Category Archives: How to

It’s Spring, Get Outside: 8 Outdoor Activities for Seniors

Have you noticed that the heat is coming on less and less in your home?  If not, just look at your last heating bill.  And in our world of cause and effect, the cause is increased outdoor temperatures and the effect SHOULD be increased outdoor activities on your part.  Outdoor activity is the panacea for cabin fever and you don’t even need to fill a prescription.

Look, I’m sure you’re aware about the benefits of regular physical activity, but what about the benefits of regular “outdoor” physical activity?  Humans have an innate connection and attraction to nature which is referred to as biophilia and too many of us attempt to resist that connection.  Yet another fact: less than 3% of America’s senior population attains the recommended 2.5 hours of physical activity per week, and that can have dangerous consequences.

Some of the benefits of outdoor activity are more obvious than others, such as increased exposure to sunlight which exposes us to vitamin D which improves brain, bone and muscle functions (just beware of overexposure…as with everything else, moderation is best).

However, studies have also shown that regular outdoor activity improves our health and well-being and improves our physical, emotional and cognitive functioning.  So, keeping all this in mind, here are eight outdoor activities we all should do more of:

  1. Tai Chi – Before you think I’m getting all “Karate Kid” on you, let me explain. Yes, tai chi began as a defensive martial art, but it has since evolved into a balletic activity of continuous, gentle movements.  It’s different from yoga in that with yoga you hold a pose (sleeping dog) for a short period of time, while with tai chi, you’re in continuous motion, albeit, at a slow pace.  Locate a “tai chi in the park” group in your area, or simply access the internet machine, learn the basics and head to your backyard.
  1. Search for gold — …with a metal detector. And no, it doesn’t have to be on a beach.  Grab your metal detector and head to the local park or historical site and you’ll be amazed at the objects that are lying around out there.  Here’s am interesting article that offers examples of successful treasure hunts and can help get you started: https://www.wired.com/2011/08/treasure-hunters/
  1. Picnics – Grab your basket, blanket, chicken salad sandwiches, your favorite companions and locate an out-of-the-way picnic spot, preferably on a level, grassy area near a babbling brook. Just ensure that getting to that spot requires some walking to get there.  You’ll be amazed how relaxing this activity is and how the conversation flows when you’re away from a screen.
  1. Yard games – Hit the backyard or park for a rousing round of horseshoes, bocce ball, croquet or badminton. These games are perfect for bringing out the competitor in all of us and can be a great way to reconnect with friends and/or family members.  Side note: I understand the safety aspect, but I truly miss “Jarts,” the yard game that involved plastic circles and metal tipped lawn darts…just sayin’.
  1. Be a tourist – even in your own hometown. Go on a historical walking tour, visit the zoo or botanical gardens or downtown area or local, state, or national parks or Civil War battlefields or any other outdoor place that interests you.
  1. Bird watch – Yeah, I know, I used this one in my fall outdoor activities post, but it’s perhaps even more relevant in the spring as birds become more active as they prepare to bring the next generation of our avian friends into the world. The few birders I know are extremely passionate about their hobby and tend to record just about every aspect of their sightings, to include the species (of course), and when, where, and under what weather conditions the sighting occurred.  This is one of those hobbies that permits various levels of immersion, but its seems to have some addictive qualities, and, in this instance, that’s not a bad thing.
  1. Gardening This activity is perfect for the spring for obvious reasons and there’s nothing more satisfying than eating delicious and healthy food you planted and cultivated yourself. And if you live in an apartment or senior community that does not offer space for this activity, move…just kidding.  There are many places that rent small plots for a nominal fee.
  1. Stroll through a local farmer’s, flea or craft markets – The larger the better. Heck, this one doesn’t even seem like an outdoor exercise, but it most certainly is.  Remember, all that’s required to reap the benefits is getting outside and slightly raising your heart and breathing rate for a moderate period of time, and wandering through a massive flea market in search of hidden treasures certainly qualifies.

