Kale, Avocado and Chia Seeds are Out: The Top Ten Superfoods of 2017

In case you haven’t heard, 2016 superfoods are, like, so last year.  We’re well into 2017 and it’s time to update your superfood list and we here at MagicKitchen.com are here to help.

Through exhaustive and laborious research (don’t think I’ve ever done anything exhaustively and/or laboriously in my life) we’ve compiled a list of the ten most popular superfoods for 2017.  Some we’re sure you’ve heard of before (watermelon seeds) and some, while having been around for all of eternity, are just having their nutritional values “discovered” (sumac, maringa & the alien sounding sacha inchi nuts).

Remember, this is just a superficial description of each, for more information, simply “Google” each one.  And without further ado, here they are:

  1. Watermelon seeds – These things are on just about every superfood site I visited during my laborious and exhaustive research and each site claimed they will not sprout and grow in your tummy if eaten. They do, however, provide mad nutritional benefits if eaten only after they sprout (outside your stomach) and are shelled prior to being eaten.  Not to worry, you don’t have to do that yourself as they can be purchased that way.  As for their nutritional benefits, they offer ten grams of protein per ounce, and are chock full of vitamin B, magnesium and both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.
  1. Raw cacao nibs – A synonym for “nibs” would be bits or pieces. Just think of this as chocolate without all the other stuff, especially sugar.  Raw cacao contains numerous flavonoids which serve as an anti-inflammatory and support both the cardiovascular and nervous systems.  Flavonoids also provide many fruits and veggies with their rich colors, such as the vibrant red of raspberries.  Other nutrients contained within cacao include magnesium and riboflavin.
  1. Buckwheat – No, not the lovable character from Our Gang/The Little Rascals that Eddie Murphy immortalized in Saturday Night Live skits from the 1980s, but the gluten-free flour substitute used to make pancakes, among other things. Buckwheat (there’s actually no wheat in buckwheat.  It’s a fruit seed.) is a great source of vegetarian protein, dietary fiber, and manganese.  It’s also been shown to help control blood sugar levels and protect against heart disease.
  1. Purple Vegetables – And not just eggplants and beets, but corn, carrots, and asparagus too. Why?  Well, it goes back to those antioxidants called flavonoids that provide these veggies with their color that the musician Prince (RIP) most certainly ate in large amounts.  These flavonoids help lower the risk of high blood pressure, reduce inflammation and support brain health and since they’re also rich in vitamin A they support eye health as well.
  1. Chaga mushrooms – Usually found in dried or powder form, chaga isn’t a true mushroom, but a fungus that grows on birch trees…before you gross out, remember, all mushrooms are, technically, a fungus. Derived from the Russian word for “mushroom,” chaga contains over 200 phytonutrients and flavonoids that support the immune system.  Other nutrients contained in chaga (which is often used to make tea or coffee) are B and D vitamins, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and pantothenic acid.

  1. Sacha inchi nuts – AKA Incan peanuts as they’re found in the Peruvian highlands. These plant seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamins A and E.  These nutrients have been shown to control blood glucose levels, lower LDL cholesterol levels and support brain and heart health.

 

  1. Jackfruit – As opposed to a jackass (sorry, couldn’t resist). The tropical, starchy, fibrous jackfruit is the largest fruit on the globe.  A single jackfruit can weigh in at more than 100 pounds.  It can be used by vegetarians, or even carnivores and omnivores for that matter, as a meat substitute (Mmmmm, jackfruit steak).  It tends to absorb the flavor of what it’s cooked with and provides its consumer with various flavonoids, protein, potassium, fiber, vitamins B and A, and iron.
  1. Maringa – The tiny leaves of the maringa tree, native to India but also found in Africa, Asia and South and Central America, are showing up in smoothies all over the Western world and with good reason. They are a very nutrient dense source of vitamins A, C, and E, calcium, protein, potassium and antioxidants that combat stress causing free radicals within the body.
  1. Sumac – This Middle Eastern spice (not the “poison” version we deal with in the U.S.) has a tart and salty taste and has been found to be stuffed full of antioxidants and serves as a great salt substitute as well. These free radical neutralizing, anti-inflammatory antioxidants also promote heart health. Many simply sprinkle the red powder on their salads, pasta or rice, but others use it to flavor their meat and fish as well.
  1. Black Currants – The tart berry, not a dark running river or stream of electricity…get it?…were once thought to spread a fungus that killed pine trees (that’s not the case). They’re most often used in jams, jellies, juices, and health drinks and contain what all the other foods on this list do…antioxidants, but they also possess vitamins C, A and E, gamma-linolenic acid, and anthocyanins.  These nutrients help support healthy immune and cardiovascular systems.

