Spring Up, ShakeDown

Shakes are a great way to fill up with fast nutrition. Spring is around the corner, and this is one of my favorite recipes.  It’s gluten free, and tasty morning breakfast after a heated yoga class or a satisfying weeknight dessert. Drink up, shake up and slim down!

Fit2bWell Tip: Review the nutrition facts of almond milk and soy milk as below. Feel free to substitute one for the other to experiment. I also like to experiment with other healthy organic butters like almond and soynut, and even indulge in a bit of nutella once in a while.

2 cups Silk Dark Chocolate Almond Milk

2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter

1 large banana, frozen

  • Break banana into 1-inch chunks.
  • Place banana and remaining ingredients in blender or food processor. Cover; blend on high speed about 30 seconds or until smooth.
  • Pour into 2 glasses. Serve immediately.

Fit2bWell Tip: For thicker, sweeter shakes, try substituting for 3 small frozen mini/lady finger bananas

chocolate covered strawberries

Fit2bwell Tip: Quality dark chocolate is rich in Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, Manganese and Antioxidants. When consumed in moderation, it can have heart healthy benefits. Try this recipes by coating the berries with heart attack prevention chopped nuts like almonds for more texture – Delish!

• 18-20 large fresh, strawberries (preferably organic)
• 8-10 ounces (225 – 285 grams) of good quality, dark or bittersweet chocolate, rated 70%, chopped coarse

Yield: Approximately 18-20 berries or 6-10 servings Ingredients

1. Wash strawberries, place on paper towel to dry
2. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
3. Set up a double boiler by placing a sauce pan filled with water over medium heat and then a stainless steel bowl on top of the pan. Make sure bowl does not touch the water
4. Place chopped chocolate in bowl, turn heat to low
5. Let chocolate melt slowly, once completely melted, stir and turn off heat
6. Hold strawberry at stem, dip them in chocolate, and place on baking sheet to set
7. Enjoy!

Easy Weeknight Dinner: Butternut Squash Soup

(Fit2bWell Tip: Try substituting with chunks of sweet potato, which are high in Vitamin A, C, E to help your skin, immune system and heart)

– Two to three lbs of Butternut Squash (Try easy pre-cut preps from stores like Wegmans)

–   Six cups of flavorful Thai Ginger Broth by Swanson

–   Black pepper to taste

Place broth in pot. Bring to a boil. Add squash.  Bring to a simmer.  Cook squash until tender, about 15-20min. Remove squash from pot to blender when softened. Add 2 cups of broth to blender. Blend mixture till smooth. Remove and return back to pot. Stir and season. Enjoy!

 

Greek yogurt and fruit salad

Fit2bWell Tip:

Consider substituting fruits for whatever is in season from your local farmer’s market or adding some almonds or walnuts for some protein, crunch and texture.

4 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups vanilla greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons good honey
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 pint fresh strawberries hulled and cut in half
  • 1 bunch seedless green grapes, halved

Directions

Combine the yogurt, honey, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean seeds in a bowl and set aside. Combine orange juice and banana slices in a separate bowl. Add the berries and grapes and gently mix the fruit mixture together. Spoon the fruit into serving bowls and top with the yogurt.

Fresh shrimp spring rolls

Fit2bWell Tip:

Consider semi-homemade version with marinated shrimp from Wegmans or other supermarkets or substituting ½ of the vermicelli for sprouts to increase fiber content

Ingredients

8 spring rolls
2 ounces rice vermicelli
8 rice wrappers (8.5 inch diameter)
8 large cooked shrimp – peeled, deveined and cut in half
1 1/3 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 leaves lettuce, chopped
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons peanut sauce
1 clove garlic, minced

Directions

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Boil rice vermicelli 3 to 5 minutes, or until al dente, and drain.

2. Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one wrapper into the hot water for 1 second to soften. Lay wrapper flat. In a row across the center, place 2 shrimp halves, a handful of vermicelli, basil, mint,cilantro and lettuce, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward, then tightly roll the wrapper, beginning at the end with the lettuce. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

3. In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce, water, lime juice, garlic and chili sauce.

4. In another small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce and peanut sauce

5. Serve rolled spring rolls with the chili sauce and hoisin sauce mixtures.

 

Ways to “Live in the Moment”

Simple is best. Consistency is key.

Examples:

– Consider starting your day in your bed and before you even get up, breathe. Keep your eyes softly closed. Start with 10 deep inhales and exhales, in through your nose and out through your mouth, like you are fogging up a mirror Make every breath feel like you are sipping deeper and deeper into your coffee mug and let that natural awakening occur. Feel your arms and legs as they stretch and elongate your spine, and notice how your body     expands. Hold this for 3-5 seconds. Bend your knees in towards your chest and gently cradle them towards your chest like you are giving yourself a hug. Let gravity and your bed cradle your low back. Hold for another 3-5 seconds. Slowly roll to your side, and push yourself to a seated position at the edge of your bed. Stand up and wiggle your toes as you find your feet on the ground. Feel the weight of your body be lifted through your strong legs. With your hands in heart center or at waist, take one more deep breath in and exhale loudly through your mouth. Welcome your morning!

– Try ending your day by spending a few minutes to reflect on things that are left on your mind. From to do lists to anticipation to the next day, or month or year, journaling can be a great way to help you reset your intentions. By spending time to think about what may be on your mind, acknowledging it presence, you are truly living in the moment. It doesn’t have to be long, verbose or extensive. Just let your mind release. You will sleep better, and in turn, your will be more rested and ready for another day!

Tips for Staying Healthy at the Holidays

Dr. Joanne Wu from Unity Hospital joined Katrina Irwin on News 8 at Noon.

