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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year Videos

I want you to watch these two videos and consider the age of these two women.  The cowgirl is 101 and the salsa dancer is in her 80's.  They are my personal inspiration and illustrate just why I exercise, eat right and take care of myself.  They aren't sitting on the sidelines watching life go by; they are living life to the fullest and out there having fun doing what they love.  

Think about these two ladies as you enter the new year.  Let them be your inspiration to a better, fuller, happier life.  They didn't get there by sitting on their butt getting fat.  They didn't get there by watching their children have all the fun, they joined in.  Don't just make some lame New Year's resolutions tonight.  Really get out and move, have fun, get in the game.  If you don't, you better get on the waiting list down at the nursing home.  Space will be limited.

A Happy Healthy New Year to all!  Do what it takes to get what you want this year.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Apology Plus a Confession

This Christmas I guess I was more unorganized than usual so I didn't get to post any the week before Christmas as promised.  I apologize for not posting the recipes for the rest of our Christmas dinner.  However, the menu we had for Christmas dinner will be good for a fancy New Year's dinner or anytime you want to impress guests. 

I love cranberries in just about any form you can cook or bake them into.  This salad is simple and can made the day before serving.  Just whip the cream and fold in the rest of the ingredients.  The bread is a family favorite but must be set out to rise at least 2 hours before serving.  I promise if you try the brussel sprouts, you will look at them in a different way.  I love brussel sprouts but this is the best way to prepare them.  My kids will eat them this way without complaining.

Cranberry Salad
1 bag cranberries, washed and chopped
1 cup sugar
2 cups red grapes, sliced in half
1 small can crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup chopped and toasted pecans
1 carton of heavy cream, whipped
Stir sugar into chopped cranberries.  Add grapes and pineapple, mixing well and let set overnight.  Whip cream and fold nuts and cream into fruit mixture just before serving. 

Pullaway Bread
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp.dried basil
1 25 oz. package frozen roll dough
3 tbsp. butter melted
Lightly grease a Bundt pan with cooking spray.  Stir together first 3 ingredients.  Sprinkle into the greased pan.  Place 1/2 of the frozen rolls into the pan and drizzle with 1/2 the melted butter.  Sprinkle with 1/2 the remaining cheese.  Repeat all 3 layers.  Let rise in a warm place 2 hours or until doubled in bulk.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, shielding with foil if necessary.  Invert onto a serving platter and serve immediately.

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries
1 lb. brussel sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
1/2 cup chopped pecans
3 tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup craisins
Thinly slice brussel sprouts.  Add butter to pan and when melted, add nuts and sprouts.  Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 6 minutes until just tender.  Salt and pepper and toss in craisins.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

And now for my confession:  I ate way too many cookies over the Christmas holiday.  I fell in love with a new recipe I tried, Chai Kissed Chocodoodles, a type of chocolate snickerdoodle.  I sometimes ate 8 in a sitting.  Plus my husband tried several new cocktails all full of cream and calories.  They were so gooood! So the cardiologist's wife isn't perfect.  However, my exercise and eating right most of the time kept me from gaining too much weight.  Now the holidays are over, I can return to being good. (I hope.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Dinner Fast Approaches

Christmas is only a nine days away and I just finished my shopping this morning, thanks to the Internet.  I hope my readers have finished their cards and shopping and can now relax and think about Christmas dinner.  Or maybe you'd rather not think about Christmas dinner as that is too stressful.  Perhaps you are hosting the family dinner for the first time and feel at a loss at what to cook.  I have already planned my menu for this important dinner as it is a huge part of our celebration.

We have a traditional meal on Christmas Eve.  After 5 o'clock church, we come home to cheese grits and ham.  I might add a salad or green beans but my husband loves cheese grits and ham.  The Christmas dinner varies each year depending on what I feel like cooking.  However, this is the one time I often cook beef.  I will share my Christmas menu with you as it is simple and very elegant.  You dinner guests will be impressed when the whole thing couldn't be easier.  

