new year

New Year, New Food

Every year, many of us make the new year’s resolution to eat healthier and exercise more. It’s a worthy goal to be sure. However, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years about making well-meaning resolutions, it’s the fact that resolutions without staying power won’t succeed. Not even with the best intentions.

What do I mean by staying power?

Simple. Have you chosen a method of exercise or diet with the allure of holding your attention? Your desire? If not, don’t bother wasting the effort. It won’t work. One look at any gym membership contract should convince you. They don’t offer you a month-by-month deal for a reason. Most people don’t enjoy going to the gym. Pay for the year, attend for a month or two. Why? It becomes tedious, monotonous, and a chore in and of itself.

No good. Despite my teenage son’s conviction that “Mom loves chores” — I don’t. No one does! But I do like to dance (a GREAT way to get the heart pumping and the calories burning). I also like to eat. Chocolate, cheese, and of course, ice cream. Fortunately for me, I also like salads, vegetables, hummus, juice–I love it all!

So this year I’m going to share some of my secrets to staying slim and healthy. First and foremost, look for something you enjoy doing–dancing, walking, jogging, gardening–and do it. Just do it. Every day, every other day, start small and work your way up to bigger and better workouts. For me, cranking up the music and dancing around my house for a half an hour works wonders. In fact, I enjoy it so much, I’ll keep the music playing and clean the house. Check mark: chores!

When it comes to food, I eat what I want–chocolate, cheese, ice cream–but I do so in small increments throughout the day. The key to eating smart is to eat early and eat often. Eight small meals a day will serve you better than 3-4 big meals. Why? Because you’re eating all of the time so you’ll NEVER feel deprived–an important aspect when it comes to changing dietary habits. You’re also avoiding the pitfall of fighting a hungry belly. Eventually, your stomach will shrink in size and feel full sooner. A good thing!

What should you eat?

Good question. Below are a few of my favorite healthy alternatives, beginning with my ever-popular belly-cleansing ulcer-easing juice recipe, Cabbage-Carrot-Apple juice.

A bowl of yogurt and berries works wonders for your digestion, too, including a powerful punch of antioxidants. Did you know that raspberries have one of the highest content of fiber among fruits? They do!

As does a freshly-plucked salad from the garden. I love chickpeas–for protein AND regularity.

Speaking of chickpeas, homemade Roasted Red Pepper Hummus is always a winner with me. I devour mine on the end of a pretzel stick, celery stalk or cracker.

Tomato Sauce will please the entire family at dinner time…

I like a healthy dose of pesto, as well.

Garlic is good!! And with all the tomatoes bursting in my garden, I need to find LOTS of ways to consume them.

Need more ideas? Check the Heart Healthy tab of my recipe section. Surely there’s something with staying power for you to enjoy. Happy New Year!

Starting Strong (And Curried!)

Like everyone else, I’m “cleansing” this month. I’ve dropped the libations and decadent sweets–

What? You’re NOT cleansing the body of toxins this month?

Oh, wow, you must be one of those who doesn’t let it slip during the holiday season. You walk by the dessert table without blinking, pass on the wine and champagne, and don’t miss a single day of exercise. Not me. Unfortunately, the dessert table shouts my name as I walk by–occasionally grabbing my arm and chaining me close until I over-indulge. The bottle of bubbly whispers my name, winks, then insists I should celebrate with another glass of its delightful contents! And exercise? Who has the time?! I’m at the mall, at the office, the party–I don’t have time for walking, biking and dancing.

Oh–wait a minute. Dancing? I always have time for dancing! Maybe I DID exercise after all!! **sigh** Guess I fall prey to whim. But it’s probably because I know January will soon roll around, and I can hit the reset button. And have. Just look at this delicious breakfast I prepared this morning!

Curry Spinach Chickpea Egg Scramble

Spinach and chickpeas sautéed in olive oil with a few dashes of garlic and curry powder, plus a healthy dose of pepper. (Sautéed fresh garlic would have worked, too.) Add one egg over easy and you have yourself one healthy meal to start the day. Yum. I could have eaten two servings, but then again, I’m “cleansing” the recent addition of five pounds to my midsection and can’t afford the extra calories. Good thing I still have lunch to look forward to!

I only wish my garden spinach was growing well enough to have included it in the pan, but alas, Florida has been much too hot this winter for spinach. How about you? Any resolutions or dishes you’d like to share?

