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Favorite Food: Artichokes

Hey Long + Lean Pilates fans, and happy 2015 to you! One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try a new recipe every week, including foods that I may not be very familiar with in the kitchen! As part of this journey, the Long + Lean Wellness Blog will feature one awesomely healthy food as our Favorite Food of the Month. We will then share a new recipe for that Favorite Food each week to help you incorporate it in to your diet.

Artichokes

Photo via artichokes.org.

Starting off the Favorite Food of the Month series is the humble artichoke! The artichoke is definitely underrated, and since it’s often dipped in butter or aioli, people tend to forget that it has some awesome nutritional benefits. Keep reading to find out what’s so fabulous about artichokes and how to prepare them easily TODAY!

Why we love artichokes:

  • Low in calories and fat! There’s just 60 calories for one medium artichoke, and less than 1 gram of fat and yet….
  • Artichokes are full of dietary fiber, giving you 14% of your daily recommended fiber intake
  • Great source of folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B-complex vitamins
  • Artichokes provide you with a healthy dose of the antioxidants and minerals your body needs such as potassium, copper, iron, and calcium
  • They’re so fun to eat!
Easy Artichoke Preparation:
Start eating artichokes with a super simple preparation like boiling them! Here’s how…
  1. Cut off any nasty thorns from the outer leaves (optional)
  2. Cut off the end of the stem, leaving about 1 inch remaining. Some people do eat the whole stem but it tends to be bitter. If you want to try the stem, just cut off the very end of it and peel the tough skin off before cooking.
  3. Rinse under cold water.
  4. Fill a pot with water. You can add whole garlic, lemon slices, and/or a bay leaf to the water for additional flavor if desired.
  5. Place the artichokes in the pot in one single layer.
  6. Bring the pot to a boil and continue cooking for about 35 minutes. When they’re done, you should be able to peel the leaves off easily.
  7. Remove the artichokes and allow to cool slightly then go ahead and enjoy!!
Artichoke Tips:
  • Don’t eat the whole leaf! Once cooked, peel one leaf off at a time and use your teeth to scrape off the soft flesh at the base of the leaf. You can also eat the heart of the artichoke that becomes exposed once all the leafs have been peeled off (Artichoke hearts, YUM!)
  • When you get to the heart, make sure to scrape away and discard the fuzzy stuff, that’s not so great to eat.
  • For optimal healthy eating, try eating these with just a touch of salt, like you would with edamame  or some extra lemon instead of dipping in butter. Or maybe just dip every other leaf in butter. 😉
Did you know?
“Artichokes can also be made into an herbal tea. “Artichoke tea” is produced as a commercial product in the Da Lat region of Vietnam. The flower portion is put into water and consumed as an herbal tea, called alcachofa in Mexico. It has a slightly bitter woody taste.” – Wikepedia
Check in to the blog next week for a fun and delicious artichoke recipe!!
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Quick Healthy Breakfast Options

Have you found yourself in a breakfast rut? After a conversation with a client this morning (at 6:30 am nonetheless), I realized just about every one of us gets stuck eating the same breakfast over and over again until all of a sudden we absolutely must eat something else.

We all could use some variety in our breakfast routine but, of course, time is limited. I’ve picked a few of my favorite healthy breakfast options that won’t throw off your morning routine. Try something new with one of these great options:

 

Smoothies: Smoothies are relatively easy to make, especially if you keep frozen berries or pre-cut fruit on hand. I also love smoothies because the options are literally endless. Have you ever heard of an Apple Cinnamon Coconut Smoothie!?  You can find so many healthy smoothie recipes on Pinterest or Google, there are even old school books with tons of options. Don’t feel like pulling out the blender?  Try Ashker’s Juice Bar on Elmwood or Squeeze Juicery on Main Street in Williamsville for healthy and convenient smoothies with absolutely no clean-up needed.

