Monthly Archives: August 2012

Healthy In A Hurry: Greek Chicken Artichoke Pasta

Although pasta is a bit on the calorie-dense side, it is possible to create pasta recipes that are healthy and tasty, as long as you are careful about what you add to your dish. This recipe is really easy to make (prep time about 15 minutes, cook time another 15 minutes), and it’s a fully balanced meal all in one dish, which makes it even better!

I also like this recipe because it includes some ingredients and flavors that you might not experience very often. Lots of variety in the course of your healthy eating mission will help ensure you don’t get tempted by some less healthy alternatives too often!

This recipe, like many that I post, has lots of room for you to adjust it according to your taste. Take out the red pepper if your family doesn’t do spicy, add other vegetables, or whatever else you think will work for you. As always, I have included a link at the end of this post, so you can download the recipe and try it soon!

Greek Chicken Artichoke Pasta

Ingredients

1 pound uncooked whole grain pasta (rotini or penne work well for this recipe)

1 T. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (reserve half the brine)

1 large tomato, diced

1/2 cup kalamata olives (or black olives if you prefer)

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp. red chili pepper

2 T. lemon juice

2 tsp. dried oregano

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain.

2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until browned. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.

3. Reduce heat a bit and add remaining ingredients, including the reserved brine and the cooked pasta. Stir and cook a minute or two until all ingredients are heated. Remove from heat and garnish with a little extra chopped parsley.

Nutrition Info Per Serving: 480 calories, 11 gm fat, 110 mg cholesterol

See? That was easy! 🙂 If you tend to repeat the same recipes and menus over time in your effort to stay on a healthy diet (as I often do!), this recipe will probably change up your flavors a bit, so it’s a great dish to add to your cooking repertoire. Enjoy!

Download the recipe here: One Move Forward’s Healthy In A Hurry Greek Chicken Artichoke Pasta

Uncovering Your Courage When Facing A Crisis

photo: miguelavg

 

There are times in our lives where we are faced with more than we think we can handle. Although we can probably find ways to work through most of life’s challenges, the fact is that sooner or later we all end up facing a problem that threatens to overwhelm us. It might be a divorce, illness, job loss, or anything else that shakes us to our cores.

In times like these, it helps to have a game plan. Even with the biggest crisis, if you put three steps into action, you will be well-equipped to handle it the best you can – which is all you can ask of yourself.

Speak

Sometimes just talking to someone helps you process what you’re going through. If you’re facing a crisis, take the time to tell someone about it. If it’s something that involves your whole family, sometimes it helps to go to someone who’s not in the thick of it. Maybe you have a co-worker who is a good listener. Or maybe there’s another mom in your kids’ playgroup who might give you a chance to share your story.

Just talking about the challenges you’re facing helps you to feel less alone in your struggle. Share your story, gauge reactions, and see if people might help you see your troubles from another point of view.

Talking about your troubles also helps you process your grief. If a family member is facing a terminal illness or you’ve lost a job or you had to put down a pet, just talking about it helps you process through the parts that are troubling you the most.

Several years back, I had a dog, Journey, who was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-5 weeks to live. I was shocked and so upset. I spoke with a friend of mine immediately after getting the news. She wasn’t even a dog person, but I was so distraught and needed to tell her what was happening.

I remember saying something to the effect that if I had known this was going to happen I would have taken him for more walks or spent more time together or something like that. It was silly, really, since my dog really lacked for nothing in his life, but it was said out of grief. My friend said to me, “Maybe you and Journey just had exactly the life together that you were meant to have.”

I never would have expected such a profound assessment from someone who wasn’t a dog person! But in that one powerful sentence, she helped me put aside all my regrets and focus on the present.

So when you are facing a crisis, talk to someone and let her help you process it. You never know what simple thing she might say that will make a world of difference for you.

Search

Another tool you should use to help build courage in a time of crisis is to seek out help and resources. This can take a variety of forms.

If you are facing job loss, talk to the unemployment office, see what social services are available, and call your city to find out what resources they offer. Go to your library and find a good book on building a strong resume, and see if they have a class on bolstering your interview skills.

Besides services that might be able to help you, also search out ways that you can restore your mental health. For instance, if the crisis you are facing is marital instability and possible divorce, look for new ways to help you feel better.

