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Archive for May, 2010

By MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN

This recipe is inspired by a Spanish dish that’s made with the flat green beans that we call romanos. Those beans aren’t yet in season here, but the dish is just as delicious made with other varieties of green beans, like Blue Lake.

3/4 pound green beans, trimmed and broken in half

1 pound red waxy potatoes, scrubbed and cut in 2-inch wedges

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 to 3 large garlic cloves (to taste), minced

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2 hardboiled eggs, diced (optional)

1. Steam the green beans above 1 inch of boiling water for four to five minutes until tender. Remove from the steamer, and rinse with cold water. Set aside. Add the potatoes, and steam for 10 to 15 minutes until tender.

2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, nonstick skillet. Add the garlic, and cook for a minute or so until the garlic is fragrant. Stir in the beans and cook, stirring, for three minutes until quite tender and coated with oil (but still bright green).

3. Gently stir in the potatoes, and add salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until they begin to color lightly. Scatter the diced hard-boiled eggs over the top, cover and turn heat to low. Cook another three minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: Because this dish is good at room temperature or hot, you can make it several hours ahead. The color of the beans will fade. The steamed green beans and potatoes will keep for three or four days in the refrigerator.

Nutritional information per serving: 168 calories; 7 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 milligrams cholesterol; 25 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 12 milligrams sodium (does not include salt added during cooking); 4 grams protein

Good luck, healthy girl!

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Note: Kaeng Raeng cleanse contains 100% daily recommended value of Vitamin D

BY MARK HYMAN

What vitamin may we need in amounts up to 25 times higher than the government recommends for us to be healthy?

What vitamin deficiency affects 70-80 percent of the population, is almost never diagnosed and has been linked to many cancers, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression,(i) fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain, bone loss and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis?(ii)

What vitamin is almost totally absent from our food supply?

What vitamin is the hidden cause of much suffering that is easy to treat?

The answer to all of these questions is vitamin D.

Over the last 15 years of my practice, my focus has been to discover what the body needs to function optimally. Vitamin D, a nutrient (more of a hormone and gene modulator) is a critical, essential ingredient for health and optimal function. The problem is that most of us don’t have enough of it because we work and live indoors, use sun block and can’t get enough from our diet–even in fortified foods.

Two recent studies in the journal Pediatrics found that 70 percent of American kids aren’t getting enough vitamin D, and this puts them at higher risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and lower levels of good cholesterol. (iii) Low vitamin D levels also may increase a child’s risk of developing heart disease later in life.

Overall, 7.6 million, or nine percent, of US children were vitamin-D deficient, and another 50.8 million, or 61 percent, had insufficient levels of this important vitamin in their blood.

The average blood level of vitamin D was 25 ng/dl for Caucasians and 16 ng/dl for African Americans. The optimal level is 45 ng/dl and requires about 3000-4000 IU a day of vitamin D3 — 10 times current recommendations. If our whole population achieved a minimum level of 45 ng/dl, we would have 400,000 fewer premature deaths per year. There would be a reduction of cancer by 35 percent, type 2 diabetes by 33 percent and all causes of mortality by seven percent. (iv)

The economic burden due to vitamin D insufficiency in the United States is $40-$53 billion per year. This can be corrected for pennies a person per day.

Over the last five years, I have tested almost every patient in my practice for vitamin D deficiency, and I have been shocked by the results. What’s even more amazing is what happens when my patients’ vitamin D status reaches optimal levels. Having witnessed these changes, there’s no doubt in my mind: vitamin D is an incredible asset to your health.

That is why in today’s blog I want to explain the importance of this essential vitamin and give you six tips on how to get optimize your vitamin D levels.

Let’s start by looking at the massive impact vitamin D has on the health and function of every cell and gene in your body.

How Vitamin D Regulates Your Cells and Genes

Vitamin D has a dramatic impact on the health and function of your cells. It reduces cellular growth (which promotes cancer) and improves cell differentiation (which puts cells into an anti-cancer state). That makes vitamin D one of the most potent cancer inhibitors–and explains why vitamin D deficiency has been linked to colon, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer.

But what’s even more fascinating is how vitamin D regulates and controls genes.

