Double Dinner Review: Sweet Potato “lasagna” & Thai Meat Casserole

low carb, paleo friendly, dinner ideas
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low carb, paleo friendly, dinner ideas

low carb, paleo friendly, dinner ideas

Just sat down after a full day of Sunday chores which included prepping some meals for tonight’s dinner and the upcoming week. Right now I have Jamaican Curried Chicken marinating and wild caught salmon defrosting in the refrigerator both to be cooked tomorrow or Tuesday. Tonight, though, was all about this new take on lasagna that had no noodles and only 4.5 ingredients: sweet potatoes, ricotta ( you can use cashew cheese), chives, brown sage butter and s & p to taste. Sure, I’m genius but this one came to me because I had it at a local WholeFoods and thought “mmmmm!!! holy CRAP that’s good”. After googling WholeFoods sweet potato lasagna, I found this recipe.  Full disclosure: The WholeFoods version had more ingredients including lasagna noodles and what tasted like pecorino cheese . Between you, me and the lamp post: I didn’t need either and found myself scooping the sweet potato and ricotta into my face at warp speed. That is why I was so happy when I found a recipe that took  the best parts and made them into one dish.

Pros: Yummy, mild lasagna flavor with that sage brown butter goodness, all without the extra carbs and calories.

Cons: I only got one layer which is fine since I cook for one but next time I’d like a double layer like the picture showed.

Rating: 5 Forks UP; 3-4 servings per recipe

The oven was already hot and I had been thinking HARD about this Thai Ground Beef Casserole from myheartbeets and so it was on! After you click on the recipe, notice the actual title. See that it says spaghetti and that it calls for beef? Yeah, I changed that. One on purpose ( switched to lean ground turkey breast) and one because it was snowy and my glasses were fogged up so I picked up a butternut squash instead. I didn’t name myself the “Inept Chef” for no reason!

Pros: Amazing flavor. Umami ain’t lying, FabFans! Satisfying and has 3-4 servings at least

Cons: My version turned out a bit dry even with the coconut oil I liberally included so note to self: follow the recipe and at least include the squash if you’re sticking to poultry. This con was totally my fault.

Rating: 5 forks up!!

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Easy Dinner Recipe Round up

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Here are some recipe ideas that you can follow to the T or make your own for dinner tonight. All are highly nutritious and make multiple meals. Enjoy!!

Oven Baked Asian Sesame Chicken Wings from Primally Inspired

Sweet Potato Noodles with Tomato Sauce and Artichokes from The Lemon Bowl

Spicy Turkey Meat Balls fro The Crunchy Radish

Green Ginger Brown Fried Rice from The Crunchy Radish

Thai Ground Beef Spaghetti from MyHeartBeets

5 ways to stay ON the exercise wagon

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Stay focused. Stay on track.

Ruh-roh. It’s the end of January and some of you are feeling it; by “it” I mean, the aches and pains of your new exercise program plus that lazy little voice telling you to give up. Wait a minute, Sparky: you’re totally normal! I’ll bet that millions of people feel exactly the way you do right now but here’s the thing: only some of you will actually see the results you placed your hopes and efforts on in this new year. The rest? well, the rest will feel that sinking feeling again a few months from now when they realize that they’re not even close to that goal. In short, they will wish they’d never stopped. So ask yourself: who do you want to be in June? The person who quit or the person who kept at it? If it is the latter then these tips can help you stay focused.

  1. Set alarms: Alarms are great reminders for everything so set them for important points throughout your day. How about programming that favorite class  and when you should eat into your calendar?
  2. Buy flattering exercise gear: Even bargain stores have cute fitness clothes now so how about upgrading to look your best? Buy a piece at a time and go work it OUT!
  3. Lay your fitness clothes out or WEAR them: I even keep my sneakers along with my cycling shoes in a bag just in case I want to hit the gym floor between classes. Being unprepared is lame excuse if you have a goal. 
  4. Join a group to SUPPLEMENT what you do: That running group should be a fun way to motivate you and improve upon your current efforts, not replace your workouts. Otherwise, you might find that you forgo your favorite activity due to bad timing (preaching to myself here)
  5. Set a goal event: This is especially true if you’re a goal oriented person. How about running a race in a few months or planning a trip to go show off your new physique? whatever it takes to keep you focused on the present effort can make a big difference  in your training plan. 

So there ya go. If you’re hanging by a thread during this resolution take heart and reach for who you want to be a few montha from now. 

Want to age well and live longer? Practice these 3 exercises

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Long story short, there are only 3 real reasons why you exercise ( yes, you can add to the list): 

  1. To live longer and minimize health risks
  2. To look better to yourself
  3. To feel better in your skin

Your progress towards all three will be fairly evident but how do you know if you’re really minimizing health risks with all that jumping, sweating and stretching? Instead of launching an avalanche of advice I thought it would be more helpful if we thought about  exercise as a preventative tool. We all agree that exercise can lower blood pressure, help your heart and keep your brain lively, right?  Well, here are 3 specific fitness markers that you can work on that prove your ticker and brain will stand the test of time. 

The One Mile Walking Test

Purpose: To determine heart health over the long term.

Do it because the average pace for a  30-39 year old woman to walk a mile is in the 14:37-15:36 minute range and that a 40-49 year old woman should be able to do the same in the 15:07-16:06  range. 30-39 year old men should be able to walk a mile in 13:31-14:12  minutes while 40-49 year old men should complete theirs in the 14:01-14:42 range. Don’t worry: SparkPeople has a whole chart of all age ranges and acceptable paces. 

