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Maple Dijon Winter Vegetables

It’s hard for me to write out this recipe, because it makes me so hungry. There is nothing better than roasted brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes when it’s cold outside, in my humble opinion. Dressed in a savory sweet vinaigrette, my two favorite veggies become even more delicious, if that’s possible. This dish can be eaten as a main course or a side dish, and it’s surprisingly filling. Even my meat-obsessed boyfriend thought it was full after eating a bowl of it.

This was a great recipe during my cleanse – it’s vegan, and gluten-free of course, and PACKED with nutrients. If you would like, you’re welcome to sub out any of the veggies. Butternut squash would be another delicious choice. If you serve it over kale, it is an excellent vegan meal.

Nutritional Benefits:

Brussels Sprouts are members of the cabbage family, which contain more cancer-fighting properties than any vegetable family. They also contain a chemical called sinigrin, which suppresses precancerous cells. If you aren’t a fan of these little guys, try buying them on the stalk. They’ll stay fresher and won’t go bad as quickly. The older the brussels sprouts, the more bitter they will taste.

Sweet potatoes are in the morning-glory family, and actually aren’t related to regular potatoes at all. Sweet potatoes are a great source of fiber, vitamin A and potassium. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and contain rich antioxidants. And don’t leave off the skin! It contains the most fiber.

Carrots are high in antioxidant compounds called carotenoids, which are notable for their cancer preventative qualities. They’re also great for your eyes! And forget what you heard about carrots being a high-carb food. The carrot has a high glycemic index, but its glycemic load is extremely low, which is the number that really counts.

A word about maple syrup: Never, and I mean NEVER use your standard Hungry Jack/Aunt Jemima “maple” syrup. Check the back of the label for the ingredients and you’ll see what I mean. These versions are filled with unnatural junk like high-fructose corn syrup and nasty preservatives. True maple syrup contains lower calories and a higher mineral content than honey, and is a grade sweetener in moderation. It also contains some antioxidants. Grade B maple syrup is actually the best, least processed you can buy, if you can find it.

Get in my belly.

Ingredients:
1 cup brussels sprouts (trimmed and halved)
1 cup thickly sliced carrots
1 sweet potato, cut into cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grade B or grade A maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 clove garlic (minced)
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1.Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Toss the carrots, sweet potato cubes, and brussels sprout halves in one TBS of oil and season with salt and pepper
3. Arrange the veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet.
4. Roast for 30 minutes, until the veggies start to caramelize, flipping them once after 15 minutes.
5. Mix the remaining oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
6. Toss the veggies in the maple Dijon vinaigrette and serve. Serve over kale if desired.

Health Headlines

The latest news in nutrition

The Food Network Show "Fat Chef"

Sugar May Be Bad, But is the Alternative Worse? (Wired)

Studies suggest that artificial sweeteners might be fueling the obesity epidemic.

Restaurant A: How Bill Marler Tied Taco Bell to Salmonella Outbreaks (The Atlantic)

A recent outbreak sickened 68 people, but the CDC refused to make the name of the source of the contaminated food available to the public.

How Two Bitter Adversaries Hatched a Plan to Change the Egg Business (NPR)

The President of the Humane Society and the President of the United Egg Producers join together and lobby for a new law that would allow farmers to keep their chickens in cages, but with twice as much space.

Modified Crops Tap a Wellspring of Protest (NYT)

A Suit Airs Debate on Organic vs. Modified Crops

Junk Food Widely Available at Elementary Schools (USA Today)

Little has changed in four years despite advocacy campaigns to improve kids’ diets. Recent data suggest that almost 20 percent of elementary school children nationwide are obese.

Walmart to label healthier food as “Great For You” (Chicago Tribune)

Michelle Obama says the new seal gives parents information they need to make healthy choices, which is “a key piece of solving childhood obesity.”

Josh Ozersky: Why ‘Fat Chef’ is Depressing and Appealing (Time)

The new show Fat Chef is remarkably truthful about how we cook and eat in America, but it’s also a spectacle of shame

Sugar Tax Needed, say US Experts (BBC News)

According to a University of California team, new policies such as taxes are needed to control soaring consumption of sugar and sweeteners.