It acts on a cellular docking station called a receptor that then sends messages to our genes. That’s how vitamin D controls so many different functions–like preventing cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting mood, easing muscle aches and fibromyalgia and building bones.

Vitamin D also helps prevent the flu and colds and infections. In an observational study of Finnish soldiers, those with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels higher than 16 ng/mL (40 nmol/L) had fewer respiratory infections than those with lower levels.(v) More recently, in a double-blind randomized controlled trial involving school girls, supplementation with 1200 IU/d of vitamin D3 during the wintertime significantly reduced influenza A infections.(vi)

These are just a few examples of the power of vitamin D. When we don’t get enough it impacts every area of our biology, because it affects the way our cells and genes function. And many of us are deficient for one simple reason …

Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. In fact, 80 to 100 percent of the vitamin D we need comes from the sun. The sun exposure that makes our skin a bit red (called 1 minimum erythemal dose) produces the equivalent of 10,000 to 25,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D in our bodies.

The problem is that most of us aren’t exposed to enough sunlight.

Overuse of sunscreen is one reason. While these product help protect against skin cancer–they also block a whopping 97 percent of your body’s vitamin D production.

If you live in a northern climate, you’re not getting enough sun (and therefore vitamin D), especially during winter. And you’re probably not eating enough of the few natural dietary sources of vitamin D: fatty wild fish like mackerel, herring and cod liver oil or porcini mushrooms.

In addition, aging skin produces less vitamin D–the average 70-year-old person creates only 25 percent of the vitamin D that a 20 year-old does. Skin color makes a difference, too. People with dark skin also produce less vitamin D. And I’ve seen very severe deficiencies in Orthodox Jews and Muslims who keep themselves covered all the time.

With all these causes of vitamin D deficiency, you can see why supplementing with enough of this vitamin is so important. Unfortunately, you aren’t really being told the right amount of vitamin D to take.

The government recommends 200 to 600 IU of vitamin a day. This is the amount you need to prevent rickets, a disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. But the real question is: How much vitamin D do we need for OPTIMAL health? How much do we need to prevent autoimmune diseases, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, chronic muscle pain,(vii) depression, osteoporosis and even cancer?

The answer is: Much more than you think.

Recent research by vitamin D pioneer Dr. Michael Holick, Professor of Medicine, Physiology, and Dermatology at Boston University School of Medicine, recommends intakes of up to 2,000 IU a day — or enough to keep blood levels of 25 hydroxy vitamin D at between 75 to 125 nmol/L (nanomoles per liter).(viii) That may sound high, but it’s still safe: Lifeguards have levels of 250 nmol/L without toxicity.

Our government currently recommends 2,000 IU as the upper limit for vitamin D — but even that may not be high enough for our sun-deprived population! In countries where sun exposure provides the equivalent of 10,000 IU a day and people have vitamin D blood levels of 105 to 163 nmol/L, autoimmune diseases (like multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus) are uncommon.

Don’t be scared that amounts that high are toxic: One study of healthy young men receiving 10,000 IU of vitamin D for 20 weeks showed no toxicity.(ix)

You might have seen a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shows that a single high dose of 500,000 Units of vitamin D3 (one year’s worth of vitamin D) increased the risk of falls and fractures in elderly woman.(x) Does this mean that vitamin D doesn’t prevent fractures or falls? Absolutely not!

The design and logic of the study were completely wrong. As a friend once said, “The well meaning are often ill doing.”

Imagine a study that gave people a year’s worth of vitamin A, or iron (both are nutrients that are stored in the body like vitamin D) in one dose. The vitamin A would cause immediate liver failure and death. In fact, the way the Inuit used to kill explorers in the Arctic was to feed them polar bear liver, which gave them toxic doses of vitamin A. A year’s worth of iron in one dose would cause severe intestinal problems and iron poisoning.

Biologically we understand why a single high dose of vitamin D may cause problems. A single high dose induces protective mechanisms that reduce the available vitamin D by increasing the activity of enzymes that cause the vitamin D to be broken down by the body. (xi) The body requires a balance of the right nutrients at the right dose at the right time. No one would eat a year’s worth of anything in one day and expect it to be healthy.

The question that remains is: How can you get the right amounts of vitamin D for you?

