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Meatless Monday: Biscuit Vegetable Pot Pies

Here’s an easy way to make vegetarian pot pies. Using ramekins also helps with portion control! This recipe is meatless, creamy, comforting, and sure to please.

IMG_2095.JPGBiscuit Vegetable Pot Pies
Serves: 5

Ingredients:

1/4 cup chopped yellow onion (~ 1/2 medium onion)
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth )
2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, peas, carrots)
1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk
1/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (or sub other thickener of choice)
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
1 batch of biscuits (or substitute with pie crust, or puff pastry)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat, then add onion and garlic and a pinch of salt – stir. Cook until soft (about 5-7 minutes)

3. Add the flour and stir with a whisk, then slowly whisk in the broth.

4. Add almond milk, bay leaves and stir. Simmer until the mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes). If it still appears too thin, scoop out 1/2 cup of the broth and add 1-2 Tbsp more flour and whisk. Add back into the pot to thicken. Wait a few minutes, then repeat if necessary.

5. While the sauce is thickening, prepare biscuits. Cut out, leave unbaked, and set aside.

6. Once the sauce is thickened, add the frozen vegetables and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

7. Discard the bay leaves and divide the mixture evenly between 5-6 lightly greased ramekins. Top with biscuits and brush the tops of the biscuits with melted vegan butter. Set your ramekins on a baking sheet to catch overflow and bake until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly (about 14-17 minutes). Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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Recipe adapted from The Minimalist Baker

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Waist Circumference: Why is it So Important?

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The distribution of body fat plays a major roll in terms of your metabolic health. Although BMI is helpful, your Body Mass Index (BMI) says nothing about the distribution of fat in your body. It is your waist circumference which provides valuable information with regards to abdominal obesity.

A high waist circumference is associated with an increased risk for heart disease. It also increases your risk for adult onset diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure too. Waist circumference is a more accurate assessment of an individual’s risk than a body mass index (BMI).

Changes in waist circumference over time can indicate an increase or decrease in abdominal fat. Increased abdominal fat increases one’s risk for heart disease and many other ailments. It affects almost every organ system.

How do you measure your waist circumference?

Measure directly against your skin.
Breathe out normally.
Make sure the tape is snug, without compressing the skin.
Measure halfway between your lowest rib and the top of your hipbone, roughly in line with your belly button.

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What should my waist circumference be?

Your waist circumference to be half your height in inches. For example, if you are 5 feet, 10 inches tall, you are 70 inches. Your waist circumference should be 35 inches or less for optimal health. (1/2 your height in inches).

How do I decrease my waist circumference?

You can decrease your waist circumference by eating healthy, participating in aerobic exercise, and losing weight.

The first step to healthy eating is to avoid the processed foods, simple carbohydrates and simple sugars.

The best exercise to reduce waist circumference is a good aerobic workout. Examples include: fast walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, aerobic class such as kickboxing, jazzercise, etc.

Remember, your BMI should only be one of many tools in your box of health assessments. Your waist circumference is another valuable tool with regards to your overall health and wellness.

What does your waist size say about your health?

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Meatless Monday: Quinoa-Zucchini Lasagna

Substituting quinoa for meat is a great way to keep the protein, and this quinoa lasagna with zucchini “pasta” has all the same flavors of the classic casserole. It’s also easy to assemble. Give it a try!
Ingredient Spotlight: Quinoa

IMG_2022.JPGQuinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is now recognized as the world’s most nutritious grain. It has about twice the protein of other grains, fewer carbohydrates, and more healthy fats. Quinoa is also a complete protein: like meat, eggs, and dairy products, it contains all eight essential amino acids. This supergrain is gluten-free and rich in iron, calcium, potassium, and fiber.

I’m a big fan of quinoa. Quinoa’s versatility, convenience, and healthy qualities make it the perfect ingredient for a tasty vegetarian meal. Swap this protein-packed grain for others to get a balanced meat-free meal and heart-healthy antioxidants. For a great meatless dish, try this healthy and delicious Quinoa Zucchini Lasagna.