She has some tips to Keep the Holidays Healthy and Well

1.) Practice gratitude – be thankful for the food in front of you, where it came from and who prepared it for you, as well as
for the lives you have touched and touched yours. Be grateful for the people you share your meals with. If you are not shy, spend time to thank them aloud. You will be amazed the smiles you will see and how much better the food will taste!

2.) Be present – don’t distract yourself. Turn off your phones and your computers. Look at the food and the faces of those around your table. Enjoy their presence as much as they want to enjoy yours. Distraction is the easiest way to overeating.

3.) Exercise compassion – kindness to others always come more naturally, but this tip applies to leaving more time for yourself. “Me” time. In the season of buying gifts, don’t forget to be nice to yourself, so you have more energy to give to others. You can’t give what you don’t have. “Me” time helps you restore.

4.) Eat your breakfast – meal skipping is not advised, especially breakfast. Most people realize by now that skipping a meal is bad, because of the glycemic control of the body. A body is like a fire, it needs to be fed kindling or small wood pieces throughout the day in order for the fire to burn efficiently and that there is no wood leftover at the end of a clean burn. During the holidays, this is really important because many people think if they can “save” their calories for the end of the day, then they can binge. While it is ok to cut back on the portions of the meals before, it can work against you when you go into your holiday meals or cocktail parties eager to stuff whatever it is in front of your face.

5.) Take a pause – going from the mall to a holiday party to home to wrap presents and place under the tree then singing a lullaby to your kids can be a lot without too much time to even breathe. Breathing slows down our heart rates, but it also helps us slow down and think about what we are doing, what we are eating, and reflect on where we are going. It is in
stillness that we can truly enjoy our joy.

6.) Fitness anywhere – trying to get to a gym to workout this time of year can be challenging. Get up from your desk several times a day to grab some water, walk the stairs, and park further away from your destination. Do some deap breathing and stretches for a five min stretch break. Go for a brisk walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the lights with some warm spiced tea hand to promote circulation, anti-inflammation, and natural endorphins.

7.) Learn forgiveness – holding on to negative energy can lead to emotional eating. Take time this holiday to let go and forgive. Whether it is a friend who has wronged you, or you being mad at yourself for eating too much pie, the negative energy can brew and stagnate and lead to less energy overall.

8.) Balance your plate – Choose your plate wisely. Join First Lady Obama and the Department of Agriculture’s campaign to bring awareness to the need to battle obesity in America by making nutrition fun and practical. Learn how to fill your plate with a balanced mixture of fruits, grains, vegetable and protein. So when you walk away from the holiday buffet table with your plate, take a look, get a sense of what you are putting on your plate. We are what we eat.

Yoga for the heart

For the last 10 years, yoga has slowly become one of the trendiest forms of exercise. Popular media has marketed yoga to be neat packages of flexibility, strength, beauty and grace embodied in athletes and models. With the rising popularity of such campaigns, many are intimidated to step onto a yoga mat, let alone a class.

Shadowed by the fitness world, many people do not realize the power of yoga as an ancient form of movement based healing, especially for something as common as heart problems. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention in 2012, cardiovascular diseases remain the leading cause of death in the US; one in every three deaths is from heart attack or stroke, equaling to 2,200 deaths/day. Despite Dr. Timothy McCall’s book published in 2007 called Yoga as Medicine and Dr. M. Mala Cunningham’s unique form of Cardiac Yoga TM (www.cardiacyoga.com), yoga as preventative and healing medicine for heart disease is still largely unrecognized.

Yoga literally means “to yoke” or “union” in Sanskrit, a language of India, the birthplace of yoga and yoga philosophy. It has many different styles called many different fancy Sanskrit names and created by many different people. Beyond the physical postures, yoga emphasizes strong breath work and through its philosophy encourages self compassion and inner peace. “With regular practice, you are strengthening and calming the nervous system,” says Dr. McCall.

As yogis and yoginis exercise their physical being, they become stronger, more flexible, and less cluttered with excess in their bodies. Moreover, “what is happening on the outside is a reflection of what is happening to every system in the body,” says Dr. McCall.

It is through intentional elimination of the excess and developing resilience in our mind and spirit that stress is also diminished.

Since stress is a known risk factor for many chronic medical conditions, especially those affecting the heart including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and heart attacks, it is no wonder that yoga is an endorsed form of exercise from the American Heart Association. Yoga is also one of the fastest growing research areas for the National Institutes of Health, so we can help scientifically demonstrate what many people already self report.

According to the Yoga BioMedical Trust, 84 percent of people noted improved blood pressure while 94 percent of people noted improved cholesterol. This is in addition to other cardiac risk factors such as anxiety, poor sleep, obesity, smoking, and diabetes – all of which also demonstrated at least 75 percent improvement with yoga. Best of all, an average yoga class costs about $12 in most studios. Now what drug can work on all of the above at that cost? Not all forms of yoga is right for everyone. And not every form of yoga is safe for those who suffer from medical conditions such as heart disease since practicing advanced yoga postures in heat can lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure, or even worse falls or loss of consciousness. But yoga can be tailored for most individuals. It is important to have an open and honest discussion with your physician and potential yoga teacher about why you want to explore using yoga as a form of mind/body exercise and healing. But as we wrap up another year with heavier foods, busier schedules and hectic travels of the holiday season, keep in mind that yoga can be a wonderful way to introduce lightness to the heart and spirit, calmness to the mind, and rejuvenation for the body.

Dr. Wu is an E-RYT (experienced registered yoga teacher) She was also a personal trainer certified in a variety of fitness exercises and a multisport athlete for more than eight years. photo courtesy of Scott Southerland (www.thinkincolor.net)