6 Tips for Getting the Right Amount of Vitamin D

Unless you’re spending all your time at the beach, eating 30 ounces of wild salmon a day, or downing 10 tablespoons of cod liver oil a day, supplementing with vitamin D is essential. The exact amount needed to get your blood levels to the optimal range (100 to160 nmol/L) will vary depending on your age, how far north you live, how much time you spend in the sun and even the time of the year. But once you reach optimal levels, you’ll be amazed at the results.

For example, one study found that vitamin D supplementation could reduce the risk of getting type 1 diabetes by 80 percent.(xii) In the Nurses’ Health Study (a study of more than 130,000 nurses over 3 decades), vitamin D supplementation reduced the risk of multiple sclerosis by 40 percent.(xiii),(xiv)

I’ve seen many patients with chronic muscle aches and pains and fibromyalgia who are vitamin D deficient–a phenomenon that’s been documented in studies. Their symptoms improve when they are treated with vitamin D. A Danish study of Arabic women with fibromyalgia found significant vitamin D deficiency and recovery with replacement of vitamin D.(xv)

Finally, vitamin D has been shown to help prevent and treat osteoporosis. In fact, it’s even more important than calcium. That’s because your body needs vitamin D to be able to properly absorb calcium. Without adequate levels of vitamin D, the intestine absorbs only 10 to 15 percent of dietary calcium. Research shows that the bone-protective benefits of vitamin D keep increasing with the dose.

So here is my advice for getting optimal levels of vitamin D:

1. Get tested for 25 OH vitamin D. The current ranges for “normal” are 25 to 137 nmol/L or 10 to 55 ng/ml. These are fine if you want to prevent rickets — but NOT for optimal health. In that case, the range should be 100 to 160 nmol/L or 40 to 65 ng/ml. In the future, we may raise this “optimal” level even higher.

2. Take the right type of vitamin D. The only active form of vitamin D is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Look for this type. Many vitamins and prescriptions of vitamin D have vitamin D2 — which is not biologically active.

3. Take the right amount of vitamin D. If you have a deficiency, you should correct it with 5,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 a day for three months–but only under a doctor’s supervision. For maintenance, take 2,000 to 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D3. Some people may need higher doses over the long run to maintain optimal levels because of differences in vitamin D receptors, living in northern latitudes, indoor living, or skin color.

4. Monitor your vitamin D status until you are in the optimal range. If you are taking high doses (10,000 IU a day) your doctor must also check your calcium, phosphorous and parathyroid hormone levels every three months.

5. Remember that it takes up to 6 to 10 months to “fill up the tank” for vitamin D if you’re deficient. Once this occurs, you can lower the dose to the maintenance dose of 2,000 to 4,000 Units a day.

6. Try to eat dietary sources of vitamin D. These include:

• Fish liver oils, such as cod liver oil. 1 TBSP (15 ml) = 1,360 IU of vitamin D
• Cooked wild salmon. 3.5 oz = 360 IU of vitamin D
• Cooked mackerel. 3.5 oz = 345 IU of vitamin D
• Sardines, canned in oil, drained. 1.75 oz = 250 IU of vitamin D
• One whole egg = 20 IU of vitamin D
• Porcini mushrooms 4 ounces = 400 IU of vitamin D

You can see now why I feel so passionately about vitamin D. This vitamin is critical for good health. So start aiming for optimal levels–and watch how your health improves.

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Before finding my Feel Great Weight, much of my social life revolved around food-focused get-togethers with friends. My calendar always seemed to be packed with birthday dinners, barbecues, and Sunday brunches. At these events, it was difficult to stick to my diet because I saw my friends feasting on fattening foods and gulping-down cocktails. Needless to say, the more active my social life became, the more pounds I piled on.

When I began my weight-loss journey, I worried that it would be hard to shed the pounds without shedding some of my less-than-healthy friends. But I also knew that it wouldn’t be any fun to fit into my skinny jeans if I could only wear them at home, alone and friendless.

At first, my friends were not at all supportive of my weight-loss efforts and continued to tempt me with rounds of cocktails and fatty appetizers at happy hour. Most of the time, I ended up caving in and indulging. My friends were my diet’s worst enemies! I soon realized that if I didn’t make some changes to my social life, I would never lose weight. But I also didn’t want to choose between my friends and having a waistline. Here’s what I did.

