Spiced banana almond smoothie

One food that I’ve been incorporating into my diet every day is fresh ginger.  Before I started researching anti-inflammation foods, I’d never used fresh ginger in a smoothie.  I’ve used it countless times in meals as it’s one of my favorite flavors, but never in a smoothie.  Now I’m kind of obsessed.  I think I had this pineapple-ginger smoothie with my lunch for a week straight.  It’s strong, but oh-so-good.

Even if you don’t need the anti-inflammation benefits of fresh ginger (but really, who doesn’t?), it boasts a whole bunch of other health benefits.  Fresh ginger is great for nausea (I drank ginger drinks a lot when pregnant), is said to help keep blood-sugar steady, improves the absorption of essential nutrients, and can increase energy.  I’ve noticed after having a smoothie with fresh ginger for lunch I don’t have my usual dip mid-afternoon energy slump, so it works for me!

This spiced banana almond smoothie is a lovely blend of sweet and spicy.  The fresh ginger adds a little bite, but the almond and banana flavor are still able to shine.  Banana and almond is a classic smoothie combination, but adding fresh ginger and cinnamon take it in a different direction and give it a fresh and fun flavor profile.

As you can probably tell from the pictures, this is not a super thick smoothie.  Sometimes I’m in the mood for a thick, creamy smoothie, other times I really want one that is on the thinner side. For a creamier smoothie, use frozen bananas.  You could even add an extra banana or reduce the water/milk if you want it extra thick.  I love this smoothie as-is, though.  It is light and refreshing, yet has enough protein to be quite filling.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

 

P.S.  I won’t be posting for Fitness Friday this week.  Have a great Easter weekend, everyone!

 

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Posted in Breakfast Recipes, Snack Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments  

One pot coconut curry lentil bowl with chickpeas and kale

Do you want to know what’s an absolute tragedy?  My kids don’t enjoy any meals where their food is mixed together or with any type of sauce.  Yes, the one-pot meal, a busy mom’s dream dinner, is my kids’ worst nightmare.

I’m a persistent gal, though, and one thing I’ve learned about feeding children is that their tastes and preferences do change, especially if you continue to serve them a variety of foods over time.  I haven’t given up on the one-pot meal.  I keep trying.

I served this Coconut Curry Lentil Bowl with Chickpeas and Kale to Meghan and Luke along with whole grain naan bread, raw vegetables, and applesauce.  I added more to the meal (easy things I didn’t have to cook) because I knew they wouldn’t eat a lot, if any, of the one-pot meal I was serving as the main entree.

I reminded Meghan that she loves chickpeas, and even though she was reluctant, she picked them out and ate them.  Luke will do what Meghan does usually, so he followed his big sister and ate his chickpeas.  They both were a n0-go to try the kale or saucy mix of lentils, and I didn’t push it.  They devoured their naan (a favorite) and also ate all of their carrots, red peppers, and applesauce.

I didn’t mean to talk so much about how this meal worked for my kids, but I know a lot of moms read and are probably interested in how dinner time looks at other houses.  I know I am always curious.  But let me move on to the dynamics of the dish before I lose your interest!  (Too late?)

This is a super quick and easy dinner.  Quick, easy, AND healthy.  Not an easy-to-come-by combination!  Oh, and full of flavor.  I just love coconut+curry together, and there’s also fresh ginger, lime, and cilantro that bring the whole thing together.  I ate just this because of my anti-inflammation diet, but it’s perfect with warm naan bread.  If you need a vegan, gluten-free, weeknight meal that is super satisfying, you found a great one!

 

 

Even though I am going to wait a month to give you a detailed update of how things are going with my new diet and finger pain, I can’t wait to tell you how things are going. After one week on an anti-inflammation diet, I have seen a significant improvement in my finger pain! One week ago, I could not bend my finger in the morning and throughout the day making a fist was impossible. I can do both of those things now and the pain is much less. I did not expect to feel a difference so quickly, but I am more determined than ever to continue with the changes I’ve made.  I’ll give you more details in time, but I just wanted to give you a quick update since I’m so excited about the results so far.  Thanks again for all of your comments and support.

 

 

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Posted in Dinner Recipes, Vegan Recipes | 13 Comments  

Leg burner stroller workout

Would you like to know my favorite part of having a blog?  Well, I love having my favorite recipes saved all in one place.  That’s pretty cool.  But what I love the absolute most is the community.  So many of you commented on my last post about why I started a strict anti-inflammation diet and shared your stories, gave advice, and offered words of encouragement.  Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times.  You’ve given me a lot to think about and even more research to do!

