Quinoa? Why?

I love quinoa. It’s nutty, it’s easy and it goes with practically everything. It picks up the flavor of whatever you’re mixing it with and doesn’t impose its own flavor.

I recently made a batch and had it over several days for breakfast. You see a picture here, mixed with fresh spinach and a hard-boiled egg. Just a touch of seasoning and – delish! I mixed the spinach when the quinoa was still warm, so the greens wilted just a little.

I made the quinoa according to package directions – 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water, let it come to a boil and then simmer for about 18 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and it’s done. But if you use chicken, beef or vegetable stock instead of water, that adds its own flavor and is particularly yummy. If you use stock, lessen the amount of seasoning you add.

Have quinoa for any meal! If we have any left over, sometimes I’ll bring it for lunch mixed with leftover chicken or turkey and lettuce or other greens. It has staying power and will keep me until dinner. You know I hate being hungry. (I’m not a nice person when I’m hungry.) But I also hate taking time to eat something in the middle of the afternoon when I’m busy doing other things.

Aside from the flavor, why do I love quinoa so much? It’s gluten-free (not a big selling point for me, since I also love bread…), and it’s also high in protein. Quinoa also has about twice as much fiber as just about any other grain. It’s also high in Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) and manganese. It’s rich in magnesium and also contains lysine, iron, Vitamin E and all 9 essential amino acids!

So quinoa is more than a fad. I think it’s here to stay! I know there will be a place for it in my pantry.

Much more than just a vegetable

Mashed cauliflowerI’ve been re-introduced to the wonders of cauliflower! We’ve always just steamed the florets and added a pinch of salt and perhaps a bit of butter, but I learned that you can do so much more to it!

The Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Cauliflower contains Sulforaphane, which is a cancer-fighter, helps to reduce blood pressure and improves kidney function. It also contains Sulfur which is an anti-inflammatory and helps to remove toxic substances from the body. This versatile vegetable also contains multiple antioxidant phytonutrients. One serving of cauliflower contains almost a whole day’s recommendation of Vitamin C. It also contains Folate, Vitamin K, Fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids! Wow!

I mentioned that a key property of cauliflower is fighting inflammation. Inflammation can contribute to many debilitating illnesses, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and even cancer. Reducing inflammation also stabilizes blood sugars, helping to manage and prevent diabetes.

Studies have shown that cauliflower, when consumed once a week, helps fight colorectal cancer. And cauliflower doesn’t have to be cooked! It’s been shown that eaten raw, cauliflower binds with bile acid to help cholesterol levels.

Not Just a Side Dish

Steaming cauliflower and eating it just like that is still a great option. And steaming is much better than boiling cauliflower, according to the experts. When boiled, many of the phytonutrients are left in the water.

Besides mashing cauliflower and adding a bit of butter and a dash of salt as a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes, I’ve got to try ricing cauliflower! People swear by it! And using it as a pizza crust. A friend says you can actually pick up flattened riced and cooked cauliflower like bread!


Your dinner plate

Broccolini, sweet potato and chicken: A healthy plate is mostly plant-based foods.You try to eat healthy. You’ve even counted all the calories you consume in a day. You buy organic produce, eggs from cage-free chickens. You only eat beef from grass-fed cows. You’ve tried to cut out grains from your diet.

And still the weight stays on. You try running more, different exercise programs, and nothing seems to be working.

The solution may be a simple formula applied to your dinner plate. And it’s so simple you’ll think it can’t possibly work. But it does!

A healthy plate is based on plants. One-half to 3/4 of your plate should be filled with plant-based foods. Plants provide fiber, vitamins and minerals for nourishment. And the plants can be fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts, and whole-grain foods. Plant-based eating is in line with guidelines set out by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Look at my plate above. Most of the plate is broccolini and sweet potato. Not a lot is chicken – and that’s lean chicken, no skin! Healthy and tasty, to boot!

Plus plants have fewer calories than meat protein and simple carbohydrates.

Think of all the time you’ll save by not counting calories!

Of course, like everything else in life, I believe in moderation. So my healthy plate works for me most of the time. I do indulge in pizza and chocolate cake. Just not all the time!

Are you bored?

100315_lungeAre you bored with your routine? Then it might be time to switch it up! I was doing one kind of workout for months. I enjoyed it, but I kept resisting going downstairs to push “play.” I found one excuse after another until there just wasn’t time to work out. And that led to bad eating habits, too. My portions got bigger, the foods were not as healthy. It was a downward spiral.

So I decided, “I’m an accountability coach. I should be able to figure this out!” I switched to a different workout program. And I started following the nutritional guidelines for that program. And 3 weeks later, I’ve lost 4 pounds and am not bored. I need more carbohydrates than this meal program allows, to be happy, so I’ll add more from time to time. I don’t snack, as a rule, so that’s a plus.

I don’t like this workout program as much as the one that I had been doing, and that could be a problem. It’s harder on my knees, and that’s another problem. But I’ll modify the moves that I feel are bad, and just keep pushing “play.” And then when I get bored, perhaps I’ll rediscover that first workout and stay motivated!