at least about 4 gms of protein per serving and better if more. It IS tough to find products with that amount of protein, but if you can find something, go for it. These would be the snack size yogurts and fat-free/low-fat cheese strings, for example. But, it's also great to mix up snacking with high-fiber containing items, like the Kellogg's Fiber-Plus cereal bars. The Kellogg's Bliss bars are probably better for weight/fat-losers, but the Fiber-Plus bars are perfectly allowed IF they are not eaten 2-3 at a time. Only ONE per day.

It's very important to use your good, common sense about snacking. You KNOW these products are meant to be regulated even though they suggest that they can be eaten 'freely'. And I commend food companies for producing these fine-tasting alternatives, but with all due respect to the food companies -- they don't REALLY care if YOU eat copious amounts of their low-fat/fat-free. low-kcalorie, high fiber, low sat-fat foods -- it's more business for them!

Don't fool and undermine yourselves. Choose these products wisely and in such a way as to AIDE you in the struggle to lose and keep weight/fat off. I love that these products are now available and that more options are coming out on the shelves every day. But, use my guidelines (above) to help you keep your selections HELPFUL, not IMPEDIMENTS to all your hard work and great intentions.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Seeing sad looking obese or overweight people with frowning spouses breaks my heart

I was at the gas station the other day pumping gas and doing what I love to do -- observing people. Out of the car at the pump next to me came a very heavy women. She was a bit rumpled and disheveled as if she and her companion had been driving for awhile. She looked around her trying to gauge the reaction of the people in her near vicinity. She had a sad, sheepish, almost frightened expression on her face. But, she then focused and went into the shop at the station to get drinks and, I think, other 'refreshments' -- I didn't really look. I was too distracted by the disapproving smirk that her companion gave her-- I'm pretty sure it was her husband -- as she walked into the shop. I got so choked up. Whatever the history or status of their relationship was or is -- no one deserves that type of disrespect and, possibly, even loathing. Really, he gave off that vibe of someone who was quite miserable. It just broke my heart. As she walked back out and made her way to the car, I noticed how rather cute she was, with beautiful coloring, and she had a well-proportioned body, albeit, quite obese. I couldn't help but think how gorgeous she may have been when they first met or married or in happier times. I pictured them laughing together and sharing interesting banter. Not the air of total boredom and discomfort in each others presence that they exuded. He was very thin and not a bad looking man at all. They typified the Jack-Sprat couple. Even that used to get my goat when I was studying about obesity and the various classifications of it. How insulting to have a relationship 'designated' like that. I said a small prayer for them as I finished pumping and placed the cap on my tank. I prayed that, somehow, she sheds her weight and, perhaps, revives the spark of happiness they both deserve for each other and for life.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

When lacking discipline -- just PUSH yourself! Be a robot!

Oh, oh, oh!

Today I did NOT feel like working out or even eating healthy. I just wanted to be a bum and play 'hookey' from my health. My usual self-motivation and almost obsessive drive for exact adherence to all things good for me just seemed to flee from my body, mind, and soul -- leaving me like an empty vessel ready to be filled by all things heavy and limp. I don't know if it was the rain, the unpacked boxes calling out to me in this house we just moved into with the disarray that goes with the move this time, the full laundry baskets after being gone for a few days, the knowledge that I only had this one day as I'm travelling AGAIN tomorrow for another 3 days. I was just beat.
Before I knew it, I was grabbing my sneakers and hightailing outta there! I zipped to the gym so fast, I hardly remember driving. I dashed out of the car and just mindlessly starting biking, treadmilling, lifting, and sweating. I often put more time and effort into my workout, but I was too afraid to stop and strategize my muscle groups today. I just went with the automatic flow of my flab! Then I went home and did 4 loads of wash, cleaned the bathrooms, folded and put away clothes, cooked some lentil soup with green salad, and pulled out everything healthy I could find on hand in the house to partake of my meals throughout this day. Well, it's now after 8PM and I've FINALLY come to my senses and am back in 'reflect' mode. Am I GLAD I didn't blow it!! I'm SO happy I keep a fridge and freezer and cupboards full of wholesome foods and no junk in the house. If so, I would've DEFINITELY been in 'noshing mode' on all the wrong substances like sat fats, simple sugars, and uber kcalories. I'm also glad I plunked down that money to join that gym and have been regularly going. This made me fall into file and do what I do without thinking of what TO do. Habits may be boring at times, but they do help when we are weak and uncreative -- both traits I had, today, in abundance and which I confess I have, inherently. So, today was one of those days that made me realize why I am not and will never be one of those smiley, happy personal trainers. As much as I love being fit and feel SO much better after my workouts and certainly, after I've gotten through a day of eating healthy and in control of my portions and limits -- it's just not easy for me. Which is why fitness feels THAT much better for me! Even the 'robot' version of myself. Sooner or later, the real me always comes back -- on my knees, yet clapping for joy!


