Small Change Net Big Results

While browsing the frozen section of the grocery store for my son for real ice cream as opposed to my liking for natural homemade natural ice cream, I stumbled on, a blast from my past.  🙂

At age 23 Chunky Monkey was my prescribed best friend! Who doesn’t know about Ben & Jerry’s delicious, unorthodox, and addictive flavored ice cream!  I was pregnant with my daughter and was under doctor’s orders to gain weight, which was an enormous challenge for me.  My Obstetrician, Dr. Chong, told me that I was too skinny.  Dr. Chong wrapped his child-sized hand completely around my upper arm and pointed to my branch like boney limbs,

“You need to eat.!  You too skinny!”

Since supersized servings of collard greens weren’t doing the trick, I resorted to fudge sundaes during the daytime at work and Chunky Monkey ice cream at night.  :).  I still didn’t gain weight but continued on with my love for the fatty delectable dessert.

Until recently, when I saw my old treat in the freezer, I had forgotten all about it.  I was curious about the nutritional label and had to sneak a peek at the label.  Back then, I don’t think I noticed food labels. My girl Oprah says it best.  “When you know better, you do better.”  She’s right.

Twenty-nine years later, I finally read the jaw-dropping label. Hoooooly Moly!!

28 grams of sugar X  4  servings is 112 grams of sugar!!!!

300 calories per servings X  4 servings = 1,200 calories!!

300 grams of fat per servings X 4 servings – 112 grams of fat!!!

I’m dying thinking about this… mouth wide open…. thinking about how many times I ate a full pint and what the contents were doing to my body.  It makes me wanna barf.  Ugh!

Looking at me then, I appeared to be the epitome of health, and for the most part, I was healthy, or so I think.  However, my metabolism was high, my body processed the food quickly and at almost 5’9, I weighed 125-130 pounds.   Surely had I continued to eat Chunky Money at this pace with a few other bad food habits, I was on my way to being overweight and dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Back then, even though I overindulged in sugary treats like this, I also balanced out my diet with daily servings of fruits and vegetables.   A high metabolism and good genetics kept me slim and trim, and I did not have any health issues. But the fact is, my diet exceeded the daily recommendation for… well. Everything.

Today I thank God for putting me on a path to a better place where I learned to make smarter choices about my health and well-being.

Too frequently though many people wait until a medical condition dictates a lifestyle change.  Particularly women.  Women of color.

In 2014, the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention) reported the leading causes of death in ALL black females ALL ages were:

Heart disease – 23.2%

Cancer – 22.5%

Stroke – 6.2%

Diabetes – 4.6%

Chronic lower respiratory disease – 3.2%

Alzheimer’s disease – 3.1%

Unintentional injuries – 3.0%

Kidney disease – 2.0%

Septicemia – 2.3%

Hypertension – 1.9%

Heart disease (22.3%) and cancer (21.6%) remained at the top of the list for ALL females, ALL ages.

When you consider the fact that lifestyle behaviors can significantly reduce women’s risk factors for these illnesses it is disturbing.

If you have prediabetes, research shows that losing 5%-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity like brisk walking can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

(CDC)

Why do women wait until a doctor tells them that a lifestyle change is in order?  If we learn to listen to our body, it usually sends signals by responding to the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and other behaviors. If you walk up a flight of stairs and you are out of breath, that means something.  When was the last time you had an annual check up?

Take a pledge to live a healthier lifestyle.  Even better, commit to a better lifestyle with a family member, a friend, or a colleague. Try a new recipe, join or start a walking club, take a yoga class, take a strength training class, or something else, just get busy moving.   Please!

Oh and… if you’re gonna get down with Ben & Jerry’s, remember portion control or better yet, try making your own healthy chocolate ice creamAvocado Ice Cream or a quick frozen strawberry yogurt. Making your own is healthier and more fun.

Making small changes in your life can net significant health benefits. Instead of attacking your health with major changes, start with minor changes like drinking more water and less juice or soda, reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or substituting one high-fat food item with a lower fat food item. Take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators or do jumping jacks or pushups during commercials of your favorite TV show.  Over time, you will experience big gains. Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself because I won’t give up on you.

