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Time Saving Tips Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Archive for the ‘Time Saving Tips’ Category

5 Fast and Frugal Foods to Fill Your Fridge this Fall

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Fall is beginning to sweep in its sweet breath of transition. Whether you have an altered schedule, different hobbies or new wardrobe, change is happening.  Coincidentally, times of transition happen to be the best time for creating new habits. One new habit worth learning is how keeping a few basic foods stashed in the fridge is a cheap and easy way to go.

For many of us, moving from packaged to home-prepared food is a special challenge, both because it requires some extra energy up front to get into the habit, and because we think we may hate it. So we end up putting off getting started.  So I implore you to start small and keep it simple.

I find that having preparing just a few simple foods will take you a long way over several days’ time, you can use them as side dishes for dinner, main dishes for lunch.  And don’t forget the snack potential.  You’ll end up with more nutritious, lower calorie snack options than the pantry typically offers, but the bigger surprise is how good these foods taste.

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Here are 5 fast and frugal foods to fill your fridge this fall:

Butternut squash:  Simply cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and bake for 45-55 minutes face down at 385.  Use a glass pan for easy clean up.  Add some salt, or a dash of garlic and a tablespoon of tahini for an delicious new twist.

Sweet potatoes:  Wash them well and keep the skins on for extra texture and more nutrition.  Bake them whole or cubed in coconut oil and salt at 385 degrees, for 30 minutes – 1 hour depending on size and preparation.

Garbanzo beans:  Don’t let the dried beans scare you, the overnight soak and 1 hour boil is well worth the simple steps!  Just soak your beans overnight, drain (the following day), fill a pan with water so it covers the beans by 5-6”, and simmer for about 90 minutes (until tender).  Serve with salt and cumin, or add to your favorite salad.

Quinoa:  Similar to rice, but a more complete protein that makes an excellent salad or side dish. Add 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water and simmer, covered for 25-35 minutes. Drain any excess liquid and add ½ tsp. salt and combine with chopped veggies and fresh salsa, (purchased prepared if needed).

Cabbage salad:  Cabbage is amazing in its longevity, flavor and nutrient profile.  Why wouldn’t you keep it on hand?  It’s simple to sauté in coconut oil and Bragg’s liquid aminos or light soy sauce with a dash of salt and cumin.  Or dice it up and sprinkle with salt, rice vinegar and sesame oil for a yummy salad.

All of these foods can be stored in the fridge for 3-5 days and retain their flavor and nutrition content quite nicely.  Make it easy to snack from the fridge vs. the pantry by treating yourself to a variety of simple, healthy whole foods today, no whole paycheck required!

Shaping Healthy Habits that Last; Form a Group (video)

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Have you ever noticed that some people seem to have it so easy? They’re naturally fit, endlessly energetic and unusually happy? Sure it looks effortless now, but we don’t always know the back story. In all likelihood, that person had to take the time and make the commitment to shaping their habits into the healthy, happy version you see today.

If you’re like most people, when life starts to get busy, at least some of your everyday self-care habits begin falling to the wayside. Unfortunately, when we feel overwhelmed, things like sleep, exercise, and healthy eating, are usually the first things we downgrade in terms of priorities.

We try to save time by ditching the very habits we need to enforce when the stress hits the fan. This strategy not only backfires, but it eventually leads to symptoms of depression, like anxiety, sleeplessness and irritability.

Before it comes to this, it’s a good idea to revisit our day to day habits to make sure we’re consistently prioritizing those that best match our personal ideals. And the good news is, there are tips and tricks to make it work for you, beginning with revisiting your everyday habits.

The decision to upgrade your everyday habits is one of best choices you’ll make. This notion also may seem too hard to commit to right now; you may not feel quite ready to get started. Well I’m going to suggest that you push those resisting thoughts aside and start today. I’m challenging you to write down one goal and begin with this sure-fire strategy to keep you going.

Today’s key idea for shaping a health habit that sticks is to form or join a group. Studies show that setting a goal with a partner increases your likelihood of success by about 40%.

This can be a virtual group that connects via your favorite communication medium, a Facebook group, a group that meets for real, or any other version you come up with. The idea is to leverage 3 key of the components of goal setting: planning, accountability and feedback.

Group camaraderie also has real fitness benefits. “Research shows people are more successful at reaching their fitness goals with group support,” says Jean Fain, LICSW, MSW, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated psychotherapist and author of The Self-Compassion Diet: A Step-by-Step Program to Lose Weight with Loving-Kindness. They also have fewer major health problems overall, she notes. Psychologically, social exercise also leads to a greater sense of well-being, better self-esteem, improved body image and less depression.

First step, choose your goal.

Before you go the group route, you get to decide which habit to change, and habit is intentionally singular, because it’s a smart idea to start with one. The answer is different for everyone, but the key habits that have the biggest impact on quality of life are exercise, rest and good nutrition, so it’s highly recommended you choose one of these.
If you’re not currently exercising, this is a perfect new habit to adopt, and a great one to create or join a group around, but even adding habits like committing to 30 days of 8 hours of sleep and see who wants to join you in a Facebook challenge is a great way to participate. Not ready to take on that much initiative? No worries, WebMD offers an online Sleep Disorders Community Support Group you can join.

Is your diet in need of a makeover? Enlist your partner or find a colleague to join you in switching from fast food to cooking at home more -which is also a great way to share new recipes and menu ideas.

Second Step; find your tribe.