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Cool, clear, water!!

Take a look:

Kids really need to drink more water! Water is the universal solvent. It has a neutral osmolarity and osmolality. In other words, it makes whatever you eat that much more nutritious because it breaks it all down -- optimally -- without needing to equalize its own tonicity or 'substance' -- it just helps dissolve the tonicity and consistency of the contents of what solids are eaten. And that means that all your delicious and nutritious foods will be optimally absorbed. Your foods are not competing with syrupy, sugary drinks. Sweetened beverages -- be they sodas or juices, have a certain 'charge' -- they have to be 'neutralized' before they release the water part of their fluid. Plus, sweetened drinks have 'empty calories' -- no vitamins or minerals or electrolytes --you don't get much from them BUT sugar and calories in exchange for the fluid -- SO, you are much better off just getting the pure fluid WITHOUT the calories from water! You also need to know that the so-called 'fortified' water products add very little in the way of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes than normal water. They are expensive and unnecessary and they often DO contain sugar or sugar substitutes and also have increased tonicity and osmolality -- defeating one of the solvent advantages of pure water.

Milky products also have a 'charge' that needs to be neutralized. But milk and milk drinks are important sources of calcium, protein, and vitamins A and D. But, we only need only so much per day -- for kids, 3-4 servings, and for adults -- 2 servings.

Water is already, automatically neutral and ready-made to quench those thirsty cells of ours. This, in turn, makes our cells thrive and do all their bodily processes and activities that they need to do without squeezing, struggling, and gasping. Kids run around, talk, sing, play, think, question,and scream alot. AND, they are growing voraciously (hopefully). That's ALOT of processes and activities! So, the more water, the smoother the body functions, and the more optimally our children function in every way.

Instead of colas, juices, and other sweetened drinks, give them water. Most kids actually prefer cool, clear, water if its offered early-on and first. Because, trial and error shows them that water actually quenches thirst quicker and smoother than any other drink -- including milk. Kids DO need milk and milk products -- 3 -4 servings a day, for their calcium and protein and vitamins A & D (if fortified). But other than that, water should be the next beverage offered and consumed.

Be cool. Drink water.

Mary-Jo R. Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

God refreshes, sweetens,enlightens and tenderizes, and guides our dreams if we open our hearts to Him

Last Night As I Was Sleeping
by Antonio Machado (version by Robert Bly)

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error!--
that a spring was breaking
out in my heart.
I said: Along which secret aqueduct,
Oh water, are you coming to me,
water of a new life
That I have never drunk?

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error! ==
that I had a beehive
here inside my heart.
And the golden bees
were making white coombs
and sweet honey
from my old failures.

Last night as I was sleeping,
I dreamt -- marvelous error!--
that a fiery sun was giving
light inside my heart.
It was fiery because I felt
warmth as from a hearth,
and sun because it gave light
and brought tears to my eyes.

Last night as I slept,
I dreamt -- marvelous error!--
that it was God I had
here inside my heart.

With God all things are possible! He makes even your failures reveal what you need to know and do to make them result in something wonderful and make you golden and beautiful!

Every day spent with God is a new day in the Kingdom.

Beauty CAN be relative

Beauty is twice beauty and what is good is doubly good when it's a matter of two woolen socks in winter. Pablo Neruda, Ode To My Socks

As I read this poem, I was taken in by Pablo Neruda's vivid descriptions of his new socks made especially for him and which, at times, as he looked at them adorning his feet, they took his breath away. As the poem goes on, one gets the feeling that it's not just the wool or the colors or the feel, but the fact that they were lovingly made for him and that they are protecting his feet. And then, finally, he ends with his moral of the story: they are even more than they are, when they are his to have when he needs them the most!