 

 

 

Yogurt, fruit, granola: I just read an article that stated how unhealthy yogurt and granola can be for breakfast. I disagree. If you do it right, yogurt and granola can be a great healthy breakfast option! I always choose a granola with as little added sugar as possible. If you can find something with honey or coconut sugar instead of standard sugar, that’s even better. Are you a great meal planner? Make your own granola so you can control the ingredients better. Keep the amount of granola you use on the minimal side, just enough to add a crunch. Opt for plain organic greek yogurt for your healthiest option, but as long as you get yogurt with no (or at least very little) added sugar and completely natural ingredients (I like Stonyfield Organic), you’re good. Lastly add fruit and other healthy add-ins for maximum nutritional benefits: berries, bananas, walnuts, pecans, ground flax seed, etc.

 

Whole grain toast with peanut butter, honey, and bananas: This breakfast is quick, easy, delicious, and comforting. One slice is enough if you load it up with peanut butter (or any nut butter) and sliced banana. I like to put a drizzle of honey on first and spread it over my toast, then the peanut butter, then fill every space with banana slices. I recommend using the heartiest, healthiest bread you can find. I prefer Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread, available at most grocers.

 

 

 

Whole grain toast ricotta cheese, honey, and blueberries: A variation on the toast and peanut butter above, this delicious and unique breakfast was discovered by my Mom who absolutely swears by it. Again, use the heartiest bread you can find for maximum nutritional benefits. I recommend mashing your blueberries on top of the toast so you don’t have to deal with blueberries rolling off your breakfast!

 

 

 

Brown rice cake with almond butter and jelly: Another toast and peanut butter variation, this is my ultimate on-the-go, in-a-huge-rush breakfast. I use brown rice cakes with no salt added. Heed caution when purchasing rice cakes, they aren’t all healthy. I use all natural almond butter (preferably raw) but any nut butter will do here. Peanut butter is really the least healthy of the nut butters, but its delicious, so do yo’ thing. Just like with the rice cakes, it can be challenging to make sure your jelly is actually healthy. Look for no sugar added, all natural, and/or fruit juice sweetened varieties. Always check the ingredients to be sure you aren’t getting something with high fructose corn syrup or sugar as the first or second ingredient. Whenever possible, I get strawberry jelly that’s either ALL strawberry or sweetened only by natural fruit juice. I can eat this easily in the car when necessary.

 

Mini Frittatas: I first tried mini frittatas during a run in with the South Beach Diet back in college.  Although I don’t recommend, the diet, I do recommend these convenient little “egg muffins” for on-the-go nutrient-rich breakfasts. You can make your frittatas however you like them (please pack in the veggies!), make them all at once, freeze ’em til you need ’em, and then heat up in the microwave and get going! Here are some recipes you can try: Mini Frittata Muffins

 

 

 

Oatmeal and…anything: This is the only breakfast option on my list that is a bit challenging to eat on the go, but thats okay, its GREAT to sit down, breathe, and enjoy your breakfast at a proper table. Oatmeal can be made in so many different ways. Add some fruit, add dried fruit, add nuts, add cinnamon, use some pure maple syrup, throw in some nut butter and flax seed. The options are really infinite. Browse Pinterest for great ideas or simply get creative with what you already have on hand. And if you are looking for a super convenient way to eat oatmeal, check out Wegman’s frozen breakfast section; they sell frozen oatmeal bowls that are actually super healthy! Thanks, Wegmans! 🙂

 

What’s your favorite healthy breakfast? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

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5 Surprising Natural Skin Care Remedies

Yikes! All the cold weather outside and the dry heat indoors can wreak havoc on our skin. Looking for some ways to fight the chapped, flaky skin that winter brings on? Welcome to the club! Part of living a healthy life, however, means choosing skin care products that will do more good than harm with no yucky chemicals and artificial additives. Although there are plenty of products out there with naturally derived ingredients, I wanted to share some completely natural remedies that will keep your skin smooth and beautiful through the winter and beyond.