So, after writing this, I immediately made and consumed a purple carrot, black currant, maringa, sumac, buckwheat, raw cacao, sacha inchi nut, watermelon seed, chaga mushroom, and jackfruit smoothie and soon after developed the combined superpowers of the Hulk, Spiderman and Wonder Woman.  Individual results may vary.

facebooktwitterpinterest

Easter Means Spring, So Eat Like it!

Easter is, of course, a deeply religious holiday for Christians across the country and many observe it in reflection at their house of worship, followed by a rare, sit-down meal with friends and family.  And it is to the latter that this post is focused.  A theologian I am not.

Easter also serves a secondary purpose, just as Memorial Day ushers in summer and Labor Day ushers it out, Easter signifies the end of winter and the arrival (or imminent arrival, depending when it falls on the calendar), of spring.  And spring usually means a change in our eating habits from filling, winter comfort food to lighter, healthier, more active fare.

With this in mind, perhaps we should look for alternatives to the traditional ham or lamb, scalloped or au gratin potatoes, veggie casseroles, and dessert cakes for our Easter meal.  So here are some of those alternatives to consider.

Salads

This is the perfect opportunity to meld the two things that most represent spring: fruits and vegetables…with a light dressing such as vinaigrette, sesame ginger, or garlic balsamic.  Spinach and strawberries always work well together and other fruits that work well in an otherwise veggie salad are grapes, raspberries, diced pear, avocado, mango, cranberries…oh hell, just about any fruit works in a green salad and the same could be said for nuts…walnuts, pecans, pine nuts, etc.

Appetizers

Is it not time to ditch the deviled egg appetizer that everyone thinks is so cute after the kids have spent the morning hunting those same eggs (How did eggs get associated with Easter anyway?  It’s not like Easter bunnies lay eggs).  How about a nice avocado or hummus dip or spicy salsa?  Or some roasted edamame and/or artichoke hearts, or cauliflower wings (essentially cauliflower wedges dipped in various wing sauces.) Martha Stewart, as always, has some great ideas here http://www.marthastewart.com/275143/lighter-appetizer-recipes

Entrées

I guess this subtitle should have read “entrées other than ham or lamb.”  For the vegans/vegetarians in the crowd, a nice eggplant Parmesan, veggie lasagna or pasta primavera (primavera means spring in many romance languages, after all) would be to die for.  For the carnivores, a nice slab of roasted or poached salmon is a great alternative as is a nice baked chicken dish.  Here are some other great ham/lamb alternatives  http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/19868/holidays-occasions/easter/dinner/

And of course, you can always order ready made meals at MagicKitchen.com.

Desserts

I think it goes without saying that I’m not referring to chocolate bunnies, peeps (you know, those fluffy, yellow blobs of sugar), or candied eggs of any type here.  Perhaps your guests would prefer cinnamon baked pears, a fruity sorbet or sherbet, a berry and yogurt parfait, a light and airy angel food cake (topped with fruit, of course), or hollowed out strawberries filled with vanilla yogurt and topped with graham cracker crumbs.  There are plenty of low-cal, spring dessert recipes out there and here are a few examples  http://www.self.com/gallery/9-healthy-3-ingredient-desserts-under-250-calories

Remember, just because you’ve eaten ham/lamb and some creamy potato dish every Easter since you were a kid does not mean it must continue.  This spring, break the bonds of Easters past, step away from tradition, embrace change and eat differently.  It’s not like there’s momentous consequences at stake here…it’s only Easter dinner.

facebooktwitterpinterest

March is National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is upon us yet, again. Yes, March is here already. It seems like yesterday I was just reminiscing about great foods for Fall. At that point, I was taken back to when I was a kid and all the unhealthy things we would eat. When I was little, it didn’t matter if it wasn’t good for me. I just wanted it to taste good. Food from the county fair, Halloween, and football never seemed to be healthy. Funnell cakes, chocolate candy in my Halloween bag, and chili dogs were all yummy. They certainly weren’t pictured on the Food Pyramid.

