Lose Weight By Accident: Get Your Butt Back In The Kitchen

Being that today is the first day to sign up for Spa Week Spring 2012 $50 treatments, it’s also a good day to start taking a little more time for ourselves in other parts of our lives. Being busy and eating healthy often don’t go hand in hand. It’s easy after a stressful day to convince yourself that you need a little fast-food hug. But before your New Year’s resolutions start turning into excuse-olutions, put your foot down and make Spring a new chance for a healthy start.

We’ve already challenged you to think outside the microwave and have even given you a jump start with some easy recipes, but today’s LWBA provides even more motivation to get cooking. Take the time to cook for yourself, and you may even whip up some weight loss. Plus, you could learn some serious kitchen skills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DxOq_A9JxI

By Sarah Jenks

When we dial up the engagements and plans, our personal lives fall to the wayside.  And I bet that the first thing to fall off your list of priorities is cooking.

I know very few people who cook on a regular basis. Those who I do know that spend time over the less hectic months of summer making salads and taking picnics into the park quickly replace their culinary crusades during the winter with sushi take-out shoveled down in a frenzy between social obligations. Another hurried consumption habit involves a quick PB&J sandwich after the gym eaten on the couch in front of the tube. Once Spring has sprung, it’s time to get out of our bad winter habits.

When our lives get nutty, and we are burning the candle at both ends, we have the tendency to push, push, push until we collapse.  And the collapse is inevitable.  But the reality is that in order to continue to live life at the pace we do, we must take some time to re-fuel everyday.

There are many ways to re-fuel, but the biggest bang for your buck is going to come from cooking. First, homemade food contains fewer chemicals, low-quality ingredients, and added sodium and sugar. When you cook, you are much more likely to make wholesome choices and know what’s going into your body. This will give you immense energy to keep up with your busy schedule, help you sleep better, and may even aid in weight loss.

Second, cooking slows you down. When you operate at a certain vibration all day, your stress level is going to be chronically high which will drain your adrenals and make you exhausted. Taking the time to slow down, cook, and focus on something other than tomorrow’s presentation will decrease your stress level and center you.

Third, cooking helps you connect. Of course, going out to dinner is fun, and a great way to see people, but there is something so caring about cooking with a friend, lover, or family member. By putting love and care into preparing a meal, you are really nurturing your relationship and creating beautiful space to connect with that person.

All this sounds delicious, right?

Well here are tips to get you started:

1. Increase your cooking habits by one or two nights per week.

2. Have a dinner party on a Friday or Saturday night instead of going out.

3. Check out a local farmer’s market to get inspired.

If you’re thinking that you’re too busy to cook, and there’s no chance in hell that you’ll have time to implement these changes then I’m here to gently convince you otherwise.

Here’s my guarantee to you. Cooking will actually create more time in your day. If you embrace the opportunity to re-fuel then you will inhabit the rest of your life with vibrancy and increased efficiency. It may seem like an effort at first to change the habit, but remember that it is also an effort to spend your days feeling tossed and turned by chaos. So, get your butt back into the kitchen and watch as your life becomes more serene, your energy skyrockets, and your health improves meal by meal.

Sarah Jenks, founder of theBreathtakingBride.com, helps women fall in love with their bodies and lose weight through exploring the emotional reasons of why we eat. Sarah believes that you can talk about the benefits of broccoli until you are blue in the face, but real change won’t happen until we pull back the veil of fad diets and calorie counting to reveal the true cause of our over eating. Feeling lost about weight loss? Visit her website to download her free guide: “What to do if you feel fat, hopeless and ready to give up.”

Quick and Healthy Microwave-less Recipes, Nutrients Included!

So you’ve been dared to rid your kitchen of your microwave. Now what? We’re here to help you through this difficult transition from appliance-dependent to good old-fashioned cooking. It might take more than 60 seconds, but we promise these substitutes for your favorite microwave treats are so easy and so much better for you; you’ll forget all about old hums-a-lot. Trust us, you won’t miss the sound or the rubbery texture, and you definitely won’t miss the dreaded splatter situation. Start thinking of what you’ll do with all that extra counter space!

