IMG_6151

Meatless Monday: Cranberry Mock Chick’n Salad

Ingredients:

1 lb. vegan chicken strips, chopped or shredded
1/2-1 cup vegan mayonnaise 
1 celery stock, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (or your favorite nut)
2 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Salt & black pepper, to taste
Crackers or salad greens, for serving

Ingredients:

1.  Cook the vegan chicken strips as directed on the package. 
2.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the mayo, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.
3.  Add the chicken, celery, cranberries, onion, almonds, parsley and mix together to combine evenly. Refrigerate until ready to serve. 
4.  Serve with crackers or your favorite salad greens and enjoy!


IMG_6055

Wellness Wednesday: Fighting Seasonal Allergies the Natural Way

Spring is here which is great news if you’re totally over the snow and cold, but it’s nothing to cheer about if you’re one of the millions of adults with seasonal allergies.  

 

Unlike allergies to pet dander or dust, which can strike year-round, seasonal allergies are triggered by a sensitivity to particles that saturate the air in the spring and fall, such as pollen and mold. 

Even a little exposure (like during your afternoon run) can leave your eyes itchy, watery, and red and stuff up your nose and sinuses. 

To ease the misery, you could pop over-the-counter or prescription allergy medications. Problem is, even the non-drowsy formulations might give you brain fog. Instead, you might want to consider relief with with a more natural, “drug-free” approach. I thought I’d share some natural remedies (and helpful habits) that I’ve found to be very effective for seasonal allergies.


Helpful Habits & Natural Remedied for Seasonal Allergy Relief

Sip Peppermint Tea To Clear Nasal Passages
  
This herbal tea infused with mint contains menthol, which thins mucus and helps clear plugged-up sinus passages. The tea itself also has EGCG, a potent antioxidant that has been found to stop an allergic reaction before it starts.  And don’t forget the steamy benefits of a freshly steeped cup: Breathe it in, and congestion quickly fades. So enjoy a couple cups of peppermint tea each day, to decrease congestion and reduce swelling in the sinuses.

Shower To Rinse Allergens Off Your Skin
  
After spending time outdoors, rinse off under the shower — you’ll wash allergens out of your hair and off your skin, preventing them from keeping you from continuing to be exposed to the allergens indoors. Bonus shower benefit: Steam is an instant congestion clearer. 

Use Eucalyptus Oil
  

One of the most popular essential oils used for easing congestion is eucalyptus oil. Eucalyptus oil has long been used in cough lozenges, and its decongestant properties are well known. The strong, piney aroma of eucalyptus oil can supercharge steam inhalation, helping to open your sinuses and nasal passages further.  In addition to this, research suggests that eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Try adding a few drops of oil to a bowl of steaming water, or to the floor of the shower before you step in. Just don’t swallow the oil or apply it directly to your skin; it’s toxic in concentrated amounts.
Make A Pineapple Smoothie To Reduce Nasal Passage Swelling
  
Adding fresh pineapple to a smoothie or using pineapple juice to add natural sweetness to green juice is a quick (and tasty) way to start breathing easier. Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that reduces swelling in nasal passages, giving you relief.

Use a Saline Nasal Spray
  
Saline nasal sprays are available over-the-counter to relieve mild congestion, loosen mucus, and prevent crusting. They contain no medication and can be used as frequently as needed without causing additional problems. Over-the-counter saline sprays and rinses can help remove pollen from the nasal lining if you’ve been exposed to pollen. People often use them at the end of the day. 





IMG_5990

Meatless Monday: Vegetable Pot Pie

Sometimes I just want pot pie, don’t you? 
This recipe is wholesome, delicious, and freezer-friendly. Make a batch, and freeze some for heat-and-eat weeknight meals. Poultry seasoning (yep, it’s veg) is the secret flavor booster in this recipe!

Vegetable Pot Pie

Ingredients

1 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1 cup frozen green peas
1 cup potatoes, diced
1/2 cup celery, thinly sliced
1/3 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of butter substitute (Earth Balance)
1/3 cup of bleached, all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. celery seed
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. poultry seasoning 
1 3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2/3 cup almond milk 
Two 9-inch unbaked pie crusts

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil to place the pie on before cooking; it will keep any filling from dripping into the oven and burning.

In a medium saucepan, combine the carrots, peas, potatoes and celery. Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook the onions in the butter substitute until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, salt, pepper, celery seed and garlic powder. Cook for 2 minutes to get the flour taste out. Slowly stir in the broth and then add the milk. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the drained vegetables.

Roll out one of the unbaked crusts to a 13-inch diameter and place in a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. Pour the mixture into the bottom crust. Roll out the second pie crust and place on top. Seal the edges and cut small slits in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 35 minutes. If the top of the pie becomes too dark, loosely cover with foil and continue cooking. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.


IMG_5690

Wellness Wednesday: Why Skipping Breakfast May Lead to Weight Gain…



Ask anyone with the most important meal of the day is and they will likely say breakfast. So why do people tend to skip breakfast when trying to lose weight?

If you are skipping breakfast to restrict calories, you are actually depriving your body of energy it needs. While it’s important to stay within your recommended number of calories each day, it is equally important to distribute these calories throughout the day.

Overcompensation

People who skip breakfast on a regular basis tend to overeat throughout the rest of the day through grazing and eating large portions. Skipping breakfast will increase your hunger and may cause you to choose foods higher in unhealthy fats and carbohydrates that because they seem to be more filling.