I have to admit that the chili dogs weren’t just something I’d get only during football season. There was this great little family run country store out by my grandparent’s house. We’d go there as a treat and order a chili dog, fries, and a soda. The drinks were in glass bottles, right inside a frosty cooler. The sounds of deep fat fryers and the POP! of a refrigerated cooler door can take me back to those moments in an instant. I didn’t care how many calories and fat I was ingesting on those days. Nutrition? Who cared? It’s a different story these days.

Why was it ok then? Probably two reasons. First, we only ate like that a couple of times a year, and sodas were treats we’d get maybe once a week. Two, as kids we were way more active, out on the streets until sundown, playing and running around. But that can cause problems later in life, when we get more sedentary and still eat the same bad things. So learning good nutrition young is the focus.

Nutrition is thought of as the way food is brought in and turned into energy for the body. We seem to do all we can and discover ways to either stay healthy or get that way. Exercise and having an optimal body weight are key components to being healthy. The essence of this year’s National Month of Nutrition is “Put Your Best Fork Forward”, focusing on the fact that we are ultimately responsible for our own nutritional needs and we have the tools necessary to achieve optimal nutrition.

One of the best tools out there these days are premade meal delivery services. My favorite is Magickitchen.com. They have a large variety of meals for all types of nutritional needs. It doesn’t matter if you are focusing on just eating healthier or if you need special meals for medical purposes such as diabetes, high cholesterol, or renal dietary needs. They do all the cooking for you. The main tools you will need are an oven and microwave.

What is on your plate these days? The USDA has a great look at the history of what they have suggested to fill your plate since 1916 ( https://www.choosemyplate.gov/brief-history-usda-food-guides).

facebooktwitterpinterest

Deals for Every Season

For this blog post I was asked by the powers that be, aka “the Man,” (who in this case is a very pleasant woman named Melody)…anyway, I was asked by Melody to highlight MagicKitchen.com’s special seasonal deals that are located here http://www.magickitchen.com/seasonal-special-deals.html.

However, she gave me free rein (her mistake) to write about these deals as I saw fit.  And since I recently rediscovered 1980s rap music, I decided to write a song, or “flow” about MagicKitchen and their awesome seasonal deals.  If you’re not a rap fan, don’t worry, just think of it as a Shakespearean sonnet…ok, I just re-read it…I wouldn’t use “Shakespearean” to describe it.  If you do like rap, then just lay down a phat beat and let it flow.  Play this one below, for full effect.

Deals for Every Season

Lookin’ for a good deal, with profound appeal

Not forced to chase it in your automobile.

Then MagicKitchen’s for you, no drive through,

Just delicious meals that will soon ensue.

Delivered to your door, not from a store,

But prepared by a chef, perhaps named Steph.

Prepared with fresh ingredients, we’re always expedient

And to your needs we’re quite obedient.

The meal’s flash frozen, then it goes in

A container that’s been chosen

To deliver your food, with proper attitude

And little to no ineptitude.

Seasonal deals we got, they’re smokin’ hot

Just check our site, that’s the upshot.

Deals change every season in this age of reason

So take advantage, it’s not like it’s treason.

Beef Bourguignon- tender beef & mushrooms in wine sauce. -gluten free

Specials depend on the holiday.  It’s like a buffet

That’s so easy to order, it could be child’s play.

Could be for Valentine your herr or fräulein

Wants a romantic meal he or she can’t decline.

So check our page, don’t disengage

From our meals that stick to your rib cage.

Peace, out (insert mic drop here).

facebooktwitterpinterest

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day

When I was in college, I worked at a dry cleaner. I was there long enough to get to know several of the regular customers. Quite often some would linger and strike up some great conversations and some would share wonderful stories. One elderly gentleman did this most times he came in. He knew enough about me to know I was a Freshman in college and that my family was overseas.

One day he walked in, handed my boss an envelope and left. That envelope contained a check and a note. My boss read the note out loud and my jaw hit the floor. The check that was included in the envelope covered my tuition for the next semester, paid in full.