This is often how we feel about our weight and level of fitness. That is, we appreciate our health and fitness and how it makes us look and feel, but we are THAT much more appreciative and happy when we need to look and feel our best for an event or when we meet up with people we haven't seen in awhile or when we just want to show to whomever for whatever that we look and feel GOOD. OR after we've come out of a period of letting ourselves go or being sick. When we don't have our health, fitness, or glowing good looks, we long for them. Which is why we really need to just work at looking our best against the reference of OURSELVES, not someone else. If you look and feel great 20 lbs less than you were, then savor that and feel great in that. Don't start obsessing about needing to lose 20 more lbs to be as thin or as beautiful as someone else. When we set our goals and standards unrealistically, we set ourselves up for failure and negativity.

Rejoice in your own socks! Especially when you've worked hard at making them, surrounded by all the supportive people and tools that helped you create them! Be happy in your accomplishment, especially when you know how far you've come from where you were and how great you feel in how and who you are NOW! You're BEAUTIFUL!

Friday, 10 September 2010

A quote I can't seem to get out of my mind

'The human body has the infinite capacity to make and store fat'. Devlin's Textbook of Biochemistry

When I was in graduate school, I had to take several biochemistry courses -- inorganic and organic. I found them very difficult and it required alot of memorization of formulas and configurations and pathways and symbols of numerous elements and substances, but, I LOVED it and would probably have become a biochemist had I not become a nutritionist. It wouldn't have been a healthy career choice for me, though, as it would have enabled and allowed me to become even more introverted than I already am and I would have turned out to be quite unbalanced and self-absorbed.

I still recall the moment I read the above quote. I was at the medical school library at Emory U. I was studying hard for a biochem final and had to fetch the huge bright yellow Devlin's Textbook of Biochemistry to look up a few reactions. If one didn't know any better, you would think it was the phone book. Anyhow, on my way to 'phospholipids', I read the highlighted box with the quote. I didn't quite know what it meant then and have pondered it for many years. As the obesity epidemic soars and as I walk around the States these days -- almost 20 years later -- I get it! Man, do I get it! Dang!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Fro Yo's -- concluding statement

Overall, I think what's best as you choose a frozen treat that is healthy AND tasty, is to reach for those that are less than 120 kcals and 3 gms fat per 1/2c serving or a single piece. It's a bonus when these treats contain some fiber and are higher than 1 gm protein per serving. It's also best when they are less than 100 mg sodium per serving.

Of course, your own taste preference will dictate the ones you reach for first. I, personally, like anything that contains chocolate, but, it's still trial and error. I find Turkey Hill's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough frozen yogurt absolutely disgusting, while the same brand's Banana Split flavor is very good and DOES contain enough chocolate to completely satisfy my craving for it, even though it's not in the product name.

IF you find yourself craving something richer, creamier, and more satisfying -- it's OK to occasionally select the higher kcalorie, higher fat frozen yogurt products (the ones in the 150+ kcals, 5-6 gms fat per 1/2c serving or single piece) as they are STILL much better than full-fat ice cream. Certainly,if and when you are well within your goal weight and/or fitness level, it's perfectly fine to even choose full-fat ice creams and rich desserts, but that pleasure is really an event that you need to reserve for very special occasions. Eating rich desserts and other high fat, high kcalorie, high-in-simple-sugars foods and snacks REGULARLY is what makes fat and unfit.

So, for me, Ben & Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt IS higher in kcals and fat per serving than some of the others, but it's something I choose when I KNOW I need that richness to help keep me on the straight and narrow for the rest of my healthy eating plan for the week. That is, I keep it in the freezer for the occasional every-two-weeks treat.

Be cool! Star Bene!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Know Your Fro-Yo's -- cont'd

There are some wickedly delicious frozen yogurts on the market to help anyone who wants to have a treat while still following a weight loss or eat-healthy program. Only thing is -- you MUST know which one(s) to choose so that you don't end up undermining/sabotaging all your hard-won results and best efforts. Here are a couple of my favorites:

Edy's Cookies'n Cream 1/2 cup(68 g) kcals--120
total fat--3.5 g
sat fat--2 g
trans fat--0 g
cholesterol--10 mg
sodium--55 mg
total carbohydrates--20 g
sugars--15 g
protein--3 g

Turkey Hill Chocolate
Marhmellow 1/2 cup(68 g) kcals--110
total fat--0 g
cholesterol--0 mg
sodium--110 mg
total carb--24 g
sugars--18 g
fiber--1 g

Turkey Hill Peanut
Butter Pie 1/2 cup(68 g) kcals--160
total fat--7 g
sat fat--2.5 g
cholesterol--0 mg
sodium--95 mg
total carb--22 g
sugars--16 g
fiber--1 g

PLEASE take note of the difference in the kcals and total fat content of the two Turkey Hill flavors. You can choose either one, but my recommendation is to choose the higher kcalorie selection once or twice a week while feeling free to partake of the lower kcal, 0 fat flavor daily. AND, this does not mean you can have several servings a day -- choose frozen yogurt as part of your balanced diet however it fits into your plan -- as a milk serving mainly, but it can also be your dessert in place of fruit and certainly in place of a fattening, sugar-laden, saturated fat, trans-fat, cholesterol-laden dessert. I will post more examples of frozen yogurt recommendations tomorrow, including the 'Skinny Cow' desserts.

