Mom Always Said, Eat Your Vegetables

(Photo Source)

Most moms, at some point in time, struggle to get their children to eat vegetables. Even the sneakiest of tricks, like adding shredded veggies to stews and sauces, don’t always work. But new research shows that the ongoing veggie struggle may now be over!!

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that kids will eat their veggies if they are served them prior to a meal. Let me clarify – they will eat their veggies before the actual meal is served, not with the meal. Apparently, if we give kids a vegetable snack or first course prior to the actual meal, they will gobble it up. Hmm…a bit skeptical? Think about it, after bringing the kids home from a long day of school, followed by soccer/baseball practice, they are likely to be so hungry while waiting for dinner that they would eat anything, including their vegetables.

This strategy hardly seems sneaky, but I am convinced it works – at least most of the time. While in Michigan last weekend, I attended a family BBQ at my sister’s house. Around 5 PM, the natives (aka the 5 kids) were getting restless and hungry! We were still waiting for several family members and friends to arrive to the potluck dinner, so we were hesitant to start without them. Instead, we set out chopped fruit and crudites of raw veggies and dip. It was almost comical to watch the kids dash inside from the backyard, grab handfuls of carrots, cauliflower, tomatoes, and pepper strips, and then quickly run away as if they just snagged a bag of candy. Within a very short time, most of the vegetables had been eaten by the kids, so much so that we needed veggie reinforcements. Thank goodness that the one vegetarian person in our group arrived and brought another veggie tray!

At first, my sister and I were amazed at how fast the veggies went and even more surprised that they were being eaten by the children at the party. But it really makes sense. If you’re kids are hungry enough, they will eat whatever is put in front of them. And, as the “mom”, your job is to make sure that what’s put in front of them is something healthy.

So the next time your little ones are begging you for a snack before dinner – offer them an assortment of veggies – what’s the worst that could happen? They could become too full from vegetables to eat their dinner….we should all be so lucky!

Sneaky Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

(Photo Source)

In my early 20s, it seemed like I could eat whatever I wanted and still either lose or maintain my weight. Sure, I was exercising on a regular basis back then, just like I am now, but in college, losing and maintaining my weight just seemed easier. I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who has finally acknowledged that our metabolism does slow down as we get older. On average, women gain 1.5 pounds a year during adulthood, which can easily translate into 30-5o extra pounds by the by we reach 50! Ugh – that’s not what I wanted to hear either!

Luckily, there are ways to prevent this age-related weight gain. There are obvious ways to help keep the weight off, including reducing daily calorie intake and increasing cardiovascular exercise. However, according to Prevention magazine, there are other sneaky things that can do to help rev up our slow metabolism and help us avoid mid-life weight gain, including:

10 Ways to Increase Your Metabolism

  1. Eat More – It’s true, we do want to reduce our calorie intake as we get older, but we don’t want to drop below 1,200 calories a day. Consuming less than 1,200 calories can cause our body’s metabolism to slow down and burn precious muscle for the energy that your diet is not providing.
  2. A Cup of Joe – Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system and helps speed up metabolism. But, like anything else, you don’t want to go overboard on the caffeine either.
  3. Go Whole or Go Home – We all know that white breads, pastas, and carbs in general have very little nutritional value, particularly in the fiber area. But what you may not know is that fiber can help increase our fat burn by 30%! So, limit the white carbs and go for the fiber-rich whole grains. How can you tell if your bread is whole grain?
  4. Embrace the Cold – Drinking cold water and other calorie-free beverages may help to raise our resting metabolism – possibly because we expend more energy to heat the cold water within our bodies.
  5. Avoid Pests – Research has shown that people who consume large amounts of food treated with pesticides may experience a dip in their metabolism and may be more at risk for weight gain. Although it’s unrealistic to assume that you can always buy organic produce, you may want to consider buying the more pesticide-heavy produce in their organic form. What are the best foods to buy organic?
  6. Eat Your Protein – Research shows that protein can increase our postmeal calorie burn. Furthermore, our body needs protein to maintain lean muscle, which also helps increase our metabolism and calorie burn.
  7. Pump Some Iron – No, I don’t mean weight-lifting, although that’s important too. I’m talking about the mineral iron. We need iron-rich foods to carry the oxygen our muscles need to burn fat. By nature, women lose iron each month during menstruation. If we don’t replenish our iron stores, we run the risk of having low energy and a sluggish metabolism.
  8. Get Your Vitamins – Vitamin D helps preserve our muscle tissue that speeds up our metabolism. Afraid you’re not getting enough? Try these great sources of Vitamin D: fortified milk and cereal, salmon, tuna, and eggs.
  9. Limit Booze – Alcohol burns less fat and what it does burn, it burns more slowly than most foods/drinks.
  10. Increase Calcium – Research shows that calcium deficiency may be linked to slow metabolism in women. So make sure you’re drinking your milk and eating your yogurt! What has more calcium, Greek or regular yogurt?

Now, get that metabolism cranking!

