Happy New Year 2016
Practicing yoga has always brought me a sense of inner peace and wellness. I always look forward to classes or even practicing at home. No matter where I am working out, I wholeheartedly believe in using a mat when performing any floor exercises. The problem I’ve found with vinyl mats is I slip and slide, especially as I sweat. To keep from slipping and sliding, I use a towel, which means I have to keep up with both the towel and the mat during my workout. I also waste a lot of precious time straightening out my towel and wiping down the mat. So, when I found the Combo Mat, an ultra cool yoga mat that is a mat and towel all-in-one, I was delighted.
I couldn’t wait to try it out at my next class. My yoga workout went really well and I liked the fact that I wasn’t spending time and energy straightening out my towel every few minutes. The new Combo Mat grips me tighter as I work up a sweat, so I don’t slip and slide and I don’t have to worry with wiping the mat off in the middle of the workout.
The Combo Mat, as it is perfectly named, features an ultra cool chevron pattern in bright colors that goes with all my work out gear. It’s covered with a silky-smooth microfiber material on top that’s completely bonded to a natural tree rubber base, which is very cushy. This mat offers all the benefits of a sweat-thirsty towel and a comfy, cushioned yoga mat in one. I especially like the fact that it is easy to clean with a quick wipe down and can be tossed in the washing machine for a thorough cleaning.
The Combo Mat is extra long, too. I measured it at 70” in length, and I had plenty of room to move about. When I finished with my workout, it didn’t take long to roll the mat up and head for the door. It’s lightweight, weighing only 4 pounds, and it comes with a handy carrying strap that can be thrown over your shoulder to keep your hands free for other stuff.
The secret to making your foods taste great, while possibly reducing your sodium is to add the right healthy spices. Just like life, a little spice livens things up and makes even the most common seem like an exotic adventure. Low in calories, spices and healthy garnishes add flavor to your foods without adding the fat. I did a little research and I’ve made a list of some good toppings to try.
Sesame Seeds are making a comeback and they should. Not only are they tasty, especially when toasted, sesame seeds and sesame seed oil is actually a potent medicinal food that would be as common in a medicine cabinet as in the spice cabinet. High in calcium and magnesium, the history of the sesame seed as a medicine goes back over 3500 years. Today, scientific evidence has proven sesame seeds effective for lowering blood pressure and glucose in type 2 diabetic patients. It has long been used in India as a treatment for gingivitis, tooth decay and bad breath, by swishing the sesame seed oil in your mouth for a prolonged period.
Avocado Oil is one of the healthiest cooking oils available. Featuring a silky, rich, delightful flavor, it has a bounty of healthy benefits. It fights inflammation, improves heart health, lowers cholesterol, and blasts belly fat. Extremely versatile, avocado oil can be used in high heat cooking such as grilling or pan cooking. Just like olive oil, it tastes great in salad dressings, drilled on pizzas or as a dip for crusty bread. Eat it on chicken and try a dollop in your soup.
Sichimi Togarashi is a Japanese spice that is hot for 2014! A blend of seven different spices, it often includes chili powder, orange or tangerine peel, flaked nori, sansho, black and white sesame seeds and seaweed. But what it doesn’t contain is salt. A new spice in trendy restaurants, especially those featuring ethnic cuisine, it tastes great on fish, chicken or noodles. Rich in antioxidants, making it a heart-healthy spice to try.
Cinnamon tastes good, is very versatile, makes an attractive garnish and is extremely healthy. Cinnamon helps to lower blood pressure, fights fungal infections, improves blood sugar levels in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. Cinnamon helps your body to digest foods and helps reduce the body’s negative reactions from high fat foods. Sprinkle it on fruit, toast, cereal, oatmeal and baked goods. Eat it on sweet potatoes for a super food meal.
Bee Pollen is a real superfood, containing vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Rich in folic acid, aalcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, protein, and amino acids. Try it in smoothies and shakes, sprinkle it on yogurt, applesauce, granola or salads. Caution, some people are allergic to bee pollen, so try a small amount or check with your physician before adding it to your diet.
When you have finicky eaters who refuse to eat foods that are good for them, it’s time to call on the Sneaky Chef. That’s the nickname a friend of mine called me one day after I had explained the art of substituting healthy ingredients in my family’s favorite meals. It’s not so much being sneaky, as it is being a savvy cook. It’s about making foods taste great without the extra calories and then adding ingredients that are actually good for you.
If you have ever eaten a cake made with applesauce rather than cooking oil, you will probably agree that there is little difference in the taste or texture. The cake is just as moist but without the higher calories of the oil. I use applesauce in many of my recipes.
I have substituted tofu for meat in many recipes and used ground turkey in place of ground meat. Cottage cheese is a wonderful substitute for ricotta cheese, and can be used in lasagna and other tomato sauce dishes. I like some low-fat cheeses, but others don’t have much taste. I never compromise the flavor of the dish by cutting too much fat or calories from a recipe.
Another way to sneak healthy foods on your family and yourself is to make a big salad. Add ingredients that you don’t normally try, but do it gradually. One new vegetable or fruit at a time will allow everyone’s taste buds and digestive system to adjust. Make your own salad dressing to control the amount of sodium and sugar that you are adding to your meals. You can make it ahead of time and store vinaigrettes on the table and cream based dressings in the refrigerator until you are ready to use.
As often as possible, substitute olive oil for butter and vegetable oil. Olive oil has so many health benefits; it’s good for your digestive system, your cardiovascular system, and your immune system. Eating foods with olive oil will give you radiant skin, lustrous hair and beautiful nails. It’s delicious on meats, vegetables and bread.
If you dare to be sneaky and substitute healthy ingredients in your family’s meals, you won’t regret the benefits of healthier eating. Keep them eating this way and they will continue to make healthy choices for the rest of their lives. A happy family is a healthy family; some foods your family members will like but others they may not, the important thing is that you all try new foods together as a family—that’s really what it is all about.