Again with the Diet and Exercise!!!! to everyone that came out for senior strength training today.  While this particular class has been slow to grow, today we were over 30 strong–and I DO mean strong…Don’t forget the SilverSneakers luncheon is this Thursday at 12:30 at China Buffet on University Drive and Sunset Strip—head count is about 110!  It’s our once a year splurge and we will just work harder tomorrow and Friday, because buffets are really not EVER our friends (veggies and tofu for this girl—see next paragraph) but being with our gym friends in a different environment is always great fun for all.   Thanks, Ellen, for taking care of all the arrangements!…

Confession.  In December I decided to really let my hair down and indulge like the rest of the world does through the holidays.  For the first time in, probably my entire adult life, I stopped counting calories and thinking about every food choice and just enjoyed.  I ate the most amazing vegan foods in Vegas (and with all the walking and hiking didn’t gain a pound) and came home to Chanukah, my birthday, Christmas and New Years.  My takeaway is that I can now truly understand how easy it is to put on the “average of 7 pounds” from Thanksgiving to New Years.  My bigger take away is that it really is harder to take the weight off, the older you get.  I am now officially a counter, once again.  Counting calories, counting steps (thanks to Carole and my pedometer which I wear every day) counting miles jogged, counting reps, etc.  While there are many roads to choose in the weight loss journey, for me, the only sensible way is counting calories and NOT by elimination of one food, or food group.  I have come to realize that most people that say they lost their weight by cutting way back on breads, rice, pasta and potatoes forget to include the worst culprits of all like cake, cookies, chips, ice cream, candy, donuts, creamy sauces, etc.,  We need to all get real with what we eat (and what we stop eating) so we aren’t “out there” offering false hope or spreading weight loss myths.  I am tired of potatoes taking the rap for the cookies and ice cream.  Nuff said.  About that, anyway.  It is, after all,  just my 2 cents.

I have many other things on my mind but feel that this entry has already turned into an all about me story, which I so hate (and have been shying away from)– I shared the above paragraph with you because I think the December “story” speaks to so many of us.  It is now 3 weeks into January and I hope that all of us have gained control of our eating/drinking/etc.  This isn’t just about weight gain, but much more importantly, about HEALTH.  It’s hard to be truly healthy when our numbers are out of whack.  We can all moan and b*tch about the state of health care in our country,  but don’t we each have a responsibility to take care of our own health???  Almost 100% of the time, when I watch people get to a healthy weight via exercise and healthful eating, I also watch their numbers stabilize and their health improve–often dramatically.  Let’s all stop placing blame and start taking control of our lives, regardless of the obstacles involved.  One life…….

I’ll be back at the gym tonight for 6pm cardio/combo and 7pm Yoga/Pilates streeeeetch reduction.  It was so nice, last week, to see so many faces I hadn’t seen in a while.  And some new ones, too!  Hope to see all of you again, tonight.  Doesn’t really matter where we get our daily dose of peaceandfitness, as long as we are getting it somewhere!

The Great Pumpkin

As a kid, one of the few foods I didn’t like, was pumpkin pie…and other than carving one, I didn’t know there was much else to do with this gourd.  Boy did I have a lot to learn!

Once we had the boys, I loved roasting the seeds and they loved eating them.  But there is so much more purpose for that great pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin is a fabulous substitute for the fats and liquids (butter and milk) in baking cakes, pancakes, brownies and so much more.  This makes it a perfect substitute for those on a plant-based diet as well as those that are looking to reduce calories.  You can use it in place of bananas to turn a banana bread into a pumpkin bread.  Rachel Ray suggests you add some roasted salted pumpkin seeds to give it more texture and taste.  You can also use it to thicken up smoothies and of course you can roast it just like any other gourd.  With only 30 calories in a whole cup,  and no fat, it provides 197% of your daily vitamin A requirement and helps balance our sacral chakras (which, for the record, is associated with, amongst other things, creativity and…!)

So whether you carve it, cook it, bake it, just pumpkin.  Two of my favorite pumpkins found their perfect one and sent me a great pic last night which inspired this post but…I can’t seem to reduce the size and get it on here.  Must be the ghost of Halloween messing with me……………….Maybe it will appear….and maybe it won’t….kind of like trick or treat………

The Great Wheel of Color…..

No coincidence that our chakras are these colors and that eating foods associated with the color of each chakra can help balance them.  This chart will be super helpful when putting together your own chakra salad!  Using these colors/foods as a guide will not only be great for your body, heart and soul, but also will end up making a really pretty presentation!

You Can Call Me…..

