Super Simple Chicken Thighs and Cauliflower in a Slow-Cooker

1 pkg. (about 5-6 pieces) boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
1 cauliflower head, sectioned into quarters
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
20 oz canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
2 sprigs rosemary
salt and pepper

In the photo, we used a homemade puree of a mixture of red and yellow home-grown heirloom tomatoes (hence the orange color) but you can use store-bought.

Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper and place them, along with the tomatoes, onion flakes, garlic and rosemary in a slow-cooker on high. Cook 3-4 hours. One hour before serving, add the cauliflower, nestling it down into the liquid. (If it doesn’t all fit submerged, simply rotate their position once or twice during cooking so it absorbs the tomato flavors.) When tender and ready, spoon and serve.

Notes: We don’t like dry, chicken breasts in our house, preferring the juicier, dark meat instead. To offset the fact that they are slightly higher in fat and calories, I simply do a good job of trimming before cooking and don’t add any extra fat (although olive oil would be okay). Much of the chicken fat is released into the tomatoes, and most of that isn’t actually eaten–unless you want to. If you do, it is lovely spooned onto potatoes or pasta. There is a lot of flexibility with this dish. It’s one of my go-to recipes I keep in my head.

How to Turn Health Goals Into Healthy Lifestyle Changes

GUEST POST by Sheila Olson,

How to Turn Health Goals Into Healthy Lifestyle Changes

We’ve all been there before: you wake up one day feeling motivated to make some big changes for your health. But all too often, the ambitious goals we make never really translate into any real action. The resulting feelings of disappointment can make you want to give up altogether on those goals. But with some simple tweaks, you can easily turn those healthy aspirations into long-term healthy habits. Here’s how:

Know Yourself and Your Motivations

When you set goals for your life, you really have to be thoughtful about your ability to achieve those goals. Your personality and current lifestyle choices can factor into your success, so give those elements careful thought. Realize that while the latest fad or health craze may work for your friends, it may not work best for you, and that’s okay! For example, if you’re an introvert that wants to become more active, pass on the social fitness trends, like barree or spinning, where you will be in contact with a big group of people. Instead, look for an activity like running or swimming that gives you time to introspect and reflect. Or you can enjoy the fresh air and clear your mind by going hiking (just make sure to take safety into account). On the other hand, if you’re an extrovert who tends to bail on the gym in favor of hanging out with friends, then signing up for those group classes could be a positive motivator to stay on track.

Identify a Clear Path Forward

Establishing a goal that aligns with your life and personality is only a portion of the work that goes into making long-term changes. Even the most thoughtful goals can fall flat when we don’t break them down into actionable steps. So after you’ve written out those smart goals, spend some time writing down some ways to achieve them.

When you’re crafting your action plan, start with small, short-term goals that will get you on the right track. Creating short-term goals that are easier to achieve can provide that self-esteem boost you need to keep powering forward with your healthy new routine. Short-term exercise goals can include spending an hour, or even a half hour, on your activity of choice twice a week. Want to eat healthier? Instead of restricting calories, try smaller changes like replacing simple carbs with complex carbs, or cut down on sugar. You can also take better care of your mental health because addressing depression can help with health and weight-loss goals.

Take that positive feeling you get from conquering those short-term goals and start building toward the bigger challenges. Those smaller steps are a much more sustainable path toward change. After all, you didn’t develop your unhealthy habits overnight, and you’re not going to change them overnight either, and that’s perfectly fine!

Learn From Your Failures

One of the hardest truths about changing your habits is this: You are going to feel like you’ve failed at some point. You may not reach your original goal in the time frame you’d hoped, but if you treat it as a complete failure, you will only feel discouraged and revert back to those old habits. Instead, allow for those small failures and know that you can move past them. So if you have that slice of cake at lunch, get back on track with a healthy dinner later. Don’t let one slip-up or treat turn into total defeat. Allow yourself to be human and to make those mistakes.

Make Progress, Not Perfection, Your Goal

Here’s the thing about your health: It really is a lifelong journey, not a short-term competition. If weight loss is your goal, you may lose 10 pounds that first month and only two pounds the next. But as long as you are staying on track with your habits and working hard, even those small successes should make you feel proud.

Dreaming about being healthier can be fun, but actually changing your habits to be healthier is even better. So if you really want to turn those dreams into action, sit down and come up with a plan, and know that it will take some real work to reach your goals. You can totally do this!

Image via Pixabay

Pickled Watermelon Salad

Light and satisfying, this will become a family favorite.


3 1/2 c. water
2/3 c. sugar
1 T salt
1 c. cider vinegar
2 T fresh dill weed chopped
½ tsp minced garlic
2 dashes cayenne
1 tsp. black peppercorns
2 tsp mustard seeds

1 small round watermelon, rind removed, seeded and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes (about 16 cups)

Garnish: Fresh chopped cilantro or parsley

Combine brine ingredients: water, sugar, salt, vinegar, dill, garlic, cayenne, peppercorns and mustard seeds, in small saucepan and simmer 30 minutes. Strain and cool.

Clean and cut watermelon. Place in a 1-gallon jar (or use two, 2-qt canning jars). Pour strained brine over watermelon to cover, and chill for about an hour. Drain and serve topped with fresh chopped, flat leaf parsley (In our family, we like cilantro.) Makes 1 gallon of salad.

Sugar and Weight Loss: How Sugar Affects Your Weight Loss Goals


Perhaps the biggest topic in health and wellness these days is sugar and how to cut back on consuming it. For ages, the average adult would add a spoonful of sugar here and there to food— it never seemed like a big deal. But over time, food manufacturers started adding sugar to just about everything in the grocery store, even foods that you don’t think of as sweet, like crackers and spaghetti sauce.

Today it’s clear that  sugar is linked to various illnesses and conditions, and it is likely a major culprit connected to the rise in obesity and weight gain in this country. The information below will  give some background on the sugar debate and suggest ways in which you can cut it out for good. More:

Learn to Handle Stress

Personal growth comes from making wise choices every day.

I don’t mention this often, but it’s important to handle stress in healthy ways in order to lose weight and maintain it at a healthy level. I am one of those persons who would, if I let myself, turn to food for comfort when life becomes stressful. In addition to that, I tend to want to eat when I’m bored. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and feel bored. I’m not making a joke, it’s an odd quirk. As long as I’m aware of it, I can go back to sleep without snacking.