One last note, try to do these activities with a group of friends or family members and do so on a regular schedule.  Also, use the group to coerce (or shame) each other to get out there and find that Baltimore Oriole, or practice tai chi like Anne Hathaway and Robert de Niro in “The Intern,” or go in search of lost jewelry, or weed the garden, or watch the handlers feed the elephants, or whack that shuttlecock around, or pack that picnic basket.  Hell, just get outside and be active.  You’ll be glad you did.

facebooktwitterpinterest

For the Mom Who Has Everything…

Yes, it’s coming, like a shark’s dorsal fin speeding through the water that can’t be stopped…duuuh-nah……..…..duuuuh-nah……………duuuh-nah, duuuh-nah…………….duh-nah, duh-nah, duh-nah, duh-nah………dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn, dunn (yes, that’s my poor attempt to put the theme to Jaws into words, sorry).  Of course, that dorsal fin represents Mother’s Day, which arrives on Sunday, May 14th.  But don’t panic, at least not yet, because here are some unique gift ideas for the mother that has everything, I mean, after all, she has you!

Something different – Now, of course these gifts are not for all moms as we all know, every mom is different.  But here’s a sampling of some interesting gift ideas.

  • Drunken owl wine bottle holder – I don’t know why, but every time I look at this thing it makes me smile. Maybe it’s because it’s such a random animal (I mean an owl?) and it looks like a baby drinking a bottle…is that creepy?  Hopefully it will make your mom smile too.  Check it out here: http://www.homewetbar.com/drunken-owl-wine-bottle-holder-p-4187.html
  • Dawn redwood Bonsai forest – Rather than flowers, why not get your mom something that will last quite a while and is perfect for a table center and conversation piece? And it looks really cool.  Here it is: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/dawn-redwood-bonsai-forest

  • A personalized smart phone case – Wouldn’t you like your mom to always carry a picture of her favorite child (you) in the form of a smart phone case? Well, all you need to do is go here and design a case that’s perfect for your perfect mother: https://www.mycustomcase.com/

  • Literary candles – I think, genetically, once a woman becomes a mother they immediately become candle aficionados. I don’t question this strange phenomenon, I just cater to it.  That being the case, here are some unique scents for the candle and literature loving mom in your life that are linked to Sherlock Holmes, Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, and Pride and Prejudice (and zombies…yes, a book was written and a movie produced entitled “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  I neither read the book nor viewed the movie).  Peruse them here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/literary-candles

  • Time saving and delicious meals from MagicKitchen.com – The last thing you want your mother doing on her day is cooking, or on any other special or non-special day for that matter. Have the Mother’s Day meal delivered to her (or your) door and save her (or you) a great deal of time and hassle.  MagicKitchen permits you to customize your meal and also offers delectable “bundles” to include Gourmet, Customer Favorites, Homestyle, and Top-Rated bundles.  Have your Pavlovian (you know, that Russian dude that conditioned a poor dog to salivate at the sound of a bell) moment here: http://www.magickitchen.com/menu/mothers-day.html

“Make” her something – And no, I’m not referring to like a dining room table or a back porch or something, unless she really needs either of those two things.  I was thinking of something a bit more personal, something that she wants rather than needs, something intimately linked to you, her and your family.

Here’s a quick example: last year I semi-learned how to play the guitar (no, I didn’t go so far as to write the music and lyrics to a sappy “I Love You Mom” type song).  My mother, as she constantly reminds me, was born in Ireland and we immigrated to the US back in 1968.  Anyway, despite becoming an American citizen, she has missed her homeland ever since.

So last year, I learned to play and sing (terribly, I might add) “Danny Boy” and I played and sang it for her on Mother’s Day.  Yes, I missed a few notes and sang REALLY off key.  However, by the time I was done, she had a tear on her cheek and a smile on her face.  She then exclaimed it was the most thoughtful Mother’s Day gift I had ever bestowed upon her in my 51 years on this earth.  I then asked her “why?” and she simply said, in her fading Irish accent, “Because you put some thought into the gift and “made” it just for me.  Nothing’s more personal than that.”

I firmly believe that you can do the same thing for your mother…not play and sing Danny Boy, but make her something with your mind and two hands.  Write her a poem, or a song, or a play, or a rap song, or a short story about you, her and your family.  Create a photo essay or a humorous, yet poignant power point presentation that you present to her and the whole family or montage with old family photos.