This might mean finding a new yoga class or doing some reading on stress management or even talking with others who have gone through a divorce and came out of it just fine.

Classes, books, and services are just a few things that you should seek out to help you move through your crisis in the most positive way you can.

Support

The third piece of the puzzle in finding courage in crisis is to surround yourself with your support system.

Often when we go through difficult times, our friends will say, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but you’re so distraught you don’t even know what to ask, and you worry about imposing or whether they really meant it. Take them for their word that they want to help, and allow them to do so.

If, for example, you are facing an illness, take the time to focus on your health by allowing others to cover for you in some areas. Ask your mom to take your kids for a couple of days or see if a friend can organize a dinner delivery for a couple of weeks with the rest of your friends.

You also might be able to find support groups to help you face your crisis. There are bereavement groups to help you after a loss, support groups to build you up if you lose a job or your marriage dissolves, and other groups where you can just vent or listen to others or just escape for a while.

There are a variety of ways to get support for others, and sometimes the way that support helps the most is just because it offers the simple reminder that you are not in this alone – some people have faced the same challenges, and others just want to help you.

Whatever it is in your life that has thrown you for a loop, you can find your courage to face the crisis and get through it by talking about your troubles, finding resources, and leaning on support. The easy thing to do is to hunker down deep under the blankets and stay in bed. But the things that will help you thrive – and not just survive – are the ones where you seek help and let others help you.

Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness. -Paul Brunton

If You Work A Desk Job, Stand Up And Stretch!

 

You eat right, you exercise, you try to keep your stress to a minimum…but are you still at risk for early death? A recent study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge has shown that the answer could be yes. The culprit? Sitting. The study concluded that if people spent less than three hours per day sitting, they would likely add two years to their life expectancy.

I know what you’re thinking – you are at a desk at work eight hours per day, and then you are home – sitting down to dinner, sitting in front of the television – or out and about sitting at a restaurant or at a movie theater.

Have you ever thought about how much time each day you spend sitting? Probably most of it! So if you want to find a healthy balance between all the sitting you MUST do versus trying to find ways to NOT sit, I have a couple of suggestions.

One is to get up and stretch every hour. You may have heard this advice before, but now you can really see why it matters. If you stand up, walk around a bit, and then return to work, you can stretch your muscles and get your blood circulating.

These hourly mini-breaks help because medical research has shown you can combat the effects of a sedentary day just by taking little breaks from all the sitting. The less time you spend sitting, the less likely you are to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or even early death. Sounds simple, I know, but it’s true!

My other suggestion is to try to think about which of your daily activities you normally do sitting down that you can actually do standing up. If you spend a lot of your day sitting, try standing during these activities:

  • While drinking your morning coffee
  • During your commute (if you use public transportation!)
  • When talking on the phone
  • While helping your kids with homework

There are a couple of other ways I’ve incorporated more standing in my day. When I’m cooking dinner and waiting for something to finish cooking, I stand in front of the stove with a book! I usually find by that time of the day, I’m tired of sitting all day, and I’d have to keep getting up to check the food anyway, so I just stand there and read. 🙂

I also stand every day while I eat lunch – it helps that I have a counter-height kitchen table. I just pull out the chair and stand there for 15 minutes while I eat. It’s a great way to stretch out my legs in the middle of the day. Of course, another great non-sedentary use of your lunch hour is to do what my sister does – spend that time walking. Round up a couple of work buddies to join you or maybe use that time to get a break from your co-workers!

If you have a great way of working our new Sit Less, Stand More motto into your work day, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what steps you’re taking to move away from the sedentary lifestyle!

 

Bored By Your Exercise Routine? Try A Trampoline Class!

photo: rbbaird

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks watching the summer Olympics. But did you catch the trampolining? I only saw it for a few brief moments when it was televised, and I’ll admit – I didn’t even know that was an Olympic sport!

The athletes fly high (REALLY high) up in the air from their trampolines and they perform various acrobatics, including complex combinations of somersaults and twists. If you haven’t seen it, skip to 31 seconds into this video, and watch for a minute. It’s pretty amazing!

But trampolining isn’t just for Olympic athletes. It can be a great workout for anyone, and besides the fact that it’s fun and bound to give you a case of the giggles, it’s also low impact (easy on the joints) and helps you burn extra calories than what you would without adding jumping to your workouts.