I couldn’t figure out why he would want to pay for a stranger’s college tuition and not expect anything in return. My boss told me that the man had been doing it for years. He would select a student he felt would appreciate it and help them out. This random act of kindness, made 26 years ago still brings tears to my eyes.

People have been committing random acts of kindness for hundreds of years. We may not know exactly what they have all been, nor have we always given them the title of “Random Acts of Kindness”.  It has its very own day assigned to it. This year’s Random Acts of Kindness Day is February 17, 2017.

The first Random Acts day was created in Colorado in 1995. The concept is designed to make the world a little bit better by each of us doing a kind deed. Participating does not mean you have to spend money to be kind.

In case you might be having a difficult time figuring out something nice to do that you may not do on a regular basis, I have compiled two lists. One list is of kind deeds that will only cost you a little bit of time. The second list is for those of you who would like to show kindness via money.

Random Acts of Kindness that Won’t Cost You a Thing

  • Open the door for someone, complete with a smile
  • Volunteer time at an animal shelter or rescue
  • Simply smile at people
  • Do a favor for someone without expecting anything in return
  • Babysit for free
  • Sweep your neighbors porch/shovel their sidewalks
  • Walk a friend’s or neighbor’s dog
  • Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter
  • Read to the elderly at a retirement home
  • Send an encouraging card or email
  • Thank a veteran, police officer, or firefighter
  • Give a hug, it’s not just a kind act but a stress reducer as well
  • Donate blood (Perfect for American Heart Month)
  • Be tolerant
  • Compliment a stranger

Random Acts of Kindness for Those Who Can Spare Some Change

  • Pay for the food of the people behind you in the drive through
  • Take flowers to a retirement home
  • Leave a zip bag of quarters on a washer at the laundromat
  • Donate food to an animal shelter
  • Leave a bag of cookies with a note in the mailbox for the postal carrier
  • Take coffee and donuts to your local fire station
  • Donate cat litter to a cat rescue
  • Donate a new toy to a children’s hospital
  • Take muffins and coffee to work
  • Donate money to your electric company to be used for someone who is struggling to pay their bill
  • Plant a tree
  • Hire a house cleaner for an ill friend or one with children
  • Buy a gift card from a car wash and leave it in an envelope on a dirty car at the grocery store
  • Grab a few cases of water and take them to the Red Cross
  • Donate canned goods to your local food bank

Even though Random Acts of Kindness Day is recognized on February 18th this year, you don’t have to limit yourself. Imagine how much nicer the world would be if we could all do just one random act once a week…imagine twice a week. Maybe some of the nice things could begin to draw some of the attention away from all the bad things that happen. Wouldn’t it be nice to shift that focus? How do you plan to take part this year?

facebooktwitterpinterest

This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

This Valentine’s Day, Start Taking Care of Your Heart

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far…wait, that’s another story…humans believed that the heart was the center of all our emotions.  This had to do with the fact that the heart, more-or- less, is in the center of our bodies and that all roads, or blood vessels, seemed to lead there.

Since many considered love to be the strongest emotion of them all (come on, who among us hasn’t done something stupid due to love?), the heart began to be written about as the seat of love…see: ”I love you with so much of my heart, that none is left to protest.” – Beatrice to Benedict in Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing for just one example.

Since then, we’ve become more enlightened as to the true function of the heart, perhaps as a result of the Enlightenment…perhaps not.  It serves one vitally important purpose and one purpose only, to pump oxygenated blood to all our muscles and organs and it does this by beating an incredible 115,000 times every day!  Since your heart health is a matter of life or death, perhaps we should take better care of it and here are five tips to do just that.