California’s Stevia Growers Bet On Fast Track To Sweetener Success (NPR)

Farmers invest big in the zero-calorie sugar substitute.

Fat with friends? Why eating with your pals can lead to weight gain (NY Daily News)

A study showed people tend to mimic each other’s eating behavior, bite for bite

New Year’s Metamorphosis

I’ve always believed I have no will power.  No self-control.  Especially when it comes to eating healthy and exercising.  I’ve been on multiple diets in the past but I’ve always found a lame reason to cheat.  Free bagels in the break room at work.  Extra french fries that my friend is just too full to eat.  The episode of Sex & The City that’s on seems way more interesting than going to the gym even though I’ve already seen it seven times.  I thought I wanted to make a change – eat healthy and get in great shape so I could finally feel good about myself.  But for some unknown reason, I just couldn’t progress past those first few days.  By this point I had broken so many diet commitments that I had just come to accept the fact that I would never get into the shape I had been dreaming of.  So when I decided to make another New Year’s resolution, I wasn’t convinced that I’d actually follow through with it.

After seeing an infomercial early one morning, I impulsively bought Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis program.  The fact that she is accredited with sculpting Gwyneth Paltrow’s banging body and she looks like this might have something to do with it.

Tracy Anderson

I opted for the Omnicentric version.  When it came in the mail, I was super excited.  And then I started reading through everything I had to do.  Work out using Tracy’s DVDs six days a week for three whole months?!  Preplan and cook ALL my meals at home for three whole months?!  Drink only one glass of wine a night a MAXIMUM of three nights a week FOR THREE WHOLE MONTHS?!?!?!  My only motivator at this point was the indispensable $90 I spent to pay for the program.

Luckily for me, my sister was starting a 30-day cleanse at the same time.  Knowing someone else was going to suffer alongside me was also helpful.  So we composed our mile-long grocery lists and headed to the store.  Twice.  Now I was all in.  I had spent about $200 total on this program and I wasn’t about to just throw it all away.  I don’t have that kind of money!  I spent about six hours that first weekend preparing all my meals for the first week.

Here’s how the plan works:  the odd weeks are called “nutrient boost weeks.”  During these weeks, I basically eat seven small pureed meals a day.  I’m currently on week three.

The even weeks are labeled “body reset weeks.”  I like these weeks more because I get to eat more normal things such as hard boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast and chicken and veggies for dinner.  There’s also more variety during the even weeks.  The best part of the nutrition plan is the amount of money I’ve saved on food.  Maggie warned me this would happen but I had no idea the savings would be this monumental.  When I did the math I discovered that I’m spending an average of $3.43 per meal!  That’s cheaper than a fast food meal!  And MUCH healthier.  And they say low-income individuals and families can only afford unhealthier foods.  This is proof that that’s not true!  Another phenomenon that has developed from this plan is that I don’t even miss my favorite vices: bread, cheese, lattes and the painful amounts of booze I usually consume each weekend.  As a matter of fact, without these foods in my diet I feel much lighter, have zero food-induced stomachaches and I just feel much healthier in general.

Foods from a nutrient boost week: From left to right - Chocolate Pudding, Chili, Chicken Spinach Crumble, Blueberry Applesauce, and Power Juice

As for the workouts, I do the same cardio workout every day.  Yep, for 90 days.  And it’s not easy.  Tracy Anderson jumps around like a wild woman.  It’s like 30 full minutes of mobile jumping jacks.  I won’t lie, after the first day I had a raging headache.  But now that I’m becoming more familiar with the workout, it has become easier.

I really do enjoy the “transform” workouts.  Tracy has developed her programs specifically for women.  She targets the small muscular groups rather than the large ones, such as biceps, so her clients’ bodies can become tighter and more feminine rather than bulky and masculine.  The “transform” workouts are also 30 full minutes but they change every 10 days so your muscles don’t get bored and stop developing.