Remember, a group of 2 is still a group. The goal is to find people who will challenge, engage and evoke a sense of accomplishment in you, so you may want to prioritize quality over quantity.

Third Step; commit to a schedule.

Whether you meet virtually or in person, be sure to find a time that works for everyone to connect at least once per week. More frequently is better, but too much frequency can be intimidating for time-sensitive people, so adapt your plan based on your audience. The important part here is the accountability factor, which is key to keeping you on track with your goals.

However you decide to work it, forming or joining a group is a great strategy to help you form new habits. So commit to changing one habit that you know you’d be better off with (or without), grab your calendar, and schedule in 10-30 minutes to being implementing your group outreach strategy, starting today!!

14 Super Slim-Down Snacks (Slideshow)

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Although it sounds counterintuitive, you can control your appetite by incorporating the right snacks into your daily diet. Experts suggest that two snacks a day, kept to 150-200 calories each, will go a long way toward helping you to avoid overeating. Look for snacks that combine fiber, healthy fats and protein, without added sugar. Follow these simple suggestions for smarter snacking:

  1. Go for whole grain. Whole-grain snacks — such as whole-grain low-salt pretzels or tortilla chips— can give you some energy with staying power.
  2. Overcome your Fear of Fat. Combine a small amount of healthy fat, like peanut butter or avocado, with a larger amount of something light, like apple slices or celery sticks.
  3. Combo snack. Include two or more macronutrients (protein, fat, or carbohydrate) at each snacking session. For example, have a few nuts (protein and fat) and some grapes (carbohydrates). Try some whole-grain crackers (carbohydrates) with some low-fat cheese (protein and fat). These balanced snacks tend to keep you feeling satisfied.
  4. Snack mindfully. Don’t eat your snack while doing something else like surfing the Web, watching TV, or working at your desk. Instead, stop what you’re doing for a few minutes and be present while you snack.
  5. Take it with you. Think ahead and carry a small bag of healthy snacks in your pocket or purse so you won’t be tempted to turn in desperation to the cookies at the coffee counter or the candy bars in the office vending machine.

Looking for snack inspiration? Here are some delicious options to choose from:

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Highly Effective Habits of Super-Fit People

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

I may be dating myself here, but I have to ask; do you remember that self-help sensation of the 90s titled “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”?  With 15 million copies sold, it was the talk of the water cooler for months on end.  Now sixteen years later (the book was actually released in ’89), as I circle back to explore the connection between motivation, willpower and success, the word “habit” always seems to be inextricably intertwined.

Successful people incorporate certain habits into their everyday routines, so they don’t need to rely on willpower alone to reach their goals.

Habits, as author Tynan explains in his bestselling Superhuman by Habit, are the closest thing to a superpower we’re ever going to have. Yet as I’ve learned from experience, simply knowing which habits are healthy isn’t enough to effect change.  So I found myself referencing Steven Covey’s timeless best-seller for further inspiration in teaching health habits that stick.

It turns out that author Steven Covey died in 2012, so a resurgence of interest in the 7 Habits more recently emerged.  Forbes ran an interesting article written by author Eric Jackson focusing on not all of the habits, but the one piece of advice in the book Jackson found most compelling.

According to Jackson, “If you remember one thing and one thing only about the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People book, here it is:

At the start of every week, write a two-by-two matrix on a blank sheet of paper where one side of the matrix says “urgent” and “not urgent” and the other side of the matrix says “important” and “not important.” Then, write all the things you want to do that week.”

When I reviewed the 7 Habits diagram which focuses on productivity goals for career development, I realized it could be an especially useful tool for developing positive health habits that can help us reach our fitness goals.

Here is my updated fitness-focused version of the 7 Habits productivity matrix:

habits

Think of each quadrant as follows:

Quadrant 1: Urgent-Important.  These are the most pressing issues of the week, like taxes or other non-negotiable deadlines.  These are the crises that erupt.   When we do fire-fighting, it’s all relating this quadrant.

Quadrant 2: Not Urgent – Important. These are the things that matter in the long-term but will yield no immediate measurable benefits.  They are things we know we need to get to but are most inclined to procrastinate doing.  It’s starting a mediation program, or committing to an exercise routine.  It’s taking the time to create a weekly menu or shopping list, or making time for people we want to connect with.

Quadrant 3: Urgent – Not Important.  These tasks are the biggest reason we’re not more successful in the long-term.  They monopolize our time but, when we look back at these things at the end of the week, we’ll have to admit this was not time well-spent.  This includes the time we spend habitually checking email, or responding to each and every text message as soon as it comes in.   These are the things we said yes to when we knew they didn’t fall into our priorities category.    These are other activities which we tell ourselves in the moment that we must do but — if we stopped ourselves to really think about — we’d realize they aren’t that important.

Quadrant 4: Not Urgent – Not Important.  These are the things we do when we feel we need a break.  It’s watching a mindless TV show at the end of the day.  It’s checking and rechecking Facebook and Twitter during the day, because we think we might miss something.  It might be mindlessly eating pretzels, even when we’re not hungry.  We prioritize these things in the moment and obviously derive some pleasure from them, but they don’t really serve to rejuvenate us.  Yet, we’d be amazed how much time we waste in a given week on these tasks.

The big idea in 7 Habits, is to make a weekly commitment to prioritize your time addressing your quadrant 2 goals, as in sitting down, deciding what they are, and putting them on your calendar.  If time is your issue, take a look at your 3 and 4 quadrants, and commit to yourself to create some boundaries around these distractions so you can focus on your long-term goals.