I digress, let’s go back to handling stress. Life will always be stressful, and when that changes, it may only be to become more stressful. This is why we must find healthy ways to deal with it that don’t involve eating. Vigorous walking is one of my favorite things. It works for me, and it burns calories. it’s a perfect solution. Whatever method you choose to handle stress, it needs to be enjoyable, and something you can do consistently. When life drops a bomb on me, I go for a walk, rather than eating or drinking. That reminds me: alcohol offers only empty calories, and it’s addicting. It’s not a solution. Leave it behind as a part of your lifestyle change. I know this last point will be unpopular, but I stand by it as part of a healthy overhaul of one’s daily routine. Personal growth comes from making wise choices every day.

Do You Think Like a Thin Person?

Start thinking like a thin person and the rest will follow.

August 7th, 2018 is the 11-year anniversary of the day I began my weight loss journey. In a little over a year after that, I had lost 88 pounds. Since that time, I’ve kept nearly all of it off. I go up and down by 5 pounds now and then, but overall I feel 100% successful. A big reason is my faith. Another is my mindset. I made lifestyle changes that I maintain to this day. I DO think like a thin person and that spills over into my choices and activities. If I veer off course, I bring myself back before I go too far astray from my plan. “This isn’t me,” I say to myself.

Earlier today I read the following article at Web MD. I’d like to share it with you. If you’re interested in thinking like a thin person, click here.

Slow Cooker Tomato Soup

This soup can also be made in a sauce pot on the stove.

Two adjustments (using vegetable broth instead of beef and omitting anchovy paste) make this a satisfying vegetarian soup, so whatever your lifestyle, this hits the mark.

2 tablespoon olive oil (for browning the onions)
½ cup diced yellow onion, browned
1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
½ teaspoon anchovy paste (optional)
black pepper, to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced (none if making this for kids)
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
2 cans (14.5 oz.) diced, stewed tomatoes
2 Tablespoons tomato puree
1 can (14.5 oz.) beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

First, brown onions in olive oil and then put in a slow cooker. Add the rest of the ingredients, set cooker to low and cook (3-4 hours). If you start this in early afternoon, it will be ready for supper. Before serving, blend lightly with a few pulses (don’t do this when soup is hot, it will blow out of the blender, trust me). In our house, we don’t want a fine puree, only medium, but do what your family likes. You can omit this step and simply serve the soup chunky.

Garnish with one or more of these: fresh croutons. Basil leaves, fresh grated Parmesan cheese, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.

Greek-Style Candied Walnut and Mixed Greens Salad

For an Italian version, use crumbled Gorgonzola cheese in place of feta.

½ c. walnut halves
3 T white sugar
3 cups mixed greens
½ c. craisins or dried cherries
½ c. feta cheese
2 green onions, chopped, tops and all
1 T capers or chopped Greek olives (optional)

Whisk together equal amounts of balsamic vinegar and olive oil with a pinch of salt and black pepper to make a balsamic vinaigrette.

Candied walnuts: Place the walnuts and sugar in a skillet over medium heat (do not burn). Stir until sugar melts and is light brown (about 1 minute). Stir to coat walnuts, about 1 more minute. Remove from heat and spread on foil to cool, then break apart if necessary.

Assemble and toss salad ingredients, top with candied walnuts and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.

Makes two salads.

Calculating your BMI

How to determine your BM!

Facts about BMI

Knowing how to calculate your BMI is one of many things you can do to be proactive in managing your weight. This link goes to a page that helps you make this calculation and determine your risk factors for health complications due to obesity. That same website also has some detailed descriptions of various forms of bariatric surgery (for informational purposes only). I am not a proponent of surgery other than as a last resort. Those who know me, know that I accomplished my 88 lb. weight loss with diet and exercise. I’ve kept my weight in a healthy range for over 10 years. However, I have a number of personal friends who have had versions of this kind of surgery with successful weight loss. They are happy with their choices. One other person I know lost weight and then gained it all back despite having the surgery. Another person I’m acquainted with, has had serious and life threatening complications. You are the steward of your body. Choose wisely.

Kale and Potato Soup

kale and potato soup in a bowl

Kale and Potato Soup

Serves 4
1 or 2 slices bacon, fried, chopped
1/4 c. finely chopped celery
¼ c. grated carrot
½ c. chopped mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups chicken stock
1 ½ c. finely chopped kale
½ tsp dried onions
1 medium (8 ounce) yellow or russet potato, scrubbed clean and chopped (about 1 ½ cups)
1 sprig rosemary or ½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (opt.)

Cook bacon in medium saucepot, remove, chop and return to pan. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes, then add chicken stock, kale, dried onions, potatoes, rosemary (or oregano). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. If you like, you can use a potato masher in the soup to break up the potatoes a little.

Cook 15-20 minutes. Soup is ready when potatoes are tender, but this soup is good/better made a day ahead and reheated. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian? Omit bacon, use olive oil, and vegetable broth.

Pineapple Cucumber Salad

pineapple salad

This salad makes a wonderful dessert

Not just another fruit salad. This fresh-tasting salad works as a dessert, side dish, or even a between-meal snack. The lime juice is the only dressing necessary. Many people don’t care for cilantro and you can use parsley if you must, but it’s the addition of cilantro and cucumber that makes this unique. Using salt and pepper sounds a little odd, but they do round out the flavors.

1 pineapple, peeled and chopped
1 English cucumber, chopped
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced or quartered
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/2 cup cilantro (or parsley), roughly chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper

1. Combine all ingredients and toss lightly to distribute the lime juice and zest evenly.
2. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
3. Serve immediately or keep chilled until ready to serve.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

tabboleh salad

Quinoa Tabboleh Salad

This recipe is light on calories and a delight to my vegan friends. Not vegan? You can toss in a little feta cheese if you like. That’s always good. Instead of mint, which is more traditional, I love using cilantro in this along with the parsley.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large English cucumber, finely diced (1/4 inch)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (or cilantro)
2 scallions, thinly sliced

1. Cook quinoa to package directions, drain and let cool (spread on a large, rimmed baking sheet).

2. Whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing. Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill, reserving remaining dressing and other ingredients until serving time.

4. Just before serving, add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with more salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over.

5. Options: feta cheese, black olives or kalamata olives.

Fitness tracker keeps me on track

Fitness tracker on wrist with bracelet style band

My Fitbit Alta with Greek key pattern band made by Bayite.