  1. Quit or don’t start smoking. The chemicals found in commercial tobacco products damage your heart and blood vessels by causing a narrowing of the arteries due to plaque build up.  This restricts the flow of that oxygenated blood to all those muscles and organs.  Smoking also causes carbon monoxide to force out some of the oxygen in your blood.  Both effects increase your blood pressure and cause your heart to work harder to  deliver the necessary amount of oxygen to your body.
  1. Get moving. No surprise here, regular aerobic exercise (defined as at least 30 minutes most days of the week) is good for your heart and helps control your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight.  I seem to remember some physics law from high school that said something about bodies at rest tend to stay at rest…yada, yada, yada.  So just apply that rule to your body as well.  It’s tough to get that sedentary body of yours (mine too) up and moving, but once you do, it’s easy to keep it moving for at least 30 minutes…I think that rule has a second part about bodies in motion tend to stay in motion.  I’ll Google it later.
  1. Maintain a heart healthy diet. No surprise here either…fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fiber, lean meats and fish, these are some of your heart’s favorite things.  Salt, sugar (especially processed), trans and saturated fats, these are NOT some of your heart’s favorite things.  One way to avoid these things is to read food labels on a regular basis and learn the recommended daily allowances.  For example, vegetable juice, what most consider to be a healthy drink, can have up to 700 milligrams of salt per 8 ounces.  The FDA recommends we consume no more than 2,300 mgs of salt per day.  Read those labels!
  1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Those who do not have higher risks of obesity, heart attack, diabetes, and depression.  I can remember when my kids were cute little babies and not the crazed tweens they are now, my wife and I made sleep a priority in their lives (model parents, right?  Probably not).  Come hell or high water, they went to sleep at the same time every night.  No late night, drunken parties for them, ever.  If you’re not getting that 7-9 hours every night, you might want to reconsider your priorities.  Just sayin’…a phrase my adorable tweeners keep repeating.
  1. Stay or get social. Ok, this one is a bit of a surprise.  Numerous studies have linked loneliness to depression and physical health problems.  One Swedish study conducted by Ikea (I jest, of course) followed 17,000 people and found that the ones with the fewest number of social contacts had a 50% higher risk of cardiovascular disease.  So what’s going on here?  Medical and psychological professionals believe that friends and family serve as stress relievers, which helps control your blood pressure, which is good for your heart as well.

Interested in reading more?  Here’s MagicKitchen.com’s link to other articles that deal with maintaining good heart health: http://www.magickitchen.com/news/heart.html

 

facebooktwitterpinterest

The Rich and Flavorful History of Soul Food

Please, when I mention soul food, do not think only of the food marketed by some older gentleman parading as a colonel from Kentucky.  Soul food, as I discovered while researching this post, is so much more than just fried chicken, corn bread, and sweet potato pie.  Although those dishes do play a role, they are not the end-all, be-all of soul food, far from it.  Soul food has its origins, as one might expect, from West Africa, but it also contains ingredients from Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas as well.  It is, in fact, a fusion cuisine that has evolved over the centuries and is, perhaps, rediscovering its vegetable roots (no, not like turnips or carrots).

What we now refer to as soul food has its origins in West Africa.  When millions of African slaves were forcibly removed from their homeland and brought to North, Central, and South America, as well as numerous Caribbean islands, one of the memories they brought with them were of the culinary variety.  The Columbian Exchange (the transfer of foods, animals and ideas among the Atlantic world) began almost immediately after Columbus first landed in the Bahamas in 1492.  Eventually, African plants and seeds arrived in the slave states of the South, sometimes via the Caribbean.  One of the most significant was rice, along with okra and black-eyed peas.

The West African diet consisted mostly of vegetables and meat was usually only used to flavor the dish.  This tradition easily transferred itself to America as Southern slaves usually only had access to limited amounts of meat.  And what meat they did obtain was of the variety not eaten by their owners, such as ham hocks, oxtail, chitterlings (or chit’lins…pig intestines), or gizzards.  Many slaves also were permitted to supplement their diets through the use of their own gardens, where they grew vegetables that were common to the Native Americans…sweet potatoes and corn.  Hence the inclusion of many corn based items, such as hominy, grits and cornbread under the soul food umbrella.   The slaves also grew “new” greens such as collard, mustard, turnip, cabbage and kale.

After the Civil War, many Southern blacks became share croppers, still tied to the land that others owned.  However, by the time the U.S. entered World War I, in 1917, many Southern blacks began what has come to be known as the Great Migration as they headed north in search of manufacturing jobs and they took their soul food recipes with them, along with their music.  These African-Americans then began to use lard to cook the meat that they now acquired through better paying jobs, to include chicken and pork.  Some of these transplanted Southern blacks managed to open their own restaurants and they became community gathering places within cities, both north and south.