Mrs. Potato Head
Mrs. Potato Head (Photo credit: Onion)

It’s one thing to be watching calories and another to live on a plant-based diet but when you combine them, you obviously create a smaller list of foods that you are comfortable eating.  For years I struggled with the potato.  I absolutely love potatoes (any way and every way) but with the whole anti-carb hype, anti-“white” hype, I limited them for quite a while, reserving them for days of indulgence.

I admit I dreamed about an optimal nutritional plan that would include the potato, but all the “experts” made me pessimistic about the reality.  Then, a dental woe temporarily caused me to further limit the foods I could comfortably eat and I had to include baked potatoes.  In fact, for a few days, I was eating them more than once a day.  I was so happy.  And because eating was challenging, the scale dropped, no doubt because my calorie intake was lower than usual.

This prompted me to reconsider the white spud and I have been eating them a few times a week, ever since.  And the scale continued to reflect weight loss.  What I found was that by continuing to keep my calories at about 1500 a day (I approximate all this) I can still get in all my nutrients, keep from being hungry, sustain the energy I need for my athletic day AND enjoy my potatoes, too!

We all know that sweet potatoes are a great food for everyone and they are still a smarter choice, but for me, nothing compares to the plain old baked potato.  If I am feeling more indulgent, I will cut them up and toss them with some olive oil and kosher salt and grill them in a tin.  That side dish is always a treat and goes a long way when feeding a family or company.

So while there is no consistent info on the potatoes nutritional value (because no 2 spuds are quite the same) it is enough to know that a medium sized one is somewhere around 160 calories, provides about 1/4 of your days needs for all important potassium, about half your days needs for Vitamin C, and about 1/3 of the vitamin B-6 you require a day.  It is cholesterol free, fat free and eaten with the skin, gives you close to 5 grams of fiber, which is a lot for one food!  Remember, fiber is not only necessary for a healthy digestive system, but also helps us to continue to feel full well after a meal is over.  Though the potato is a high carb food, it provides about 5 grams of protein as well.  We need to stop thinking of foods as just carbs, or just proteins and understand that foods are a combination of nutrients and we need them all!

Clearly is you are on a high protein low carb diet, a potato will give you way too many carbs.  I am not a big fan of those diets, personally for a bazillion reasons, but that’s what works for me and I am a big fan of choice.

If you are a fan of the potato, don’t be afraid of it.  Instead watch what you adorn it with!  I use a bit of Earth Balance “butter” and lots of nutritional yeast which I love and gives me a lot of added nutrients.  That said, I could just as easily enjoy one whole, like an apple.  As my father-in-law always says, “You have never met a potato you don’t like.”

So I will simply sign this,

Mrs. Potato Head

Yes, I am sad about King James leaving our Miami Heat.  I am not bitter.  Like I said, I am a fan of choice and I wish him and his family well, though I will miss him as he has been my favorite! 

Yes, I will be at the gym this morning for class.  Next Saturday class is cancelled as I will excitedly be attending my soon to be daughter’s bridal shower.  3 weeks till the wedding!!! WOW


Mango Bango!

Mango, манго - дары тропиков
Mango, манго – дары тропиков (Photo credit: Tatters ❀)

Here in South Florida mangoes are the happening fruit.  They are falling from trees everywhere, including our own backyard.  Whether you like to peel them and eat them over the sink, cut them in half and scoop them out, (our favorite way) slice them or dice them, they are at their sweetest right about NOW.  They are awesome refrigerated, grilled (yum) or just the way they are!  You can use them in smoothies or as topping for cereals and salads, or make them into a mango salsa.  A cup of mango is just 100 calories, fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free and supplies you with 3 grams of fiber.  That same one cup provides 100% of our daily Vitamin C requirement!

My experience is that mangoes are at their best when they have JUST fallen from a tree.  Be careful when you pick them in a store.  They should be slightly soft to the touch or the flavor may be off, which gives mangoes a bad rap.

– See more at:

Is Myth #2 Affecting Your Weight Loss Goal?

John and Ocean Robbins after presentation
John and Ocean Robbins after presentation (Photo credit: bamalibrarylady)

Last week I registered for The Food Revolution Summit,  a free, online series of lectures by some of the most well respected professionals in the field of nutrition, longevity and health.  Thus far, I have gotten to tune into some awesome speakers, including Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who all spoke about food as medicine.  Regardless of who spits it, the message is the same.  We can prevent and reverse most all diseases of “affluence,” by avoiding the foods that are making us sick and substituting them, instead, with a wide variety of colorful plant-based choices.  Always hungry for more information on this topic, I am thankful to John and Ocean Robbins (of the Baskin-Robbins family) for putting together such a comprehensive summit and making it available to the public, free of charge.