Keep cool!

Monday, 30 August 2010

Know your Fro-Yo's! They are NOT all created equal!

With the long, hot summer that we have experienced this year and no end in sight, according to the latest forecasts, frozen 'treats', no doubt, have been enjoying a banner year. For those of us who want to partake and refresh ourselves, yet not ingest our bodies with the loads of fat, sugars, and kcalories that goes with these treats, perhaps the many delicious frozen yogurts in the freezer section have called out to you.

Which one did you choose? You see, there are VAST differences amongst the myriad of flavors, concoctions, & consistencies and you need to know.

Remember the 'Seinfeld' episode where everyone thought that a certain frozen yogurt was so low in fat and kcalories that the gang was eating copious amounts of it, thinking they were going all healthy, only to find themselves gaining weight at rapid rates, getting bloated, and feeling like crap? Well, not too far from the truth, my friends, with a few of these options on the market. IMO, frozen yogurts, in general, are a better choice than ice cream, if you need to watch your fat, cholesterol, and kcalorie intake OR if you are a person who is NOT a self-regulator -- ie -- someone who CAN be perfectly satisfied with the scoop or two a couple times a week. But, if you're like me -- and find yourself reaching for the tub of tasty, frozen 'relief' daily -- you better know what's in the stuff and choose as wisely as you possibly can or you will MOST definitely sabotage your finest efforts to lose weight, keep weight off, eat healthy, etc -- whatever your goal(s) may be.

Frozen yogurts range from 240-60 kcals, 7-9 gms fat per 1/2 cup serving to 100 kcals, 0 gms fat per 1/2 cup serving. That's a HUGE difference and I haven't even mentioned the carbohydrates and simple sugars content issue involved here. Tune in tomorrow for which ones to choose and why. Off the top of my head, I'll just say -- if you DO go with one of the higher kcal, fat choices like Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Fudge Brownie -- yes -- they probably are better tasting and creamier, BUT you have to know that you MUST choose these ones as if they are a rich dessert like a rich ice cream or any other rich dairy dessert. These yogurts would NOT be the type that you could feel free to choose every day without undermining your weight loss/ health promotion efforts. Kemp's Cookies and Cream would be a choice that fits into the latter category. A 1/2 cup serving of it has 100 kcals and o gms fat. The taste and texture of it, IMO, is as enjoyable as the B & J's. Almost. More choices and recommendations tomorrow.

Stay cool.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Downstairs Bathroom -- the most popular 'gig' in town!

What is it about my downstairs bathroom that makes everyone and anyone want to use it. And I don't mean just 'use it' -- I mean -- so many people who ask to use it, end up conducting their full-blown, outrageous, and complete business in it, whether it's for their weekly or daily 'meeting'.

And it doesn't matter what country I'm in -- you know -- the bathroom, the WC, the powder room, the loo -- folks absolutely find the need to use it.

Not just the family, next-of-kin variety, including the odd returning university student/graduate and her many and myriad friends with her, but also other close and distant relatives,friends -- even if they've just popped over for a short visit -- it always seems like the 'need' pops up, too, as soon as they take a peek at my toilet out of the corner of their eye if the door was left somehow ajar; friends who, of course, spend hours, even days crashing here, and who, of course, are welcome to it, albeit, WHY do they seem to wait until they're here for the full-monty experience; friends of family and friends who come to pick up or drop off said family and friends;the little kid down the road who lost his soccer ball in my backyard and who needs to walk through the back door to fetch it; hell, even the men servicing any parts of the home whatsoever, be it the airco/heating guy, the gas man, the electrician, the guy servicing the appliances, workmen building or repairing my place for various reasons, dare-I-say, even the gardener, as sooty as he can be, suddenly having the 'urge' as he was momentarily explaining, as he caught me at the back door on my mad dash out to run errands, how he just lined up the conifers at the far end of the yard.