As for the term “soul food,” African-Americans began to use that term in the 1940s, but it went mainstream with the arrival of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s, as “soul” was also placed in front of man, brother, sister, and music.  Simply stated, during this time, “soul” equaled African-American, while “Southern” came to be associated with white.

Around this period, the American diet began to change with the mass consumption of processed and fast food and this is when soul food was transformed and came to be considered part of an unhealthy diet.  While a soul food diet has always had healthy and unhealthy elements, this equilibrium was unbalanced when processed and fast food manufactures altered its composition.

However, recently, many African-American chefs have been leading the way back to the roots of soul food as they take it back to its veggie-centric beginnings.  Often referred to as “down-home healthy soul food,” it features meat dishes, but they’re now grilled or baked rather than fried in lard.  Dishes are also prepared with less salt and sugar and are flavored with onions, pepper, garlic, herbs and spices.  It has been referred to as a sort of homecoming by African-American chefs and culinary experts.  Imagine, soul food as a synonym for health food…well, imagine no longer.

facebooktwitterpinterest

February is American Heart Month

It was 1964 when Lyndon B. Johnson established the month of February as the official American Heart Month. Medicine has come a long way since that decision was made. Doctors were making the connection between heart disease and contributing factors such as high cholesterol, smoking, and not living an active lifestyle.

These days, medical professionals recommend exercise, a healthy diet, and medication to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. There are still too many people suffering from heart disease. The traditions to raise awareness remain firmly in place. Although it’s been 53 years since LBJ initiated the American Heart Month, some individuals aren’t aware of how to support the cause. The following list provides excellent ways to show support for heart health.

  • Wear Red – The National Wear Red Day® for 2017 is Friday, February 3rd. This day is dedicated to raising awareness for heart health in women. An astounding 1 out of 3 deaths in women are a result of stroke or heart disease. Wearing red on February 3rd will signify your support for the women with heart disease and stroke.
  • Donate, Donate, Donate – One of the best ways to contribute to the fight for a healthy heart is by donating. There isn’t just one place to help fund the cause. There are actually several. National Wear Red Day® has a site set up to “funraise”.

    The American Heart Association® provides two ways to give and three different types of gifts. You can make a donation on the Donate Heart Getting the kids involved is also a great way. Jump Rope for Heart is actually sponsored by the American Heart Association®. Encourage your child’s school to take part. Information on how to be a heart hero is located on the Jump Rope for Heart site.

  • Education – Learning all you can about heart health should be a priority. Starting with your diet is ideal. Look for healthy recipes and meal plans. Magickitchen.com provides low fat and low sodium meals that are not only heart healthy, but delicious as well. Discover the signs and symptoms of heart disease and how to reduce the risks. Ask your doctor for more information or visit the American Heart Association®.
  • Take Action – Taking action in your life to prevent stroke and heart disease is one of the best gifts to give yourself and loved ones this February. Work with a nutritionist for ways to improve your eating habits. Implement an exercise program to get that heart pumping.

    Giving blood also improves your heart health, which isn’t a well-known fact. When you donate blood, you reduce the excess iron in your blood and it promotes healthy blood flow. The American Red Cross is in need of blood. Now is a great time to help not only the recipient of your blood, but also your heart.

  • Spread the Word – Since you’ve decided to be an advocate of healthy hearts, how should you spread the word? Talk to your friends and family. Get them in on the fun. Use your social media accounts. Tweet about it and use the #AmericanHeartMonth hashtag. Send ecards to your friends and family that promote the cause and have fun with it! Visit You’re the Cure for more ways to take action for healthy hearts.

Too many lives have been taken due to stroke and heart disease. Our medical community is taking long strides all the time to work towards prevention and awareness for healthier hearts. February is upon us and is the designated as the American Heart Month. How do you plan to participate and take part this month?