Spicy Beef Tenderloin
Party Potatoes
Cranberry Salad
Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries
Pull-away Rolls
Pumpkin Pie

Now I didn't say the meal was heart healthy but we do splurge on special occasions.  Beef tenderloin is very expensive too but will feed several people.  I'll post two recipes today and the rest next week.

Spicy Beef Tenderloin
Mix one cup port or red wine, 1 cup soy sauce, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. whole thyme, 1/2 tsp. tabasco, 4 cloves of crushed garlic and 1 bay leaf.  Place tenderloin in a large ziploc bag or dish and pour marinade over it.  Marinate over night or about 8 hours, turning occasionally.  Place on rack in baking pan. Cook at 425 for 45 to 60 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 150 for medium rare.

Party Potatoes (substitute regular mashed potatoes if you like)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sour cream
1 stick of butter
4 cups of water
2 cups milk
5 cups instant mashed potatoes
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
Mix cream cheese and sour cream together.  Bring water, milk and butter to a boil in a large pot.  Remove from heat and add potatoes.  Add cream cheese mixture and remaining ingredients and mix well.  Pour into a 9x13 baking dish and sprinkle with paprika.  Refrigerate overnight.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until hot.

Use your favorite pumpkin pie recipe or the one on the Libby's can.  We didn't get pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving so by golly, we're having it for Christmas.  The beef is a no brainer; few ingredients and little effort but it always turns out beautifully.  I like that the potatoes and salad can be mostly made the day before, leaving you more free time on Christmas day.  Saturday, I'll post the other recipes so you can be ready as I may not post any next week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Time For A New Confession

Confession is good for the soul; it forces you to admit that there is a problem and deal with it.  Now I don't think I have a problem yet but it is time to confess my sins.  I can't stay out of the Christmas cookies and I haven't been exercising like I should.  There!  I said it.  If I eat one cookie and it tastes so goooood, then I find myself opening the cookie tin and getting another, and another, and another.  Our annual cookie party was this past Sunday and we have plenty of leftovers.  Too bad there wasn't some of the mocha punch left.

Last week was not a good week for exercise due to the food poisoning episode so at least I have an excuse.  I really didn't feel energetic until Friday or Saturday.  Then there are all the holiday parties, concerts and the shopping to do which got in the way of exercise.  I am back to normal this week though, so no more excuses.

The one thing I have continued to do though, is to try to eat light, well balanced meals between parties.  Don't just give up around the holidays and think you might as well take a break and eat all you want.  I always try to eat especially light and healthy the day of a big party where there will be lots of temptations.  My family is still eating fish and chicken dishes with plenty of vegetables.  In fact, tomorrow I am making a vegetarian dinner.  I'm making a pot of navy beans for protein, braised cabbage and fried potatoes.

Cooking a pot of beans is one of the easiest things you can do.  I rinse a cup and a half or so of beans (navy, pinto, cranberry, whatever you like) and put them in a pot with enough water to more than cover the beans.  I add a bay leaf and bring the water to a boil.  When the water boils, I cover the pot and reduce the heat so the beans are just simmering.  I let them cook an hour or two until tender, then I salt and pepper them.  Be sure to check the beans occasionally for tenderness and to make sure you don't need to add more water.

Fried potatoes is one of the few fried foods I make.  I peel several red potatoes and slice them as thin as possible and place them in a large skillet.  I add two or three Tb. of canola oil to the skillet and turn it on high.  I flip the potatoes with a spatula when they are brown enough and continue cooking until they are nice and brown all over.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.   The braised cabbage recipe is in my index.  I usually make a pan of cornbread to accompany this meal.  As you can see, it is loaded with fiber.

I hope you will consider making a pot of beans soon.  They are a fat free source of protein.  Add a bit of ham if you like to flavor the beans.      

Thursday, December 9, 2010

New Diet That Works

Sorry, I'm just joking.  My husband and I are recovering from food poisoning and while we did shed a few pounds and don't really feel like eating much yet, I certainly don't recommend it as a way to lose weight.  However, I do feel the subject is worth mentioning since we will all be attending parties and preparing plenty of special meals.  Let's keep the season safe and healthy for all.