Now that I’ve maintained my weight loss and kept my mindset focused on healthy living for nearly 10 years, I can confidently say I’m a success. Expert? Yes, to the extent of my personal experience and range of study on the subject. I’m not a nutritionist but it’s in my own best interest to stay well-informed. I take what I’ve learned and I apply it to my daily routines. Over the years, I’ve changed some things to fit my lifestyle as I evolve and adjust, always with an eye towards maintaining everything I’ve gained.

Interestingly, as much as I love technology and gadgets, In all this time, I never felt an inclination to try any of the fitness trackers on the market—until this year. I should first mention, this is not a product endorsement in the sense that the Fitbit company did not give me the Alta I’m using in return for this blog post. I bought my Fitbit and now that I’ve used it for a while, I’m ready to talk about my experience which has been mostly good. I have one or two peeves but I’ll get to them later.

I first started with a $69 off-brand that worked reasonably well until it went through the wash in a pocket (twice) before it began to malfunction. By then I was very much in the habit of tracking my daily steps and I felt it gave me incentive to keep moving. So I went about researching smart watches thinking I would go that route, but in the end I didn’t feel they’d evolved enough to make me buy one.

After polling women I trusted in a Facebook group where I’m active, I settled on buying the Fitbit Alta (about $120). It’s very accurate as far as I can tell and has multiple features. I monitor my steps, calories burned, minutes of activity, my sleep patterns, weight lost or gained, what I’ve eaten, water intake and more. Of those things, the first four are my favorites. The alerts are great. If I happen to be away from my cell phone, a mild buzz on my wrist lets me know I’ve received a call or a text. I also use wake-up alerts and reminders to move around each hour. I keep it dry. It is water resistant but not waterproof. Don’t wear it in shower or while swimming. however, if you are sitting by a pool or riding in a boat and it gets splashed, just dry it right away and all will be fine.

I wasn’t thrilled with the synthetic band that came with it and the company’s offering was too rich for my budget at $89, so I opted for two or three fun and beautiful bands sold on Amazon by Bayite made specifically for the Fitbit Alta. (See my favorite in the photo, it was $18.) They have two sizes, small works best for me. Several manufacturers make bands for Fitbit models but they are not all alike. I read reviews carefully before I made my purchase.

Peeves: This applies to many brands and is more about waiting for the technology to catch up, but with both trackers I owned, it was difficult to read the screen in bright sunlight. The second thing that irks me—and this too, was characteristic of both trackers, is that the finger tap necessary to change the readout often needs to be repeated several times before anything happens. Grrr. Interestingly, the cheaper tracker (Striiv) allowed for a tap and finger swipe that was a bit easier to successfully execute than  straight tapping with the Fitbit Alta.

Overall, my Fitness tracker has become an important part of my routine and I wouldn’t be without it. It’s a great tool and my favorite helper.

Hey, it’s been a while since I sent you over to visit me on Facebook. Come see me some time.

Can your diet ever return to normal after weight loss?

a tomato splashed with water

Embracing the new normal in my life

With the coming of the new year and everyone making resolutions, I am reminded of how many New Year holidays passed while I me reviving the same, tired old resolution to lose weight. And then one year I did it. I lost 80+ pounds (read my story). What’s even better, I’ve kept it off for 8 going on 9 years. Statistics say that almost everyone who loses a significant amount of weight will gain it all back in 2-5 years. How discouraging!

As I reflect on why I’ve been successful where many have not, I credit my mindset going into this, my determination, and more importantly, my Christian faith. I didn’t feel like I was doing it alone.

That first year after I lost the weight, I remember having a conversation with a woman who posed this question to me: “So now that you’ve lost the weight, can you go back to normal eating?” I remember my answer to her, “No. My eating habits can never go back to the way they were. If I went back to my old ways, I would regain the weight.”

For me, the answer is not complicated. I am committed to a healthier lifestyle. I made lifestyle changes and adopted new habits and made them a permanent part of my life. I have a new normal and I’ve embraced it 100%.

Yes, there is the occasional indulgence, as is happening right now with the holidays in full swing. But I never give in fully to the old, poor habits of my past. I recognize they are addicting–as addicting as anything can be. When I eat a lot of salads and stop for a few days, I crave a good salad. If I fall into the habit of eating pecan pie more than only on occasion, I begin to crave decadent food. I don’t know if this is the same for other people, but it’s true for me.

I live with a husband that likes to have desserts and sweets in the house every day, so I don’t have the option of not keeping those things around. I fall back on my mindset and my approach to food, remembering why I love my new lifestyle–and life does indeed, feel normal.

Green Beans with Sweet Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar

Green Beans with Sweet Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar

Green Beans with Sweet Red Peppers and Balsamic Vinegar

1 pound fresh green beans
1 sweet red pepper, julienned
(or use roasted red peppers from a jar, cut into strips)
1 Tablespoon Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Clean and julienne sweet red pepper and saute’ in olive oil until al dente’. Meanwhile, cook or steam green beans to al dente’ and drain. Place hot beans in the skillet with sweet red pepper, add a little salt and pepper, sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, tasting once or twice adding olive oil if needed. What you want is to just barely taste the balsamic vinegar, more so that it brings out the flavor of the beans and doesn’t dominate the dish. Stir until coated. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is one of my favorite, go-to recipes. It is suitable for any season of the year. I usually use fresh green beans, but in the winter, if you can’t get good ones, you can do this with frozen (or even canned) green beans.

Rustic Cornbread

cornbread with piece cut out

Rustic Cornbread

1 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 egg
1 ¼ cups organic, coarse ground white or yellow cornmeal
3/4 cup unbleached, organic all-purpose flour
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup cane sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder (not a teaspoon)
½ teaspoon salt

This recipe uses a little less butter and sugar than most cornbread recipes. I find that I can always dial back the sugar and fat and still have a great finished product, and that’s what I’ve done here. I also incorporated buckwheat flour. I’ve taken a standard, old-fashioned recipe and made it a little healthier for my family. (The original recipe called for 1/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar.)

Heat oven to 400º F. Grease bottom and side of round pan, 9×1 1/2 inches, or square pan, 8x8x2 inches.

Beat milk, butter and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients all at once just until flour is moistened (batter will be lumpy). Pour batter into pan and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. This recipe can be doubled and baked in a 9×13 cake pan. I like to use coarse ground cornmeal because it gives a pronounced crunch in the final bread.