To be completely honest with you, I have actually cheated already.  I haven’t stayed on top of the workouts like I should for a couple reasons:  1) I still have a gym membership so I’ve spent some days going to classes rather than working out at home and 2) some days I’m a lazy sack and I just sit on the couch instead.  I’m about 5 days behind but I’ve been trying to step it up lately.  In terms of food, sometimes I want something crunchy when I’m spending my weeks eating meals with the consistency of baby food!  So I’ll snag a handful of pistachios or a delicious Kind bar.  They’re still decently healthy snacks so I don’t feel that guilty.

Some of my favorite Kind Bars

This program has already completely revolutionized my thinking about what is “healthy.”  I’ve learned to basically avoid anything that isn’t completely natural.  I know this seems extreme, but I truly believe that I would not feel this great or have lost the weight I have by keeping processed foods in my diet.  I’ve also learned that my eyes are insanely bigger than my stomach, portion control is key and I need to listen to my body to determine when I’m truly hungry.  Throughout this diet I’ve been eating portions between four and ten ounces each and I really haven’t felt like I’m being starved.  As a matter of fact, I ate an omelet out the other day and what I would normally kill off in one sitting, I could barely finish over the course of two meals without feeling like I was going to explode.

I know it’s only been two and a half weeks, but this is the longest I’ve ever stuck to a disciplined diet!  My former doubt of my will to commit has been squashed.  Wondering how?  I found a program that focuses on nutrition AND fitness.  All my meals and workouts are planned out for me every day so I’m never wondering if I’m eating the right foods or focusing on the proper muscle groups.  I also started seeing results very early on.  Within the first week, I had already lost about 4 pounds.  And after 17 days, I’m down seven pounds, I’ve lost an 1.5 inches from my waist, 3/4 of an inch from my hips, 1.5 inches from my thighs, and my stomach is already noticeably flatter.  Talk about motivation!  Last but not least, I had invested a good deal of money in the program right from the beginning so I felt obligated to press on.

I would definitely recommend Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis program to any woman!  But if you decide to follow another route for your transformation, I recommend that you look for a program that has you fully invested from the start, provides you with a detailed fitness AND nutrition plan, and vows to deliver results quickly.

I’m not going to post my “before” pictures (nightmare) , but if this program gets me into the shape I’m hoping it will, I might just post my “after” pictures for you all to see!

Grapefruit, Avocado and Watercress Salad

This is one of my favorite lunch recipes during my cleanse. It’s a balanced and craveable salad, with not too many ingredients or hassle. Plus, it has great color! The whole salad only has 346 calories and enough healthy fats to keep you full for hours.

Health Benefits:

Grapefruit is a high volume food, which helps fill you up without many calories. Grapefruit also contains substances called limonoids, which inhibit the development of cancer and reduce cholesterol. Red grapefruit contains lycopene, a carotenoid that has been associated with reduced risk of prostrate and other cancers. Choose red over white grapefruit – it is a lot higher in antioxidants and vitamin A, beta-carotene, and lycopene than white grapefruit.

Watercress contains four times the calcium and six times the magnesium of milk. It also has as much vitamin C as oranges and more iron than spinach. And for only 4 calories a cup! Watercress is rich in vitamins A and K and also neutralizes cancer-causing carcinogens.  Talk about a superfood!

Avocados get a bad rap for their high fat content, but the type of fat in avocados, monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil and other nuts, actually lowers cholesterol. Avocados contain lutein, an antioxidant that’s great for your eyes and skin. The yummy fruit (yep, fruit) is also a great source of fiber and potassium.

Pecans are loaded with nutrients like potassium and vitamin E and are a great source of fiber. They also have a good amount of healthy monounsaturated fat. Studies have shown that eating nuts may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Ingredients:

2 cups of watercress, most of the stems removed

1/2 ruby red grapefruit

1/2 avocado

1/8 cup of pecans or hazelnuts, toasted

1 TBS lemon juice

1 TBS apple cider vinegar

1/2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Mix lemon juice, vinegar, and oil to make a vinaigrette. Toss watercress in vinaigrette. Top with grapefruit sections, avocado slices and nuts. Enjoy!