Pay attention
It’s a great joy for me to share a meal or a few cocktails with my friends, but when I dined with them, I often lost track of how much I ate. In the excitement of conversation, I didn’t notice how many tortilla chips I’d eaten or if I was on my second (or third) dinner roll. Lingering at the table didn’t help either: the longer I stayed at the table, the more I ate. I’d order another beer, snack on a plate of cold french fries, or finish off a friend’s brownie sundae. Now, when I am finished eating, I put my napkin (and any other trash, like a straw wrapper) on top of my plate. It signals to the server that he can take away my plate, plus it stops me from picking at it. I never want to eat off a plate with garbage on it!

I also try to pace myself with the slowest eater at the table, which helps me pay attention to how much I am eating instead of wolfing down my food without a second thought. And I make my cocktails last forever by taking little sips instead of big gulps. Sometimes I’ll drink them so slowly that they become warm and unappetizing. It’s so much easier to abandon a lukewarm beer than an ice-cold one!

Don’t become that friend
One of my closest friends is a self-proclaimed “drama queen,” but I felt obligated to console her every time she recapped her most recent life crisis. This often took place over a glass (or half bottle) of wine or a pint of ice cream. I quickly became her go-to eating and drinking buddy anytime she had a problem. I always enjoyed chatting with her and blowing off steam after a tough workweek, but three beers and a plate of nachos later, I felt miserable about myself.

Now, if my friend calls me in a panic, we discuss her stressful situation over the phone and plan a time to meet up for a walk or a cup of coffee—that way our gabfest doesn’t turn into a full-blown binge! Limiting my nights out to one night a week, typically Fridays, has made all the difference in dealing with my own food drama.

Find groups with similar goals
When I was trying to lose weight, I started hanging out with my “healthier” friends for dinners and happy hour. As expected, these friends influenced my diet and exercise patterns for the better. Forming healthy bonds with these people helped me develop a different perspective on weight loss and encouraged me to succeed. I started by copying their healthy habits, which helped with my own weight-loss efforts.

Gradually, our get-togethers became less food-focused. We attended yoga classes, went hiking, played tennis, and took day trips to nearby destinations. And if we decided to grab a bite to eat, it wasn’t greasy bar food. Instead, we’d enjoy a nonfat latte or a single glass of wine with a light dish. These friends were good for my health!

Be a role model
My healthy friends helped me discover new eating patterns, diets, and exercise, and soon I wanted to share my newly formed habits with others. I started making gym dates and walking daily with my coworkers on our lunch break. Inevitably, our exercise talks centered on healthy living, which was the perfect way for me to share my own tips and advice. Having friends rely on me was also a huge motivator to keep me on track with my weight loss. I wanted to set a good example for others! Starting my food blog was also a fun and creative way to keep me accountable for what I ate.

Don’t make excuses
From the beginning, I was open and honest with my pals about my desire to lose weight. While at first my friends were not supportive, eventually they respected my desire to get healthy. Even though I appreciated my friends’ support, losing weight really came down to what worked best for me. My new healthy habits were lifelong changes that paid off in the end.

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From MSN Health

NOTE:  Kaeng Raeng nutritional cleanse is headquartered and manufactured in the San Francisco bay area

Look at a map of the United States and you’ll be reminded of just how big Texas is. But what you can’t see is the size of the state’s citizenry: Five Lone Star cities are among the nation’s fattest, with Corpulent Christi at the top.

To arrive at our rankings, we calculated the percentage of people who are overweight, the percentage with type 2 diabetes, the percentage who haven’t left the couch in a month (CDC Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System); the money spent on junk food (Bureau of Labor Statistics); and finally, the number of people who ate fast food nine or more times in a month (Mediamark Research).

Want fries with that? You might not after you learn the truth about your menu order.

Now for the good news: The folks at The Biggest Loser have decided to help Texas lose its tonnage. Tune in and watch America’s second-largest state shrink before your eyes.