To Market, To Market…

(Photo Source)

Since we were out of town in Michigan for the weekend, we’ve had no time to grocery shop. So, it is not surprising that our fridge and cupboards are bare. I don’t mind when our grocery supply dwindles but it drives Scott crazy. As a result of having very little food selection for lunch, I opted to stop at the grocery store this morning to pick up a can of soup and a few other things for the day. As a rule, I try to avoid eating soup from a can because canned soup is typically loaded with sodium and is definitely processed in some way – no matter what the label says. But in my world, having a can of soup is slightly better than having a frozen dinner (can’t even remember the last time I had one) and cheaper than going out to eat.

To off-set my sodium-filled lunch, I also bought a banana and a HUGE orange to snack on throughout the day. I loved the feeling of knowing that I was buying fresh, whole fruit from the market rather than going out to eat. This practice of stopping at the market on your way to work or even on your lunch break is a way of life for many in Europe, but is not as ingrained in American culture. Think about it, when was the last time you just stopped at the market or bakery to pick up a loaf of bread for your lunch or fresh fruit for your afternoon snack? When given a choice, I assume most Americans would choose to eat at a restaurant for lunch rather than stop at the store to pick up a little something.

If you needed to grab lunch at work, what would you do – go out to eat or stop at the market to pick up real, fresh food?

First Post From My New iPhone4

Hey all! I’m writing this post from my new, way cool iPhone 4! Because I haven’t used the old iPhone very much, it’s hard to compare. There are so many things I like about the new iPhone – way too much to type right now. Guess I’ll save that for later!

I will say that the camera feature is very cool! The pic above of Ms M was taken over the weekend with the new phone. However, when I tried posting the photo in the WordPress application, the photo automatically goes to the bottom of the post and there is no way to change this default (that I know of). I had to save my draft then go back in through my Mac and make the photo appear at the top. If anyone knows how to fix this WordPress app bug, please let me know!

So now I’m winding down from our long weekend in Michigan and anticipating a very rough week at work. It’s always a little more hectic than usual when befoe I head off for vacation. Why is it that before we leave for vacation, we try to cram everything in – extra work at the office, house work,  yard work, etc and then wind up just wanting to sleep through our whole vacation!

Have a great night everyone!

No Sense of Time

Gland Update

As some of you know, I headed out of work early yesterday because I was sick. I haven’t taken “sick” time from work in over 4 months so I was about due. My gland/tonsil was really swollen and hurt like crazy. I’m hoping the antibiotic and a little Tylenol will take care of it quickly. I hate being sick – it just doesn’t fit into my schedule.

Big Day!!

Today is the big day – I’m getting the new iPhone!!! Scott ran out the door a little after 7 AM so that he could wait in line for both my phone (already ordered) and his phone (on reserve but no guarantee). After 2.5 hours, he is still waiting in line! I’m hoping he meets me for lunch and presents my new baby, fully charged and ready to go!

No Time To Spare

Because I’m getting the new phone today, Scott needed to take my old one with him, which left me phoneless taking the kids to school and then driving to work. When I got into the car, I realized that the stereo lights were not working which meant that I could not see the time. So, no phone time, no car stereo time, and no watch. I had to rely on talk radio to update me with the time – which is rather frustrating since they only say it once every 20 minutes. My kingdom for a clock, my kingdom for a clock! Basically, I had so sense of time until I got to work. Of course, I was 10 minutes late.

Anyway, aside from the iPhone, I also have a big day and weekend ahead. Today I have a meeting with our senior VP about my new role at work -oooh, aren’t you excited to hear the details? Well, that makes two of us. Because I still don’t know what the hell is going on with my role! Then tomorrow, we head to Michigan again for a big family reunion. My younger brother is coming in from San Diego with his whole family -can’t wait! I know I just saw my little bro in October but the cousins haven’t been together in a year!

OK, must get back to work.

US Dietary Guidelines: More or Less

(Photo Source)

Last week, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee issued a report related to the upcoming national dietary guidelines. The report forms the basis for the US Dietary Guidelines and the Food Pyramid, which are revised every 5 years. Although the guidelines are not final, the report presented some interesting findings on what Americans should be eating.

Overall the preliminary report outlines 8 things related to our diet/health that average Americans should be doing more or less of.

↑Americans need more:

  • Plant-based foods like vegetables and whole grains
  • Fish
  • Fat-free or low-fat dairy (as opposed to full-fat)
  • Exercise

↓Americans need less:

  • Calories
  • Added sugars and solid fats
  • Sodium and refined grains
  • Lean meats, poultry and eggs

If you’ve every read a government report, you know how long they can get and how confusing they can be. I often wonder if people don’t pay attention to dietary guidelines because they just don’t understand them. Hopefully, when the official guidelines come out later this year, they will be reported in such a simple fashion that all Americans will be able to understand them and easily implement them in their daily lives.

Runners: Shoes That Pamper Your Feet

I woke up with a killer headache this morning. It was so bad that I did not go for a run. Between work stress (taking on much more responsibility) and my house falling apart, I knew it was bound to catch up with me. My house is not literally falling apart, it’s just that with a near 40-year old house, there’s a ton of work to be done  – and the work just never ends!