Grad school is slowing my posts, but I’m still here.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Smooches!  🙂

Expanding My Palate

Today marks week two of following through on my goal of trying one new vegetarian recipe each week.  I feel like a walking advertisement for Pinterest, but it is so easy to find new recipes there.  

I also enjoy the ease of opening the application at the grocery story to get the recipe ingredients.  Gone are the days of scribbling ingredients on paper and forgetting the list home.  The recipes are always with me, which increases my chances of trying the new dish.

Last week I enjoyed the One Dish Mexican Quinoa so much, that I made it again today. 🙂   This time I substituted chick peas for the corn.  It was equally as delicious and the chick peas added even more protein to the dish.

  
I am trying to ease into the vegetarian recipes, so to chose a new one, I look for new ways to combine familiar ingredients.  Yes, I am open to try new ingredients but will do so slowly.

Kale is one of my favorite vegetables, so when I read the Spicy Kale Quinoa Black Bean Salad, it immediately got my attention.  First, I love spicy foods.  Second, I love kale.  The idea of a spicy salad with green veggies is intriguing.  

Even if you do not consider yourself a cook, you can make this with ease.  I substituted the corn with chick peas, so the dish isn’t as colorful but has even more protein.  If I am going to eat less or no chicken and turkey, I have to find a way to replace the protein.

 

The above bowl was supposed to be a taste test; however, once I took a forkful, I went back and filled my bowl.  Lol!!

To make the dish a complete meal, I cooked (broiled) a large piece of salmon.  Both my family and I enjoy salmon.
To cook the (3.11 lb) salmon I did the following to both sides:

  1. Squeeze juice from 1 large lemon 
  2. Sprinkle generously with granulated garlic
  3. Sprinkle generously with fresh black pepper
  4.  Sprinkle evenly with Lawry’s All Purpose Chicken Seasoning
  5. Add a few piece of butter (I used Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter on the salmon
  6. Lightly drizzle with Italian Dressing

Cover and broil on low for 2o minutes.  Unconver and increase broiler to high.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes.  If you are cooking a smaller piece of salmon, it will cook quicker.  Keep your eyes on the salmon so it does not over cook.

  
The finished product….  A delightful, light, and nutritious meal.

Enjoy!! 🙂 

Thrown Together But Scrumptious 

  
With my busy routine of eating six meals each day, getting to the gym, going to work, attending our son’s sporting activities, cooking, grocery shopping and more, I rarely cook daily meals.  Sunday is my meal prep day and also the day I cook for the week for my family.

Rarely do I have the luxury to cook in the middle of the week.

Yesterday I was craving a burger so bad, that I contemplated eating a beef burger!  Yowza!  That is insane for me.  December 1994 or 1996 (I forget) was when I gave up red meat.  I haven’t had a steak or hamburger since.

My craving led me to the grocery store.  I bought salmon and ground turkey.   Last night I cooked the salmon.

 

Slamon, Kale/collard mix, baked sweet potato

 
Tho I desperately craved biting into a thick and juicy turkey burger, last night I was too tired to season and make the ground turkey. 

Today I still craved the burger. 🙂 Lol!

Before you ask, I am listing the ingredients.  I did not measure.  Sorry. 😦

  • 3 lbs of ground turkey
  • 3 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Spicy Brown Mustard (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • Minced elephant garlic – 1/2 of a large clove
  • 1 sweet red pepper
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • Granulated garlic powder
  • Black pepper
  • Sweet Spanish Papirika ( a dash)
  • Lowry’s Season Salt (a dash)
  • McCormick Grillmates Brown Sugar Bourbon (PLENTY)
  • Kikkoman Panko Japanese Style Bread Crumbs (at least 1 cup but not 2
  • *I usually mix a small can of tomatoe sauce with 1 Tbs. of mustard, 1 Tbs. of brown sugar and 1 Tbs. of lemon juice together.  I add half to the uncooked turkey meat and then spoon the remaining over the top of each burger, but I was in a hurry so I skipped this.  This mixture keeps the turkey nice and moist)

I thoroughly mixed everything together and used my old plastic Tupperware burger thingies to make perfectly thick shaped burgers. 

