Monday, August 19, 2013

The Almost Pizza

I am part of a women's small Bible study group. We rotate having our weekly study at each others' homes. In addition, to the leading the study, the host also provides dinner. Since we have been meeting faithfully for the past fifteen years, everyone has gotten over their bashfulness of preparing some type of meal for our study.

Last week, it was my turn to host.  I wanted to provide something easy, but delicious and nutritious. What came to my mind was mini pizzas. However, there are times...because I am a flexitarian.. that I want to provide an entree that is total vegetarian (some call it vegan, although not appropriate term since we still wear leather and silk and eat honey). So, I proceeded to dry run my mini pizzas using cheese substitute.

Well, I forgot to buy pizza sauce, so proceeded to make the "pizza" without any pizza sauce...hence the name "almost pizza". The result was not disappointing! I mixed just enough Vegennaise with Daiya cheddar style shreds. I spread the mixture across Rudi's whole wheat English muffins. Sprinkled some chopped tomatoes, green onions, and cashews on top (oh, and also chopped olives...just not pictured, because I ran out when I made them again.) I placed the topped English muffins on a cooking sheet in my oven for about 15 minutes or so or until shreds were melted at 415 degrees. And voila! You have a delicious, very low in saturated fat "almost pizza" that is very tasty. The combination of the Daiya shreds and Vegennaise is amazing! The only thing is that, this "entree" is not low in sodium, so mindful moderation should still be practice here. Not only will your kids loves these, but so will you!

I served the "almost pizzas" with a salad and soup and the gals were satisfied. So, just in case you're looking for an easy lunch or dinner idea for your family or friends, try the "almost pizzas".

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Daiya or Vegennaise companies to write about their products. All thoughts are mine and I regularly use their products, just because I like them.

What recipe have you developed that became your favorite after leaving it out an ingredient accidently?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

"No Added Sugar" Challenge Update

My choice of dessert for lunch has been a sweet apple.
My friends and I are halfway through our challenge! We have been at it for three weeks. We meet every Tuesday for a lunch check-in meeting in which we bring our own food. Have we been perfect? Absolutely not. We all have all unofficially allowed ourselves one cheat day per week. Well, all but one. However, in the big scheme of things, my friends have been doing so well. I am proud of each of them.

For Shani, who loves to eat sweets throughout the day all day long, the progress and success she is making comes in the area of decreased amounts of sugary foods per day. She has stayed away from the doughnuts, etc, but has allowed herself to have frozen yogurt with her nephew and niece on her recent vacation. This is a far cry from where she started.

For Danelle, sugary drinks has been "her thing". Through this challenge, it made her realize how many times she goes to Starbucks previously. It was just a habit for her to go always without really thinking about it. Now she has cut way back and is hardly going. She is also realizing she is saving money! Danelle has found other alternatives of drinks, such as unsweetened teas, that taste good to her.

The group in general has become aware of how easy they all take in a sweet here and there without being mindful of what they are doing. This challenge has brought awareness to each of them. Again, no one has been perfect through this journey so far, but there is progress in decreasing everyone's sugar threshold for taste and crave. That is taking place slowly, but surely. The real challenge will be to continue the current behavior beyond the end of this "challenge".

How are you doing with your sweets intake?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gave That Homemade Energy Bar Recipe a Try!

Last week, I posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts a link to the "Homemade Energy Bars" video by Runner's World Nutrition Editor, Joanna Golub. Well, I made the energy bars yesterday and it was delicious and satisfying! I wasn't the only one that thought that, but so did my running/biking/yoga buddy, Danelle, my Mom, and Tom all gave it a thumbs up. It is definitely a great "bar" for any pre or post workout/run/ride snack.

I used Laura Scudder's Old Fashioned Peanut Butter since there is no added sugar. The only "sugar" which is added in this recipe is honey and for the amount it calls for in relation to the dry ingredients, it really is not that much. The editor said to bake in the oven for 15 minutes. I baked it for 25 minutes. I wanted somewhat of a crunch. Next time, I'll put it at a higher temperature like 375 degrees instead of 350 degrees and then maybe it might be okay for 15 or 20 minutes.

If you make this, I would highly suggest letting it completely cool off and even refrigerate before devouring. This way, it keeps together very well, especially after refrigerating. Otherwise, it will come apart if eaten too soon. 

You can find the video at this link. Click here.

This homemade bar is power packed with nutrients (high in protein for sure) with a satisfying flavor! One more thing, it is very, very easy to make. Enjoy!

Any homemade energy bar recipes you would like to share with us?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nutrition Bit of the Day

For the past three weeks, I've had the privilege of supervising one of our dietetic student's community rotation at Drayson Center, the wellness center of Loma Linda University and Medical Center. My student, Staci Sellas, did a phenomenol job, in conducting one on one nutrition counseling sessions with clients of all ages. In addition, she taught a workshop on wellness and weight management.

Because Drayson has a digital "bulletin board" especially dedicated to nutrition information, I had Staci work on a series of "Nutrition Bits".  The following is one of the "Nutrition Bits" she worked on, which is a tip you can keep in mind on a regular basis.

(Sorry, that last food item listed is "guava", which I didn't realize I cut off converting the file.) So, just a little reminder to have a vitamin C source at every meal to make sure iron is adequately absorbed, especially if you're a vegetarian. Having adequate iron in your blood can make a difference in our energy levels and feeling good overall.