Draw or paint your family or an old house you all lived in, or her favorite place she likes to sit and think, or an old pet.  Throw (as on a pottery wheel, not literally “throw”) a flower pot or coffee mug for her.  Plant a tree for her, or her favorite plant, flowering bush, or perennial.  Create a short movie for her with your smart phone.  Just use your imagination, make the gift personal to her and try to make her laugh and cry at the same time.  She’ll love you even more for it, if that’s possible.

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

Quit Messin’ Around: How to Eat Healthier in 2017

Yes, devoted reader, it’s time to set yourself up for failure once again by making a non-specific (eat healthier) and unattainable (cut out ALL junk food) New Year’s resolution.  Those two reasons, setting broad and impossible to achieve goals, are why 92% of all resolutions made are doomed to failure.

Look, a resolution is nothing more than a goal and we (or someone else…think boss or significant other) set goals for ourselves all the time, either in our professional or private lives.  And the rules for goal-setting also apply to end-of-year resolution-setting, and they are: make your goal/resolution as specific as possible and make it attainable.  Therefore, let’s combine those two rules with your vague resolution to eat better in 2017.

vegetables-449950_640Rule number one: make your “eating better” resolution as specific as possible.  Instead of “I resolve (sounds like you’re on the floor of the Senate) to eat better in 2017,” resolve to “eat five helpings of fruits and vegetables most days of the week…that would be four or more for the numerically challenged out there like your esteemed author.  Why only “most” days of the week?  DUH!…remember rule number two…make your goal achievable.

Or how about printing a list of healthy “superfoods” you’ve never eaten and resolving to try at least one item on that list every week of 2017?  Better yet, turn it into a checklist, then, check each item off and make a few notes about that item, such as “If anyone is trying to torture me for information, just threaten me with Brussels sprouts and I’ll tell them everything.”

Ok, last example of a specific goal: “I resolve to eat at least one meal per day that contains

Flaxseed
Flaxseed

no processed foods.” Like a meal comprised of roast chicken and potatoes with a side of green beans.  In fact, we here at MagicKitchen offer a number of meals that fit this category in our portion controlled and signature meals sections.  It’s a great way to keep your resolution as we do most of the work, all that’s required of you is to heat and enjoy!

Rule number two: make your goal achievable, but not too easily achievable, there must be an element of resolve (hence the term “resolution”) and sacrifice involved.  Please don’t resolve to adopt a diet of nothing but kale, honey and quinoa for all of 2017.  My guess is that you’re going to fall off the wagon with that resolution.  How about, “I resolve to

substitute either kale, honey, or quinoa for an unhealthy item I usually eat at least every other day.  Or if you can’t stand kale, (which is perfectly understandable), try one of these new superfoods for 2017.  And then track each time you make that substitution on a calendar.

Here are a few other tips to help you achieve your specific resolution that involves eating healthier in 2017:

  • Take a grocery list to the supermarket and stick to it.
  • Choose fresh or frozen food over canned.
  • Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna with Green Beans from MagicKitchen.com
    Spinach-Mushroom Lasagna with Green Beans from MagicKitchen.com

    Plan ahead by making menus and, as with the rule above, stick to them!

  • Don’t drink your calories…stay away from the sugary drinks.
  • Patrol the edges of your grocery store where the fresh produce, meats, dairy and whole grains are located.
  • Try out MagicKitchen.com complete meals for a change of pace. No rules, no sign-ups, no commitments required, try one or many.
  • Eat a lot of different colors when it comes to fruits and vegetables.
  • Replace dessert with fruit or at least add fruit to your dessert.
  • Accept the fact that you’re going to backslide a few times during the year…get over it and then get back on the horse or wagon or both. I’m not sure which.
  • Publicize your resolution to all who are willing to listen and tell them to nag you throughout the year. Also, write it down and stick it to both the doors of your fridge and pantry.
  • Finally, remember that doing something towards attaining or keeping your resolution is better than quitting and doing nothing…little steps matter!

So, good luck as you resolve to eat healthier in 2017 and remember to follow the two main rules (and various tips) and perhaps you’ll be part of the 8% that successfully stick to their resolutions through the entire year. May your New Year be a healthy and happy one!

 

facebooktwitterpinterest

Sweat the Small Stuff: 5 Small Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Life.

Yeah, I know the quote is usually “DON’T sweat the small stuff,” but sometimes the small stuff matters.  If you think about it, our entire lives are comprised of “small stuff,” in the form of the thousands of decisions we make on a daily basis.  Should I eat just one more?  Binge watch The Walking Dead or work on the house?  Wear these yoga pants or not?  Hit the snooze again?