Popcorn

One of our favorite couch snacks, microwave popcorn, contains chemicals that are probably scarier than that horror movie you’re watching. With only a large pot with a lid, oil (grapeseed oil works great) and popcorn kernels – you’ll be popping in no time.  Try seasoning with salt and pepper, chopped fresh herbs, grated Parmesan, and smoked Spanish paprika instead of butter for healthy snack with all the pop! Bon Appetit has a complete tutorial.

Heating up leftovers

Many of us do cook. We cook so much we even have leftovers. Or we bring home leftovers after dining out. Either way, food from every night of the week can start to pile up, but there’s no need to waste. You can quickly heat up food by using the steam from a saucepan with a lid and a little water.  Someone’s late to dinner?  Put a saucepan lid over the food and place the plate on a simmering saucepan of water. It will stay warm without drying up, although the tardy diner may get a cold shoulder.

Melted Cheese

Everything‘s better with cheddar! But what if you could make your cheese taste even better? Nachos, quesadillas, and other melted, savory delights may be something you rely on the microwave for. If you slow down a second and cook these creamy snacks on the stove, we guarantee you will never nuke your cheese again. Pair piping hot, never rubbery cheese paired with crisp tortillas or chips make the perfect vehicle for all that oozing goodness. Try these healthy nacho and quesadilla recipes!

Frozen Veggies

Frozen veggies are a convenient way to avoid prep work and still get the same nutrients, that is, until you zap ‘em. So while it’s OK to skip the fresh veggies, to get all the vitamins and minerals, don’t skimp on the cooking. Here are over 1280 frozen veggie recipes that can all be prepared on your stove top.

Mac and Cheese

Instant mac and cheese is a comfort food at our finger tips. But there are tons of ways to whip up your own batch without much work, or a microwave. Try Rachael Ray’s healthy recipe for mac and cheese. It’s YUM-O, takes under 15 and its better for you than the microwave version, so it won’t leave with you the mac and cheese blues.

Hot Pockets

A guilty pleasure in a flaky, crusty sleeve. When microwaved, these little treats turn into fire pockets and often destroy your mouth (and aren’t any nicer on your waistline). Why not make yourself something more satisfying and less processed? To fulfill your hot pocket craving, make own homemade calzone. Use refrigerated crescent-shaped dinner rolls and roll out the dough into rectangle. Cut into squares, fill with the pickings of your liking,  lightly moisten the edges with water, fold dough over, seal and press with a fork. Place on a greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until golden. Serve hot (not hot pocket hot) and enjoy.

Hot Chocolate

On a cold day or a chocolate-craving day, you may go to your microwave to make a little cup of love. You can still use an instant hot chocolate mix, but try warming milk in a double-boiler instead. To really tickle your taste buds, you can get an inexpensive frother and froth the milk. Now that’s a real cup of love. Plus, frothing is fun!

5 Reasons To Throw Away Your Microwave (Dare You!)

Since November I’ve been doing the modern day unthinkable: I’ve been living life without a microwave. See, there wasn’t one built into our kitchen when I moved in, and after a couple weeks of figuring out which one to buy, my two roommates and I jointly decided to forget it altogether, and live sans that trusty kitchen convenience staple. And I LOVE IT. I’ve never cooked more than I do now, and I feel healthier than ever for it.

DARE YOU: Tape up your microwave and don’t use it for an entire month. See if you prefer life without it, and if so, donate it to charity! Who wants to give it a try?

Here are five reasons I plead my case:

1. Food simply tastes better.

Let’s start with the basics. Microwaves make things rubbery, dry, they heat unevenly and they suck flavor out of your food. One of the primary functions of microwaves past has been to reheat leftovers. Now, I’ve learned that a little olive oil and a pan go a long way when it comes to creating a more flavorful dish the second time around. It’s great when pasta gets a little crispy on the outside and soup feels more pure. I’ve found the extra time you end up spending in the kitchen is really marginal.