The Heaviest Cities:

Ranking City State Grade
1. Corpus Christi Texas F
2. Charleston W.Va. F
3. El Paso Texas F
4. Dallas Texas F
5. Memphis Tenn. F
6. Kansas City Mo. F
7. San Antonio Texas F
8. Baltimore Md. F
9. Houston Texas D-
10. Birmingham Ala. D-

Cities 11-90, With Rankings and Grades

11. Durham, N.C. D-; 12. Jacksonville, Fla. D-; 13. Lubbock, Texas D-; 14. Buffalo, N.Y. D; 15. Philadelphia, Pa. D; 16. Riverside, Calif. D; 17. Oklahoma City, Okla. D; 18. New Orleans, La. D; 19. Jersey City, N.J. D; 20. Las Vegas, Nev. D

21. Wichita, Kan. D; 22. Chicago, Ill. D+; 23. Fort Wayne, Ind. D+; 24. Indianapolis, Ind. D+; 25. Lexington, Ky. D+; 26. Billings, Mont. D+; 27. Detroit, Mich. D+; 28. Montgomery, Ala. D+; 29. Toledo, Ohio D+; 30. Fresno, Calif. D+

31. Tulsa, OK D+; 32. Orlando, FL D+; 33. Fargo, ND C-; 34. Milwaukee, WI C-; 35. Anchorage, AK C-; 36. Tampa, FL C-; 37. Jackson, MS C-; 38. Columbia, SC C-; 39. Des Moines, IA C-; 40. Cheyenne, WY C-

41. Madison, WI C-; 42. Newark, NJ C-; 43. Bakersfield, CA C; 44. Pittsburgh, PA C; 45. Richmond, VA C; 46. Los Angeles, CA C; 47. Raleigh, NC C; 48. Modesto, CA C; 49. St. Louis, MO C; 50. Sacramento, CA C

51. Louisville, KY C; 52. Boston, MA C; 53. Virginia Beach, VA C+; 54. Arlington, TX C+; 55. Grand Rapids, MI C+; 56. Providence, RI C+; 57. Nashville, TN C+; 58. Spokane, WA C+; 59. Sioux Falls, SD C+; 60. Omaha, NE C+

61. St. Petersburg, FL C+; 62. San Diego, CA C+; 63. Columbus, OH C+; 64. Tucson, AZ C+; 65. Little Rock, AR B-; 66. Fort Worth, TX B-; 67. Lincoln, NE B-; 68. Phoenix, AZ B-; 69. Miami, FL B-; 70. Greensboro, NC B-

71. Manchester, NH B-; 72. Portland, ME B-; 73. Rochester, NY B-; 74. Charlotte, NC B-; 75. New York, NY B-; 76. Boise, ID B; 77. Cleveland, OH B; 78. Anaheim, CA B; 79. Yonkers, NY B; 80. San Jose, CA B

81. Reno, NV B; 82. Atlanta, GA B; 83. Wilmington, DE B; 84. Hartford, CT B+; 85. Salt Lake City, UT B+; 86. Colorado Springs, CO B+; 87. St. Paul, MN B+; 88. Minneapolis, MN B+; 89. Oakland, CA B+; 90. Honolulu, HI B+

Summer’s coming? Lose weight and enjoy grilling outside with these cookout favorites—without dieting.

The Leanest Cities

Ranking City State Grade
1. San Francisco Calif. A+
2. Burlington Vermont A+
3. Washington, D.C. A
4. Seattle Wash. A
5. Austin Texas A
6. Albuquerque N.M. A-
7. Portland Ore. A-
8. Cincinnati Ohio A-
9. Denver Colo. A-
10. Aurora Colo. B+

Put the brakes on inflation

You have to give Texas legislators credit: They’re trying to fight the state’s weight problem with a bill requiring chain restaurants to list nutrition information, including calorie counts, on their menus. Yale University researchers recently found that this dietary disclosure prompted people to order meals with nearly 15 percent fewer calories. “People may have ordered less because many of the numbers are shocking, with most appetizers containing half a day’s worth of calories,” says study author Christina Roberto, M.S. Go to menulabeling.org to see if your politicians are pushing for greater nutritional transparency.

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Cinco de Mayo is a day of celebration for Mexicans and Mexican Americans. On May 5, 1962, the Mexican militia won a victory over the French army at The Battle of Puebla. Many Americans, largely unfamiliar with the history of the day — and I admit that includes me — simply celebrate Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo.
If you want to get in on the celebration, do it in a healthy way!