Food poisoning is very much like any stomach virus and has the same symptoms: fatigue, headaches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramping, etc.  Food poisoning can set in 2 to 24 hours after eating contaminated food and last 1 to 14 days.  Stomach viruses take effect 1 to 2 days after exposure.  If several people get sick after eating the same food, food poisoning may be the cause.  My husband and I both ate the same salad at a restaurant on Monday and by about 2 or 3 on Tuesday afternoon, we were both sick so we suspect food poisoning.

Treat either by resting and drinking extra fluids as soon as your stomach will allow.  Drinking pedialyte or Gatorade isn't necessary but may help.  My family has always sworn by the BRAT diet after the stomach virus to ease back into food.  Eat Bananas, Rice, Applesauce or Toast as these seems to go down well.  Gingersnap cookies also help with nausea.  You'll probably want to avoid heavy meals for a few days.

If the symptoms persist more than two days or are very severe, seek medical help.  My son also suffered from salmonella once and was hospitalized for three days as he couldn't keep any fluids down and became dehydrated.  He continued to have diarrhea for at least another week.    

Please be careful in all your food preparations and make careful choices at parties and food buffets where food may have been sitting out too long.  Make sure you keep food at the proper temperature when serving it; hot foods hot and cold foods cold.  Don't eat food that has been left sitting out - toss it.  Refrigerate leftovers as soon as the meal is over.  When handling raw meat and eggs, wash your hands and all surfaces the food touches carefully in hot water.  If you are traveling to Grandma's for the holidays, don't transport foods long distances.  Prepare the food when you get there and leave the leftovers at Grandma's.  Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing them and discard questionable looking or smelling items.  Don't forget to wash your cleaning sponge or dishrags daily as these can harbor germs.  Get a good thermometer and cook meat to the proper internal temperature.

I hope these tips and reminders will help everyone to enjoy their holiday and avoid the stomach virus diet.  You don't want your friends and family to remember your holiday bash by how sick everyone was afterwards.    

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Apologies To All

I must apologize for my unexcused, two week absence.  The first week there were technical difficulties with the computer and my home computer nerd (son) was unable to help me work through them.  The week after Thanksgiving my husband had the week off and we were trying to finish our Christmas shopping.  Plus Tuesday was the last day of the Wanna Dance competition and I'm proud to say my partner and I finished a very close second.  Check out our dance on at wanna dance Brandy and Lisa if you'd like to see it.

I'm hoping you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends.  I believe time spent with those we love to be just as important to good health as anything else we do.  I confess that I didn't think my Thanksgiving dinner was very good.  First of all the turkey was simply awful and once again, there was no pumpkin pie.  I must find out what the good people of Mississippi have against pumpkin.  The best part of the dinner was the crab and brie bisque but that is not part of my Thanksgiving tradition.  There were 48 members of Barry's extended family at dinner and we did have a great weekend visiting people we don't often see.

Friday we toured an old plantation and then stopped by The Old Country Store restaurant in Lorman, Ms.  which has been featured on Alton Brown's show.  Alton Brown declared that owner Arthur Davis's fried chicken was the best he'd ever eaten.  Of course I was all about trying this chicken which was good but I still think my sister's is better.  Arthur does know how to prepare vegetables.  He only uses fresh ingredients, not frozen, and indeed, grows many of them in his garden.  The greens we ate had been picked the day before and I had seconds.   So often, vegetables are a neglected part of dinner so it's no wonder people won't eat them.  If you are ever in Natchez, Ms., get directions to Lorman as it's not far and worth the drive.

So the season of too much and over indulging has begun.  Try to eat sensibly between parties and family gatherings and don't neglect the exercise.  Exercise will also help with the stress so many feel at this time of year.

I will try to get past the technical difficulties this week and publish that last post that was giving me trouble.