Regular exercise, adequate rest and healthy meal preparation are the key fundamental health habits that will pay off in dividends once they become part of your routine.  But if you’re starting at square one, just choose one of these goals and really commit to it, using your weekly matrix to schedule it into your daily routine. By adopting any of these highly effective habits for super-fit people, you’ll be counting yourself among them before you know it!

Mama Bear’s Top Ten Tips for Happy Healthy Eaters

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Most of us moms are familiar with the scary stats on rising rates of obesity in the US, it’s true.  Yet in between the constant stream of homework, play dates and little league, it’s not something we generally worry about day-to-day.

But here’s the troubling thing; certain influential entities are lurking and we parents need to stay on our toes. Now that might appear accusatory and even sinister coming from a cheery gal like myself, but I’m talking about corporations that are actively targeting their junk food ads to kids.

Sound crazy?  Think again; food industry CEOs aren’t forking out their billions (yes that’s billions with a b) in annual advertising strategies aimed at our children for nothing.  And they’re lobbying Congress like crazy to make sure nobody stands in their way. (more…)

10 Minute Farmer’s Market Chick Pea Salad

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

This mouthwatering salad assembles harmoniously with the seasonal produce so abundant at the height of summer. Just a quick trip to the market turned my plain garbanzo beans into a flavor extravaganza for under $5. It’s no accident that Mother Nature provides the best ingredients for the job just when we need them, a cooking lesson we too often forget. As good fortune would have it, fresher means more nutritious too.

But what about all the hard work it takes to make food from scratch when it’s so easy just to pick up a package? The fact is, the only way to really know what you’re eating is to make it yourself. Packaged food, even the “healthy” kind, usually contains preservatives, colorants and other additives used to keep it looking and tasting fresh.

The quality of your diet directly correlates to your health, so it’s time to rethink the convenience factor, especially when home cooking doesn’t have to be difficult and time consuming! My delicious Farmer’s Market Chick Pea Salad came together in less than ten minutes, including cleanup. I had the beans already prepared, another easy DIY method that takes little hands on time for the most delicious results.

Here are the ingredients I used:

  • 3 cups pre-cooked garbanzo beans
  • 1 large handful or 1 cup loosely packed basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup shelled walnuts
  • 3-4 small tomatoes, diced (dry farmed are especially good here)
  • 3 small zucchinis, diced

Check out the process below:

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First, I washed, then diced my zucchini and put it right into a large saucepan with ¼ cup water.Then I covered it, put it on the stove and turned the stove to medium high.While steaming the zucchini for 2-3 minutes, I washed and chopped the tomatoes. 

I turned off the zucchini then, and left the pan covered on the stove.

 

Next I rinsed the basil and added that and the olive oil, walnuts and salt to a mini food processor I love to use, but you can use a blender or Vitamix too. I let it blend everything but didn’t pulverise it like I usually would a pesto.

 

I opted for a chunkier texture since I knew the final result would be lovelier color-wise, but you could even use pre-made pesto here to save a step.

 

I added the basil blend to the steamed zucchini. If there is water left in the pan, you can stir that in too.

 

Finally I added the garbanzo beans and tomatoes and gently stirred them in.

 

This is what the final salad looks like. It tastes amazing too! Serve room temperature or chilled. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week.

3 Simple Tips for Reducing Sugar without Feeling Deprived

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Did you know that on average 40% of calories consumed come from a cup or a bottle?  From healthy-sounding fruit drinks to refreshing iced teas and fun flavored coffees, excess sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are usually lurking behind the scenes.   The problem is, these devilish drinks, however delicious, have no nutritional value and don’t fill you up, so those excess calories don’t give you a whole lot of value for your sip.

Even the vitamin-enriched versions provide little to no more benefit than regular water, often adding calories and even sodium where it’s not really necessary, especially when you have other options.  In fact, the sugar and nutrition profile of many popular beverages is shockingly similar to that of your favorite dessert, especially if it’s ice cream.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are also the largest source of added sugars in the diets of kids in the US.  With new studies showing among kids, even toddlers and preschoolers, children who drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage per day , as most do, have a 55% increase in odds of being overweight or obese.

Fruit juice also has a high concentration of sugar and calories while it lacks some of the nutrients and other benefits of whole fruit.  When one cup of apple juice contains 27 grams (almost 7 teaspoons) of sugar, it’s a good idea to limit quantities to no more than one serving per day and substitute fresh, whole fruit as often as possible.

On average, we’re over-consuming more than three times the daily recommended amount, which  for a normal weight adult is about 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons, per day.  Of course making the switch from your favorite beverage to something a little less sticky sounds hard to start.  But habits are best changed through favorable alternatives than cold-turkey, so trust this former junkie when I say it really is doable.

And kids are malleable too.  I gradually weaned mine off of fruit juice many years ago and we’ve never looked back.  High sugar consumption is associated with weight gain, heart disease and behavior issues, especially in kids, so managing intake makes sense.

Here are 3 Simple Tips for Reducing Sugar without Feeling Deprived:

  • You can start by simply diluting juices with water, a trick that also works well with kids, especially when done on the sly.  Gradually you’re sensitivity to the sweet stuff will increase to the point where you want and need less of it.  Eventually you may decide fruit is best enjoyed as a whole, when it contains half of the sugar and calories as the liquid stuff.
  • Naturally sweet stevia is one of the few sugar substitutes that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels the way most other sweeteners do, including honey and agave.  Although it does have a bit of an aftertaste, you might try using to sweeten lemon water, since it’s best enjoyed with citrus.  A little goes a long way.
  • Or trade your regular pre-sweetened or diet beverages for sugar-free tea, preferably the kind you brew yourself.  You’ll gain health benefits without the risk associated with high fructose corn syrup or artificial sweeteners.  Try green tea for extra antioxidants, ginger tea to sooth the stomach or mint to add a skip to your step.  Or check out Any way you steep it, tea tops those premade packaged beverages every time.