If you’re interested, there are trampoline fitness classes popping up all over the country. Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park is in many states east of the Mississippi, and you can also find classes in smaller, locally-owned fitness centers by googling “trampoline fitness class.”

And don’t worry about being expected to fly and twist and flip through the air. The object of the class is just to get a good workout and have fun at the same time. So what you can expect is jumping jacks, frog jumps, and other cardio, and then there will also be some strength conditioning like lunges and pushups – all of which are reportedly easier on a trampoline!

If you’re getting bored with your workout, I encourage you to find a trampoline class. There’s a new trampoline fitness center coming to the Kansas City area soon, so I’m going to have to check it out too. If you’re in the area, let’s go together! 🙂

If Any Dream Was Possible, Which Would You Choose?

photo: fiddle oak

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s important to me, assessing what things I still feel I need to accomplish in this life, and trying to figure out if I’m living a life that moves me toward realizing those dreams. This has all been spurred by a few things, including the fact that my husband and I are in the process of turning a major dream into a reality, and in the last week we have taken some big steps where we can finally see how it’s all going to (hopefully) fall into place.

Sometimes I do these little self-checks, where I think about:

  1. What’s important to me?
  2. What do I really want to do?
  3. Am I doing that, or at least moving in that direction?
  4. Am I realizing my dreams, or is my life becoming stagnant?

I really think it’s so easy to get complacent, keep living your regular day-to-day life, and just get by on “it’s fine” rather than “This is what I really want!”

Are you doing what you need to do to get to what you really want? If you aren’t entirely sure what those things might be, you can start by making a list of what’s important to you.

It might be more time with your kids or more time to yourself or more flexibility in your schedule. Or it might be something that feeds your soul in a different way, like learning to play a musical instrument, or spending time doing volunteer work. Or maybe even something bigger like completely changing your career or moving to another country.

If you haven’t made a bucket list, that can help a lot with your self-assessment. Meanwhile, here are some questions you can ask yourself to try to get in touch with what really matters to you:

  • What did you used to love to do as a kid?
  • What have you always wanted to be really good at? A sport? Fluency in a foreign language? Something else?
  • When have you been happiest? Who were you with, and what were you doing?
  • When you daydream, what do you usually think about?
  • What’s the best (and most reliable) way you know to recharge your batteries?
  • What do you hope is different in your life in one year? What about in five years?

Like me, you probably sometimes get little reminders about how short life is. Try to “check in” with yourself on a regular basis and ask yourself if you are doing the things that will get you to your dreams and bring you the most joy. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day, but it’s also so important to always keep an eye on the big picture.

Healthy In A Hurry: Guilt-Free White Pizza

Even when we’re trying to eat healthy, we all have food cravings from time to time. The important things to remember are to consume the unhealthy choices in moderation, and also to try to update your favorite recipes into healthier versions. And yes, you can do that without compromising taste!

One food that many people miss when they’re eating healthy is pizza. With all that bread and cheese and oil and other toppings, though, the calories and fat add up really fast. I’ve been playing around with a few different pizza recipe ideas, and I’ve found a couple of great alternatives.

This recipe, for Guilt-Free White Pizza is quite different from traditional pizza, but it’s close enough that it puts a stop to any cravings! Try this one, and if it doesn’t quite do it for you, don’t worry – I have a couple of other pizza recipes I’ll be sharing, so you’ll be sure to find something that works for you!

Guilt-Free White Pizza

Ingredients

 2 large 100-calorie burrito-size whole wheat tortillas

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

1 tsp. garlic powder

8 slices Canadian-style bacon

1 tomato, thinly sliced and seeded

1 cup fresh basil leaves

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375.

2. Spray pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the pan, and then bake 5 minutes per side or until almost crispy.

3. Repeat with other tortilla

4. Mix together mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.

5. Add garlic powder to cheese mixture and mix well.

6. Spread cheese mixture on baked tortillas. Top with Canadian bacon, tomato, and basil.

7. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is heated through.

Serves 2.

Per serving: 360 calories, 37 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 37 gm protein

You can download the recipe here: One Move Forward’s Healthy In A Hurry Guilt-Free White Pizza

I hope you will give this recipe a try if you need a pizza fix! It’s not as bready, cheesy, or oily as what you’ll get at your favorite pizza joint, but it’s also much healthier! Enjoy!