My husband eats this warm with butter and honey as a dessert. I usually omit the additional butter and simply drizzle with a little honey over warm cornbread. Little choices like this as part of my commitment to a healthy lifestyle, have helped me keep the weight off since 2008.

Or–come in from the cold and serve this instead of bread with a big bowl of chili or stew and you’ll be the star of the day.

Cranberry Orange Chutney

pint jar of cutney

Cranberry Orange Chutney

The original recipe I used called for more than twice this amount of sugar. That’s unnecessary.

1 lb. fresh organic cranberries
1 organic orange
½ cup golden raisins
1/4 cup cane sugar or brown sugar (more if you like, depends on the cranberries)
1-3 teaspoons chopped ginger (Fresh ginger is fine but if you have a ginger bug, use it.)

Wash and clean the berries well, being sure to discard any that are not fresh. Using a peeler or zester, remove the zest from the orange. Then peel the white pith from the orange and discard. Place the berries, roughly chopped orange, orange peel, and sugar in a food processor and chop coarsely. Add raisins and mix thoroughly.

Let mixture sit for 1-2 hours. It will begin to shrink a little and make juices. Pack into a wide-mouth quart jar, cover and leave out at room temperature overnight so flavors marry. Cover and store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

My husband puts this on toast each morning, I sprinkle it on my salads. We’re happy to be getting plenty of antioxidants among other good things.

Also, this is fantastic as a relish alongside turkey, pork, fish and lamb.

stuffed acorn squash

Acorn Squash with Stuffing and Gravy

I first spoke with Debbie about her recipes and cookbooks in the fall of 2014 on my TV show. To this day I continue to use her recipe for Acorn Squash with Stuffing and Gravy. This is the 2014 episode. You will see the recipe demonstration at minute 16.05 after our conversation.

Garden Fresh Quinoa Stir-Fry

Excerpted with permission from the August 8, 2016 episode of It’s a Woman’s World: Registered dietician, Val Schonberg and Dr. Susan Strauss observe as Nadia Giordana prepares a quick, easy and healthy Quinoa Stir-Fry.

Cucumber and Red Bell Pepper Refrigerator Salad

7 large pickling cucumbers unpeeled sliced thin
1-1/2 cup sliced onions
1-1/2 cup sliced red peppers
1 T salt
1 c white vinegar
½ c sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp mustard seed
2-3 fresh (or dried) bay leaves
¼ to 1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes

Makes 2 quarts. Most refrigerator salad recipes I found were way too sweet, so I made my own, reducing sugar by 3/4 and came up with a delightfully fresh and clean tasting salad. It was half gone the 1st day.

Mix cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt in one bowl and let sit for about an hour, then pack lightly into a 2-quart mason jar.

Put vinegar, sugar, celery seed, bay leaves and mustard seed in a cooking pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before pouring over cucumber mixture.

Store in refrigerator, shaking to distribute brine once or twice the first day. Ready in 24 hours. Will keep for up to 2 months. Use as is or spoon over lettuce or tomatoes in a bowl.

Adjust ingredients to your own taste. My husband prefers fewer onions, I like lots of cucumbers. You can’t go wrong as long as overall volume of vegetables and brine are okay.

Cucumber and Red Bell Pepper Refrigerator Salad

Cucumber and Red Bell Pepper Refrigerator Salad

Green Beans with Sweet Red Peppers

Nadia recently demonstrated her favorite way to make green beans for a local TV show. It’s fast, easy and delicious. Try it you’ll like it:

California Roll Luncheon Cake

sliced and juliennedzucchini, carrots, cucumber and an example of the finished luncheon cake

Use only the freshest ingredients.

2 cups sweet rice grains
3-1/2 cups water
1 T. rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar in a pinch)
½ tsp salt
3 sheets nori seaweed, crumbled
English cucumber (thinly shaved ribbons)
2 Avocados (sliced or mashed)
Juice of ½ lemon
Zucchini squash (julienned)
Carrots (julienned)
12-15 whole, peeled, cooked shrimp (optional, for garnish or as top layer)
Sesame oil
Soy sauce (or your favorite sushi sauce)
1 T Flax meal (optional)
1 9 or 10-inch spring-form pan (9-inch is better)
Wasabe paste and pickled ginger

Measure two cups of rice and three and a half cups of water and 1 T vinegar into the pot. Let the rice soak for half an hour (up to four hours). Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir. Place the pot over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and cover pot, leaving the lid slightly off on one side to vent. Cook 10 minutes without stirring. After 10 minutes, check to see if the rice has absorbed all of the water by pulling the rice away from the center with a fork to create a hole. If there is still water, continue cooking until liquid has been absorbed. Remove from heat and place the lid on securely. Allow the rice to stand until cool before making this recipe.

Meanwhile, using a sharp knife or julienne tool, prepare the zucchini, carrots and cucumber. Then mash avocado and mix with lemon juice, covering with plastic wrap until ready to spread.

Cook, peel and cool shrimp. Drizzle with sesame oil. Crumble 2-3 seaweed sheets in bottom of spring-form pan. Add a thin layer of cucumber. Then press in half of the cooked, cooled, sticky rice.

Spread avocado on rice, then add another layer of rice and press gently and evenly (wet fingers and flatten pieces and fill in piece by pieces, as the rice is sticky and will pull the avocado out of position). Add another layer of seaweed, either sheets or shredded in 1/2-inch strips and pressed. Top with another thin layer of cucumber. Add julienned zucchini, then carrots. Sprinkle with flax meal.

Top with cooked, whole or chopped shrimp (optional, crabmeat is also okay). Cover with wrap and chill at least 30-minutes before serving.

To serve: Unmold, cut into wedges and drizzle with soy or other Asian sauce and serve with wasabi paste and pickled ginger on the side.

Spiralized Zucchini Salad

This is both easy and healthy. There is no real recipe, simply a method: Spiralize a zucchini, add a few of your favorite ingredients and use a simple vinaigrette-style dressing. You can use the dressing I show you consisting of honey, mustard and vinegar, or one of your own.

Hot or Cold Sicilian Pasta Dressing

pasta with dressing

Sicilian Pasta made two ways

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, chopped (they come in a jar)
3 Tablespoons Kalamata olives, chopped
1/3 cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup sunflower nuts (or chopped pecans)
salt and pepper to taste
Squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice
fresh cooked pasta or zucchini pasta


1. Scrub, prepare, chop or have ready, all ingredients. Cook 8 ounces of bowtie pasta (farfalle) while preparing sauce.

2. Saute’ mushrooms and zucchini in oil, then add sweet red peppers, Kalamata olives, parsley and garlic for a minute more of cooking, then remove from heat.

