Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for September, 2011

Cous Cous for a Sweet New Year

New Year Couscous

cups of whole wheat Israeli couscous

1 cup orange juice

2 1/4 cups water

4 teaspoons light olive oil

½ cup slivered almonds

¾ cup craisins

Green leaves of mint or basil for garnish

Bring water and orange juice to a boil. Add couscous, stir and simmer for 8 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove couscous to a bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. Add oil, almonds and craisins. Stir well and garnish.

Easy Basic Baked Chicken

I think the bones left in for cooking make for a better taste. My family only likes the white meat however, so I meet everyone’s needs by buying breast quarters with the bone in, and I take the skin off for additional health benefits. To keep the breast moist, I coat with oil and season.


  • 1 T paprika *
  • 1 T dried or 3T chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 t brown sugar
  • 1 t dry mustard powder
  • 2 t salt
  • 1 t black pepper
  • 3-3 1/2 lbs. of cut, bone in chicken breasts
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Combine paprika, parsley, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Remove skin from chicken breasts (leave bone in) and place in 9″x13″ baking dish, meaty side up.
  3. Coat with oil and press spice mixture into the breasts.
  4. Bake until juices run clear, about 45 minutes.Insert an instant read thermometer near the bone (but not on it) to confirm doneness at 165 degrees.
* If you like a bit of kick, substitute 1T of paprika with hot paprika or with 2t of chili pepper.

Temptation, Habit and Awareness

I was doomed. As I passed the end cap at Stop & Shop, there they were. The evil Mallomars. A few feet further were those nasty, but oh so delicious, sugar coated, Halloween pumpkins (the ones derived from the original “Peeps”). As I contemplated buying them (all of them), I resisted long enough to ask myself “Why, with all you know about sugar and all you are doing with healthy eating, is this even tempting you?” Then the lightbulb went off.

The lure of comfort foods, those associated with pleasant experiences and the smells associated with childhood hold great power over us. It is so visceral and deep, desire comes over us without consciousness. We just know we want it and we want it now. I thought, “Oh, I’ll get the box and eat just one and save them for another time, or even throw them out.” Then, “Who am I kidding?” I’m not a waster, nor can I be sure one will suffice.” So I stepped up my pace and walked past them all, promising myself I would make some healthy chocolate chip cookies (with dark chocolate and reduced sugar and fat). I never made the cookies, instead substituting fruit and am still alive.

I can’t say I conquered the urge forever, but awareness of why I wanted these unhealthy things came into my conscious mind. I got through that one day, but the next time temptation strikes, I will have to have a conversation with myself again and just walk on by. Just as an addict must always renew his/her commitment, so must I. I will do it however, for myself and for my kids, so I can be around to see them reach the milestones in their lives. Now if only I could get my husband to do that too.

Weight Loss is Not Magic

Because people want instant gratification, the promise of quick weight loss is ever enticing. We want to believe that it will work. It may work in the short term, but it never works in the long term. Quick weight loss inevitable results in regaining even more than what was lost. Even worse is that losing weight too fast is downright dangerous. Nothing replaces a sensible eating plan and exercise, for the rest of your life. It’s just that simple.

The worst thing you can do is skip meals. Your metabolism shuts down as your body believes it is starving. That’s why the old wisdom that breakfast is the most important meal is actually true! After a night of fasting, you need to stoke the fire and get the metabolism going. Fat cells burn less energy than muscle cells, hence the importance of converting the fat into lean muscle tissue. We now also know that sleeping too little can also make you fat. Rest is needed for proper functioning.

Use common sense. Any diet or supplement that seems too good to be true, is. You need just change one small behavior, stick with it for 21 days and form a new habit. Try making small changes in the composition of and/or quantity of your foods. Little by little you will achieve your goal of losing unhealthy weight and keeping it off.

Recipe: Middle Eastern Couscous and Tomato Salad

3 cups of middle eastern couscous

1 bunch of fresh curly parsley, chopped

2 large beefsteak or other juicy tomatoes, chopped.

1 small-medium red or sweet onion, chopped

3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Boil 3 1/4 cups of water. Add couscous and lower heat. Cover pot and simmer about 8 minutes. Taste to see if done and continue cooking if too hard. Remove from heat and put in bowl to cool. Add balance of ingredients, stir and chill. Enjoy!

Diatta: from the Greek for “Manner of Living”

In the introduction to my blog, I asserted that we need to reframe our definition of the word “diet.” Most of us think of that thing we do to lose weight. Anyone who has been “on a diet,” knows it may work for awhile, but the weight comes back – maybe even goes up higher than before – once you get “off the diet.” I challenged you to consider interpreting the word as a way of life – a new and healthier one, that is not temporary.

In class one day, my teacher shared that the word diet comes from the Greek “diatta,” which means “manner of living.” Sounds a lot like a way of life – no? The Greeks totally get it, which is evidenced by the Mediterranean “Diet,” which is really how they live all the time. Illnesses we know of as related to poor and unhealthy eating habits are much less prevalent in Greece and neighboring countries, though they are on the rise as they adopt our American diet.

Chuck the reducing “diet” and make one small change in your diet every 2 weeks. Little by little, you will see changes in your body. It takes 21 days to establish a new habit. Changing a little at a time is not so overwhelming that it can’t be done. Besides, these foods that are good for you also are delicious!

Wash Your Fruits and Vegetables

It may not occur to you to wash your produce, but think about it: It comes from the field and may be commercially washed BEFORE it is handled by packers, is transported in dirty trucks, then handled by market workers and shoppers testing for ripeness. Maybe even sneezed on. UGH!

A Tennessee State University study found that the home vegetable bin is the dirtiest part of the refrigerator! There may be up to 2 million bacteria per gram, yeast, mold and other germs on a head of lettuce! What to do?

Wash with tap water to cut bacteria up to 98%.

Fruits and vegetables with edible skin should be washed under running water for 30-60 seconds according to Brendan Niemira, P.hD., a scientist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. Use fingers or a soft vegetable brush and the water will carry away any bacteria.

If there is an inedible peel, use a sturdier brush and wash for the same length of time. Even though you won’t be eating the skin, piercing it to cut it up will introduce whatever is on the outside, onto the edible portion.

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