Quinoa-Zucchini Lasagna
Vegan, gluten-free
Servings: 6

Ingredients:
2 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 12 ¼-inch-thick slices
1 tsp. salt
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
½ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 Tbs. non-dairy cream cheese (optional)
1 25-oz. jar marinara sauce
½ cup shredded non-dairy cheese, such as Daiya Mozzarella (optional)

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place zucchini slices on bed of paper towels. Sprinkle with salt, cover with paper towels, and let stand to release moisture while preparing quinoa.

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2. Bring broth, quinoa, tomato sauce, onion, and oregano to a boil in saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 25 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, and stir in basil, parsley, and cream cheese, if using.

3. Spoon 1/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 8-inch square baking dish. Blot remaining moisture and salt from zucchini slices, and lay 4 zucchini slices over marinara sauce in pan. Spoon half of quinoa over zucchini, and cover with 1/3 cup marinara. Repeat with 4 more zucchini slices, remaining quinoa, and 1/3 cup marinara. Top with remaining 4 zucchini slices, remaining marinara, and shredded cheese, if using.

4. Bake lasagna 30 minutes, or until zucchini is tender and top is bubbly.

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Recipe from Vegetarian Times

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Meatless Monday: Hot Potato Salad

Today is Labor Day and most of us are planning to host or attend a Labor Day (end of summer) barbecue. Today is also Meatless Monday… So, why not consider making a meatless side dish?

A few years ago, I discovered this recipe and decided to “veganize” it. My family and friends loved it!!!

Hot Potato Salad

IMG_1975-1.JPGIngredients:

6-8 medium red potatoes
1/2 cup of onion, chopped
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup of grated (nondairy) cheese
1 cup of nondairy sour cream
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
Ritz crackers (1/2 sleeve), crushed

Instructions:
In a large pot, boil the potatoes with the skins on for 10 to 15 minutes until tender. Let the potatoes cool just to the touch and cut into cubes.

Put in a greased 15″ x 9″ casserole dish.

In a separate bowl, mix the onion, cheese, sour cream, soup. Then pour the mixture over the potatoes.

Add salt and pepper to taste, then top with Ritz crackers.

Bake at 350°F for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

Enjoy!

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Exercise and Your Digestive Health

Have you ever noticed that after a great workout you sometimes have to hustle to the bathroom? There’s good reason for it – getting your heart pumping helps increase blood flow and oxygen circulation throughout your body.

Blood and oxygen are necessary to aid in digestion and keep muscles (even those in your intestines) healthy. So, when you’re working on your abs, triceps and hamstrings – you’re also giving your intestinal muscles a workout which gets things moving, and may result in a visit to the bathroom.

Your digestive system includes your stomach, esophagus, pancreas, liver, gallbladder, small intestines and bowels. Your digestive system is responsible for breaking down the food you eat into the nutrients and energy your body needs to function properly. The normal time for digestion of the food is usually 24 hours to 72 hours. Exercising helps to improve the digestion process.

IMG_1780.PNGExercise improves blood flow throughout the body (which includes your digestive system) so, if you keep your body moving with regular exercise, and you can keep your digestive tract moving, too. A consistent exercise routine that may help you avoid a sluggish digestive system can also help you avoid constipation, in addition to any accompanying gas, bloating and cramps.

There are several forms of exercise that really help you to strengthen your digestive system.

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1. Yoga
2. Aerobic exercises
3. Abdominal exercises

Exercise is crucial to your body’s overall health, but diet is also an important factor, especially with regard to your digestive health. Eat healthy, fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Limit your intake of foods high in saturated fats. Drink plenty of water, especially before, during and after a workout. Exercise can dehydrate your body as you sweat, which can deplete your digestive system of the water it needs to function at optimum levels.