 

 

facebooktwitterpinterest

How to Keep that New Year’s Resolution for the Entire Year

As you probably know, making a New Year’s resolution is easy, keeping it…well, that’s where things get difficult.  A recent study found that 80% of New Year’s resolutions are toast by mid-February, and since it is now mid-January, we here at MagicKitchen.com thought we’d help you become one of the 20% who carry their resolution through February and beyond.  If you recall, just a few short weeks ago I wrote a post that dealt with creating resolutions that were both specific and achievable.  So let’s follow that up with one dedicated to keeping that resolution through the winter doldrums and beyond.

persona-trainer-memeUse your friends and family – Come on, you know you use them all the time already!  I mean, that’s what they’re there for, right…to be used and manipulated to help you get what you want.  Go public with your resolution, unless it’s of a really personal nature, like…never mind, I won’t gross you out with examples.  After you’ve publicized your resolution, give your friends, family, co-workers, Uber driver, whoever, free rein to harass, harangue and help you stay on the straight and narrow.  Tell them to slap that donut or cigarette out of your hand, or chase you around with a cattle prod to get you exercising, or give you money for staying off the Twitter machine.  You get the idea.

Accept small failures – Remember, losing a battle does not mean you’ve lost the war (I think that’s from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War…no, not really).  Look, you’re going to, occasionally, stuff a bear claw in your face, or direct some anger transference towards your kids (I think that’s from Sigmund Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams…but I doubt it).  Please, just accept those little transgressions and use them to strengthen your resolve moving FORWARD…always look forward, not back.  As long as you’re making progress over the course of a long year, that’s what is important.

apps1There’s an app for that – No, not an appetizer, especially if you’re trying to eat healthier over the new year, but a smart phone application, and many of them are resolution specific.  Three apps that are more general in nature are Strides, Resolutions, and HabitBull.

Strides is a free app that allows you to create goals, track your habits, set reminders and keep up a specific pace.  Resolutions, an Android app, informs you when you last worked out, or had your last smoke, or deposited money in your savings account, etc.  It also has various home screen widgets that help you track your progress and act as reminders.  It also awards virtual “trophies” for milestones achieved.

Lastly, HabitBull tracks your habits, good or bad…it’s all relative.  It assists you in either breaking a bad habit or beginning a good one with reminders, a streaks calendar, and motivational quotes.  It also tracks your progress in the form of graphs and has a built-in discussion forum.  The free version allows you to track up to five habits while you can track up 100 with the premium version.

“Know thyself “(I think that’s a quote from ancient Greece or Egypt…no, seriously).  Wherever the quote came from, use it to do whatever YOU require to maintain your resolution over the course of twelve long months and beyond.  You should know what motivates you best, if not, take a moment, think about it and list the things you’re motivated by.  Then use them to create a plan that involves, friends and family, acceptance of small failures, and apps, or all three.  Good luck.

facebooktwitterpinterest

Super Healthy Eating Ideas for the Super Busy (aka all of us)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it all before, from friends, spouse and especially from my inner-monologue (if you have an inner-dialogue, seek professional help).  And what I’ve heard from these people this person (me) with delusions of self-importance is, “I’m waaaay too busy to take time out of my day to prepare, cook and serve a healthy meal for myself, let alone my annoying loving family.”  Well, at the risk of sounding slightly vulgar and eloquent at the same time, that’s a load of nonsense.

To prove my last statement, here are 10 simple, easy and quick ideas…I’m reluctant to use the term “recipe” as it usually elicits audible groans and thoughts of, “recipes = time (which I don’t have) + effort (which I can’t waste on cooking due to my hectic schedule).  And while these ideas call for ingredients and instructions, they’re kept to a minimum and written in an easy to understand narrative style.  Yeah, I know, that sounds like a load of claptrap, but I’m the author and I’m going with “ideas.”

ground-turkey-noodles-IMG_3995-(2)1. Portion controlled meals from MagicKitchen.com

Hey, look, no ingredients or instructions required here!  Well, apart from microwave and enjoy.  MagicKitchen eliminates the shopping, prep, and cooking with our healthy, yummy (yes, I said yummy) portion controlled meals that come in 11 different meal packs, including 2 dedicated to breakfast, and dozens of individual choices.  Check them out here: http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/MKMWL.html

2. Pina colada yogurt parfaits

Ok, three simple ingredients required for this one: Greek yogurt, pineapple, and shaved coconut.  Simply slap some Greek yogurt in your favorite wine glass (or leave it in the container, like my lazy a$$) and throw in some fresh pineapple and coconut and consume.  The sweetness of the fruit balances out the bitterness of the yogurt quite nicely and you’re getting some proteins as well.