Since last Fitness Friday I focused on arms, I thought it would be fitting to focus on legs today. I don’t know how it is where you are, but we are finally enjoying some spring-like weather in Ohio.  When the sun is shining and temperatures are warm, the last thing I want to do is head to a gym, so whenever I can I take my workout outside.

This Leg Burner Stroller Workout was my favorite workout of the last week. Going outside for my workout means I don’t get to use the gym child-care.  A stroller workout is the perfect solution!  Even if you don’t have a young stroller-aged child, you can do this workout.  The stroller adds another dimension to the workout because you’re pushing something while you walk/run, but you’ll still get a great workout without it.

I love that this workout mixes in cardio intervals with some leg exercises and sprinting that will definitely have you feeling the burn.  No weights required.

As you can see, it’s a 45 minute workout.  Because I was constantly changing things up, it flew by for me.  I love workouts like that!  I kept the descriptions for pace general–easy or medium.  Easy running pace should be a pace where you could comfortably carry on a conversation.  Medium running pace should be a pace where you are pushing yourself more and should fall between comfortable conversation pace and what your race pace would be (which is what I would call a hard run).  Sprinting should be almost all-out.  The sprints are only 30 seconds, so just go as fast as your legs will take you and then you can have a 30 second recovery walk, or even stop to rest during that 30 seconds if needed.  I used the stop-watch function on my phone to keep time.

If you’re looking for a medium-intensity cardio interval workout that will really work your legs, this is a great one to try!  Let me know if you test it out.

What was YOUR favorite workout of the last week?  

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Why I’m going on a strict anti-inflammation diet

source

It started a few months ago, and it was just a small nuisance at first.  I would wake up in the morning noticing that my ring finger on my right hand was slightly stiff.  I noticed a little soreness during the day.  Eventually ‘slightly stiff’ became so stiff I can’t bend it at all when I first wake up and the ‘little soreness’ gave way to all-out pain.

One silly little finger.  I’m experiencing stiffness, pain, and joint swelling in one finger.  It’s getting progressively worse each week and not showing signs of slowing down or getting better.  When I wake up in the morning, I can hardly use it at all for a good ten minutes.  It is stiff, swollen, and very painful.  I have to use my other hand to try to bend it and get it working. When I’m making my breakfast and coffee I tend to drop things because I can’t form a grip to hold on to whatever I need.  Not good when I have sleeping kids upstairs.  Throughout the day I feel pain when I’m trying to do simple, everyday tasks like twist the tops off of jars, get Luke dressed, and make beds.

I asked a doctor friend to look at it. While he isn’t a hand specialist, he is an orthopedic guy and I thought his opinion might help me figure out what was going on before taking the plunge and going to my own doctor. (We only have coverage for well visits, so we have to pay full price for office visits.)  He basically said it was inflammation, possibly arthritis that was coming out early in one finger that was injured when I was younger. I did play basketball from a young age and jammed my fingers a lot, so his explanation is plausible.

When he recommended I go and see a hand specialist, I asked what he thought that type of doctor would do.  Tim chimed in that the doctor would probably tell me to take ibuprofen.  Our doctor friend agreed that yes, that’s probably what I’d be told at first.  Eh, I think I’ll skip that visit.

So here I am, with symptoms of arthritis.  Taking ibuprofen might help my finger feel better, but I’m not interested in putting a band-aid on my issue.  Also, you all probably know me well enough by now to know that I’m not really an over-the-counter medicine kind of girl.  I like to keep it natural.  I will be trying my darndest to fight this early arthritis (or whatever it is, clearly caused by inflammation) naturally, through diet.

Deciding to go on a strict anti-inflammation diet was a hard one for me.  I’m not a diet person, so even using that term is tough for me.  I like the mantra ‘everything in moderation’ when it comes to food, and it was really tough for me to accept that perhaps my already-pretty-healthy diet was contributing to this inflammation and pain.

I’m not willing to let this go and see what happens, though.  Whether this is the beginning of arthritis or some other auto-immune disease, I really don’t want to find out.  I will do everything in my power to not let whatever is happening develop any more.

Researching the anti-inflammatory diet was frustrating.  As with everything in nutrition, there’s tons of contradictory information out there.  I don’t know which side is right.  Nobody does, for sure.  I mapped out my plan based on what I read over a variety of sources.  Here’s an overview of the major changes I’ll be making:

  • Cut out all sugar, including natural sugars like honey and maple syrup.
  • Cut out all processed foods.  (I don’t eat a lot of them, but I wasn’t 100% processed food free, either)
  • Cut out most flour.
  • Cut out gluten.
  • Drastically reduce the amount of animal products I’m eating, except eggs.
  • Increase fatty fish consumption.
  • Decrease use of all oils. Cut out grape seed oil.  Only use extra-virgin olive oil in strict moderation, and not for cooking to avoid hitting its smoke point (too hard for me to control, so I’d just rather not cook with it for now.)
  • Decrease coffee consumption and increase green tea consumption.
  • Eat foods and herbs that are anti-inflammatory everyday, including ginger and turmeric.

