A Restaurant quality meal you can make in 10 minutes or less

Quick and easy meal ideas

Meals that look impressive, taste delicious and are a snap to make? You don't come across such miracles often, so I had to share this one.

A couple weeks ago I saw a beautiful brunch dish on Instagram. The poster was dining at a trendy NYC restaurant, and I'm sure her meal was pure perfection. I salivated over her photo, realizing I had an immediate urge to jump into it and take a bite of her rich and crunchy breakfast salad. Since I couldn't do that, though, I thought I'd try to recreate it instead.

What I made is elegant and simple. It is decadent and nutritious. It is delicious and artful, yet inexpensive and easy to make.  It's a poached egg nestled atop greens, and it took me less than 10 minutes to prepare. 

So how did I pull off this magical feat? Fortunately many Americans are lazy cooks, so I bought lots of items at the grocery store, already made. Here's how to make a delicious Caesar salad, topped with a poached egg or two:

  • Washed and cut Romaine lettuce
  • Multi-grain croutons. You can make your own, but these are also available in your grocery store
  • Caesar salad dressing
  • Anchovies, if desired
  • Shaved Parmesan,  Romano, and Asiago
  • Eggs
  • Mix Romaine lettuce, croutons, and salad dressing. Cut anchovies and add, if desired
  • Poach eggs: crack eggs and add to boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes
  • Sprinkle shaved cheese on top of lettuce
  • Place poached egg(s) on top of lettuce and salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with fresh fruit and a great cup of hot coffee
That was easy, wasn't it? Make it next time your in-laws come over for brunch, and get ready to take in all the compliments. You deserve it.


How to develop healthy eating habits

When healthy choices are convenient, practical, and rewarding, they become good habits that keep us healthy and happy.

Makes sense, but how do you cultivate such habits?

In an effort to help the rest of us learn how to develop healthy eating habits, researchers from Cornell University analyzed 112 case studies that focused on healthy eating behaviors. The result is their acronym, CAN. If you make healthy food Convenient, Attractive, and Normal, they say, you will eat more of it. 

What does this mean for you? Here's how to put these ideas into practice:
  1. Make healthy food convenient by ensuring it is as easy to grab and go as a bag of potato chips
    1. Buy baby carrots already washed and peeled
    2. Cut and wash fruits and vegetables so they are ready to eat when you get hungry
    3. Keep nuts in your snack drawer
    4. Boil eggs and store for snacking
    5. Buy whole wheat crackers
  2. Ensure healthy food is attractive and enticing
    1. Store produce at eye level in your refrigerator
    2. Place cucumber slices in water and cool it in your refrigerator in a pretty glass pitcher
    3. Put foods in appealing, see through containers
    4. Buy fruits and vegetables with deep color
    5. Keep a fruit bowl on your kitchen table, and fill it with colorful, seasonal fruits
  3. Normalize healthy foods so they become the obvious choice for you
    1. Keep healthy choices front and center in your kitchen
    2. Make unhealthy choices less convenient. Store desserts and chips on an inconvenient location that takes effort to access (above your refrigerator or behind the pots and pans)


How to improve your child's diet

Make healthy food choices easy to make

If you make healthier food available and easy to choose, kids will eat it. Researchers, whose study was published in Obesity, say removing unhealthy food from restaurant menus improves children's diets and increases revenue.

The researchers worked with a restaurant chain called Silver Diner. After the chain removed fries and sugared drinks from the menu, they added healthier sides and monitored the results.

What happened?

The number of kids who ordered healthy sides with their meals increased 54%, and revenue increased .79 for breakfasts and .19 for other items!

Restaurant managers, then, can help our children make healthier food choices without fear of remaining competitive, and you can do it without negative consequence at home, too. Here are some easy ways to implement the same principles in your own kitchen:

  1. Make healthy foods easily accessible: wash carrots, cherry tomatoes, cherries, and grapes. Slice apples, watermelon, peppers, and cucumbers. Boil eggs. Arrange in see-through containers and place in the refrigerator at your child's eye level
  2. Buy healthy snacks: load up on nuts, whole wheat crackers, Greek yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, dried fruit, and cheese
  3. Avoid sugary drinks: instead, flavor water with cucumber, mint, or watermelon. For a once a week treat, buy seltzer water and mix with a few tablespoons of orange juice for flavor
  4. Limit (and hide) treats: store cookies and other treats in an inconvenient spot (like above the refrigerator) so the kids aren't tempted with poor food choices every time the snack drawer is opened


Nuts and your health

All types of nuts are beneficial to your health

I've always been confused by nut data. Are almonds the most nutritious? What about cashews? I prefer them over almonds, but are they as healthy? Is peanut butter a heavy hitter when it comes to nutrition? Is my son's sandwich a day habit good or bad?

Do you wonder as well?

A new study simplifies this nut conundrum. Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study indicates nut consumption of all kinds (including peanut butter) is beneficial to your health, regardless of your race or socioeconomic standing. The researchers found that regular nut eaters experience a 21% lower mortality rate and a 38% lower cardiovascular mortality rate.

So, we can all benefit from eating nuts, and we don't have to break the bank to positively influence our health, as peanuts will do the trick.

Phew. Nutrition simplified is a lovely thing, isn't it?


Should middle aged people avoid vigorous exercise?

Should you avoid vigorous exercise in middle age?

Should you lay down your tennis racket when you approach middle age? Should you avoid a vigorous run? What are the chances that you might suffer a heart attack while exercising when you are in your 50's and 60's?

Researchers, whose study is published in Circulation, studied individuals aged 35-65 to find out the risk of cardiac arrest when the, ahem, older set engages in physical activity.

The findings reveal good news for those looking to live an active life in their later years. Of 1,247 cardiac arrest cases, only 5% occurred during physical activity, and of that 5%, survival rates were much higher than they were among individuals who suffered heart attacks that were not associated with sports activity.

The take home message? Sports activity is low risk and benefits your health. Lace up those shoes, people.


Exercise the easy way

We're halfway through summer now. How are you doing?

I know you are enjoying the sunshine. I know you appreciate the relaxed schedule. I know the vacation with the family has been memorable.

Are you fulfilling your healthy living goals, though? With the kids home life can be hectic, which means it can be difficult to prioritize your own health and get the exercise you need. I know. I struggle with it just as much as you do.

Remember, though, that exercise doesn't have to take place in a gym. It doesn't have to involve fancy equipment and dumbbells.

Last weekend, I took my kids to Cedar Point, the self-proclaimed roller coaster capital of the world. We logged 24,375 steps, or just over 10 miles, in one day! This was hardcore exercise which involved roller coaster hair, selfie snapping, and memory making with the extended family. It's a fantastic way to stay fit, don't you think?

Get yourself out there. Organize activities with the kids that will get you moving. Have fun AND exercise. Prove to yourself that living healthy really is living well.

Here are some additional ideas:

  1. Organize a trip to the zoo
  2. Take a walk around the public gardens in your area
  3. Visit any museum (art, science, natural history). Hint: the bigger the better!
  4. Bike to the duck pond, the farmer's market, the library, etc.
  5. Take the kids to the pool AND play with them. (They'll never forget it).
  6. Make a walk after dinner a family affair
  7. Go shopping at an outside mall and take the long way to get to the various stores
  8. Find a beach to stroll
  9. Hike in the woods
  10. Rent a canoe or kayak
  11. Rent space in a community garden and grow your kids' favorite fresh vegetables
You still have about 5 weeks of summer to enjoy. Make them good!


Pilates and your cholesterol numbers

You already know Pilates strengthens and lengthens muscles. You already know it promotes balanced posture, builds muscle, and benefits the low-back.

But that's not all.

Researchers say a consistent Pilates practice also increases HDL cholesterol levels not just a little, but "significantly." Their study, published in the Journal of Exercise, Nutrition & Biochemistry, outlines how a Pilates based sweat session that lasts 70-80 minutes and is repeated 3 times a week can improve blood lipid levels.

Now you have just one more reason to get on the reformer. It's a good one.

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