Blood Sugar Inconsistency

Skipping breakfast also has a direct impact on your blood-sugar levels. When you do not eat, your blood sugar levels fall. Inconsistencies in your blood sugar may make it difficult for your body to metabolize foods and could contribute to obesity.

What the Research Says

Many studies show the benefits of having breakfast on a daily basis. One study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests eating breakfast helped reduce dietary fat and minimize impulsive snacking and could be an important part of a weight reduction program.

Achieving a healthy weight is not dependent on one thing; it is a much layered process. Skipping breakfast, or any other meal, should be avoided when you are trying to lose weight. If you find it difficult to incorporate breakfast into your daily schedule, or just don’t know what types of food you should be eating, meet with a registered dietitian who can help you achieve your weight-loss goals.

Learn more at CarolinasHealthcare.org

IMG_5643-0

Meatless Monday: Curry Spice Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas

This dish is especially comforting on a cold winter night. It can be served as a side dish or over a warm bed of grains (quinoa, rice, etc.). One thing is for sure, the roasted elements of this dish combined with it’s savory spices are sure to warm your soul! 


Curry Spice Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas
(Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free)
Serves 3-4

Ingredients: 
  • head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish, if desired
  • Lemon-tahini dressing, optional
Instructions:

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.

2.  Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl until cauliflower and chickpeas are evenly coated.

3.  Spread onto a large baking sheet lined with foil and roast about 25 minutes, until tender.

4.  Serve as a side dish, or over a warm bed of quinoa as a main dish.

Variations:
You can substitute broccoli for cauliflower, if desired, or use a mix of both! 


Recipe from One Green Planet
IMG_5556

Meatless Monday: Lentil Sloppy Joes

Hearty lentils offer meatless satisfaction in this reinterpretation of a classic childhood favorite. Serve on toasted whole wheat buns or use as a filling in corn tortillas or lettuce wraps! 

Lentil Sloppy Joes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cup brown lentils, rinsed 
  • 1 yellow onion, diced (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 dried apricots, chopped
  • 8 whole wheat hamburger buns (I prefer making wraps using iceberg lettuce or corn tortillas)

Instructions:

Place lentils in a small pot. Cover with 2 inches of water. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook, stirring frequently until onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. 
Add chili powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne and tomato paste. Cook, stirring constantly until spices and tomato paste are fragrant, about 2 minutes. 

Add vinegar and then use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. 

Add 2 cups water, garlic, apricots and crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and let sauce simmer until it thickens, at least 30 minutes. 

When lentils are cooked, drain off any excess cooking liquid.  Add lentils to the pan with sauce; stir well to combine. M
ash some or all of the lentils using a wooden spoon. 

Toast hamburger buns in the oven, if desired. Ladle 1 cup of the lentil mixture on each toasted bun (lettuce or corn tortillas) and serve.





IMG_5481

Wellness Wednesday: It’s Never Too Late: Tips to Reverse Your Risk for Heart Failure

Haven’t always treated your body like a temple? Don’t fear: it’s never too late to shed those bad habits and reverse your risk for health problems in your later years. 

As we age it becomes harder to make changes. Many people believe that it’s too late to change and that the damage done cannot be reversed. Nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of age, people who make lifestyle changes with diet, exercise and stress management tend see positive changes in their blood pressure, cholesterol numbers and weight. They feel better and have increased energy.



Here are some tips on getting started:

Don’t Make Resolutions – Set Goals



Are those New Year’s resolutions already history? You’re not alone: studies show that more than 90 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month. Most people who set resolutions don’t develop any strategies for how to actually achieve them. The better approach is to set goals for the year. Think of the small steps you can take that will get you there and focus on those. Don’t tie your goals to any specific date, and reward yourself when you achieve each small step.

Start Exercising – At Any Age 

Even people who start exercising late in life can reap the benefits. Frequent exercise can help reduce the risk of heart disease and many other conditions. If you haven’t exercised in a while, first get a check-up from your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to start an exercise program. Then, start slowly: take the stairs, walk around the block – try to engage in very mild exercise a few times a day, for a few weeks. 

Quit Smoking

No matter how long you’ve smoked, quitting at any age is beneficial to your health. According to the American Cancer Society, even after age 80, people can live healthier if they give up cigarettes. The benefits to quitting are almost immediate:

  • Your breathing will improve and your lungs, heart and circulatory system will begin to function better.
  • Your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or getting cancers decrease.
  • You are likely to add years to your life.
  • You’ll save money!
  • Even if you’re tried a few times before, it’s never too late to try again and quit smoking for good.

    Lose Weight

    Weight loss at any age yields heart benefits and helps you live longer. Those extra pounds put you at increased risk of dying from heart disease and cancer, so no matter your age, shedding that extra weight is a must for a healthy lifestyle. Remember, the most effective weight-loss plans include a combination of exercise and healthy diet.

    Eat Right

    If you’ve already been diagnosed with heart disease or have high blood pressure, studies show that a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and nuts, and fish can still lower your risk of dying from a cardiac event.

    Get Your Annual Physical

    An annual physical can catch health problems as they arise. The older you get, the more important these exams become to screen for medical issues, assess risks and encourage a healthy lifestyle.

    The Sooner You Start, the Better

    Irregardless of age, abandoning an unhealthy lifestyle can control, and even reverse, the progression of coronary artery disease. It’s never too late. The sooner you develop healthy habits (and lose the bad ones), the more benefits you’ll reap for your heart and overall health.

    This is a reprint from Carolinas Healthcare System