2. Microwaving zaps nutrients out of your food.

You go out of your way to choose nutritious foods (right?), but microwaves have been shown over and over again to reduce the nutritional value of your food. The waves used to heat food so quickly and conveniently actually change the chemical structure in the process. Don’t surrender vitamins and proteins to your microwave oven. Here are just 3 of the MANY interesting scientific food-zapping findings I found:

  • Broccoli “zapped” in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants.
  • In a study of garlic, as little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its allinase, garlic’s principle active ingredient against cancer.
  • Microwaving asparagus spears is shown to reduce its vitamin C content.

3. Spend quality time with your food.

I’ve taken great pleasure in getting to know my food better over the past few months. When you microwave something, you set it and forget it. When you’re forced to do it the old-fashioned way, you think about the ingredients, the preparation, and ultimately, the quality of what you’re eating. You develop a relationship with what goes into your body before ingesting it, which helps regulate portion control and makes a big difference in how you perceive food in general.

4. Goodbye frozen dinners.

Microwave dinners are cop out meals. Sure, they’re convenient, but they usually fall into one of two categories: 1, they are packed with sodium and high in fat, or 2, they are lean and low-cal and don’t come close to filling you up. I used to be a once-a-week frozen dinner kinda gal, but now I’ll make ground turkey tacos or a simple whole wheat pasta dish instead. This goes back to spending quality time with your food. Plus, cooking is a moderate form of exercise! Chop chop.

5. Heating plastics in a microwave can be dangerous.

We’ve all heard about radiation and the possible dangers of microwaves. While the American Cancer Society confirms that the radiation doesn’t actually leak out, that’s not the only problem. When you heat something in plastic, there may be stuff leaking into your food that was not invited. Even plastics labeled microwave-safe have been found to release “toxic doses” of Bisphenol A, and there has been concerns about exposing this to infants, young children and fetuses especially.

So…

Do you think you could do it? I’m not going to tell you it isn’t extra dishes to wash, and I’ll be honest in saying that it DOES require more time in the kitchen. However, I find it extremely liberating and eye-opening about foods and about myself. Comment below and let me know if you’ll give microwave-less life a whirl!

Lose Weight by Accident: #1 Super Food for Your Super Svelte Figure

By Jamie Dougherty

Remember a few weeks ago when I was talking up some sweet love for the sweet potato?  Though I still love those suckers, there is a particular super food that has taken first place on my plate as of late.  Say hello to kabocha squash!  “Excuse me?” you say.  “What is this thing I can barely pronounce?”  KA-BOW-CHA is a Japanese squash and quintessential super food that rocks in all types of delicious dishes.  First, a quick super food definition:  A super food is an unprocessed edible that packs a powerful nutritional bang for its caloric buck.  With its high Vitamin A, Vitamin C and potassium content, kabocha is not only a super food but one that will make your immune system and heart say thank you very much!

Now, where can you find said squash that will svelte-ify your figure?  Being a Fall food, right now kabocha can be found at most farmer’s markets.  Look for ones with a rich green color and firm skin with minimal blemishes.  If the markets have closed for the year, try your local grocer or health food store.  Next, how do you cook it?  Just like you would a butternut squash.  Throw it into soups and curries, mix it into a pilaf or with beans or just straight up roast it.  I actually love eating roasted kabocha as a snack. Absolutely flippin’ awesome!

So, next time you are looking for a super food to hit that sweet, starchy spot, grab a kabocha squash.  Your body and taste buds will be mighty pleased!

In the comments let me know your thoughts on super foods and how you like to get them into your diet.  Come on ladies, sharing is caring! (And it feels good too.)