Honey

I use honey to wash my face. That may sound crazy, but it has been the absolute best “face wash” I’ve ever used. Honey is antibacterial so it is a very effective cleanser and it has moisturizing powers so you’ll clean your face without drying it out. I prefer to use raw honey, but as long as your honey is 100% pure you should be good. Simply hold a warm, wet washcloth on your face for a few moments to open your pores and dampen your skin. Then slather your face with honey and let it stay for up to 10 minutes. Rinse off the honey and you’re done!

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an incredibly effective way to exfoliate your face so you don’t have to spend money on expensive scrubs. It’s like microdermabrasion is just sitting there in your fridge waiting for you. Try scrubbing your clean face with a paste made from baking soda and distilled water for up to 10 minutes before rinsing.

 

Coconut Oil

Some people get nervous about putting oil on their face, but trust me, it’s worth a try! Coconut oil is this super amazing health food that also provides amazing real, deep moisture. Bonus: coconut oil makes your hair super soft and shiny AND it makes a great shaving “cream.”

 

Milk

Milk is a great, gentle skin softener that will soothe your red, dry winter skin. Just throw a few cups of milk in the next time you draw a bath; your skin will thank you. Also, soaking your feet in milk before your self-administered pedicures will make your feet super soft.

 

Strawberries

This one isn’t for your skin but I think it’s pretty amazing…Did you know that ruby red strawberries but can actually help make your teeth white! Because of all the vitamin C in strawberries, they remove plaque and help get rid your teeth of stains. For your own all natural (and tasty) teeth whitening treatment use a toothbrush to spread mashed strawberries on your teeth and let it sit for 5 minutes. Try this once a week for the best results!

Do you have any natural skin care remedies you love? Share them with us!

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A New Take on Hummus

Hummus is an awesome, healthy go-to snack that is surprisingly easy to make and always great to have on hand.  The protein and fiber from the beans keep you sustained and satisfied for a good amount of time and the nutritient to calorie ratio is very high.  Sometimes, however, roasted red pepper or garlic hummus can get a bit boring.  We also need to expand our views of hummus to go beyond chickpeas.  In this light, I give you an exotic hummus substitute, CURRIED WHITE BEAN DIP.  This dip is thick and hearty like hummus but features white beans instead of garbanzo beans and packs a powerful curry punch.  I had this dip with a sliced cucumber for lunch today and it kept me full for hours, not to mention how delicious it is!

 

Curried White Bean Dip (Based on recipe from Foodnetwork.com)

15 ounces white beans (drained)

1 packed cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped  (I used dried parsley and it worked out fine–use 1/2 cup if using dried)

1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (Start with 1/4 cup and add more as needed when processing)

1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)

2 tsp curry powder

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper

Zest of 1/2 lemon

 

1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth.  Season with salt as needed.  Enjoy with fresh veggies, or multigrain chips.

 

Be well!

 

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The Best Part of Waking Up is Green Juice in Your Cup

I recently read an article in which a pastry chef said she starts her day with fresh juice because it lets her feel like she “detoxes before she retoxes.”  I don’t highly recommend drinking juice in the morning just to eat cakes and pizzas all day and feel okay about it, but there is definitely something in her statement.  Starting your day with freshly juiced fruits and vegetables boosts your energy and gives your cells a little cleaning so you start your day on the cleanest, healthiest note possible.

I love drinking juice in the morning.  I really do feel clean, light, fresh, and believe it or not, satisfied when I have juice for breakfast. Please note that I don’t mean Tropicana. I mean lettuce and kale in my cup.  Here is my absolute 100% favorite juice to drink for breakfast.

Hayley’s Fav Green Juice

1 head organic romaine lettuce

A few overflowing handfuls of organic kale or spinach leaves

1 organic lemon (peel and all)

1 organic honey crisp apple (so sweet and delicious!) cut into quarters if its a big one

~One by one, push all the above through your juicer, pour in to a tall glass, and enjoy your detoxifying breakfast cocktail.

 

Be well!