Monthly Archives: February 2014

Water: Your Best Friend

Growing up in India running tap water was one commodity you could not count on as a daily blessing. There has always been a water shortage for many reasons I don’t want to get into. We had a fresh water well in our back yard and I have distinct memories of getting water out of the well for the garden to wash dishes with. It was not used for drinking. Unfortunately, I have witnessed scenes like below.


Now in the western world water is a given, at all times and places. You can even be certain that there will be drinking quality water available everywhere you. So when I meet people that don’t drink water routinely I am surprised.

Make water your best friend. Carry it with you at all times wherever you go. Invest in a good quality, BPA-free, spill proof water bottle that tells you it’s contents in ounces or liters. We need to drink at least 8 cups of water daily. That is 64 oz or approximately 2 liters (1/2 gallon). My water bottle holds 32 oz. So if I can finish at least one of those and drink water with my meals I can easily achieve 8 cups per day. You can also fill a pitcher of water every morning and make sure to finish it by the end of the day so you don’t have to keep track of number of cups or ounces. Be sure to finish the water at least 2 hours before you go to bed to get a restful sleep.

You don’t like the taste or flavor of plain water? Add a slice of lemon or lime to your glass/bottle. Try a combination of lemon, lime and orange slices in a pitcher of water. Another combination I love is sliced cucumbers and mint. During summer, fresh mint is abundant and few leaves of it in the pitcher not only look good but flavor the water wonderfully. 

Here’s a great info-graphic of why we need water. Try it! It is a matter of getting used to. 



We are blessed to have plenty of clean water available. Drink it!



Smoothie or Juice?

A great way to get in your daily fruits and vegetable servings is by drinking them. Juice or Smoothie? That is the question. 

Juicing has become popular with not only make it at home versions with an array of gadgets but also with a multitude of products available at the supermarket of your choice. There are even gourmet providers of “super-fresh” or “cold-pressed” juices. You can see a variety of juice blends on the menus of hip, trendy juice bars and bistros. I remember trying a delicious carrot, apple, ginger juice in Jackson, WY last winter. I would probably not go to that trouble at home. I don’t even own a juicer.

My choice would be to make a smoothie. A smoothie allows you to use the whole fruit or vegetable not missing out on the beneficial fiber (bulk) that gets left behind while juicing. Smoothies can be made to order with small individual smoothie makers. If you plan to make a large batch of the same combination a VitaMix works great. 


A simple recipe for a delicious and nutritious smoothie can be a frozen banana, 2 cups of fresh greens (spinach for mild version, add kale or chard if like), 1 orange or 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 cup fresh pineapple or mango.  Add any other fruits (such as apple,  blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, kiwi, clementines, peach) if you don’t have pineapple or mango. This makes 2 servings. 

You can also experiment with adding some milk ( or soy milk, almond milk) or greek yogurt or other flavorings. I like to add a small piece of fresh ginger especially with pineapple. Try some cinnamon when you use apples or peaches. Using frozen fruits, especially when they are not in season, is a great alternative to keep the variety in your smoothies.

Keep the serving sizes of smoothies small as the calories can add up very quickly. Enjoy a delicious one today. Share your favorite recipes.

Healthy on the GO

It is always a puzzle to plan for weekend getaways when you are not sure of the offerings at your destination. Our recent weekend getaway took us to an unknown territory, within civilization but unknown to us. It was a 4 hour drive for which we were well prepared. There was plenty of water, apples, granola bars and nuts for the car ride.

Once we got to the hotel, we searched for a nearby restaurant for dinner and also explored the offerings at the hotel. We found a nearby Mexican restaurant where I was sure to get a vegetarian option as well as a salad. Most other choices were fast food. While still at dinner, I was already thinking about breakfast. Knowing the options available at the hotel the wheels in my head were turning.

We had already checked out the gym at the hotel. So early the next morning we hit the bike, treadmill and elliptical. I settled on a granola bar and some nut-dry fruit mix while my family chose to get the oatmeal at the Café in the lobby. When I heard what they paid for the oatmeal I was determined to do better for the next morning. While the family played I headed to the nearest grocery store.

Another unknown! A store I had never shopped in. I surveyed the aisles for familiar foods. I had to pick things that did not require any preparation. I settled on cereal, bananas, organic skim milk, Triscuit crackers and low-fat cheese sticks. So glad there was a mini refrigerator in the room. We were all set for breakfast and snack the next day.

On the return trip home, we carried sandwiches, fruit (apples and bananas) and water to eat dinner in the car.


What’s for dinner?

When stuck at home after an ice storm, I felt very productive to bake and cook while we still had power. Valentine’s day was coming so I made some black and white muffins (double chocolate muffins with a dollop of cream cheese on top). Then I used up the chopped spinach and a can of artichoke hearts by making a warm dip. As I was going through the refrigerator, I decided to make use of the produce before it went bad in case we lost power.