But I want to go back to the myths that are sabotaging our weight loss goals, and myth number 2 is one that I am guilty of, but definitely paying more attention to, now.  The myth is that healthy oils are good for our diet.

Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy.
Olive oil from Imperia in Liguria, Italy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Healthy oils are good for us, but it turns out, the quantity at which they consume them, is negatively impacting our weight loss.  It is estimated that Americans are eating up to 700 calories a day in healthy oils.  If, like me, you make your own healthy homemade salad dressing, you will be using a decent amount of olive oil, right there.  At 120 calories in a tablespoon, we can all see where the calories might add up quickly.  So you take this huge, gorgeous salad, filled with all the colors of the rainbow and very low in calories and you add a few tablespoons of olive oil and boom, you just increased the calories by a few hundred.  Then, if like me, you are using olive oil as a base to marinate foods, in my case veggies and tofu, it is easy to see how the numbers get out of hand.

Dr. Furhman makes a great suggestion in that you can saute onions, garlic, etc., in a little bit of water and get a very similar outcome.  If you are using tomato sauce in your dish, you can use that to saute vegetables.  Sunday, instead of grilling my veggies, I cut up the eggplant and tomatoes (from Erica and Jeff’s garden–thank you) and did the same with some zucchini, onions and mushrooms from my fridge.  I used the very tiniest amount of oil (like one teaspoon) and then added some water as needed–I added one veggie at a time and then added just a few spoons of tomato sauce and let everything simmer down, covered.  The veggies came out great.  Last night I added a few strips of Beyond Meat chickenless, chicken (in the Publix freezer aisle near the Gardein products) to the leftovers and had a low calorie, high protein, and extremely satisfying meal.

No one is saying you can’t have your healthy oils.  They are in fact healthy.  Healthier, though, is being at your ideal weight.  Cutting back on some of the oil, and getting those healthy nutrients through a few walnuts tossed on your salad, will help bring you closer to your goal!

AWARENESS is everything.  Once we are aware of anything in our lives, we are able to make choices that can lead us closer to our goals, be they on the scale, in the gym, or in all aspects of life.

I will be at the gym today at 10 to sub for Ellen who goes back to the doctor for a follow-up tomorrow.  I will be at the gym for my own 11:30, 6 and 7 o’clock classes.  See you there, or right here.  Thanks for stopping by for a little dose of peaceandfitness.

To Peep, or Not to Peep. That is the Question.

Yes, the gym is open today and yes, I will be there to teach my regularly scheduled morning class.  See you there, or back here.

Enjoy your day, peeps.  But keep in mind, each PEEP you eat is about 28 calories.  You’ll have to walk about 8 minutes to burn one off.  It’s all about choices, so if you have to have the peeps, make sure to lace up those sneakers and get moving….or just say

English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Make Mine a Double!

Oatmeal (Photo credit: DeSegura89)

So here’s a quick tip I learned about making oatmeal that I wish I knew sooner.  If you take the exact same amount of oats as you usually use (1/2 cup is 1 serving) and double the amount of water (2 cups instead of 1) and double the cooking time, you will end up with a bowl of oatmeal that is not only double the amount of volume but also a much creamier consistency.  I find that when I make it this way, I have to let it sit for a bit after cooking to let the remaining water absorb into the oats.  Then I add my ground flax, some vegan protein, a little bit of peanut butter and whatever else might be going into the bowl.  Play around with the recipe until you find your perfect texture, but if you are the type of person that like QUANTITY, you will appreciate this tip!  It is also a great tip for families on a budget, looking to stretch their breakfast dollar.  Thanks to the Hungry Girl in the Kitchen, for this one!

Pops and Springs…

List of U.S. state foods
List of U.S. state foods (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did you know that popcorn without any oils added is a 100% whole grain food and one serving provides more than 70% of our recommended daily dietary need?  Along with the high fiber it provides it also contains a significant amount of the class of antioxidants known as polyphenols and while it should never replace fresh fruits and vegetables, it actually has 2-3 times the amount of those polys as compared with corn, or any fruit.

If you want to keep your popcorn free of animal products, buy the bottle of kernels and pop it in a machine, or just a pot with a lid.  Locally, Publix brand of microwaveable popcorn is also free of animal products.  If you are watching your calories, you will want to limit your serving size and avoid most toppings, like butter, oil or grated cheese.  I love my popcorn with nutritional yeast which gives it a cheesy flavor.

Of course tomorrow there will probably be another study that tells us all the bad things about popcorn.  But that’s a topic for another day!

The best thing about today is that is THE LAST day of winter.  Hold on, cause spring is about to ….spring!