There’s Always Next Year

Ever catch yourself saying this as you stand and gaze upon your garden?

I have.  Am, I should say.  My garden is going through some “growing pains” at the moment.  Most horribly, our frost “bite” right before Christmas.  Weather man modified his forecast AFTER I was able to prepare.  (Aaagh!)  Watching the news one evening, I found myself gaping at the television screen.  Hard frost?  Freeze, north of us?  Oh no…

Yep.  I have three forty-foot rows that look just like this one.  We salvaged what tomatoes we could, pulled the plants and still have these to clean up.  Tomorrow.  There’s always tomorrow.  Same fate befell my wax peppers, forcing us to clean, cut and can Christmas eve and Christmas day.  (Like I had time for that?!?!) More

New Year’s Resolutions

This year I plan to be more productive.  This month I plan to lose the holiday weight gain.  This week I plan to relax.  (Why not, it’s freezing outside and most of the garden is dormant, anyway — read: dead — including the weeds, so there’s not much to do.)  Today I plan to write.

Wow.  I feel better already!  Talk about productive, I’ve set a plan, followed it for a full week now…why, I’ll have this resolution thing down pat in no time!  Yes si-ree-bob,  I’m on my way. 

 To where, you might ask?  Well, now, wait a minute.  Glancing about my office, I don’t see it.  “Wait–hold on,” I say, with a finger held high.  “I know it’s around here somewhere.”

Maybe the kitchen.  I do seem to spend a lot of time there.  Perhaps I left it with my “to do” pile on the counter by the sink.  I know, I know, my husband told me.  “Don’t put anything next to the sink you don’t want wet.”  Tell me later.  I’ve got a list of resolutions to find!

Ever stop and wonder why we put ourselves through it?  Why we bother conjuring up these grandiose ideas in the first place?  I think the answer is growth.  Much like our plants (we’re talking perennial in nature here, not those annual types where you have to yank them out by their roots after only one season – I mean, what kind of waste is that?  After all my hard work?  Those babies better stay in the ground, as long as possible!).

But I digress.  Back to the issue at hand, I believe we seek growth, just like our plants.  All the better, if our caretaker prunes us, feeds us, and generally tends to our well being. 

Unfortunately in my case, I am my caretaker, so the occasional lapse can be expected, although lists do help in this regard.  If only I could reliably find the thing, I’d be in business.  Big business!  As it stands, I struggle.  Every year, there seems to be something else I need to improve.  And I thought I was making so much progress

But maybe that’s the point.  Progress.  Growth.  Steadily moving ourselves forward, upward, in an effort to reach our greatest heights.  It may be our habits we want to change, or perhaps our outlook, but whatever the goal, it seems to me a clipping back of the dead weight (too much pumpkin pie, in my case) will allow for new growth; the beauty for which we strive, blooming to life from the inside out.  

We nurture our blossoms until they’re fresh and full (Blossoms, not bottoms.  Am I harping?  Go ahead, add it to the list.).  I mean, if we don’t, isn’t it we who suffer?  We who lose the beautiful palette of color in our lives, or the decadent fragrance which escalates our senses, carrying away our imagination on the wings of a glorious spring breeze?

Sort of like an old hedge, left to her own device.  Over time, dead spots can form, growth can be stunted.  In some cases, if the hedge plants herself in the right spot, she can grow wild, maybe even full, but not all growth is healthy.  Without proper attention, it can become host to disease—disease which could have been prevented with a spritz of attention, or cured with an ounce of diligence.

A rose will never reach her full potential without a yearly pruning.  And how about Grand Oaks?  Without proper thinning, they can become over-stressed, thereby susceptible to stormy weather.  Even our vegetables.  Without proper clipping, their production can be greatly diminished, thereby reducing the harvest.

It makes sense we women need the same.  So this year, I say:  embrace the change.  Make those resolutions, write them down (on a list, you know exactly where to find) and follow through to the best of your ability. 

No one’s perfect.  That’s what makes us special; human.  We all have the ability to grow, a challenge that incites action, stirs our very heart and soul, and leads us to a future of abundance and prosperity.

Let’s do it!  And welcome in the New Year and a new dawn. 

(But don’t dilly-dally.  After you’ve rested, pack your bag – we’re going gardening!)

BTW:  I found my list.  It was under my Vegetable Gardener’s Bible, right next to the notes for my next novel.  Like I said, this is going to be a productive year!