These seemingly small decisions add up and become who we are.  So why not make a few small decisions that, when done consistently, can actually improve your life for the better?  That’s what I thought, you have no argument…and “I don’t have the time” counts as no argument.

  1. pedometerGet (and use) a pedometer – But just don’t wear it around and look at the total at the end of your day. Set benchmarks (or goals if you prefer) and break them!  Make small bets with your friends, family and coworkers.  For example: “I’ll bet all of you a tarantula that I take more steps than you over the weekend.”  Or create a contest with a prize for the winner.  For example: “whoever takes the most steps today gets the last MagicKitchen.com Panna Cotta.” Of course, there are plenty of pedometer apps for your phone, too.
  1. Breathe deep…the gathering gloom (sorry, I regressed to my teenage years when I kept trying to figure out those strange lyrics to “Nights in White Satin”). Research has shown that deep breathing exercises (just 5 minutes a day) reduces stress producing hormone levels, decreases anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and improves sleep.
  1. scrabbleDo a crossword, or Sudoku, or play Scrabble – In other words, exercise your brain as if it were a muscle (Is it a muscle? Or an organ?…Does it matter?). No, it doesn’t matter.  The brain ACTS like a muscle and the more you exercise it, the more efficient it gets.  Of course, the obverse is also true.  Your brain will atrophy like any other muscle if it remains sedentary for an extended period of time.  Studies have shown brain exercises can extend its cognitive reserve…aka its ability to withstand damage due to aging, such as dementia.  Learning new things, such as a musical instrument or foreign language does the trick as well.
  1. Read nutrition labels – Contrary to popular belief, ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your nutrition (sorry for contradicting so many popular idioms in this post). Your body knows what you’re putting in it even if you keep it from your mind and the results (good or bad) happen regardless.  You might set that Snickers bar aside when you find out it has 280 calories, 14 grams of fat, 30 grams of sugar and contains trans fat.  Look at it this way, after eating that Snickers, you’ll have to run about 2.5 miles to burn it off (and that doesn’t even take into account the effects of the saturated and trans fat consumed).
  1. hug2Hug someone…just make sure it’s consensual. The hugging of loved ones reduces stress, anxiety, feelings of loneliness, and releases anti-depressant hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin.  Regular hugging has also been shown to aid in healing and recovering from illness.  Hugs also increase self-esteem, ease tension, teach the concepts of giving and receiving, and encourage empathy and understanding.  All these benefits apply equally to the hugger we well as the huggee.

So, to recap: work the heck out of that pedometer, breathe deep the gathering gloom (or just do deep breathing exercises), work the heck out of your brain, flip it over and read that nutrition label, and get and give plenty of hugs…and don’t forget to do all these things on a consistent basis.

facebooktwitterpinterest

Send a Group Gift Certificate for Healthy Meals

How often do you look to the Internet for something to send to a friend, loved one, or co-workers when they are grieving or, perhaps celebrating? You want to show your friend you are thinking of them and that you care when they are going through difficult times.

It seems we tend to think of flowers as an appropriate gesture when someone has lost a loved one. They convey respect, love, and of course sympathy. But maybe it’s time to think outside the vase, and send healthy prepared meals instead.

date-meals2This is also true when someone is ill. In essence, they have lost the life they once knew, this can be pretty devastating. During the grieving process, self-care can get placed on the back burner. On the flip side, when celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or even the birth of a child, flowers serve as a common gift. With that said, the new parents, elderly, or college student might appreciate a different type of gift.

Take a moment to consider something to replace the standard gift basket or vase of flowers. Flowers are wonderful; beautiful to look at, but maybe the situation really calls for an alternative. Perhaps something more practical.

Sending healthy meals as a gift just might be more useful. Think of the time saved in meal planning, the grocery store run, and preparation. If someone is sick, wouldn’t it be great to send them a healthy, delicious, comforting bowl of soup?

How about giving the new parents a break and have meals ready to pop in the oven or microwave? These would definitely come in handy for parents of multiples. What do you do when there are several people who love the idea of sending meals rather than flowers? MagicKitchen.com has the answer for you in the form of group gift certificates.

