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Healthy Lifestyle Change for JULY – Eat whole grain brown rice

1 Jul

Keeping with the theme of consuming more whole grains… it’s better to eat whole grain brown rice than the regular polished white rice because:

  •  It has more nutrients – Vitamin B1, B3, Iron and Magnesium naturally found in the hull of the rice grain
  • It has more fiber – helping you of any constipation issues
  • It is very flavorful
  • It comes is a variety of formats – Basmati, short grain, long grain… just like white rice.

 

All these benefits, yet you prepare it basically the same way you make white rice – you just need to add a bit more water.

 Here’s a few tips:

  • You can purchase whole grain brown rice at any major supermarket – I buy frequently Uncle Ben’s or Mahatma Brands of brown rice.  Lately I have also been purchasing Texmati brown rice, available at health food stores or at Costco.
  • To me it’s easier to make rice in a  rice cooker – but if you are used to making rice in a regular pot, all you need to do is follow these measurements:
    • 3 cups of water x 1 cup of rice
    • When you make more than 1 cup of rice, you add 1 cup of water for each cup of rice + 3 additional cups of water  SEE TABLE
BROWN RICE WATER
1 cup 3 cups
2 cup 5 cups
3 cup 6 cups

 

  • If you’re using a rice cooker, my rule of thumb is to add ALMOST twice the water you would need for regular white rice.
    • Something about Texmati rice… it only needs a bit more than the water you would need for regular white rice.  So it cooks faster than other brown rices.
  • You can make any rice dish you usually make with white rice using whole grain brown rice.

Here a few recipes you can try:

 Provencal Rice

 Arroz Provencal

Spinach Asparagus Casserole

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

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Cheese Rice Burritos with Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

p1010697.jpg

Healthy Lifestyle Change for JUNE– Exercise regularly

1 Jun

Most of you already know that to be in good health we must exercise.  Running, jogging, aerobics, spinning, and even brisk walking are all great forms of exercise.  I particularly like Hatha Yoga…  Hatha Yoga is a psycho-physical way of exercising that works the body and the mind simultaneously.  It’s a form of exercise developed thousands of years ago that has been in fashion for the last 10-15 yrs.  There are many versions of yoga exercises, but the hatha yoga practiced at the yoga center I attend is designed to help your body and your mind to be quieter during meditation.  Some of its benefits are:

  • It’s simple
  • You can do it at home
  • It tones your body muscles
  • It quiets the mind
  • When you finish a session you finish reenergized instead of tired
  • You can be in vogue by saying you also practice yoga exercises…

      

Personally, hatha yoga has helped me to have more balance and concentration and to have stronger will-power.  Hatha yoga should be practiced about 3 times a week for optimum results, but just doing it at least once a week is a good start.

 

Look for a yoga studio/center near you to start practicing hatha yoga regularly.  In the meantime, you need to move your skeleton… so try any or a few of these easy ways to exercise:

  • Walk around your neighborhood – create a route that would take you at least 30 minutes to complete.  Or you can embark on an adventure – in Puerto Rico, you can walk in the Paseo Tablado de Pinones, Paseo Lineal in Hato Rey, on the outside trails around Parque Central, etc.  Or walk on a treadmill if you prefer to exercise while watching TV…

  • Walk on the beach – I love to listen to the waves when I walk on the shore.  It’s a real theraphy for the mind and spirit.  Go to your nearest beach and walk it from one end to the next.  Isla Verde beach, from one end to the other back and forth is about 3 miles in total.

  • Do some exercises at home using an exercise DVD or Video – I am hooked on the P90X exercise DVDs, but the Biggest Loser series are also really good and customizable to your level.

  • Ride bicycle or do spinning – I prefer doing this in a closed environment where there are no cars around me… but if you’re adventurous, you can ride on a Sunday morning on really nice routes.

  • Swim in a pool or at the beach – it is low-impact and you will not feel the sweat…

 

Doing a combination of these will bring variety to your exercise routine… after 3 weeks of exercising regularly, your body will crave it more often… Make time for your health.

Lifestyle Change for May – Eat 1 Green Salad a Day

1 May

Food that is ALIVE or RAW– that do not need any cooking for us to enjoy – are the foods with the richest nutrient value.  Fruits, vegetables and nuts are all included in this category.  And the best way for us to make sure we are getting our daily fix of the necessary fruits and vegetables is to accustom ourselves to eat one big green salad a day.

  • Salads contain lots of insoluble fiber that helps with constipation issues – therefore you’ll be able to go to the bathroom more times and more efficiently
  • It’s the easiest way to ensure we eat as freshly as possible

                                                  

You have full control of what will go into your salad.  You can add as many or as few ingredients in each salad as you wish.  I have made salads with lots of ingredients – some raw and some cooked – and salads of just one ingredient.  But take this challenge as an opportunity to venture into trying new salad ingredients, new vegetables you have never tried before… it’s a chance to expand your salad horizons.  Just commit to including into your daily diet the habit of adding a salad to one of your meals.