My Cleanse Diary

A couple of cleanse-approved meals I've been eating: Spicy veggie chili, banana nut oatmeal, maple dijon roasted veggies, and grapefruit, avocado and watercress salad

I just realized how long it’s been since I’ve posted… over a month! Probably because I was extremely unhealthy in December and didn’t have too much to contribute to this blog.

In December I cheated… a LOT. I was a slave to the ubiquitous cocktail party, the office Christmas cookie tin, and too many fattening family gatherings to count. During the New Year’s weekend, I looked around at all the empty beer cans and pizza boxes my friends and I had accumulated during our calorie-filled (but ridiculously fun) ski trip in Michigan, and realized my body had had enough.

I soon after pledged allegiance to the SoCal cleanse for the month of January. Animal products, gluten, fried foods, processed food, alcohol, and caffeine are off limits. For the cleanse, my diet consists of clean foods including fruits, veggies, gluten-free whole grains like oatmeal and quinoa, and legumes.

Every morning I start with a cup of hot water and lemon, followed by a vegetarian breakfast. I usually eat oatmeal with fruit and honey or a baked sweet potato with coconut oil and cinnamon (it tastes better than it sounds). I also take two SoCal cleanse detox formula supplements during breakfast and lunch.

Lunch is another vegan meal. So far my favorites have been super spicy vegan chili, quinoa with black beans and veggies, and grapefruit, avocado and watercress salad with toasted pecans (all my own concotions, recipes coming soon). SoCal supplied some recipes, but a truly disgusting attempt at walnut tacos made me rethink using them ever again.

Dinner is a SoCal cleanse hemp protein shake mixed with almond milk and fruit. After some tinkering, it actually tastes pretty good! The trick is to use at least a half of a banana for consistency. After dinner I end my day with some SoCal cleanse herbal tea.

So, have I lost any weight? Only a couple of pounds, but that wasn’t really the goal anyway. I did lose an inch off my waist, and I feel amazing. My stomach feels flatter than it’s been in a long time.

The cleanse hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. Living without cheese and eggs is probably the hardest food wise, and I have avoided bars that I like to drink at so I don’t hate my life. When I get up early to work out (which has only been a couple of times) it has been SO HARD living without coffee.

I have cheated… a couple of times…

When I’ve felt too tired to function, I’ve made myself a couple of mugs of caffeinated tea. SO SUE ME. These people have to be crazy calling caffeine toxic. If it’s so toxic, why does it make me feel so GOOD?!?! WHY?

Also, when I was feeling around my pantry a couple of days ago I came upon a Reese’s Christmas tree. I left it on my kitchen counter for a couple of minutes and just looked at it, but I soon found myself in a frenzy, tearing into it without abandon like my bullmastiff does when he discovers half-eaten boxes of old takeout food on our walks downtown.

Three different nights I have gone out to eat instead of drinking my shake, for some necessary social interaction with my friends. Luckily, the places that we went, Naked Tchopstix (2x) and Divvy in Carmel (if you haven’t tried it you need to now!) had some awesome vegan and gluten-free options so I could still stick to my cleanse.

I still have two weeks left, but I’m loving this cleanse so far! After I’m done, I might only add lean protein, a minimal amount of wine, and tea to my current menu. I feel so great that I don’t want to ruin it all with copious amounts of fattening food and booze come February. We will see how Super Bowl weekend goes though!

What have you been doing for your New Year’s resolutions?

South African Cuisine

My 12-day trip to South Africa turned out to be one of the best trips I have ever taken.  I went on five safaris and had the opportunity to tour through a country of diverse culture, limitless adventure, and unparallelled beauty.  However, the one thing I was less than impressed with was the local fare.  But in all fairness, as I scroll through Wikipedia’s list of South African foods, I’m quickly realizing that I really didn’t have the opportunity to eat many traditional items while I was there last month.  But what I did try ranked as middelmatig [Afrikaans (one of 11 of South Africa’s official languages) for mediocre] to my tastebuds.  As a matter of fact, I was as bored as this lion…

The choices weren’t extremely healthy, but I decided to highlight a list of things I noticed about South African food preferences anyway:

1. Pap (a traditional porridge made from ground maize – the white stuff on the left) is the country’s beloved side dish. I would describe the texture as a hybrid of mashed potatoes, grits and floam with the taste of air. Sounds appetizing, eh?