3. Peanut butter breakfast toast

pb-toast-chiaDo I really need to list the ingredients and instructions for toast?  I thought not.  Just slather some peanut butter (or almond butter) on your whole-wheat toast and top with banana slices, blueberries, raspberries, chia seeds, etc.  Just be sure to push the toppings into the peanut/almond butter as this will hold them in place when you invariably tip the toast up to eat.  My dogs were quite unhappy when I learned this little trick.

4. Broiled grapefruit with honey and brown sugar

Yes, “broiled.”  Ok, here come the dreaded instructions…ingredients are listed in the title.  Halve a grapefruit, broil for 4-6 minutes and top with honey, brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon.  See what I did there, snuck in an extra ingredient…don’t freak.  The grapefruit gets just slightly crunchy on top and the heat melds the honey, sugar and cinnamon into a delicious syrup.

5. Easy roasted sweet potatoes

Or yams?  There is a difference, isn’t there?  Anyway, nuke (see: microwave) your sweet potato 6-7 minutes after stabbing it with a fork a few times.  Halve it, segment each half into ½-inch squares without cutting through the skin…if you measure each square, seek professional help.  Place a few slices of butter in between the cubes, sprinkle with some Parmesan and then broil for 6-12 minutes depending on desired crispiness.  Then, garnish with some chives and a dollop of sour cream and chow down.

Thanks to Savory Simple for photo and recipe.
Thanks to Savory Simple for photo and recipe.

6. Open-faced grilled cheese with a fried egg

Yeah, I know, this title needs some work, bit unwieldy, isn’t it?  Regardless, this one’s simple too.  Butter a side of whole-wheat bread, place butter-side down in frying ban and top with a slice of Swiss cheese, roasted red pepper, and arugula leaves.  Cook about 4 minutes.  Fry an egg to your specifications (sunny side up, over easy, over hard…you’re in charge) and place it upon your recently cooked, open-faced grilled cheese and gorge or delicately consume…you’re in charge.

7. Turkey and hummus club sandwich

If you haven’t shopped for hummus lately, you’ll be surprised at all the flavors now offered, garlic, red pepper, chili sauce…this ain’t your bubbe’s hummus.  Anyway, purchase your preferred flavor, or mix your own if you’re the ambitious type, slap it on some bread, add a few slices of turkey and arugula and voila, turkey and hummus club.

8. Risotto cakes

Ok, I’m not going to explain how to make risotto in order to adhere to my claim I made at the start of this blog…I’m sneaky that way.  Deal with it.  After your risotto has cooled, mash it into patties about 2-inches in diameter, press in some bread crumbs and then fry in some olive oil for about 5 minutes per side.  They can then be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months and enjoyed later.  Simply warm in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes if they came out of the fridge, or 30-35 if you froze the little suckers.  Serve over some arugula with a little parmesan and a spritz of lemon juice.  They’re also great as a snack on their own or as an appetizer.

9. Crispy ham and egg cups

Ham and Egg cups from Addicted to Recipes
Ham and Egg cups from Addicted to Recipes

Spray a standard sized muffin pan with that non-stick stuff and then line it with a slice of your favorite ham…yes, the edges of the ham are supposed to hang over.  Then plop an egg in each ham-lined cup and bake until the whites are cooked solid but the yolk is still a bit runny…about 13 minutes.  Then season with some salt, pepper, chopped basil, scallions or parsley, or go crazy and use all five!

10. Mini oatmeal cakes

Break out the muffin pan again and place a paper muffin liner in each cup.  Then fill each with your favorite oatmeal, mixed with milk to your desired consistency.  Then top with chopped walnuts, or dried cranberries, or blueberries or anything else you like to mix into your oatmeal.  Just be sure to press your topping down into the oatmeal.  Then bake for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  These little cakes of joy can then be taken on the go and enjoyed wherever.

There you go my hectic, harried and hurried friends.  Ten solutions on how to eat healthy while pulling your hair out.  Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you, or your family, need to settle for fast food.  Anyone who tells you any different is simply feeding you balderdash.  And wouldn’t you rather have food?

facebooktwitterpinterest