Granted, I pride myself in how clean, pristine, cozy, and welcoming I make my downstairs bathroom -- never dreaming it would become everyone's go-to 'throne'! OTOH, if everyone leaves here, feeling comfortable, restored, 'relieved',and most importantly, consciously or unconsciously SO GOOD about knowing that there's a place in this crazy world where they can 'practice' their 'affairs' in 'peace' without question or judgement whatsoever.....

Well, I'll just keep the disinfectant spray and gloves handy after each flush, and move in when the coast is clear, as often as needs be with a smile and a swoosh.

I just HOPE that when the plumber needs to 'visit', it isn't because it's warranting a megabucks repair or unblocking and if it DOES -- please have it so happen on the plumber's watch! That, to me, would be the boldest sign, to date, of the greatest good karma EVER!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

An Outrageously Delish & Nutrish Breakfast or Snack

Hey All,

If you're looking for a great, quick, uberly nutritious breakfast or snack that's high in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and rich in anti-aging, disease preventing antioxidants AND is so YUMMY -- here it is:

1 cup GoLean Crunch cereal
1/4 cup Kellogg's Cinnabon cereal
3 walnut halves, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional, but gives that extra zip of glucose-lowering effect)

Mix together.


1 cup blueberries or berries of choice

Add berries to dry mix. It creates a pleasing-to-the palate soft and fruity concoction with a crunchy texture BURSTING with flavor and satiety. You can nosh on this without milk as a finger-food breakfast or snack (something I learned from Africans -- ie--eat with your fingers to get maximum pleasure!) -- which is what I prefer as I use my milk allotment to add to my coffee -- but you can also add milk and eat it as a 'civilized' delicious bowl of energy-yielding, but nutrient-dense cereal.

Enjoy! Let me know how you like it!

Mary-Jo R. Overwater-Gervasio, MSc, MMSc, RD -- a crazy, but savvy nutritionist when it comes to maximizing the nutritional value of your kcalories!!!

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

'Eat,Eat,Eat' --cont'd. Gripping saga of how a beautiful, emotionally stable, happily married woman survives travels in USA

I can't help it. I know it's a cheap shot, but the girl can't help it!

I have already traveled through Italy, most parts of Europe (including, by the way, the part of Europe that, IMHO, has the best foods of all European worlds -- the Alsace region), Africa, and other parts of the world. Traveling the world, does open one's eyes to alot, including the parts of your heart and soul and inner spirit that helps you discover all that you are and need to embrace in order to be thankful, to feel blessed, to be content, and at peace with yourself -- to attain 'happiness'.

Having said that, though -- I have to say -- everyone is different. Elizabeth Gilbert found herself through this journey of her physical travels and inner 'discoveries'. She seemed to need to leave the USA and all that she had here to start her process of 'finding' the 'real' her.

I, on the other hand, experienced my 'journey' of discovery right here in the good old USA (or should I say, the 'new' USA if I think in terms of the 'Old World' vs. the 'New World). You see, growing up NOT on a Christmas tree farm in Connecticut, but rather in a working lower-class neighborhood and very ethnic environment, initiated my 'awakening' and discovering the beauty of knowing that it didn't matter -- I was just as blessed, beautiful, talented, and giving as those lovely people who DO grow up on Christmas tree farms in Connecticut. I also learned in my 'journey' of 'growing up' -- working from the age of 12 to help support the family, excelling in school knowing that would be the only way to pursue higher education (which I did attain on full and partial academic scholarships through undergrad and grad school), and just living life with seeing it, first hand, from the eyes of someone in both the 'haves' and the 'have-nots' camps. I learned that 'a sense of purpose', 'trying to be good', and 'thankfulness' are the great equalizers. That is, it doesn't matter what you have, where you come from, or even where you're going or end up -- embracing your life and living it to find a way to, somehow, contribute productively to the world, being 'good' to yourself and to one another, and just being thankful are really what brings inner peace, happiness, and joy. And it IS difficult to experience all of this when one is struggling financially. Money and financial security gives freedom and the luxury to BE thankful, to BE good, and to find purpose. But, not always. It's as if one can never guarantee the other. We are born into certain circumstances and we just have to find our way with grace, dignity, and resourcefulness, YET never forgetting to be good, kind, loving, and thankful for mercies along the way, great and small, and for unconditional love -- from God, from those who love us, and from ourselves.