4. Spoon dressing mixture into a large bowl and cool to room temperature. Add feta and Parmesan cheese. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Stir piping hot pasta (or zucchini pasta) into dressing. Top individual servings with sunflower nuts (or pine nuts for a more traditional touch).

Variation: Chill the dish (having added the feta and Parmesan cheeses) and serve as a cold salad. Drizzle with a little more olive oil and stir right before serving.

Buttermilk Parmesan Salad Dressing

Buttermilk Parmesan Salad Dressing
2 T minced onion
1 clove garlic
1/3 c. lite mayonnaise (or Greek Yogurt)
½ c. buttermilk
2 T. finely grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh or dried herbs: oregano, Italian, your favorite. Flavors are better if made a day ahead. Things to try: turmeric, ground bay, rosemary, sage.

Vegan Mac and Cheese

a bowl of Macaroni and Cheese

Click on image to go to recipe

It’s not necessary to be vegan or vegetarian to appreciate the health benefits and tastiness of the cuisines. Why not incorporate meatless meals into your menu from time to time? Here’s an idea: Designate Tuesdays and/or Thursdays as meatless meal nights (that’s what I do). It’s fun to come up with new dishes and it’s much more interesting than the same old routine. To kick things off, try Gail Roddy’s Vegan Mac and Cheese (pictured).

My husband usually joins me and loves it. But there are times when he prefers meat as usual and that’s when we each do our own thing in the kitchen. I don’t make a fuss about that. I’m setting a healthy example and over the last several years, he has adopted a number of good eating habits and is now a solid 50 pounds lighter. Yaay!

Vegan: Zucchini Pasta Two Ways

I simply must share this one because zucchini pasta is something that is in my refrigerator all the time. Later on I will show you how I (Nadia Giordana) do it, but today, Gail Roddy is in the spotlight with her vegan versions and they are delicious and easy to make.

Three Fresh and Fast Party Snacks

Party foods can be light, guilt-free and satisfying. In this cooking episode of IAWW TV, we learn three fresh and easy to make party foods:

Release Sugar and Reclaim Vitality

Professional Coach, Rita Johansen shares insights on sugar, how it affects our bodies and how she reversed her own blood sugar disorder and revitalized her life.

Sun Drenched Cod

This is one of my favorite go-to, quick and easy recipes. It’s clean, it’s easy and it’s healthy.


4 cod fillets
1 Tablespoon minced fresh kale leaf
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 lemon)
1 teaspoon grated orange (or lemon) zest
Orange or lemon slices and kale leaves for garnish


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place fish in a 2×10-inch round baking dish (or a 11×7-inch oblong) coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with pepper and salt.

In a small skillet, saute onion and garlic in butter along with chopped kale leaf until tender; spoon over fish. Combine juices and orange zest; drizzle over fish.

Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, or until fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Makes 4 servings, about 155 calories per serving.

Golden Tea For What Ails You

yellow cup of tea

Golden Tea: Fights cancer, suppresses appetite, stimulates brain power.

They say Golden Tea has dozens of terrific health benefits for us. Among them, safeguarding against cancer, stimulating the brain and preventing Alzheimer’s, fighting bad bacteria in the body, helping you burn calories and suppressing the appetite, lowering blood sugar levels, helping the body absorb nutrients, improving circulation, clearing sinuses, strengthening the immune system, relieving headaches, improving digestion, fighting inflammation, easing depression, fighting allergies, and lessening arthritis pain.

I wasn’t 100% happy with the recipe I found on the Internet, so I came up with this version. I drink it first thing each morning and sometimes mid afternoon and rarely need coffee at all anymore. The upside? This tastes fantastic, not at all like a medicinal concoction. Here’s how I make mine:

Recipe: Warm a cup of water to 100-110 degrees (no hotter than you would use for dissolving yeast). Dissolve 1 teaspoon local raw honey in the water, stir in 1 tsp raw vinegar (with the mother), add 1 shake cayenne, 2 shakes powdered ginger, and 4 shakes turmeric powder. Stir with a silver spoon. Why silver? Because you’re worth it!

Note: As with any new food or drink, go easy and drink in small amounts until you are certain you don’t have an allergy to any of the spices.

Eye-Opener Smoothie

a yellow-orange colored smoothie

Make this Eye-Opener Smoothie with candied ginger, kombucha, apple, turmeric and grapefruit.

It’s Smoothie Week at Williams-Sonoma, and in honor of that, I decided to kick my routine up a notch. Ordinarily, I make my smoothies with almond milk, colorful fruit or veggies (like kale and beets), but today I decided to make a smoothie with unique ingredients, some not usually associated with blender drinks.

I whipped this sweet concoction together in just minutes using 2 Tablespoons of candied ginger (for zip), 1 cup kombucha (for probiotics and  fizz), 1 teaspoon turmeric (brain food), 1/2 of a pink grapefruit (vitamin C and bioflavonoids) and a half an apple (keeps the doctor away).

Did I get the eye-opener I was expecting? Yes. This sparkling, frothy, invigorating on-the-go breakfast (or afternoon pick-me-up) is my new go-to favorite.

Here is my method: Using a sharp knife, cut off the skin of the grapefruit and chop it into chunks. Cut the apple into chunks (don’t peel it). Put apple and grapefruit into blender. Follow with minced candied ginger, turmeric and kombucha (plain or ginger flavored). Throw in 3-4 small ice cubes, blend and serve immediately. Fills two, 12-ounce glasses. What’s not to like?

if you don’t have a blender, or are planning to upgrade soon, here is the place to start looking: blenders at Williams-Sonoma.

Quinoa Stir-Fry

I threw this dish together one day a couple of years ago and I’ve been making versions of it regularly ever since. It is a low-calorie, highly satisfying meal. I think it’s time I shared it with the rest of you. You can watch this short video to learn the basic ingredients and my method, but I also share the list of ingredients and proportions below.


oil – 1/3 c. chopped onions – 1/4 c. chopped celery – 1/4 c. sliced mushrooms – 1/4 c. diced carrots – 1/4 c. zucchini slices – 1/4 c. pre-cooked green beans (or diced sweet red peppers) – 1 c. chopped kale – 1/4 c. chicken broth – 1 tsp. herbs (your choice) – 1 or 2 T. soy sauce – 1-1/2 c. pre-cooked quinoa

Optional additions:  1/4 tsp. sesame oil and 1/2 c. chicken, turkey or other leftover meat.