 

Unbottled!  4 Delicious DIY Sugarfree Tea Recipes

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

On these hot summer days, you deserve some sweet refreshment without the sugary side-effects, so why not give these healthy, invigorating and delicious drinks a try?  And if you’re short on time, you’ll love my overnight tea trick. Be sure to have a stainless steel tea strainer or infuser and some large mason jars on hand to make this so simple that bottled beverages will no longer have the edge on ease of use in your house.

4 Delicious DIY Sugarfree Tea Recipes your body will love:

Hibiscus Sun Tea

The beautiful hibiscus plant makes a wonderfully tart and delicious tea, especially when sweetened with stevia.  The health benefits of this vibrant plant have been celebrated for centuries in cultures all around the world.

With studies linking the acids contained in hibiscus to lower blood pressure, this healing plant also contains phytochemicals like quercetin, shown to reduce inflammation and support kidney health, and antioxidants known to reduce the effects of aging*.

This simple recipe is perfect for steeping, no heat required.  It’s a beautiful thing to wake up to, with plenty more for all day enjoyment.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of water
  • 1/3 cup hibiscus tea leaves
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • 1-3 tablespoons of stevia (to taste)

For stovetop or microwave:  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea for about 20 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method:  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  One that fits inside the mouth of the mason jar is perfect for this, see below.

For either option:  Add remaining ingredients and serve iced or hot. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

*While hibiscus tea is completely safe for most people, if you’re currently using prescription medications, be sure to check with your doctor before enjoying too much of this potent tea. 1-July Food Pix 023

Spicy Ginger Ade Ginger tea is as flavorful as it is invigorating; enjoy it either hot or cold.  Either freshly grated or loose dried ginger pieces are perfect for this simple brew, but pre-bagged plain ginger tea is nice too.

Ginger also offers some great health benefits;  helps with digestion and reduces inflammation, and this zippy lemon flavor combination is a delicious way to enjoy it.

Ingredients

  • 8 cups of water
  • 2-3 tablespoons grated fresh or dried ginger, or 5 or 6 bags of ginger tea
  • Juice of 2 large lemons (about ¼ cup)
  • 1-3 tablespoons of stevia (to taste), optional

For stovetop or microwave (best for fresh ginger):  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea for about 10-15 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method:  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  The type that fits over the mouth of the mason jar is a good choice.

For either method:  add remaining ingredients and serve iced or hot. May be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Minty-Lime Cooler While not forgoing the bottle entirely, this fizzy summer drink is sugar-free and perfect for kids craving something bubbly.  The tea may be brewed overnight, then topped with the sparkling water right before serving over ice for a refreshing summer beverage.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups of water
  • ¼  cup fresh, chopped mint leaves or 2 tablespoons looseleaf mint tea (2 tea bags may be used here too)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1-2 tablespoons of stevia (to taste)
  • 1 42.3 oz. bottle of sparkling water, unflavored or lime
  • Ice cubes

For stovetop or microwave:  heat water until it reaches the point of simmering.  Remove from the heat and using your tea strainer, steep the tea or leaves for about 5 minutes while it cools.  Remove tea bags and continue cooling until it reaches room temperature.

Overnight or sun tea method (not recommended for fresh mint):  Pour the water into a mason jar or pitcher, depending on what type of strainer you’re using.  The type that rests on the mouth of the mason jar is perfect for this.

For either method, add remaining ingredients except for the sparkling water, and let the tea chill to room temperature (it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week).  Serve ½ and ½ quantities of tea and sparkling water over ice and enjoy! 1-RI Visit 2014 038

Iced Chai Latte Chai is one of my favorite beverages.  It’s so spicy and satisfying, I look forward to it every morning, especially because I steep it overnight so it’s ready to simply heat and serve, no brew-time required.

Prepare it from scratch using a 1 quart mason jar and this delicious recipe, or use your favorite loose leaf chai (preferred) or pre-bagged if you find some you like.  I generally find home made or loose leaf chai to be much more flavorful than the kind that comes in a box. Combine it with your favorite plant or dairy milk, for a rich, delicious way to satisfy your thirst any time.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup  homemade or loose leaf chai, or 4 pre-packed tea bags
  • 3 cups oat, almond, soy or dairy milk
  • 1 teaspoon stevia (optional)

Overnight or sun tea method for steeping (using a 1 quart mason jar:  Fill your stainer with chai, or place your tea bags into a your mason jar.  Pour room-temperature water into a 1 quart mason jar fitted with a stainless steel strainer  that rests on the mouth of the mason jar or use your favorite infuser.  Let sit overnight or for at least 8 hours, until fully steeped.

Pour equal amounts of chai and milk into a glass.  Mix in 1/4 teaspoon stevia, add a few cubes of ice and enjoy!