Jamie G. Dougherty, founder of JamieLiving.com, gives women the secrets to feel amazing in their bodies and create the balance they crave between their busy schedules and eating well. Jamie believes that though kale and brown rice are good foods to put on your plate, until we truly learn HOW to eat rather than just WHAT to eat we will continue to be carb-craving, super-frazzled, stress-out ladies. If you ever feel hungry, stuck and unsatisfied with your food be sure to visit Jamie’s website to get her FREE 5-Step Guide to Fabulous.  Seriously ladies, get ready for Jamie to rock your world!

Spa Foodie: Whole Wheat Scones w/ Lemon Curd

Guest contributor: The Chefanies

The wedding of William and Kate is big news. What will she wear, who will be invited, what will they serve?  While these are all valid questions, here’s what WE want to know: what will YOU be eating as you watch the ceremony in the middle of the night? We decided to give you something fun to cook to keep yourself awake until the Royal Nuptials.

When I was first writing this post a lot of ideas came to mind.  Hot Cross Buns, Yorkshire Pudding, Cornish Pastries, Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash, and Boddingtons.  While all this sounds fine and dandy, it came to my attention that the Wedding starts at 4:30AM for you East Coasters and 1:30AM for us West Coasters and the last thing I want to eat at that time of day is a heavy meal. After mulling this question around in my head I was torn between Spotted Dick, partially because my immaturity got the best of me and saying Spotted Dick is oh so much fun, and Scones. After doing a bit of internet research I came to the conclusion that Spotted Dick includes far too obscure ingredients to come up with on the drop of a pence.

With all that in consideration I decided on the perfect treat fit for the Royal Highness herself – Currant Scones with Lemon Curd all to be washed down with the perfect cup of tea.

FACTS ABOUT SCONES

*  Scones is actually pronounced Sc-ahns, which rhymes with John.  Thanks Rosie Pope!

*  Scones although still British actually came from Scotland.

*  Scones can be eaten anytime of the day, but are usually served at breakfast or with Afternoon Tea.

*  Scones are served with jam, butter, lemon curd, and clotted cream.

*  Scones are delish!

This recipe has been taken from the Queen of English Cooking herself, Nigella Lawson and in true Chefanies “healthier cooking” fashion we turned it into a more dainty and light version. We substituted whole wheat flour for the All Purpose Flour and used low fat buttermilk but by all means go ahead and use the whole fat products if you please. We also made them mini because everything looks cuter when it is small. We used Currants because they are high vitamin C and antioxidants which is great for keeping you looking young!

Cheerio!

CURRANT SCONES

Makes about 20 mini scones

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tbs butter
  • 1 ½ cups low fat buttermilk
  • 1 cup dried fruit (currants & chopped apricots work well)

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat the oven to 450F Place the flour salt & baking powder in the food processor & whirl together. Add the cold butter (in pieces, not whole) until the mixture is fully integrated & resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Shake the buttermilk. Place the flour/butter mixture into a large bowl. Add the buttermilk and dried fruit.  You may need to add a little more buttermilk. The mixture should be a little wetter.

3. Place the mixture on a floured bench & gently pat out into shape with a quick knead (only 5-6 times) & use small round glass & cut out rounds. I used a juice glass.

4. Bake at 450F for about 10 mins.

LEMON CURD

INGREDIENTS

*  3 to 4 tablespoons lemon zest (rind)
*  1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
*  1 1/2 cups granulated sugar 
*  6 tablespoons salted butter, cut into pieces
*  3 eggs, lightly beaten

DIRECTIONS

1.  Zest the lemons using a zester or a peeler

2.  Juice the lemons after removing the zest.

3.  In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar.

4.  Bring just to a boil.  Then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 5 minutes. Add butter and stir until it has melted. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

5.  Beat eggs into cooled lemon mixture until well blended. Return to heat and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture thickens and coats spoon.

6.  It will continue to thicken

The Chefanies is the blog of 2 Stephanies cooking up a healthy storm using fresh, seasonal and organic ingredients. We focus on everyday cooking that is impressive enough for entertaining and hearty enough to enjoy solo. Go to thechefanies.com for more!