In a hot skillet, saute’ onions in a little oil, adding each of the rest of the ingredients in the order listed. Serves 2 as a full meal, or 4 as a side serving. Quinoa is a good source of complete protein, containing all nine amino acids in addition to lysine, riboflavin, manganese and magnesium.

Pumpkin Spice Macchiato Lite

Creamy coffee in a floral teacup and saucer

43 calorie Pumpkin Spice Macchiato

Highly caloric coffee drinks don’t fit my lifestyle. But I love the idea of a creamy, pumpkin flavored, steaming, strong coffee in the fall. Not to worry! I came up with my own 43 calorie drink that in my book, is way better than sucking down a 380 calorie Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte.




2 teaspoons heavy cream
½ tsp sugar
½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 double espresso brewed coffee

1. If you have an espresso machine, brew a double espresso.

2. Meanwhile, place 2 teaspoons of cream in the bottom of a teacup along with ½ teaspoon sugar and ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice.

3. Using a hand milk frothing tool, whip this until thick and creamy.

4. Pour espresso down the side into the whipped cream mixture. Top with an extra pinch of pumpkin pie spice.

If you would like to see a video demonstration of this recipe, CLICK HERE.

Rhubarb Crisp Lite

I’ve shared this recipe in the past. It is a favorite of mine, but this time, I’m showing you step-by-step how easy it is to make my Rhubarb Crisp Lite. I know you will like it as much as we do in our house. One of the reasons I have successfully maintained my 88-pound weight loss for the last seven years, is because rather than going on a diet, I made permanent changes in my lifestyle. This is one of the recipes that helped me do it. Indulgences and treats can be part of any healthy diet as long as we are mindful of the fat and sugars we are consuming (moderation rocks) and portion sizes are appropriate. Recipe makes 9 servings of rhubarb filling/compote, 58 calories per serving. The topping is 60 calories per tablespoon, so use sparingly. NOTE: For a text version of this recipe, click here.

Butternut Squash Soup

3/4 c. onion, chopped
5 cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 tsp. dried onion flakes
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 can (14 oz.) chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/2 c. water
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
1 T olive oil

Pureed, orange squash soup in a purple bowl and purple plate.

Butternut Squash Soup

In a large, high-sided pot, saute onions in 1 tablespoons olive oil until translucent. Add diced squash, onion flakes, diced apples, then chicken broth. Cover and simmer about 30 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Turn heat off, allow to cool for a few minutes, add 1/2 cup cold water. Puree soup directly in the pot with a mixing wand (or you can do this with a blender).  It’s ready to serve. About 90 calories per 1 cup serving. Fore a video demonstration of this recipe, CLICK HERE.

Low fat ice cream made in your freezer without a machine

a bowl of blueberry-strawberry ice cream

Making ice cream (or ice milk) yourself, allows you to have better control over fat and sugar content.

Ice Cream – No Machine This is made with whipped milk, so it is lighter and lower in calorie than traditional ice cream. However, there is still sugar in here, so be wise in serving size. 1 can (13 oz.) evaporated milk (chilled in refrigerator overnight) 1-1/4 cup powdered sugar 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Pour chilled milk (the colder, the better) into a large mixing bowl and whip about one minute or until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar gradually, then vanilla and whip again until very fluffy. (At this point, you can add pureed strawberries, blueberries or other fruit if you are going for a flavor. Use your imagination.) Place the bowl in the freezer for an hour. Pull out from the freezer, whip for 1 minute and back to the freezer. Repeat one more time.

When Ice cream (milk) is desired consistency, place in a container with a lid and store in the freezer. Serve sprinkled with a handful of homemade granola. About 180 calories per 1 cup serving. Standard vanilla ice cream is around 300 calories per cup, and Ben & Jerry’s will be close to 500. This recipe is delicious and allows you to have ice cream with less guilt.

In this picture, I pureed blueberries into the mix, and then swirled chopped strawberries that had been slightly warmed in the microwave (to release their juices) then chilled before adding, making a blueberry-strawberry swirl.

Two things about homemade ice cream:  It freezes harder than store bought, and melts a little faster.

5 of the best tips to lose weight naturally

Head shot of author wearing white cap and sporty white sunglasses.

Mike Bravo

Guest post by Mike Bravo: 5 Of the Best Tips To Lose Weight Naturally

Everyone knows that losing weight naturally is not easy, however these great weight loss tips will have the fat melting away. Whilst these tips may not be classified as a scientific breakthrough, they are effective, healthy and will help you to shed your excess body weight. Furthermore, this is not a quick fix but more of a lifestyle change that could improve both your body shape as well as your health.

Weight Loss Tips To Allow You To Shed Weight Easily and Naturally

1. Drink Water

Drinking lots of water is a great way to suppress your hunger. However, if water is not your thing, you can replace with green or herbal tea but stay clear of flavored water as it may contain sugar and other fattening preservatives.

2. Be Careful About Snacking Before Bedtime

Snacking on treats and crisps in front of the telly before going to bed is a sure way to put on weight. In fact many people think eating cereals would be healthy replacement but again this is a big no-no as they contain sugar and are simple carbs which are addictive and cause weight gain.

3. Eat Eggs For Breakfast

Eggs have had a bad rap in the past as being unhealthy and bad cholesterol but this has been proven to be untrue. Having a few eggs for breakfast are healthy, satisfy your hunger and keep you feeling full longer and therefore discourage you from snacking on other things.

4. Limit Your Alcohol Intake

Alcohol contains empty calories which our bodies do not process well and they end up being stored in your gut as fat.

5. Avoid Addictive Foods

Foods containing sugar as well as convenience foods are neither healthy nor satisfying and will only leave you wanting more and causing you to pile on the weight. Eating these types of addictive foods are the major cause of obesity in the US not to mention causing other chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, etc.

Conclusion On Losing Weight Naturally

It is also worth mentioning that foods in the “simple carb” category (those that are high in sugar) can cause progressive weight gain. This would include convenience foods, fast foods, pastries, cookies, sodas and so on. They should be avoided permanently. The problem is that these refined, highly processed carbohydrates get dumped quickly into our systems without being processed properly causing us to feel hungry and wanting more minutes after finishing eating. This causes progressive weight gain leading to obesity and a whole host of chronic illnesses. So to avoid becoming obese or diabetic (or both) you need to take an honest look at your diet and commit to a lifestyle change. If you are willing to commit to making these life changing modifications to your diet you should begin to see a dramatic change in your body shape as well as an improvement in your health and the way you feel.