Plastic tupperware burger makers

 

I used a foiled covered cooking sheet and sprayed with olive oil.

Depending on your oven, you may need to cook them longer or shorter.  I broiled the burgers on low for 30 minutes, flipped them and let them cook for another 15 min.  

The mixture made 11 burgers; six in one pan, five in the other. 

 

I was chomping at the bits for these babies to cook!  Lol!

Since I rarely eat hamburger rolls and I was all out of Ezekial McMuffins, I pondered for a minute on how to hook them up.

The result?

Place the burger on a bed of baby leaf spinach, add a half of an avocado and top it with fresh hot salsa!  Oh man!!  That was delicious.  I could have also made a guacamole dip to put on the burger, but I was in a hurry!   I took a spin class this morning and was due for my meal.  🙂 

This quick meal is just another example of no fuss yet nutritious meal.  There are enough burgers for dinner too! #Love

Give it a try, you might like it.  If you like what you see here, please follow Lexa’s Journal and share.  Expect more healthy living inspiration in 2016! 

Thanks for dropping in. 🙂

  

Enjoying Fresh Produce At The Jersey Shore

Living at the Jersey Shore, The Garden State in the summer has perks. We’re not called the Garden State for nothing.  According to NJ’s official web pageNew Jersey is home to more than 9,071 farmers, covering 715,057 acres of farmland. 

Roadside veggie and fruit stands are plentiful. Nearly every rural road has at least one or more aged wooden stands filled with make shift shelves that are covered with baskets full of fresh produce.

The locals know where to find them, but out of towners’ are often surprised and make emergency stops to get it on the action.

Sweet corn, pretty Jersey tomatoes, plump blue berries, sweet and juicy peaches, squash, and zucchini are some of my summer favorites and I take full advantage of the season.

I think zucchini is my favorite summer veggie. Learn more about zucchini here and here.   While I have my go-to recipe for zucchini, I’m always looking for different recipes to infuse my zucchini with new flavors.

My pet recipe is quick and simple:

Ingredients

  • 2 zucchini (Medium size)
  • 2 vidalia onions or red onions (personal preference)
  • 2 tsps. fresh ground black pepper
  • Dash of crushed red peppers
  • Dash of Lowry’s season salt (I only use this when I’m cooking for my                      family)
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil (estimate… I’ve gotta learn to measure!)

Instructions:

Thoroughly wash and dry zucchini. Cut the ends off. Cut zucchini in half and then slice. I prefer mine sliced in half, but you can cut whole slices. Toss on to a sheet of aluminum foil. Half onion and then slice. Put the onions in with zucchini, add dry seasoning, and olive oil. Fold foil so juices don’t leak out.

Place foil pocket on a grill at medium temperature. Cook for about 20 minutes.

sliced

This is cooking at its easiest. There’s no excuse to not eat healthy.

foil

Zucchini is safely tucked away in the foil.

zucchini

Finished result…. Yummy!  This is great over brown rice, quinoa, or alone.

Two days ago, I found a different recipe on Pinterest, compliments of thepioneerwoman.com. The zucchini is delicious, but has a complete different flavor.

Seriously, that’s what I love most about fresh veggies. I can eat say, zucchini for dinner five consecutive days, but each night, the zucchini can be cooked different and infused with a unique flavor. I never get tired of zucchini, but I’m not asking my family if they are tired of it.  I may not like the answer.  Lol!

Anyways, I tried the  Grilled Zucchini with Lemon Salt recipe.  As one of my friends would say,

“Outstanding!!”

Lol!  All you need is zucchini, lemon, black pepper, kosher salt, and olive oil. For specific instructions and details, click here.

bagged zuchiiLemon zest, olive oil, salt, and pepper all in one bag coating zucchini!

on the grill

Here they are cooking nicely on the grill. The anticipation was killing me. Lol!

grilled zucchini

Mmmm…. If you’re eating this at home, consider this finger food,
because using a knife takes too dag on long!  🙂

Give it a try; you might like it.

Do you have quick summer recipe?  Please share!

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your day!