If you have digestive issues, consider adding exercise to your daily regimen. Remember to allow two hours after a meal before you exercise and do not exercise on a full stomach.

To learn more visit mayoclinic.org

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Meatless Monday: English Muffin Pizzas

These easy to prepare treats are fun and they make a great after school snack or appetizer!

English Muffin Pizzas
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

12 English muffin halves (6 English Muffins)
1 package (10 ounces or 280 grams) nondairy mozzarella cheese, grated.
1 jar (25 ounces or 700 grams) of pasta or pizza sauce.
Toppings such as vegan pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers
2 tablespoons (6g) of dried oregano

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
In a toasted, toast muffin halves until golden brown.

2. Once toasted, place on a cookie sheet or baking pan.

3. Add the pasta sauce and distribute cheese evenly on the muffin halves.

4. Next, add any other toppings that you desire (vegan pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, bell peppers, etc).

5. Sprinkle on oregano and bake for 8-10 minutes, until cheese melts.

6. Remove from the oven and serve.

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Recipe adapted from The Vegan Table

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Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)

What Is Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness?

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) describes a phenomenon of muscle pain, muscle soreness or muscle stiffness that occurs in the day or two after exercise. This muscle soreness is most frequently felt when you begin a new exercise program, change your exercise routine, or dramatically increase the duration or intensity of your exercise routine.

What Causes Muscle Soreness After Exercise?

Most believe soreness develops as a result of microscopic damage (tearing) to muscle fibers involved the exercise. This type of damage likely results from new stresses that were experienced during the exercise. One common misconception about DOMS is that it is due to lactic acid accumulation, but lactic acid is not a component of this process. DOMS appears to be a side effect of the repair process that develops in response to microscopic muscle damage.

IMG_1582.PNGEveryone is susceptible to DOMS, even those who have been exercising for years. However, the severity of soreness normally becomes less as your body becomes adapted to work it regularly performs. Just one bout of soreness- producing exercise actually develops a partial protective effect that reduces the chance of developing soreness in that same activity for weeks or months into the future.

DOMS Prevention

One of the best ways to reduce the severity of DOMS is to progress slowly in a new program. Allowing the muscle time to adapt to new stress should help to minimize the severity of symptoms, but it is unlikely that soreness can be avoided altogether. It is also important to allow the muscle time to recover from work that produces soreness. DOMS should last only a few days (usually 2-3 days). By allowing the the involved muscles to recover, they will be better prepared for future bouts of the same type of exercise.

Stretching is sometimes done before exercise, but it is better to stretch after the body is warmed up and after exercise. Stretching has not been shown to reduce or prevent symptoms of DOMS.

Tips for Dealing with Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness After Exercise

If you do find yourself sore after a tough workout or competition, try these methods to deal with your discomfort. There are a number of ways to alleviate those can’t-make-it-up-the-stairs symptoms.

1. Use Active Recovery
This strategy does have support in the research. Performing easy low-impact aerobic exercise increasing blood flow and is linked with diminished muscle soreness. After an intense workout or competition, use this technique as a part of your cool down.

2. Rest and Recover
If you simply wait it out, soreness will go away in 3 to 5 days with no special treatment.

3. Try Yoga
There is growing support that performing Yoga may reduce DOMS.

4. Get a Sports Massage
Some research has found that sports massage may help reduce reported muscle soreness and reduce swelling, although it had no effects on muscle function.

Other common ways to treat DOMS include foam rolling, contrast showers (alternating between hot and cold water), Epsom salt baths, increased protein intake (to increase protein synthesis) and omega-3 supplementation (to reduce inflammation), and sleep.

Seeking Medical Treatment

DOMS symptoms do not typically necessitate the need for medical intervention. If the pain level becomes debilitating, if limbs experience heavy swelling or if urine becomes dark, then a medical consultation is advised.

The biology of pain is never really straightforward, even when it appears to be. ~Unknown