Group gift certificates work especially nicely when the group of people live in various parts of the country. Send an email to everyone in the family or office, letting them know the gift certificate is available and ready to load. They each can decide whether they want to contribute and how much to give. And the person receiving the gift certificate can select what meals they like, as well as using the gift certificate for delivery charges.

date-meals1Using MagicKitchen.com’s website to do all of this takes the chore off your shoulders. These group gift certificates for meals can work essentially for all occasions when you typically give presents. New parents are learning to work on very little sleep while maintaining the rest of their chores. Friends and family members have birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and a plethora of other opportunities where a group gift certificate would be a welcome surprise. It means they get a break from the chore of cooking and can enjoy your thoughtfulness when they sit down to eat. I know I will be using this option next time the opportunity arises. Will you?

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com Blogger

facebooktwitterpinterest

Tips for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…I know there are millions of parents out there feeling the exact same way I do. Why? It’s that time of year again, time for those kids to head back to school. In some parts of the country, school has been in session for several weeks already. Some even started the end of July.

College students, though aren’t quite so fortunate. The average start date across the nation is late August. Right now there are many college students buying bedding, laptops, and other electronic devices and accessories. Here’s a few tips for those headed back to class soon.

  1. 41oiFXyshXL._AC_UL480_SR480,480_Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay motivated to study or go to class when the memories of Summer are still on the surface. Who wants to be stuck in a class room when the sun is shining outside and the thoughts of the pool are beckoning? How do you stay motivated? Here are a few suggestions. Use fun flags to mark the important items for tests or papers. These are super cute and you can find them on Amazon.Another great way is to make your notes look pretty with different colored pens and highlighters. Change colors every 10-20 minutes, or as your focus/topic changes. You’ll start to see a difference and it will make you want to study those pretty notes.
  1. organizedBe Organized: Organization is one of the best ways to get your act together and keep it together the whole semester. There are literally a ton of planners and organizational tools on the market right now. If you choose to start being a more organized person when heading to college this year, start with a planner. Get one that has plenty of room for keeping track of your activities. Write down the dates/times for those study groups, keep your goals in one place, and color code important items.
  1. college-sleepGet enough sleep. This is when you rest and recharge your body and brain. Something we all need. Late night study sessions…or parties…aren’t great for when you have class at 8 am.
  1. Resources: Know what resources are available to you and how to access them. I’m not talking about just the library and tutoring. You should have online access at this point, so don’t forget about the resources there…possible books (free?), local maps, check for discounts for being a student, transportation, and other opportunities available to you as a student. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  1. Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com, prefect for college kids
    Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com

    Food: You need some…make it healthy. The Freshman 15 (15 pounds added your Freshman year) are REAL! Parents of new Freshmen – (ok, even Seniors) we want to make sure our kids eat healthy. They will always be our kids, right? What better way for them to kick off the new school year than with a send off gift they can really appreciate? I’m not talking about a new laptop or cell phone. I mean healthy meals, delivered right to their apartment or dorm rooms. None of us want to see our kids spending either their hard earned money (or ours) on fast food. They need to eat much healthier than that in order to be able to soak up all the information they will be getting during the semester. So do them a favor and make sure they have a few healthy, “brain food” meals for the week.

Good luck this year to all college students, near and far. I wish you a happy, safe, and productive year!

facebooktwitterpinterest

20 Easy and Healthy Summer Breakfast Ideas

Summer, of course, means more than just heat.  It also, for most of us, means a more, shall we say, relaxed pace to life.  And in this more relaxed lifestyle, we tend to sleep in a bit more whenever possible and then scramble (egg pun intended) around in the AM for breakfast…or brunch in some instances.

Well, here are 20 easy, light and healthy breakfast ideas and most do not require the use of a heat generating device, such as the stove top or oven.  We used the term “ideas” rather than “recipes” because we’d like you to experiment with the ingredients and prep methods in order to perfect them in your own, personal way.