Practice:  Set your watch to see how long it takes you to walk a mile and then improve from there. Take weekly walks with friends and family and set a game of friendly competition. 

The 1 Minute Pushup Test

Purpose: To test your upper body endurance and muscle strength.

Do it because being strong enough to push your own body weight can come in handy in daily living. The ACSM chart below shows the numbers you should aim for. 

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Practice: This could be another fun activity to do with your loved ones. Who can do more pushups? set a goal and work towards completing more push ups every 2 weeks. 

 

Flexibility

Purpose: To preserve the range of motion around your joints and help make daily movements easier. 

Do it because nothing makes you feel older than creaky, old bones and ligaments. You don’t have to be a Yogi (unless you want to) but you can prevent many injuries and lessen those feelings of physical age with flexibility training. The authors at HumanKinectics have written a great post highlighting the factors of flexibility to focus on. 

Practice: Light stretching in the morning and stretching after exercise. Caution, stretching should not hurt so be careful and start slowly. 

 

 

 

The habits keeping you sick longer than ever

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Flu virus

Flu virus

When was the last time you heard of someone suffering from polio, mumps, measles or any other outbreak of seriously infectious disease other than the ‘flu? If you were born in the Gen X or Millennial generations, then you most likely have no memory of such outbreaks and that fact could put you at risk for more disease and sometimes death. What am I blathering about? Well, it turns out that post Baby Boomers are much more reluctant and skeptical  of vaccinations than their parents. Don’t believe me? when was the last time YOU had an influenza vaccine? Personally, I’ve never had one and my big excuse is..well, I’m strong like Bull! Not a sound argument, I know.

Funnily enough, while Gen X and Y are mistrustful of vaccines, they are also more likely to be dependent on anti-microbial products and anit-biotics than generations before. Think about how many fragrances of sickly sweet Bath & Body Works hand sanitizers you’ve smelt over the years.

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Or how many times you demanded the Z pak from your doctor Shirley Maclaine-style when you or your kid are down for the count (click the photo).

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Overprescription of antibiotics for conditions that don’t respond to antibiotics is still a huge problem. Read more about the conditions that people mistakenly get antibiotics for here.

So what does this all mean if we don’t like vaccines but tend to overcompensate with measures that are more harmful than preventative? One take away is that the bugs are getting meaner and our over-scubbed immune systems can’t handle them. The 2nd is that we need to either get vaccinated for flu viruses more often or get to the Doctor faster to prevent serious complications. According to the CDC website, most people that die a ‘flu related death do so because of bacterial infections that set in after the initial infection or because the influenza virus makes an existing condition worse.

My friends, the only people who can diagnose you when you’re seriously ill are nurse practitioners and physicians. Be your own advocate by asking questions to make sure what you’re prescribed is appropriate for what you have.  As someone who has suffered from C-Diff due to an over-prescription of antibiotics, I can tell you that some things are worse than the ‘flu. In the meantime, strengthen your immune system by letting it fight off germs naturally.

Sunday Soup day: garlic chicken

Healthy soup option for cold an d flu season
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Healthy Cold Kicking soupThis soup thing is starting to get too easy but I’m not knocking it! Such an no fuss way to get some cooked food in the house AND get your root vegetables. The last soup I made was meat free and I’ve spent this past week eating very little meat. This week’s has a 1/2 LB of organic chicken.
1/2 cup onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, diced
3 small turnips, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp turmeric
1/2-1 LB chicken

Heat olive oil in large sauce/soup pan then add onions and stir til translucent. Add garlic and stir together. Add all vegetables and add broth until vegetables are covered. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat and then simmer on medium heat:
Season chicken with herbs and turmeric then add to broth. Cover and simmer for an additional 25-30 minutes.

3 Current Health Concerns for Gen Xers

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Health Issues for Gen X

Health Issues for Gen X

The youngest Baby Boomer (born between 1945 and 1964) will turn 50 by the end of January 2014. Crazy, right? That means that the  “slacker generation”, aka the Gen Xers born between 1964 and 1980-82) are all over thirty. So since time waits for no one and we are all aging, what health issues should capture Gen X attention?

Obesity and its related diseases are all factors. As Gen Xers mature into the age when diseases present,

Diabetes: Type 2 diabetes becomes more of a serious issue for Gen Xers due to lifestyle factors and age.

Heart disease/ High cholesterol: Stress, genetics and diet have caused heart disease to rise among Gen Xers

Luckily, those born in Generation X are more physically active and diet conscious than Baby Boomers, with almost 60 % involved in team sports and 26% adhering to special healthy diets.

My version of Thom ka gai

yummy coconut milk and tumeric soup.
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Should I even mention the weather? It’s been C-c-cold EVERYWHERE! That, plus nursing a nasty respiratory infection, means only one thing in Casa Stacey : soup! To be honest, this coconut based soup is what happened after I chopped some root veggies, added come coconut milk and chicken broth and realized I had no chicken. It came out so fragrantly because I really sautéed the half cup of chopped onions and tsp of garlic in a couple tsps olive oil; then added a bay leaf and a tsp of turmeric. Brought it to a boil, let it simmer for 30 mins and then added a handful of chopped kale and voila! I love happy accidents!