I'm so grateful that I started my journey on my home turf. I wasn't really looking for love and romance, but I received it in bundles when I met my so-kind, loving, good, YET suave, worldly, and magnificent husband -- ALSO, right here in the USA. Life with him has taken me to many lands and far-off places, a couple of which is where my beautiful children were born and raised. For me, my 'journey' has continued with traveling and it's been wondrous.


Whenever I come back to the USA, NOW, I find that MY struggles occur HERE, NOW, MORE so than anywhere else I'm living or have lived. The environment of life and living here IS not easy -- and it's completely ironic and complicated as this is still a country of the world that has SO many choices and comforts. But one feels the 'rat race' and 'survival of the fittest' mentality here SO strongly. It creates tension and robs you of spiritual contentment. I often feel so unsettled here and find myself feeling weak. There's SO many cues for unhealthy eating here and I find myself giving in more to the temptations that I seem to have MUCH more control over in other parts of the world. I drive more here and that decreases my physical activity level and the unobtrusive energy burn I get from living in other parts of the world. Because I'm not as-fastidiously implementing my healthy lifestyle living here, perhaps I'm physiologically/hormonally, in a worse place during the time I spend here. It makes me wonder if other folks have this here, too, and how much of the general population who live here ALL the time just end up having this unhealthy, hormonally-unbalanced, physiologically-challenged state-of-being as their norm. All I know is, I LOVE this country and 'found' myself here and now I feel, after 25 years of living abroad, that, I can easily lose my way if I end up staying here. That makes me sad. What I see happening here is some sort of extreme polarity of people. Those that 'have' have TOO much -- money, publicity, possessions, access to all that is good WHILE those that 'don't have' are scratching and doubtful and fearful and desperate. And THEN, there's this vast middle-of-the-road crowd that are becoming more paranoid, cut-throat, ornery, and miserable by the minute.

And they keep on EATING -- to find not just a source of energy, but comfort, joy, purpose, and something 'good' (and 'yummy') in their lives WHILE they watch and read endless reams of nonsense about 'unhappy' celebrities.

Take me to Italy, India, and Bali -- but kicking and screaming!!!! I'd MUCH rather stay right here and have it all going on -- eating, praying, and loving -- with the flag of freedom flying high!

Bye for now!

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

'Eat, Eat, Eat' -- a novel by me and must-see movie about my emotional, personal travels through the USA

I mean it!! The title rip-off was a wide open notion that spoke to me right now.

It won't be long before I write the memoir of such a life -- probably from my extra-wide bed that I'll be confined to because I'll be too heavy to move again -- which will be my new home, as well, as I'll no longer be able to travel back and forth to different locations and/or countries.

After being stateside for a couple months, the reality hits again -- one just eats MORE here by just being here! It's the way of life here. One really has to work at watching portions, shopping through the enormous food markets that much carefully, and dodging fast-food joints, cafes, snack-bars, etc that much more artfully to get AWAY from all the food cues. And even though there is a tremendous amount of anti-obesity marketing, actions, and alternatives happening -- there's still a plethora of choices that scream 'Eat Me, I'm Fattening' out there. And people are still obese, sustaining their obesity, getting obese, and gaining weight and fat.

I DO see folks exercising and there ARE healthy and healthier foods around, but something is STILL awry. I feel it has alot still to do with cost. Healthier still seems to mean costlier. And even if that gap is starting to shorten -- getting ADVICE and guidance from experts on HOW TO execute and implement the changes to healthy and, more importantly, how to stay motivated, on track, and BACK on track after faltering -- well, that costs, too. What I see here is that so many experts are SO caught up in trying to cash in on overweight and obesity. It used to be that the fringe companies and outfits were doing this and now I see legitimate professionals rabidly competing shamelessly whilst overcharging clients and inflating their costs for therapy.

Again, I say -- the environment will change when people change and DEMAND health. This will happen when folks stay the course until their bodies PHYSICALLY change and they sustain the changes long enough to desire healthier options. This sustained change dynamic will occur if people get the monitoring and long-term follow up they need until they master the ability to change. They will get the long-term follow-up when they can afford to pay for it and the RIGHT professionals deliver it -- not some over-inflated fringe provider. And when the properly trained professionals don't have to inflate their prices to compete with charlatans, then, maybe, just maybe, obesity and overweight statistics will drop in the USA.

And then I can go back to writing my other book which will be a bestseller and made into a runaway movie hit called -- 'Eat, Enjoy, Be Fit'!!!!