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Thai black rice with mango

This modern twist on a classic Thai dessert is low in calories and high in nutrients. It is typically made with white sticky rice (which is good as well), but the black rice adds colour and texture.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup thai black sweet rice

1 1/3 cups water

2 tbsp sugar

1 ripe mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 cup coconut milk

Directions:

Place the rice, water and sugar in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 40-45 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the rice from heat, fluff with a fork and let stand 5 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, peel and slice the mango. Serve 1/2 cup of rice with 1/4 of the sliced mango and drizzle with 2 tbsp coconut milk.

Nutrition (per serving, or 1/4 of the recipe).

  • Calories: 160
  • Carbs: 25 g
  • Protein: 2.5 g
  • Fat: 6.7 g
  • Fibre: 2. 3 g
  • Vitamin C: 51% DV
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finishline1So it is the new year and for many people this means a chance at a fresh start and setting New Year’s resolutions.  One may have many reasons for setting goals: to finish a novel, write a thesis, lose 10 pounds, lose 100 pounds, run a marathon, or just simply to stop being a couch potato. However, according to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only eight percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving them. Here are some tips to help increase the chances of following through with your goals.

1) First ask yourself if your long term goal is: realistic, achievable, and something that YOU want. You won’t stick to your goal if these criteria aren’t met.

2) Set up a time frame, but give yourself longer than you think you need. More often than not, something will happen that will slow you down. Plus, if you finish in less time than you thought, you will feel pretty good about yourself.

3) Set short term goals and make them ridiculously easy to achieve. This is especially important if the road to your goal is a long and daunting one. When I was writing my thesis, I made myself write one sentence per day. I found that if I started the day thinking “I have to write a 100 page paper,” I would find an excuse to put it off until the next day when I supposedly had more motivation and time. But, if I started the day thinking “I only have to write one sentence today,” I would write that sentence. Quite often that one sentence would turn into several paragraphs or pages and I would feel pretty awesome about surpassing my goal.

If your goal is to stop being a couch potato and go for a walk every day, then tell yourself that even if you don’t feel like it or you have too much to do, you will put on your shoes and walk to the end of the block. You might be surprised at how often a walk to the end of the block will inspire you to keep going.

4) If you can, set up accountability. For some reason, as humans we have a lot more trouble letting someone else down than letting ourselves down. For example if your goal is to workout twice per week at the gym, then find a friend  that will meet you there (and preferably someone that will be angry if you don’t show up). However, don’t use this person as your replacement for self-discipline.

5) Track your progress. Seeing how far you’ve come is a great motivator to keep going. Examples could be keeping a journal, making a list of short term goals and checking them off when you have achieved them, or (this might sound silly) posting a calendar on your fridge and placing a gold star on every day you achieve your goal.

6) Ask for help. This is probably my most important piece of advice. For example, if your goal is to get fit and go to the gym twice per week but you don’t know what to do when you get there, you are setting yourself up for potential failure (and maybe even an injury). Get help from a friend who knows their way around the gym, hire a personal trainer for one session to design a program and show you correct techniques, or join a fitness class.

 

I modified this recipe from a post on Cate Writes Again (a great fitness blog). If you are feeling creative, make your own version by adding different combinations of seeds, nuts, and dried fruit.

Ingredients:

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour (or a gluten-free flour)

1/2 cup flax seeds (ground or whole)

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/3 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup raisins

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup honey

1 egg beaten

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (170ºC) and lightly grease a 9X13 ” baking ban (or line it with parchment paper). In a large bowl, stir together the oats, flour, seeds, chocolate, raisins, cranberries, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. In a small bowl, combine the honey, egg, canola oil, apple sauce and vanilla.  Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well. Press evenly into the baking pan and bake for 25 minutes (the edges will be golden brown). Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Nutrition (per bar, if cut into 18 bars):

  • Calories: 179
  • Carbs: 26 g
  • Protein: 3.7 g
  • Fat: 7.8 g
  • Fibre: 2.7 g

Many people view exercise as a means of losing weight and too often people give up when they don’t see the results they want. However, although exercise can be beneficial in losing weight, there are other (in my opinion more important) health benefits that are often ignored.

1) Improved posture. Sitting at a desk all day can have a negative effect on your posture. Chest muscles become tight, while back muscle are weakened, leading to rounded shoulders and back pain. A well-designed resistance training program can help to prevent and correct poor posture.

2) A better mood.  Research suggests that exercise is effective in reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety. In fact, exercise compares favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression and has also been shown to improve depressive symptoms when used in addition to medication.

3) Lower risk of osteoporosis. Inactivity and inadequate calcium intakes promote a loss of bone mineral density, resulting in an increased risk of bone fractures as one ages.  However, weight bearing exercise (e.g. walking, weight training) can actually help to increase bone density and prevent fractures.

4) Lower blood pressure. Exercise can effectively reduce blood pressure. For example, one study assessing the effects of 12 weeks of supervised aerobic activity in sedentary overweight subjects found a mean decrease in blood pressure of 6 mm Hg (systolic) and 3.9 mm Hg (diastolic).

5) Prevention and maintenance of diabetes. It is well established that participation in regular physical activity can improve blood glucose control and can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. A combination of aerobic and resistance training is thought to be the most effective  for blood glucose management than either type of exercise alone.

 

The next time you prepare a squash or carve a pumpkin for Halloween, save the seeds and roast them. Roasted squash seeds are a surprisingly tasty treat.

Ingredients:

Seeds from a winter squash

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Rinse the seeds to remove the orange fibres. Pat dry.

In a small bowl, drizzle the seeds with olive or canola oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs. Some suggestions: paprika, oregano, nutritional yeast, chili powder, soy sauce (instead of salt), cayenne, or all of them! Spread on a baking sheet, oiled or lined with parchment paper. Cook 10–15 minutes until slightly browned. Stir a couple of times while cooking. Let cool.

Nutrition (1/4 cup):

  • Calories: 54
  • Carbs: 1.5 g
  • Protein: 2.1 g
  • Fat: 4.8 g
  • Fibre: 0.3 g

This recipe uses two of the main fall harvests available at your local farmer’s market. Squash is rich in vitamin A and apples add a pleasant sweet flavour to this blended soup.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp olive or canola oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 6 cups)

2 apples, cored and chopped (pears work nicely here as well)

6 cups vegetable stock (or enough to cover the vegetables)

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are soft (about 3 minutes) add the carrots and squash and cook until the vegetables start to brown. Add the vegetable stock and apples. Simmer on low heat until the squash and carrots are soft (about 30 minutes). Add salt and pepper. Purée in a food processor or with a hand blender. With a hand blender, you can purée while it is still hot. In a blender or food processor, wait until the soup has cooled slightly, blend, then reheat to serve. Makes about 12 cups (3 litres).

Nutrition (per 1 cup serving, or 1/12 of the recipe):

  • Calories: 123
  • Carbs: 19 g
  • Protein: 4 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Fibre: 3 g
  • Vitamin A: 58% DV
  • Folate: 7% DV