  1. Smoothies – of any variety.  Simply combine your favorites (berries, bananas, flavored yogurt, milk, protein powder, jam, honey, etc.) and blend.
  2. Fruit pizza on a bagel – Simply spread a bit of cream cheese (but not too much…these are “healthy” ideas after all) on a whole wheat bagel and add your favorite sliced fruit.
  3. Granola, yogurt and fruit – Mix…you guessed it…granola, your favorite yogurt and fruit together in a bowl or cup and enjoy.
  4. yogurtbananaYogurt granola banana popsTake half a banana, insert a popsicle stick in the end, role it in yogurt, then granola and freeze.
  5. Muesli – aka cold oatmeal (certain types of oats need to be soaked overnight in milk) mixed with yogurt, fruit, nuts, cinnamon, orange zest, some maple syrup…simply add whatever flicks your switch.
  6. Breakfast wrap – slice some banana and pineapple, add some granola, and cottage or feta cheese and then just wrap in a tortilla…breakfast on the go.
  7. Avocado toast – thinly slice some avocado and place on lightly toasted whole wheat indexbread and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper along with some lemon juice, olive oil, strawberries, goat cheese and/or honey.
  8. Breakfast salad – cube some watermelon and mix with chopped and peeled cucumber, add some lime juice, feta cheese and a bit of chopped mint.
  9. Raspberry cheesecake bagel – Simply spread some mascarpone or cream cheese on a bagel and top with fresh raspberries.
  10. English muffin egg pizza – Hard boil some eggs ahead of time, slice or crush and place on a toasted English muffin with a tomato slice and your favorite type of shredded cheese.
  11. The “works” bagel – Toast a bagel and spread on some cream cheese.  Then add diced tomatoes, capers, red onions, and sprouts…or whatever your heart desires.
  12. Farina with apricots and almonds – Bring some farina (think Cream ‘o Wheat) to a boil with milk, let cool and top with brown sugar, diced apricots and almonds.
  13. Cottage cheese crunch – Real easy one here…just mix some granola with cottage cheese and add some of your favorite fruit…peach slices work well here.
  14. Fruit kabobs with vanilla yogurt – Cube your favorite fruit (pineapples, melons, pears, etc.) and place on kabob skewers.  Place some vanilla yogurt on the side for a dipping sauce.
  15. English muffin with burled banana and peanut butter – OK, this one requires you to fire up your broiler, but only for a few minutes.  Slice up a banana or two and sprinkle with some brown sugar.  Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized.  Spread some peanut butter on a toasted English muffin and top with the bruleed bananas.
  16. breakfasttacoBreakfast tacos – place some sliced avocados, tomatoes, and blueberries in a soft taco shell and enjoy.
  17. Fried honey bananas – Slice up some bananas and fry in some olive oil (1-2 minutes per side), drizzle with honey and sprinkle with some cinnamon.
  18. Savory oatmeal with an egg – Take some oatmeal (duh!) and add an egg that’s been prepared over easy.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and some shredded cheese and you’ve got your new breakfast favorite.
  19. PB+J waffle sandwich – toast some whole wheat waffles and then make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with them.
  20. Avocado toast with egg – On whole wheat toast, spread some smashed avocado, top with a fried egg (over hard works best…less mess) and finish with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  21.  Bonus idea – Order in any of MagicKitchen.com’s Complete Breakfast Meals,  or some of our a la carte breakfast items, like Carrot-Zucchini-Walnut Muffins, or Corn Bread Blueberry Toaster Cakes.

Hopefully you find a few of these ideas appealing to your palate, and as stated previously, don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients as you see fit…live dangerously and bon appetit!

facebooktwitterpinterest

Here Comes Shark Week: Your Fears can be Delicious

shark-surfThere’s a commonly held belief…rule, really… held by surfers that one should never eat shark.  It’s a karma kinda thing…why tempt fate by eating what might someday eat you out there on the waves.

However, the vast majority of us do not surf, therefore, we are in no way bound by the surfing rule regarding sharks.  And since the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is upon us once again, we thought this week would be the perfect time to confront your fear of the ocean’s greatest predator head on…with your teeth, in fact.

So, as you violate Bruce’s (the great white from Finding Nemo) rule of “Fish are friends, not food,” there is one important rule that we would like you to follow.  And that rule is when you’re in search of the shark for your Shark Week viewing party, ensure that it’s a sustainable species as the horrible practices of shark finning and factory fishing have decimated many species of sharks.

makoThe Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recommends the spiny dogfish shark from California, Oregon or Washington or the common thresher or smallfin mako sharks from California or Hawaii.