10 tips to streamline your kitchen time and improve your daily diet

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Whether you want to lose weight, stabilize your energy or improve your health, eliminating pre-packaged foods from your diet is the best place to start.  And one major factor in transforming your diet is doing more cooking at home.  For many of us, that mere idea can be scary, but with strategies for success in place, you’ll enjoy the benefits of home cooking without the aggravation.  And believe it or not, when done right, cooking can be fun and creative as well as healthy and delicious. Whether you’re a stranger to your kitchen or simply wish you were, try these helpful tips to streamline the process.  You won’t believe the difference you’ll experience when you can focus on getting your creative juices ready to whip up something fabulous, minus the headache.  Here’s how:

  1. Keep it simple.  Maintain a 1 dish breakfast and lunch, and a 2-3 dish dinner.  Cooking from scratch gives you the opportunity to whip up delicious recipes using less than 5 ingredients, but that combine important food groups.  Oatmeal with fruit and walnuts for breakfast, a quinoa salad for lunch followed by a bean and green sauté over brown rice all give you a huge nutritional hit in one satisfying dish, perfect for maintaining balanced energy all day long.
  2. Strive for satisfaction on 5 ingredients or less.  Look for a cookbook or website that features simple, whole foods cooking and find 2-3 recipes that sound good.  Mark your pages or print the recipes, highlighting what you need to purchase so you don’t have to reread anything to remember.
  3. Get organized! A pre-written grocery list, whether compiled by a healthy foods expert or one you create for yourself, is key to cooking success.  Keep your list near the fridge or on your mobile device so you can keep it current.
  4. Label bulk foods or even bagged rice and beans with listing cooking times and water-to-grain ratio so you don’t need to consult a cookbook ever time you want to prepare them.
  5. Group complementary objects.  If there are ingredients you always use together, store them together for easy access.  For example if you only use oatmeal with raisins, group them side by side even if they’re not your traditional “like-objects”.
  6. Set up to streamline.  Whether you’re working from a recipe or making a favorite you know by heart, take out everything you’ll need to use before you start to streamline the process and save time.   Place foods where they’ll be used, like on the cutting board, next to a bowl or pan.
  7. Grouping tasks saves time.  Wash your produce all together, then take a moment to check out your recipe or think through your plan.   Make sure all of the chopping, peeling and cooking happens simultaneously, store prepped food on dinner plates if you need the work space, you can simply wipe them down and reuse them to avoid more cleanup.  You’ll be amazed by the time difference this can make.
  8. Prepare ahead.   Washing your lettuce or bulk greens as soon as you get them home, then store in a covered glass bowl or green produce bag.  Cook bulk beans or grains (except for rice) that you plan to use within 3-4 days over the weekend or after dinner.  Most need to cook for an hour or more, but require little to no maintenance during cooking, so when you have a stretch of time, take advantage of it.
  9. Skip unnecessary steps.  Carrots, apples and parsnips don’t need to be peeled, nor does garlic that will be used in a press.  Use your kitchen scissors to chop fresh herbs directly into your dish- no cutting board required.  Serve cooked foods in attractive glass storage bowls to avoid unnecessary transfers and dishes.
  10. Enlist a friend.  Take turns bringing lunch to work, set up a weekly pot luck night or trade favorite recipes and cooking tips.  This helps you save to time, but the real benefits are shared experience, camaraderie and good, healthy food.

This may sound like a long list of instructions, but the idea is to adopt the ones that feel right for you, and practice them until they become routine.  Then add on from there.  Gradually adopting new habits will not only help to refine your palette to enjoy less processed foods more, you’ll find preparing them much easier too.  So choose your favorite, add it to your to-do list and take the first step towards healthy eating today!

3 Quick and Nourishing Weekday Breakfasts

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

IMG_3399AI know, I get it, you don’t have time for breakfast.  You feed your cat, your kids or your goldfish first, then before you know it, it’s time to go, and feeding yourself fails to happen, again.  So by 10 o’clock you’re starving and off to the nearest Starbucks for a not-so-good-for–you morning fix.  Well guess what, Sugar?  You have to plan ahead to stay ahead, so read on to empower yourself to get started.

As you may already know, the average adult only consumes an average of ½ the recommended daily allowance of dietary fiber they need each day.  And eating breakfast within 60 minutes of getting up correlates to lower caloric intake throughout the rest of the day.

So here’s your chance to start the day in the right direction.  A low-sugar breakfast rich in fiber and protein is linked to mental acuity, stable blood sugar for sustained energy, and long-term weight loss.  And believe it or not you can get it together in less time than it takes to score a bowl of cereal: with more fiber, protein and nutrients to keep you going all morning long.

Check out these three 3 quick and nourishing weekday breakfast options to pump up the protein and fiber without the sugar or saturated fats usually found in breakfast foods.  Yes, you’ll have to set aside a few minutes to prep them the night before, but you’ll find it’s time well spend after discovering the difference a consistently healthy morning start can make. Here are some of my go-to food staples:

These Super Energy Breakfast Bars really are all good; high in nutrients, fiber and protein with very low sugar and no saturated fat.

chia puddingChia Berry Breakfast Pudding is a luscious and nourishing choice for breakfast.  I blend mine smooth using frozen fruit, banana and/or avocado for the creamy texture and good monounsaturated fats that round off this brain food powerhouse.

This amazingly easy Overnight Oatmeal recipe takes the cooking time out of steel-cut oats on a busy morning.  You’ll love the less mushy texture too, almost like oatmeal is supposed to be made.1-Sprout Kit 033

Nourish yourself every morning because you deserve it.  What better way to begin a day?