Yes, this is a drastic thing. There are a few occasions I already know I won’t be following it 100% (Easter brunch, for example), but other than that I plan to follow this strict anti-inflammation diet for eight weeks.  My goal right now is to get rid of the pain in my finger through diet.  If it works, I will have to reevaluate how I eat and decide where to go from there.

I plan to keep you updated after a month and at the end of the eight weeks.  Is there anything else you’d like to hear about?  Meal plans or anything like that?  Let me know!  Also, if any of you or your loved ones have fought arthritis or other ailments caused by inflammation through diet, I’d love to hear your stories.  Thanks!

 

 

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Posted in General Nutrition | Tagged , | 42 Comments  

What motivates you?

Are you a naturally motivated person? I’ve been thinking about the motivation to workout and where it comes from. I’m not a person for whom wanting to workout comes easily. Maybe it’s because I grew up in athletics where exercise was built into my life and I just knew I had to go to practice and games. There was no thinking about it or making myself go: I just went.

Now that I’m a grown up I have to find motivation to get myself moving. I know there are people out there who don’t have to force themselves to workout, the motivation is naturally there and the act of going to the gym, lacing up the running shoes, or starting the DVD is effortless. I lived with one of them for a lot of years and I always marveled at how going to the gym was like a treat for her, not something she had to force herself to do.

Let me tell you, I can talk myself out of working out faster than my toddler’s mood can change. And that’s fast. Excuses fly into my brain, sabotaging my efforts. It’s too cold out, my legs are still sore, my food isn’t digested, if I don’t workout today, I can still get enough workouts in this week, I really should do the laundry instead, and on and on and on.

The one thing that helps me the most is to think of the feeling I’m going to have when I’m done. I love the post-workout feeling and if I can force myself to let go of the excuses and focus on that feeling, the workout happens.

I think that’s why consistently working out is a struggle for so many people: it’s delayed gratification. I have to think of a feeling I’m going to get in the future, after the hard work, and keeping the focus on that feeling isn’t easy. One day this week when my brain was trying to talk me out of working out, I decided I needed to discipline myself to focus on the end result more than the moment. My motivation had to come from looking at the future results of working out, and I had to stop thinking so much about how I was feeling that day. Writing down some things that motivate me to exercise was really helpful.

I’m not going to lie. There’s a lot of vain reasons I workout. But it also goes deeper than that. The efforts I put in today are going to make a difference in my quality of life 10, 20, 30, and 40 years down the road. My kids are going to be affected by my efforts. These are the things I need to think about when I’m about to put off a workout. Here’s a motivation list that helps me remember the long-term effects of getting my sweat on.  I’d love to hear about your motivation, too.

M-O-T-I-V-A-T-I-O-N

1.  I have to wear a bathing suit. In public.

2.  I want my skinny jeans to fit.

3.  I want to be attractive to my husband.

4.  I want to model an active life for my children in hopes that they will want to be active, too.

5.  I want to be healthy at 100.  (My great grandmother was living alone and sweeping her own porch daily at 100.)

6. Exercise helps prevent practically every disease and medical condition out there, from heart disease to stroke to high cholesterol.

7.  I want to have energy to be a good mom.

8.  I want to go on Survivor someday, and let’s face it, you have to be fit to do that.

9.  I like wearing shorts in the summer.

10.  I want to feel accomplished.

11.  I want to enjoy the mental health that comes with being in shape and exercising consistently.

12.  I like to compete with myself.

13.  I love food.

14.  Sometimes I like to eat special treats.

15.  I like being strong.

16.  I’ll be 78 when we have our 50th wedding anniversary. I would love to have a party and dance with my grandchildren that day.

17.  Speaking of grandchildren, I want to be around to see them grow up and be able to play with them, watch them graduate high school, get married, and still be an active, fun grandparent.

18.  I want to spend my retirement years being able to travel and be active.

 

What kinds of things are on your motivation list?

P.S. Thanks for understanding that sometimes, I just have One Of Those Days and Fitness Friday has to show up on Saturday.  I love you, most understanding and loyal reader.  :)

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Posted in Fitness | Tagged , | 12 Comments