Here are a few ideas for those of you who are not fully vegetarian yet:

  • Try to make yourself a side salad with every meal you prepare at home.  Here are a few examples of simple salads you can always make at home:
  • If you still eat occasionally at fast food restaurants, ask for a side salad instead of the French fries
  • If you bring your own lunch to work, always have a bowl for your salad – add lettuce, tomatoes, some cucumbers… or even cut corn, whatever, just always include a salad bowl as part of your lunch.
  • Always ask to include salad greens in your sandwiches – lettuce, tomato, onions, sprouts, cucumbers, spinach leaves, shredded carrots, etc.
  • Try to add fresh vegetables to some of your cooked dishes – create a pasta primavera or a pasta salad with fresh peppers, tomato and onions, etc.

 

Sometimes, the key to eating more salads are the DRESSINGS… here are a few dressing ideas that will bring more pizzazz and variety to your salads:

Healthy Lifestyle Change for APRIL– Eat only Whole Grain flours

1 Apr

Whole grain flours are much more nutritious than white refined flours.  Whole-grain flours have insoluble fiber very necessary to help our intestines eliminate properly.  There are several benefits to transition from white-refined baked goods:

  • Baked products made with whole-grain flours have more flavor
  • Whole-grain flour has fiber that helps our system with constipation issues
  • Fiber has complex carbohydrates to help you feel more satisfied longer after eating
  • Whole-grain products contain more nutrients

Instead of buying at the grocery store the regular, same-old white bread you usually buy, you’ll now purchase instead:

  • 100% whole-wheat bread – it’s important to read the labels, because there are many sandwich bread brands out there that contain some form of whole-wheat flour, but still the main flour is white.  The label should say 100% whole-wheat and the first ingredient in the list should be whole-wheat flour.
    • Now, there are brands of whole-wheat semi baked baguettes too.
    • Local bakeries, even Pan Pepín in Puerto Rico, bake whole-wheat pan criollo – order this the next time you order a sandwich in a local panadería
    • Buy whole-wheat pita breads – these are great for sandwiches and even for pizzas.  They come in a small and larger sizes.

 

   

     

 

  • Whole-wheat or whole-grain pastas
    • In any major supermarket now there’s a variety of whole-wheat and alternative grain pastas in a variety of presentations – penne, macaroni, lasagna and fettuccini noodles, among others.
    • Try some alternative grain pastas – like those made out of Rice, Brown rice, Quinoa, etc.

 

 

  • Baked Goods made from Whole-Wheat or Whole Grains
    • In many supermarkets and health food stores there’s a wide variety of baked goods made from whole-wheat and other whole grains, such as:
      • Guava Pastelillos – Made in Las Marías, here in Puerto Rico
      • Health Food stores carry several boxed cake mixes made with whole-wheat or alternative flours, for the Baker who does not feel comfortable making cakes from scratch.
      • But if you’re comfortable making things from scratch here are a few cake and cookie recipes you can certainly try:

It’s not that difficult to transition from white/refined baked goods to whole-grain… it just takes a few different choices when we go to the grocery store will bring much more health and nutrition to our lives.  Try it… you will not regret it.

Healthy Lifestyle Change for MARCH – Not eating Animal products once a week

10 Mar

I know that it’s sometimes difficult to shed a habit so much ingrained in us such as eating animal products.  Especially when we were raised with the belief and within a society that promotes healthy eating with eating meat and other animal products. 

 If you were to tell me 12 years ago that I was going to be a vegetarian and that I would be writing a blog sharing my recipes and experiences with the world, I would have laughed in the face of whoever told me that then.  But destiny has proven to be different and being vegetarian I have found a whole world filled with happiness and health.  And that’s what I want for you all…

But I do not pretend that a decision that big should be taken lightly… the decision to become vegetarian needs to come truly from within.  That’s why I would like for you to try consciously to think about eating 3 meals in a day without any animal products… no red meat, no chicken, no pork, no bacon, no fish, no seafood, no eggs  – nothing of that nature just one day a week.

It’s not that difficult… this blog is filled with recipes that do not include any of those.  And in line with my previous post on MeatFree Mondays, it’s not also a great way to see that you can indeed feed and nourish yourself but here are some other benefits of not eating meat products once a week:

  • Animal products/meats are much harder to digest than vegetable-based foods
  • Animal products are many times associated with constipation
  • It’s a way to contribute in the reduction of green house gases, and contribute to the helath of our planet.
  • And we should create a new habit of thinking that RICE or even a SALAD is the focal point of our dinner plate, not a piece of meat.

Here are a few of our most popular recipes to help you kick-start your menu imagination…

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Comme Ci Comme Ca Salade Niçoise

veggie-cuban-sandwich

Veggie Cuban Sandwich

Sweet Plantain and Spinach Pastelón

 

Soy Picadillo

Veggie Sancocho

camarones-enchilados

“Shrimp” Creole

Yuca con Cuban Mojo

couliflower-and-cheese-mac

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

tembleque-mami

Mami’s Tembleque

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