Bittman, Beans and 7 Simple Tips for Expanding Your Culinary Horizons

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Suppose you were planning a trip alone (with your family) in a remote Wi-Fi free yurt and you could only bring with you one lifeline to sanity, what would you choose?  This time I chose NY Times food writer Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”.  Already smitten, this book swept me into a whole new level of appreciation for Bittman’s understated culinary genius.

I recall once watching Cybill Shephard’s stern TV reenactment of Martha Stewart cooking her way through Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, which at the time struck me as extreme, if not borderline insane.  Now years later, wading through Bittman’s 997 pages of hardbound goodness gave me a new perspective.

Of course the opening line in the chapter on beans almost made me cry; “I adore beans and have cooked with them regularly for my entire adult life” confesses Bittman.  “As I’ve traveled, as I’ve experimented, as I’ve discovered new varieties and the joys of fresh beans, I’ve grown to love them more and more”.  For me those words and the many that followed offered a fresh surge of inspiration to get back into the kitchen with renewed vigor.  I left that yurt with a plan in mind and a shopping list in hand, recharged and super excited to try on some interesting new dishes made with beans and grains I don’t typically use.

It’s rare to find a man who loves beans as much as I do.  And Bittman’s casual, use-what-you-have-on-hand cooking style is a perfect fit for busy people who enjoy healthy eating as much as he does.  If you can get past the looming structure of it, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian takes the mystery out of many foods mistakenly assumed complicated.  And in case you’re worried about how to adapt to all this new fiber, Bittman tackles that topic as well- beans don’t have to be associated with gas!

In typical plain-talk style he suggests maintaining a healthy level of fiber in your diet to promote digestive efficiency and free you from issues of gastric distress.  He bluntly concludes; “If you’re uncomfortable after eating legumes, see your doctor”.  While the extremity of this advice did make me chuckle, it’s out of context here and perhaps even in the original text.  Most Americans are so fiber-deficit that people do associate beans with gas, often as a point of concern.

So how does one build a healthy fiber intake without the, um, gastrointestinal issues?  The key is a slow transition; this will minimize any digestive issues as your body relearns how to process real food. Work your way up to a healthy fiber intake by making the switch from refined grains to whole ones and incorporating the recommended intake of at least four servings per week of beans into your diet.

This is a relatively quick process, a matter of weeks should suffice.  Embrace this opportunity to discover a whole new world of under-appreciated yet thoroughly delicious healthy, whole foods.

Here are 7 simple suggestions to help you expand your culinary horizons:

  1. Select one new whole grain you’d like to try:  faro, wheat berries, hulled barley and quinoa are all good choices for flavor and versatility.
  2. Choose one bean variety you’d like to try: cooking from scratch.  Garbanzo or cannellini beans are a great place to start since they’re readily available, much more delicious fresh than canned and very versatile.
  3. Schedule a time when you know you’ll be home for a couple of hours to do your cooking.
  4. The day prior, soak your beans in enough water to cover them by at least 4”
  5. Cook your beans and grains according to instructions
  6. Drain grains after cooking to store covered for up to 5 days in the fridge, or 2-3 months frozen.
  7. Store beans in their cooking water in the fridge for up to 5 days or 2-3 months frozen.

For perfectly cooked beans:  add 1 tsp. salt and 2 tbsps. lemon juice to beans after they begin to tenderize during cooking, about 45 minutes.

For easy weekly menu planning:    Cook enough beans and grains to serve for several meals during the week, then freeze the rest in family serving-sized containers.  I love glass jars for this, but be sure to leave the lid slightly askew during freezing to allow for expansion.

Whole foods are the gateway to good health so getting to know them better holds no shortage of reward.   And reading through a master work like Bittman’s HTCEV (or similar) can get even the most competent cook inspired.  So take a moment to pick up a great cookbook and really give it your attention.  Read the recipes, envision the process and embark on a brand new culinary adventure today!

10 Savvy Shortcuts for Streamlining Your Cooking Projects

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Whether you want to lose weight, stabilize your energy or improve your health, Your kitchen is the best place to start.  One primary factor in transforming your diet is relying less on restaurants and take out in favor of doing more cooking at home.  For many of us, that mere idea can be scary, but with strategies for success in place, you’ll enjoy the benefits of home cooking without the aggravation.  And believe it or not, when done right, meal preparation can be fun and creative as well as healthy and delicious. 

Whether you’re a stranger to your kitchen or simply wish you were, try these helpful tips to streamline the process.  You won’t believe the difference you’ll experience when you can focus on getting your creative juices ready to whip up something fabulous, minus the headache.  Here’s how:

  1. Keep it simple.  Maintain a 1 dish breakfast and lunch, and a 2-3 dish dinner.  Cooking from scratch gives you the opportunity to whip up delicious recipes using less than 5 ingredients, but that combine important food groups.  Overnight Oatmeal with fruit and walnuts for breakfast, a Quickie Quesadilla for lunch followed by a Snappy Veggie Stir Fry with Miso Goddess Sauce sauce over brown rice for dinner.  All of these give you a huge nutritional hit in one satisfying dish, perfect for maintaining balanced energy all day long.
  2. Strive for satisfaction on 5 ingredients or less.  Look for a cookbook or website that features simple, whole foods cooking and find 2-3 recipes that sound good.  Mark your pages or print the recipes, highlighting what you need to purchase so you don’t have to reread anything to remember.
  3. Get organized! A pre-written grocery list, whether compiled by a healthy foods expert or one you create for yourself, is key to cooking success.  Keep your list near the fridge or on your mobile device so you can keep it current.
  4. Label bulk foods or even bagged rice and beans by listing cooking times and water-to-grain ratio so you don’t need to consult a cookbook ever time you want to prepare them.  Black self-adhesive mailing labels work well, but I like to print out these crafty pre-designed labels and keep them in the kitchen for when I need them.
  5. Group complementary objects.  If there are ingredients you always use together, store them together for easy access.  For example if you only use oatmeal with raisins, group them side by side even if they’re not your traditional “like-objects”.
  6. Set up to streamline.  Whether you’re working to a recipe or making a favorite you know by heart, take out everything you’ll need to use before you start to streamline the process and save time.   Place foods where they’ll be used, like on the cutting board, next to a bowl or pan.
  7. Grouping tasks saves time.  Wash your produce all together, then take a moment to check out your recipe or think through your plan.   Make sure all of the chopping, peeling and cooking happens simultaneously.  Store your prepped food on dinner plates if you need the work space, you can simply wipe them down and reuse them at mealtime to avoid more cleanup.  You’ll be amazed by the time difference this can make.
  8. Prepare ahead.   Washing your lettuce or bulk greens as soon as you get them home, then store in a covered glass bowl or green produce bag.  Cook bulk beans or grains (except for rice) that you plan to use within 3-4 days over the weekend or after dinner.  Most need to cook for an hour or more, but require little to no maintenance during cooking, so when you have a stretch of time, take advantage of it.
  9. Skip unnecessary steps.  Carrots, apples and parsnips don’t need to be peeled, not does garlic that will be used in a press.  Use your kitchen scissors to chop fresh herbs directly into your dish, no cutting board required.  Serve cooked foods in attractive glass storage bowls to avoid unnecessary transfers and dishes.
  10. Enlist a friend.  Take turns bringing lunch to work, set up a weekly pot luck night or trade favorite recipes and cooking tips.  This helps you save to time, but the real benefits are shared experience, camaraderie and good, healthy food.

This may sound like a long list of instructions, but the idea is to adopt the ones that feel right for you, and practice them until they become routine.  Then add on from there.

Maximizing your time in the kitchen makes it more enjoyable, and you’ll find yourself less overwhelmed by the idea of preparing meals at home.  Taking control of your health is empowering, and the kitchen is the best place to start.   So choose your favorite tips, plug them into your calendar and take the first step towards healthier eating today!

Mindful Eating, 5 Tips to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

If you’re riding the wellness resolution trend this year, you may want to take note.   While the New Year may harken the best of intentions, they’re usually short-lived.  When it comes to health and mindful eating, less than 10% of resolutions survive the test of time, and I’m talking months, not years.  The fact is, Americans make over 200 food-related decisions per day according to a recent study, yet when asked to estimate that number, participants’ guess an average of 15.  Yes it’s true, the vast majority of our eating is done mindlessly.

But there is good news too!  You have the power to change your mindless eating default and bring these decisions to the forefront (frontal lobes in this case), where they belong.   So IF you’re serious about a New Year’s resolution that involves improving your energy level, losing weight and feeling happier all around, listen up.   Here are some common-sense strategies for making it happen for real this time.

1. Discover your most compelling motive for making change.  Motivation plays the biggest role when it comes to enacting long term, positive behavior change.  But identifying your true motive may not be as obvious as it seems at first glance.  Ask yourself, “Why do I want to lose weight, really?  What will the outcome look or feel like?”  Dig deep and envision clearly.

Leading neuro-science expert Dr. Daniel Amen keeps a picture of his grandson where he’ll see it every day, as a reminder of his real motive for keeping his health a priority.  The mocha fudge becomes less tempting when you connect it to a bigger picture, as in avoiding options that move you further away from your goals.  The same rationale has been effectively used by former smokers to kick the habit, it works!

Another great way to do this is to create a vision board, complete with images, as in pictures of loved ones you’d like to have the energy to spend more time with, or people who inspire you through their achievements that you know are not outside your realm of possibility too.

2. Then choose one habit that you know isn’t serving you.  Do you hit the drive-through every morning only to end up so hungry you’re wondering how you’ll possibly make it all the way until lunch?  Nosh on packaged snacks when you get home from work and regret all the empty calories later?  Instead of resolving to diet away the extra ten pounds, start with one simple behavior change directed toward achieving that goal.  Give yourself time to get comfortable with that change, whether it’s days, weeks or months until this becomes your new normal.  Now you’re ready to take another step, and repeat until your diet brings you all of the benefits excellent health has to offer.

3. State your personal credo, write it down and memorize it.  Sticking to a healthy routine that’s working feels great, but you still need to prepare for the unexpected.  The homemade cheesecake muffins your well-meaning co-worker shares with the group, the Philly Cheesesteak your partner wants to share, the small vs. jumbo-sized anything.  If these offers cross your path, decide in advance on your default, then remember your credo when temptation strikes.  The treat will be gone in a moment, but the self-empowerment of establishing new resolve keeps on growing, long after the dazzle has fizzled and the New Year has passed.

So now you’ve made a mindful decision to prioritize health and wellness this year.  You know your motives, you’re prepared with healthy alternatives and you know your credo.   The question then becomes, in times of stress or temptation, how do we stay aligned with our best intentions?