If you’ve never eaten shark, most find it lean, mild and meaty.  It tends to be denser than tuna or swordfish and doesn’t flake as easily.  Most recipes call for the meat to be marinated prior to cooking to add some flavor, tenderness and to prevent dryness.  As one might expect, steak is the most common and easiest way to prepare shark.  So we thought we’d give you two variations on this method: shark tacos and shark kabobs.

Shark Tacos

 Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tbsp. crushed mustard seed
  • ½ tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 lb. shark steaks, 1 inch thick
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage tossed with 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro and a pinch of sea salt
  • Tomatillo salsa (either prepared or purchased)
  • sriracha

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl, sprinkle steaks with sea salt and marinade for 20 minutes.
Grill, broil, or pan fry the shark steaks until they flake easily with a fork, usually 5-6 minutes for each side.  Roughly flake steaks with a fork.

To serve: placed flaked shark meat in warm tortillas and top with cabbage, chilled salsa and sriracha.

Shark Kebabs

Marinade

  • ½ cup rice wine
  • Lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. shark steaks cut into 1 x 1 inch squares.
  • Large mushrooms
  • Onion wedges
  • Red and yellow pepper wedges
  • Bamboo skewers

shark-kebabsMix marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold shark meat and allow to marinade for two hours in refrigerator.

Alternate meat, onions, mushrooms and peppers on kabob skewers and grill or broil 10-15 minutes while marinating liberally and often with remaining marinade sauce while rotating a quarter turn every 3 minutes or so.  Shark meat should fake easily with fork when fully cooked.

Kabobs can be served on a bed of rice of your choosing.

Tbruce-sharkhus you can see, there’s no need to get a bigger boat, fish CAN be food rather than friends, and unless you plan on carving up a wave any time soon you can certainly enjoy some shark without the fear of the roles being reversed.  So fire up the grill and enjoy!

facebooktwitterpinterest

Diabetic Diet Ideal for All

For the 21 million Americans with diabetes, losing and/or maintaining weight is of critical importance in order to avoid complications caused by the disease.  Most of them manage their weight through exercise and diet…and by diet I don’t necessarily mean being “on” a diet, because that implies their diet is temporary.  It is not.  It is the permanent state of making healthy food choices out of necessity.  It is a lifestyle, not a diet in the traditional sense, and we could all benefit from rethinking what the term “diet” entails as most diabetics already have.

carImagine, if you will, that you’re a car and you’re required to drive up a long, steady incline, which you complete without too much trouble.  Now imagine having to complete the same task with some “junk in your trunk,” say the concrete remains of a sidewalk that was just torn up.  You manage to make it up the hill, but your engine had to work a whole lot harder and as you climb that hill, day after day, parts begin to fail.  The same can happen to humans with excess weight (or too much junk in the trunk).  Complications ensue…heart disease, high blood pressure, increased risk of stroke, cancer, and type II diabetes.

scaleSo, as you can see, being overweight should be a concern to us all, not just diabetics. And one way to lose or maintain your weight is to follow the lifestyle choices most diabetics follow in terms of what and how they eat.  As always, most of us already know what’s healthy (fresh fruits and veggies, lean protein) and what is not (a venti cinnamon dolce latte, muffins the size of your head).  After all, this isn’t rocket science here.

One thing many diabetics do is strictly monitor and track what they consume.  In other words, they COUNT CALORIES…gasp!  And it’s a good idea for all of us.  Just count your caloric intake for a few days.  My guess is that the difference between what you believe that number to be and what it actually is will surprise you…in a bad, OMG way.  Another thing most diabetics do is plan their meals ahead of time and then stick to that plan…no spur of the moment stops at DQ for a $5 nail to place in your coffin. A diabetic diet just makes sense.

supermarketMany diabetics also limit the intake of their carbohydrates and consume non-starchy vegetables (avoid potatoes, corn and peas).  They also eat whole grains and avoid refined or processed flour and sugar (avoid Twinkies and Chips Ahoy cookies).  They eat only lean protein (fish, skinless chicken, pork, beans and soy products).  They eat fresh fruit and avoid the frozen or canned variety as they often have added sugar.  And lastly, they eat “healthy” fats such as those derived from avocados, olives, nuts and seeds.  Just remember, the best diet is one you can stay “on” forever.

facebooktwitterpinterest