2.  They make no effort to de-bone their Cod, which seemed to be their fish of choice.  And why wouldn’t it be?  It also has as much taste as inhaling the atmosphere.  Could you imagine pairing Cod with Pap?!  I’m drooling just thinking about the explosion of flavor on my taste buds…

3.  Meat is a dinnertime fave and is usually somewhat shredded and soaked in some kind of a broth.

4.  Cooking with curry was made popular by the Durban Indian community and has since spread to other parts of South Africa.  Because I pride myself on my non-discriminatory taste buds, I have tried to enjoy this powder repeatedly and I just can’t seem to get into it.  So after trying curry-spiced meat once at dinner while on our trip and drawing the same conclusion I always do, I avoided it thereafter.

5.  King prawns are served fully intact.  Eyeballs and all.  Luckily, the meat is delicious and quite easy to scoop out of the middle so you can avoid all the additional unsightly appendages.

King prawns with sauteed vegetables

6.  KFCs are EVERYWHERE.  Didn’t see too many other American fast food chains though.

7.  Afrikaans koeksisters are a preferred dessert.  At first I thought they were braided doughnuts because that’s exactly what they look like.  But rather than being doughy in the middle, they taste like pure condensed sugar.  One bite of this rich little delicacy was more than enough for me.

8.  Morning coffee and tea is served with rusks, which are hard, dry, rectangular biscuits meant to be dunked in your beverage of choice.  It’s basically a flavorless poor man’s biscotti.  Still trying to figure out the point of this one…

As I said, I didn’t get to try as many South African foods as I thought I had, so I actually feel kind of guilty slamming this nation’s cuisine.  Maybe it’s because we were with a tour group and didn’t have much of a chance to be adventurous in our meal choices?  I had hoped to stumble across an Anthony Bourdain video so he could open my eyes to all the amazing foods I had missed.  But no such luck – he hasn’t shot an episode of “No Reservations” in South Africa yet.

But maybe all you readers can help me out!  If you’ve been to South Africa and the food was so fantastic that it blew your mind, please leave your comments and prove me wrong!  I hate that I left such an amazing country with a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended).

Beautiful Bodies: Karlie Kloss

Karlie Kloss Vogue Italia cover

Every year in the second week of December, Christmas cookies arrive at my office.

Our insurance company sends a Cheryl cookie arrangement. My favorite are the iced buttercream with sprinkles. Luckily for my waistline, it happens to be the favorite of everyone else at my office, so I usually don’t get one in time.

A couple days after the Cheryl cookies arrive, our medical supplies salesman brings an enormous plate of cookies from a bakery in Ohio. Actually, I can’t really call them cookies. More fitting a description would be an assortment of delectable crack-like morsels FIT FOR BABY JESUS HIMSELF.

Little cinnamon twisties, mini buttercream morsels sprinkled with crushed pistachios, flaky cream-filled pastry tubes, powder sugar dusted brownie bites, peanut butter cup bites – the images of these homemade goodies dance in my head like demonic, fat little elves.

Edited Karlie Kloss Vogue Italia photo

Yesterday, I massacred about ten of these little pastries, for reals. But today? Today I stare at photos from Karlie Kloss’ December Vogue Italia photoshoot, the one that has caused hella controversy.

Check out all the unedited photos and accompanying video at my fashion blog, The Haute Hoosier.

Yea, those abs are real!

People thought these photos were photoshopped (myself included), until Vogue released an accompanying video of the photoshoot. Yea, that six-pack? Those glutes? ALL REAL. Karlie Kloss, unlike most models who subsist on cigs and coke to stay trim (a totally unjust assumption, I know), clearly works out. A LOT. I mean, look at her derriere! It looks like God chiseled it from stone! If I had a butt like that I would probably live in a bikini.

Long story short, Karlie has inspired me. I have not touched a cookie today, and they no longer look appetizing to me. I know my butt will never look like hers, but there’s nothing wrong with some inspiration to keep me away from the sweets around Christmas time!

Who’s your body inspiration?

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