4. Avoid your triggers, and pack alternatives  If you know you’re tremendously tempted by your mom’s homemade lasagna, with it layers of cheese and rich, meaty sauce, instead of hoping you’ll have the willpower to resist, which after a glass of wine and a little convincing, you won’t, plan ahead.  Eat some raw veggies or fruit and drink a big glass of water before you’re in any situation where you’re inclined to be hungry and lots of food you know you’ll regret later is imminent.   Decide in advance how much you’ll try, and stick to it.  Have a ¼ piece of lasagna and fill the rest of your plate with veggies.   Don’t break the code:  once you start snacking on empty carbs it’s much harder to stop, so make your snacks healthy, even if you have to bring them yourself.  The key again is to plan ahead.

5. Make your health a top priority!  You may have noticed that sometimes your willpower seems stronger than others.  Ever wonder why when you’re calm and well-rested, you seem less inclined to succumb to temptation?  One reason is pure physiology.  It takes energy to exercise willpower, and if we’re out of fuel, we’ll have less of it. If it’s way past lunchtime, you’re beyond hungry and the only opportunity to appease that need is the big Mickey D’s, you may stop, and once you’re there at that drive though and your willpower is weak, all bets are off.  So avoid these pitfalls!

  • Get enough rest (a huge factor in harnessing willpower)
  • Exercise even a little bit every day, even 15 minutes of brisk walking counts!
  • Prepare ahead to avoid the pitfalls

Yes this takes intention and even a bit of time, but you already have the tools you need to succeed, including the willpower.  When you prioritize your health, you’ll bring your best self to the table, making smart choices easier and happy outcomes more likely every time.

Tools for Success, A Must-Have List of Kitchen Basics

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

portraits-headshots-rebecca-stark-photographer-0138When it comes to food preparation, I’m a minimalist.  As much as I enjoy discovering new ingredients and techniques,  my culinary tool collection remains pretty basic.  I don’t own a juicer or a fancy food processor, not even a crock pot.   I find that between a powerful blender, a few good chefs knives and a small array of decent quality pans will get you thorough most recipes without a hitch.   Basics aside, my kitchen tools list is relatively short, just enough to get the job done.  However, if gadgets are what it takes to get you going, by all means, acquire accordingly!

  • Hand grater, large stainless steel, free standing
  • Hand grater, small hand held stainless steel (for ginger) (more…)

Ready to lose 8 pounds without even trying?

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Ready to lose 8 pounds without even trying?If you’re expecting a diet pill or calorie cutting plan, you may be disappointed.  The only investment you’ll need to make for this weight loss regimen is maybe a good pair of reading glasses.

A full 70% of food we eat is processed.  True that’s a high number, but since my favorite whole grain bread ranks on that list, I’m not throwing in the towel and neither should you.  The trick is to being to make more informed choices.  Luckily no special skills are required to recognize the good from the garbage.  I’m not suggesting you no longer enjoy your treats if you can’t live without them, just know that some treats are trickier than others.  The secret to which is which lies in the small print on the side of the package.

Women who regularly read ingredients labels weigh an average of eight pounds less than the rest of us.  I know those tiny numbers are confusing, but even when you don’t know what all of them mean, you know enough to weed out (more…)

Healthy, Delicious and Efficient, oh my!

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

portraits-headshots-rebecca-stark-photographer-0130It’s no surprise that one of the best ways to improve your diet is to start in your kitchen.  Eating out is directly correlated with weight gain, and as we know, the diet-related disease rates in the US continue to rise. Lack of time is the biggest obstacle for lots of us, but it doesn’t have to be.  If you’re looking for efficient and delicious menu ideas, this blog is for you!

Starting this week, I’ll be posting more of my favorite five-minute dishes.  Essentially, you can make a main dish in just minutes of you’ve prepared a sauce and a grain or a bean in advance.  It’s easier than you think, I promise.

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Time Saving Cooking Tips for Easy Meal Preparation, from Scratch

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

cook-from-scratch

Ask any busy mom why she doesn’t cook at home, and you’ll get some version of the same answer. But take a moment to reflect on what “I don’t have time” really means, and you’ll notice some loopholes in that argument. Meaning that it’s hard to really know whether you have enough time to cook unless you’ve tried these time saving cooking tips before, since as of now you don’t know actually know how much time they take.

And it’s a valid concern. Why invest valuable time to learn something you’re not going to use?

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Ten Healthy Lunch and Snack Ideas for Kids (and grown-ups)

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

healthy-snacks-for-kidsIt’s the bane of parents of school-aged children everywhere. Ask any mom her biggest challenges with raising school aged children, and somewhere among them, almost cringingly whispered, come those two dreaded words: making lunch.  The daily grind of making sure you have enough variety in stock is challenging.

It’s hard to find healthy foods your kids will eat. Yet with popular faves like Turkey + Cheddar Lunchables packing in at least half a days’ worth of saturated fat, most ready-made snacks are no good solution.

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Unbelievably Easy Rice Paper Wraps

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

paper-wraps

I love fresh spring rolls, or salad wraps as they’re sometimes called.   The Thai-inspired kind prepared with raw, julienned vegetables snugly encased in a rice paper wrapper, made even more delicious with a savory dipping sauce served on the side.  It’s a simple concept, yet one of those recipes I hesitated to try at home.

My problem was with the rice paper wrappers.  I would buy them periodically, but my good intentions were always cut short by the lack of directions on the package.  Eventually, as in a long time later, I would feel compelled to toss them, unopened, they were so old.  Why it took me to long to simply look up the directions, I’ll never know,  but I tell you now that I’ve got a handle on it, making healthy, delicious spring rolls is embarrassingly easy and very kid-friendly.

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