PS: Find out here how the Paleo Diet could be your ticket to magical weight loss, or go to the following link to find out how the Paleo way of eating could impact your life by causing you dramatic weight loss & a significant boost in vitality:

Article Source:

Article Source:

Enjoy a “Vinegar Cocktail” instead of alcohol on special occasions

a glass with ice and red, juce cocktail with straw and an orange slice

Aronia Berry Vinegar Cocktail

Enjoy a “Vinegar Cocktail” instead of alcohol on special occasions:

Yes, it sounds kind of funny, but hear me out. Vinegar cocktails are also called “shrubs” and they’ve been around for more than a hundred years, though not very common. They have fewer calories than regular cocktails and contain healthful probiotics, an added bonus. My favorite method is to make them with fruit juice, raw honey, raw apple cider vinegar, and sparkling water.


Start by making your vinegar-fruit juice base:

1 cup fruit juice (choose your favorite; I used Aonia berry (chokeberry) for this picture)
1/3 cup raw honey (more or less, depending on the juice and your taste)
1 cup organic, raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Lightly warm the fruit juice on the stove (about the same temperature as a baby’s bottle), stirring in the honey until it is completely dissolved. Cool completely before adding vinegar (you don’t want to kill the probiotics). Store in your refrigerator in a covered jar.

When ready to make your drink, combine 1 part shrub mixture with 3 or 4 parts sparkling water, and pour over ice. Garnish with fresh fruit (a slice of orange, or a strawberry slit and perched on the edge of the glass looks nice).

If you look online, you will find dozens of variations using different ingredients, and many that include wine and/or alcohol. I don’t add alcohol to mine, it defeats the purpose of having a refreshing, festive, healthy, probiotic, energy drink. The origins of these concoctions date back to the Colonial era.

Want more? Click here for some homemade energy drink recipes.

Lose weight and get healthy at any age

Nadia dressed in green jacket talking on camera to Jennifer wearing blue shirt

Nadia Giordana and Jennifer Espinosa-Goswami comparing weight-loss techniques.

I want readers to see this particular episode of WomanVision TV where Jennifer Espinosa-Goswami and I compare our similar yet different weight-loss journeys from the perspective of two different generations. Neither I nor Jennifer used traditional commercial diets. We designed our own individual plans, and each of us was successful at losing weight and keeping it off. Please watch our lively discussion as we compare notes and share techniques.

Nadia tells her weight-loss story on “It’s A Woman’s World”

Host Nadia Giordana, wearing green jacket, sitting at desk

As a guest on another show, Nadia gets a chance to tell her weight loss story.

On episode 17 of WomanVision TV, I share a clip of a guest appearance I made a few months ago on “It’s A Woman’s World.” It is a program produced in the St. Paul metro area at SPNN. Since I shared my personal story of weight loss and major life changes it will be of interest to Thinking Skinny readers. To watch the episode on YouTube, CLICK HERE.

Healthier party snacks

Nadia showing party snack mix in an oval aluminum bowl.

Nadia with her version of a popular party snack mix.

This episode of  WomanVision TV has direct relevance to weight-loss and healthier eating.

Going to picnics, homecomings, and football parties means bringing something to the table. There are always plenty of good-tasting things to choose from, but other than the gratuitous bowl of crudités, most of it will be highly caloric and laden with salt and fat. I’ll show how you can make crunchy, savory substitutes for greasy potato chips and overly salty snacks. The first one is a slow-cooker version of a popular party mix, and the second, is my best-loved, Sunbutter Kale Chips.

Healthy changes bring big payoffs twofold

Nadia-Chuck before-after 2006-2013 copy

Click to enlarge: Chuck and Nadia before and after

Healthy changes bring big payoffs twofold. It was six years ago this month, August 4, 2007, that I made the decision to get my life back into balance and started living a healthier, happier lifestyle. I’ll never forget it. I knew beyond doubt that this time I would do it. Why? Because I wasn’t starting a diet, and I wasn’t losing weight for an event, or any one of the dozens of reasons we all start diets and fail. I knew because I was changing my habits permanently. (Eventually I went on to write this blog, and a book, Thinking Skinny, about my journey.)

My husband, Chuck Kasun, got started on the same path four years later in 2011. Look at him today! We both feel renewed. The thing about it is, because we made permanent lifestyle changes, we’re in a more comfortable, happier place than we would be otherwise. We’re not waiting for a diet to end so we can get back to everyday life. We have a fun, new lifestyle that includes bicycle riding, daily exercise, excursions, travel, projects, etc. What could be better than that? The couch and the easy chair are still there in our living room, they just don’t get as much use. We look happier too, don’t we?

Special note: I recently changed my primary care doctor and it turns out he is a respected obesity expert at the Mayo Clinic. I wish I had known him a few years ago. Even though he became my doctor after I lost weight, I’ve had some great conversations with him on the subject. It was validating to watch a recording of a lecture he gave on obesity and notice that the formulas and recommendations in my book, Thinking Skinny are in line with what he was teaching. How great is that!

Soup and Salad 1-2-3

Two salads made with red cabbage

Cabbage Salads

The latest episode of WomanVision TV aired a few days ago. It is one of my cooking segments, so I know readers of Thinking Skinny will want to see it. I show step-by-step, how I make two of my favorite recipes: Salmon Chowder and Cabbage Salad. You can CLICK HERE to see it, or you can click on the image.

The Mayo Clinic cookbooks

Mayo Clinic Cookbook

Mayo Clinic Cookbook

When I developed my own weight-loss program a few years ago (losing 88 lbs. over a period of 14 months), a significant part of my research took me to the Mayo Clinic website and resources. I checked my choices and tailored my plan in a way that would work for me, as rapidly as feasible, and not be excessiely stressful to my body. Using the Mayo website helped me keep my plan in a healthy range. I still go there to stay current now that I am on maintenance.

I don’t often recommend cookbooks, there are so many. But the Mayo Clinic has several cookbooks and diet books I love, and I think you will too.

You may also like the Mayo Clinic Diet Community on Facebook:

Rhubarb (or Fruit) Crisp Lite

This lighter method of making crisp gives you a delicious and enjoyable summer dessert. The filling is baked separately from the topping which is served on the side, allowing you to control how much you use.