This is what I had on hand: avocado, red chard, sweet potatoes, mango, red and yellow peppers, broccoli, carrots and purple top turnips. So I pull out all of this, get some fresh garlic from my friend’s farm in NH, fresh ginger, red onion and the mango that is ripe and should be used quickly. I begin to concoct ideas for meals.

I put broccoli, turnip, carrots, onion and an inch long piece of ginger in the pressure cooker. ImageWhile the veggies cooked I put the sweet potatoes wrapped in foil in the oven (that was still warm from baking the muffins and dip). In the meantime, I made mango salsa (mango, avocado, red and yellow peppers and onion with some lime juice, jalapeño and cilantro for a zing).



By now, the veggies and the sweet potatoes were cooked. I added a can of petite cup no-salt added tomatoes and the cooked veggies from the pressure cooker to my trusty VitaMix and gave it a whirl. I added a clove of garlic, a green apple, stems of the red chard and some water. Voila! Vegetable soup was ready!

Now on to the main course. I decided to make sweet potato, chard quesadillas. I have used spinach this way before. the red chard I had was so fresh and tender that I was able to use the leafy parts in place of spinach. I also prefer to use the reduced fat shredded cheese and whole grain tortillas for my quesadillas. Served with the mango salsa it was a great meal. Colorful and nutritious!



All in all we ate really well on a stormy day. Plus, we never lost power. It was a productive and healthy day after all.

Storm Ready

Storm Ready

How do you get ready to survive a power outage in a snow storm when you don’t eat Spam? Southeast US is getting hard hit with snow and ice and we are likely to lose power for a few days. There have been numerous alerts and warnings about getting ready. There were reports of stores without any inventory for rock salt, snow/ice scrapers and snow shovels, generators, batteries etc.

What about grocery stores? They have seen a lot of traffic with people filling up carts with water, milk, bread and eggs. I took a survey of my pantry and the refrigerator and decided to stock up on a couple of things just in case. Here’s what I bought: avocado, bananas, pineapple, peanut butter and beans. I already had milk, bread and eggs. Plus I don’t want to stock up on perishables too much in case the power is out for days.

I can make peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Put the avocado and beans on my salad and enjoy the fresh pineapple. Other things to keep on hand would be canned (in water) tuna or salmon, whole grain bread, canned soup, pita or lentil chips, prepared tomato sauce, apples, pears and melons.

If you have a gas stove, keep easy to cook items on hand such as brown rice and pasta. You can make one dish meals by combining rice or pasta with greens, beans and tomatoes. One dish meal also save on water (later) needed to clean the dishes. Keep pitchers of water full for drinking and cooking. I prefer this over buying bottles of water. This way you can survive or actually thrive on a balanced diet during a storm or power outage.

Stick to it!

As most of the nation (US) is facing severe winter weather, those committed to daily physical activity are challenged to keep up with it. Yes, it is cold and gray. Stick to  your routine. Find ways to make it happen. Exercise helps you feel better many ways.

When you exercise your body secretes hormones that are mood elevating. The increased heart rate keeps you warm. It is a wonderful way to spend time with your loved ones. When you are stuck at  home, spending an hour doing a physical activity will also help you pass the time and enjoy it.

Choose an activity you like. That way you have less convincing to do for yourself. Pull out those DVDs you have stashed away or choose an “On Demand” fitness program on your TV. You can preview some to see if it is something would can do and enjoy. Don’t forget to add some stretching. We love site to explore different options based on the amount of time we have and what kinds of stretching we need.

No matter how or what find a way to make physical activity a part of your “stuck at home” day. You will happy you did. Plus, it will keep you away from the kitchen (pantry) too.

Try, try, and try again

My goal for the new year is to try new things. Among them, blogging. So I tried two other platforms and am not sure I am comfortable or happy with either. So here I go again. I am trying another one. If this one does not work I will continue to try until I am satisfied.

I encourage the same attitude to all my clients. Keep trying. If you find it difficult, don’t give up. Think about ways to make it happen either by tweaking the goal so that it is achievable or by changing the way you may be approaching it. I recently read the book “Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath. I found their simple philosophy of “change” very useful in almost all aspects we may choose to change. 1. You have to convince the “Elephant” that the change is worth your efforts. 2. The “Rider” has to buy in. 3. The “Path” has to be smooth.

The “Elephant” refers to our heart. Do you believe in the change? Is there an emotional buy in? The “Rider” refers to our brain. Does the change you are attempting make sense? Is it logical? The “Path” is the way the change is implemented. Are we making it easier to make the change happen by removing obstacles along the way?

So if you are planning to make a change in your eating habits this year, remind yourself WHY you want to do that, keep the current research (through news and media) at your fingertips to help you make logical sense and make it easy on yourself by creating the environment where you are surrounded by good, healthy foods.

Along the way, if you stumble and have a bad day, acknowledge it and move on. Don’t dwell on it. Remind yourself of the very important “why”. Keep trying again and again and again.

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