Despite all of my complaining, I’ve actually had a great couple of weeks in regard to receiving surprises in the mail. I’d love to cover all of these goodies in one post, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Last week, I received a pair of OKA b sandals (the Shoes That Love You) in the mail to try out. They were the thong sandals, the kind that go between your toe – not my first choice, but I gave them a try. OKA b sandals are made with Microplast™ material and are waterproof, antibacterial, and have a seamless design. They also have the company’s signature reflexology massage beads and ergonomic footbeds built right in.

So what did I think? Marvelous! As a runner, I’m always looking for a way to pamper my feet a little bit more and I think I’ve found the trick. Seriously, I put on these sandals after a LONG day at work and I felt like my feet were being massaged as I walked.  I’ve worn them every day since (not all day long, but at least part of the day) because I like the beads so much, he he!

The only thing I did not like about these shoes is that they were thong sandals. Some people love thong sandals but I’m not a huge fan. I’ve yet to find a pair that look good on my feet and feel good between my toes. I took several photos of myself actually wearing the sandals but opted not to post them – believe me, you don’t want to see my feet in thongs!!! I’d love to try the OKA b slides – I think they’d much more suit my style.

And speaking of style, they have so many styles and colors online – one for every outfit I’m sure – day or night! And, what would a cute sandal be without a cute name? They all have such trendy and chic names like Claire, Lucy, Madison, and Malia. I don’t suppose they have one named Jennifer??? I would definitely buy that one!

Overall, I can see these becoming very popular in day spas, high end resort spas, and yoga studios. I can also see these being the new croc shoe, but they are waaaay more stylish than crocs. If you are a runner or know a runner who needs a little pampering, give these shoes a try, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

You're Never Too Old For Toys

(Photo Source)

I will officially say that I will never be too old for Buzz and Woody. Scott and I took Miss M and Mr. C to see Toy Story 3 tonight – unbelievable! How does Pixar manage to make a third sequel even better than the first two? I laughed, I cried, and I cheered for all of the toys. It made me realize just how special my son’s toys are to him. He really thinks they have feelings and care about being played with. It also makes me wonder about all of the toys I had as a child that just magically disappeared as I grew older.

I won’t give away all of the details, but my favorite part was toward the end when all of the toys were holding hands, ready to face anything together. It was very heartwarming-a picture of true friendship, even if they are just toys. Also – the Toy Story movies always have great music with Randy Newman at the helm, and this movie was no exception. They even managed to score a Spanish rendition of You’ve Got a Friend in Me, by the Gipsy Kings – one of my favorite groups!

I really don’t know how Pixar could top this movie and I somewhat hope they don’t even try. If you are even remotely a Disney or Pixar fan, I give this movie a thumbs up and recommended that you go see it ASAP. Remember to stay through 1/2 the credits – you’ll be treated to a very funny scene – Viva La Toy Story!

It's Post Time! A Day at the Races

For the last 3-4 years, Scott and I head to the horse track with his family the day before father’s day. I used to think horse tracks were seedy places, where only bookies, gambling addicts, and the mafia hung out. And, I’m sure it was that way back in the day. But in Chicago, Arlington Park is a beautiful horse track filled with people of all kinds. Really, you can find fancy ladies (and not just in the box seats) with even fancier hats, families with kids in tow, and couples just wanting an afternoon of sun and fun.

So, after my regular Saturday yoga class – which just kicked my rear end – we headed off to the races. It was a nearly perfect day for horse racing. Although a tad windy – nearly lost my brand new hat several times – it was about 80-85 degrees and sunny. Because we go the day before father’s day, it’s never too crowded, which makes it much easier to find a seat, place a bet, and get a little food. Personally, I don’t go there for the betting – I’ve never made a bet yet. But I love seeing how happy the kids are when they see the horses. As you can see from the photo above, Miss. M was having a great time with her daddy!

I was having an incredibly good time taking all sorts of photos in my snazzy new Ascot-esque hat! And yes, that is a new Lucy tank. Lucy has such awesome running and yoga wear, and many of their pieces can be worn as everyday wear which I totally love!

Now, I have to get to bed. After a day of running, cleaning, and gardening, I’m beat!

Lessons From A Starbucks Addicted VP

(Photo Source)

The other morning, when I was heading out of my usual Starbucks (yep, back on the wagon), I ran into one of our seasoned VP’s. She was so surprised to see me and almost seemed a little embarrassed. She asked, “Are you as addicted as I am?” We went on to exchange that we both were addicted and both wanted to cut down because of the calories and the cost. My drink, whether it’s a skinny vanilla latte or a mocha frap, usually costs around $4.

She explained that she knew how to work the system, and get what she wanted for less. Instead of her former skinny vanilla latte, she now gets a bold coffee, with a soy milk topper with a shot of sugar-free vanilla. She said it tastes nearly exactly like a vanilla latte with fewer calories. And how much does that cost – $2.50 for a Venti! She is sooo smart. Maybe that’s why she’s a VP.

What’s your creative way of getting your drink or food of choice for less?