Rhubarb Crisp Lite

Rhubarb Crisp Lite


5 cups diced fresh rhubarb or frozen rhubarb, thawed
¾ c raw sugar for tart fruits (or ½ c for sweeter fruits)
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a large bowl, mix together the raw sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Add rhubarb (or other fruit) and mix well. Spoon into an 8-inch baking dish, cover and bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 35-40 minutes or until bubbling. While filling is baking, make the topping as follows:


1/3 cup butter, softened (no substitutions)
1/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup flour

Cream the butter and brown sugar.  Blend in flour until evenly mixed. Spread on a lightly greased foil-lined baking sheet (about ¼-inch in depth) and bake separately at 400°F for about 10-15 minutes or until golden brown. (You can save time and slide this into the oven while the filling is baking, but watch carefully.) Remove from oven, cool and later, keep in a covered container. It will be a lot like cookie crumbles.

To serve, sprinkle topping over “naked” crisp and drizzle with milk (optional).

When using apple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, peaches or other sweeter fruit, reduce filling sugar to ½ cup.

Makes 9 servings of filling, 58 calories per serving. The crisp topping is right around 60 calories per tablespoon, so use it sparingly. 1% Milk is 6.5 calories per tablespoon. a quarter cup is a little over 25 calories, and it works well with rhubarb.

Rhubarb is a surprisingly high source of calcium, potassium and manganese. More nutrition info.

Surviving summer picnics

two feet with red toenails on a scale

Change your inner dialogue

Are you surviving summer picnics? When you are standing on the scale, do you sometimes have the following internal monologue?

Damn, I’m up a few pounds. How did that happen? I feel like I’ve been pretty good over the last three weeks. How could I have gained? I should have stayed about the same, maybe even lost a little. This isn’t working. I’m so disappointed. The 4th of July is coming up and I know there will be two, maybe three picnics and barbeques to go to. How will I manage without wrecking my whole summer? Just thinking about it makes me want to eat something greasy and comforting. I may as well top it off with a dessert. Then I’ll feel better and I can get back on my program. After all, I deserve some pleasure in life.

Stop, rewind, and reframe your thinking more like this:

What? I’m up a few pounds. That’s a surprise, but I know I’ve been doing most of the right things in my plan. I’m not that far off the program, and I also know sometimes there are setbacks and plateaus. I believe it’s still working. I will focus on the end result and not dwell on this. I don’t understand why this makes me feel like eating something comforting, but instead, I’ll get back on my program right now. The 4th of July is coming up so I’ll plan ahead, and bring a healthy dish to the pot-luck picnic and I’ll have a light snack before I go to the pig roast so I won’t be famished and overeat. I can enjoy the summer and be in great shape.

Probiotics for breakfast: Making fermented oatmeal and homemade yogurt

Nadia Giordana in her kitchen using a slow cooker to make yogurt.

Use a slow cooker to make yogurt for your fermented oatmeal breakfast. (Click on image to go to video.)

Today’s blog post is born out of WomanVision TV’s episode number 10: Probiotics For Breakfast . In that episode, I show you how I incorporate probiotics (healthy bacteria) into my diet. You’ll see a  step-by-step demonstration on how to make fermented oatmeal (it tastes much better than it sounds). If you like oatmeal, you will love this recipe. It’s oatmeal, only better. If you don’t like oatmeal, this is not going to change your mind.

Then I’ll show you how to make homemade yogurt in a slow-cooker. The homemade yogurt method produces creamy results head-and-shoulders above anything you can get in the store. The video covers all the steps in this simple and easy way to update your morning routine. You can view the video and get the written instructions by clicking here.

Clean, simple, basic foods are always a good way to balance a busy life and maintain a healthy weight.

If you are interested in more technical information about fermented foods, and some history and examples, this video by Dr. Saila Reddy will help you a lot.

Exercise apparel improves attitude and results

Nadia wearing yoga pants and leggings, working out on her favorite exercise bicycleFeeling good physically spills over into all aspects of our lives, and as a bonus, lifts our spirits. When I do my morning exercises in old pajamas, my efforts are okay, don’t get me wrong (and there are plenty of times I do just that). But when I invest the extra minute it takes to put on something nicer than pajamas or old clothes (yoga pants, a contrasting shirt, some colorful leg warmers or some other fun accessory), suddenly I’m emotionally invested in my routine. It is then I work out a little longer and a little harder. Are my results better? Yes, I always feel better than usual after a workout I’ve approached with enthusiasm, and preparation.

Easy vegetable smoothies

Green Smoothie

Green Smoothie

I don’t use a recipe, because I never have the same things on hand in my refrigerator on any given day. The following blender formula works best for me: 1/2 to 3/4 c. almond milk and a handful of ice cubes along with a small amount of fruit and some vegetables. In the smoothie on the left, I used a half of an apple (include skin) along with a handful of kale, a chunk of zucchini and a little bit of cabbage. For the one on the bottom right, it was red cabbage, rhubarb sauce (sweet), carrots, and again some kale.

Other options:  Broccoli is a favorite addition because of how well it blends, and celery brings high fiber to the mix. Use your imagination.

It’s a fresh, slightly sweet tasting way to work more vegetables into your diet, and only takes a minute to whip up. It is important to have a good blender. Keep the consistency about the same as a milkshake, adding a splash of almond milk, or ice cubes if it gets too thick.

Pink Smoothie

Pink Smoothie

There is no need to count calories with something like this, but if you do, the almond milk is 30 calories per cup (I use less than a cup), fresh vegetables are about 25-40 calories per half cup serving depending on the vegetable, and a half an apple is 50-60 calories. This formula will make about two servings, or 12-16 ounces total–less than 100 calories per serving.

You can enjoy this without reservation. I find that it makes me feel full for 2-3 hours and also give me an energy boost. I make this mostly for breakfast, but also sometimes as an afternoon pick-me-up.

If, it is evening, and I’m having this to curb a dessert craving, I will change the mix to something more like a milkshake, using a half banana and cocoa powder or fresh fruit (strawberries are great) and a splash of vanilla. Sometimes I will add Stevia sweetener. I usually add some vegetables even when I make a dessert smoothie. For example, sweet red peppers are good with strawberries and brighten the color.

Since I published this post a few weeks ago, I’ve received requests for a more specific recipe. In response, I shared my method via video as an episode of WomanVision TV. You can watch it below: