Friday, December 30, 2011

A New Year

I must apologize for my absence!  I could give a myriad of excuses dealing with school, traveling, and overall holiday craziness, but let's not get into it!

Instead, let's review the holiday season.  Mr. PT and I were able to spend time with friends here in town and travel to see old yet familiar faces.  And we ate a lot of great food!  You can imagine how this time of year can be a setback for people trying to stay healthy and fit.  However, with an optimistic mindset and some self control, I guarantee anyone can overcome being an outright glutton.

Some tips from a personal trainer to prevent holiday over-eating:

-Eat will prevent you from overeating later!

-When available, eat fruit and plain vegetables...if this means you have to stop at a grocery store and keep some bananas, apples and oranges in your car, do it!

-When at a restaurant, split a meal with your spouse or friend.

-Limit yourself to 1-2 "dessert" items a day and STOP when you reach your limit!

-Exercise...traveling can make this difficult, but Mr. PT and I still managed to get a few runs, walks and even a swim in!  Ask friends and family if they have a free pass to their gym, walk the family dog, run to a nearby playground and do some strength training.

-Drink drink drink water water water...alcohol may be flowing every night but that doesn't mean you have to be a sot!  Have 1 glass of wine or beer and drink water the rest of the night.  Allow yourself 1-2 nights of tipsiness, after all, it is the holiday season!

-Do not get discouraged...if you have a rough day for eating, tell yourself you'll do better tomorrow.  If you get down on yourself your poor eating habits will continue!

I realize this list is coming a little late to some, but the next holiday is right around the corner.  Or maybe you can read this list and think, wow, I actually did pretty well this year! Or perhaps you can use this as a starting point for some new year resolutions.

Either way, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and I hope this new year of 2012 brings everyone joy, peace, and good health.  To life!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Season for Soup: Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

If you have not noticed already, Mr. PT are big soup eaters in these colder months.  They are comforting, easy to make, and long lasting.  The perfect winter meal.

Here is another squash variety to try!  This one includes carrots, giving it an extra healthy boost.

You will need:
-3 cups peeled, diced butternut squash (about 1 small squash)
-2 cups thinly sliced carrot (4 medium)
-3/4 cup thinly sliced leek or chopped onion
-1 tbs butter or margarine
-2 14 oz cans reduced sodium chicken broth
-1/4 tsp ground white pepper (I used black and it was fine)
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
-1/4 cup light cream or milk

In a large covered saucepan cook squash, carrot, and leek in hot butter over medium heat about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add broth.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat.  Simmer covered for 25-25 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.  Cool slightly.

Place 1/3 of the squash mixture in a food processor or blender.  Cover and process or blend until almost smooth.  Repeat with remaining squash mixture.  Return all of mixture to saucepan.  Add white pepper and nutmeg; bring just to boiling.  Add light cream or milk, heat through.  Garish with pumpkin seeds and/or tarragon.  Serve with a nice, crusty bread.  Curl up next to the fire, turn on that football game and enjoy!

Combine with a day off...if you are an avid exerciser it's very important to give your muscles a day to recuperate.  Allowing your body the chance to rest will result in better workouts and a better functioning you.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Baker's Biscotti

Whether you like it or not, the holidays are here!  For me, that means spending more time with family and friends, filling the house with familiar decorations and smells, and enjoying the warmth of the season.

That is, when I'm not lying in bed sick with a nasty cold.  Unfortunately, along with the holidays comes the winter season which means cold and flu bugs are abundant.

Anyway, before I got this nasty virus, I was able to make one of my favorite Christmas treats, biscotti!  I got this amazing recipe from my Aunt Claudette who has quite the Italian background.  Mr. PT, who is not a moca drinker, loves this recipe because it produces a cookie that is soft and can be eaten on its own...dipping these biscotti into coffee is encouraged, but not necessary.

You will need:
-3 cups flour
-1 1/4 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
-3 eggs
-1 cup sugar
-1/4 cup butter
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-1 tsp almond extract
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 tsp lemon zest
-1 cup almond slivers or your favorite nut
-1 cup dried fruit, optional (I use dried cranberries or cherries)

Grease your cookie sheet or cover in parchment paper.  Melt butter and let cool.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt.  Set aside.  Whisk eggs, sugar, butter, oil, vanilla, almond extract and lemon zest.  Gradually stir in dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts.

Form one large or four small logs from dough.  I make 3-4 small logs and flatten into a square.  Bake 30 minutes at 325 degrees.

Let cool, then cut on the diagonal into slices.  Toast each side in the oven for 10 minutes to give it a little crisp.

You can wrap these up and freeze them for the holidays, drizzle them with icing to make them fancy, or snack on them straight from the oven!  They have  a wonderful flavor and are not too sweet.  Enjoy!  And remember, everything in moderation, even Christmas cookies!

Combine with some Pilates!  Find a class at your local gym or get yourself a video to follow at home.  You might re-discover your abdominal muscles!