What "new fruit to you" have you tried lately?

Monday, August 5, 2013

San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon 2013

I'm backtracking here. Going back to a couple months ago. It was an overcast day while the  weather was perfect with a slight humidity. Overall, it was a great day for a marathon!

I wasn't planning on doing a full marathon this year, but one of my students said she did a full marathon back during winter quarter. That talk planted a seed in my head. I went back to ask her how many miles she trained up to.  She said nine!  I thought...that's crazy, but oh well...she did it! However, it was two months before June 2 and I was beginning to feel like I was going to miss out on my tradition of doing San Diego Rock 'n Roll Marathon, besides if my student can do it with little training, I thought I could do too!. 

Although I didn't train as I normally do, I believe doing the cross training of power yoga, mountain biking, and running got me prepared to do this run. Because I didn't read up on the course ahead of time, I was greatly surprised that the entire course was backwards! It was more of a challenge, especially having to tackle highway 163 towards the end of the run. Oh well, it definitely made it more interesting needless to say.  Despite training less, I was very pleasantly surprised to PR.

In a previous post, I talked about going back to using gels this year. My saving grace on this run was the Accel Gel. Having that constant influx of protein every third mile stabilized my sugars well and I felt really good on this run.

This year, one of my students that just graduated completed her first full marathon with us.  My other friend, Danelle, who usually runs with me, completed another half marathon and also PR'd.

For San Diego Rock 'n Roll 2014, we've already started recruiting our other friends and my other students. We want this to become a growing tradition! It's a great event to be a part of, especially because the community of San Diego supports it so well with all their love!

What half of full marathons have you participated in this year?

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Product Review: Chobani Greek Yogurt

I am amazed at how hard Chobani works to create new flavors periodically. There are so many flavors to choose from now! My favorites are "Key Lime Crumbles" and now "Nutty for Nana". I have a special liking to a little crunch texture, so these delicious products provide just the right amount of crunch.

In addition, I appreciate the amount of protein Greek yogurt provides, as do any Greek yogurt products. However, Chobani does not use milk protein concentrates and animal-based thickeners like other Greek yogurt manufacturers do. Chobani does not like to use artificial flavors or sweeteners and loves to use real fruit with no preservatives! The added plus to their products is that they use 5 live and active cultures that include 3 probiotics. All good for a healthy gut.

I've enjoyed tasting the free samples provided by Chobani, but because I am on a six-week no added sugar challenge with my close friends, I've only had to try a couple spoonfuls of each new flavor. So if you'd like to add variety to increasing your protein intake, stocking up on calcium for your bones, or if you'd like to build a healthy gut flora, try Chobani's new flavors today!

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Chobani to write this review; however, I was provided with free sample products.

What is your favorite Chobani flavor?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Health Scare

To be honest, I've had a few major personal problems that has actually made it difficult to keep up with my blog. I'm hoping to resume consistency. One of the major difficulties I've experienced recently was a heath scare.

Towards the end of the school year, I had completed my annual mammogram. The results in the mail said there was an area of concern and that an ultrasound had to be done. I've been told the results usually end up begin benign and that the MDs just want to make sure. Because of my teaching schedule, I had to postpone the ultrasound and it got postponed even more due to a back-logged schedule of others having ultrasounds completed. 

During this "unknown" period of some kind of unrest, I still had to finish up the school year and run my 3rd full marathon. Finally the ultrasound appointment came. I got scared when for the first time in having an ultrasound completed that an MD came walking right in. That wasn't a good sign. The radiologist said that they are still unclear of that certain area and that a biopsy was the next step. I was beginning to be more alarmed, disappointed, fearful, and sad. Two aunts on my mom's side had breast cancer as well as one aunt on my dad's side. The stakes are high for me. 

There was some more waiting that took place with my MD taking an eternity to write the order for my biopsy. I must admit, I gave in to milkshakes at this drug of choice for "comfort". The order for the biopsy finally came and then came the biopsy appointment.

Before the biopsy, I was told that they wanted to take another ultrasound to see if they still needed to do the biopsy. I was hopeful I didn't need one since family and friends were praying for my health. Low and behold, they came back saying I still needed the biopsy. After the biopsy...there was still MORE waiting time. Now I was really crying for being so anxious being in the waiting game.

During this waiting period, I prayed a different type of prayer. I did ask God for no breast cancer; however, if it is breast cancer, I asked Him to help me get through the journey that would lay ahead of me. I never prayed this type of prayer before. I would pray it "my way", but "His will be done". This time, I sincerely prayed His will be done, because I knew God would help me get through the difficult journey. I did come to being at peace waiting for the results.

Finally, after calling and calling and calling my MD's office, I received the news...the news that the results were negative! Oh, I have been thanking God big time!!  At least for now, I don't have breast cancer and pray I never will.  However, what I learned from this journey was truly to "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight". Proverbs 3:5 and 6.

Going through this scare, incapacitated me so much that I was so numb. I was not able to work on my dissertation or own my blog.  I have learned to keep leaning on God even more. Many thanks go to my parents, relatives, and friends who kept praying and supporting me. I've also learned to be more grateful for my MDs who didn't want to take any chances by going ahead and taking all the proper tests needed.

Thankful to God and thankful for my sunflowers in my garden.
For future difficulties that will come up, lean on God to help get you through each day. It is the only way to go.

What experiences of waiting have you had lately?