Jicama Salad

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Ingredients

  • 4  oranges
  • 2  cups  (1/2-inch) julienne-cut peeled jicama
  • 1  cucumber (about 1/2 pound), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 2  cups  cubed peeled cantaloupe
  • 1/2  cup  vertically sliced red onion
  • 1/4  cup  chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4  cup  fresh lime juice
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  hot chili powder

Preparation

Peel and section oranges over a bowl; squeeze membranes to extract juice. Set sections aside; reserve 1/4 cup orange juice. Discard membranes.

Place the orange sections, jicama,and next 5 ingredients (jicama through mint) in a large bowl. Combine the reserved orange juice, fresh lime juice, salt, and chili powder. Pour juice mixture over jicama mixture, and toss gently. Cover and chill 2 hours.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 70 (4% from fat)

Fat: 0.3g (sat 0.1g,mono 0.1g,poly 0.1g)

Protein: 1.6g

Carbohydrate: 17g

Fiber: 4.2g

Cholesterol: 0.0mg

Iron: 0.6mg

Sodium: 156mg

Calcium: 45mg

Slow-Cooker Pork Tacos

Cook Time: 5 hr 11 min  Yield:  about 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 whole ancho chiles
  • 3 whole pasilla chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 to 3 chipotles in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 medium white onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 3 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder (untrimmed), cut into chunks
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
  • Assorted taco toppings, for garnish

Directions

Put the ancho and pasilla chiles and the garlic in a bowl. Microwave on high until soft and pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Stem and seed the chiles; peel the garlic. Transfer the chiles and garlic to a blender.

Add the chipotles, onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, honey, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt and the oregano to the blender; puree until smooth. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over high heat; add the chile sauce and fry, stirring, until thick and fragrant, about 8 minutes. Pour in the broth and reduce until slightly thickened.

Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and transfer to a large slow cooker. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then pour in the sauce. Cover and cook on high until the meat is tender, about 5 hours. (Or cook the meat in a large Dutch oven, covered, for 1 hour 45 minutes at 350 degrees; uncover and cook 30 more minutes.)

Discard the bay leaves and cinnamon stick. Shred the pork with 2 forks; season with salt and pepper. Serve the shredded pork in the tortillas, along with toppings.

Addictive Sweet Potato Burritos

12 servings

Ingredients

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups canned kidney beans, drained
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cups cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
12 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
8 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Heat oil in a medium skillet, and saute onion and garlic until soft. Stir in beans, and mash. Gradually stir in water, and heat until warm. Remove from heat, and stir in the chili powder, cumin, mustard, cayenne pepper and soy sauce.
  3. Divide bean mixture and mashed sweet potatoes evenly between the warm flour tortillas. Top with cheese. Fold up tortillas burrito style, and place on a baking sheet.

Ranch Guacamole

Prep: 20 minutes. This recipe is legendary at the ranch. You get all the rich creaminess of the avocado but with much less fat and fewer calories. We promise you (and your picky kids) won’t notice because the peas provide great body and texture.
Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, seeded
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 chopped, seeded, tomato
  • 1 chopped, seeded, tomato
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red or sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red or sweet onion
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 to 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Slightly thaw frozen peas at room temperature.

2. Place peas in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Set aside.

3. Mash avocado with a fork or potato masher in a medium bowl. Add in the lemon juice, tomato, onion, jalapeño, garlic, and cilantro. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Add prepared peas and mix well.

4. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours. Serve with an array of fresh vegetables such as bell pepper strips, jicama, summer squash, and cherry tomatoes.

Variation: You can also use steamed broccoli florets, asparagus tips, or edamame in place of the peas.

Organic Margarita

1.5 ounces of tequila. (4 Copas makes organic tequila you can use.)
1/2 ounce of pure organic acai
3/4 ounce of organic agave nectar
1/2 ounce of organic egg white
1 organic lime, squeezed

Shake until metal shaker is frosted and then strain into a chilled glass. Enjoy!

Good luck, healthy girl!

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BY DENISE AUSTIN

Wouldn’t you know it–low-rider jeans are here to stay. Although they can be ultraflattering, nothing ruins the look faster than flabby back rolls. But you can tone this area–and firm your butt–by adding these moves to your usual workouts. (Skip them if you suffer from back pain.) Do two sets of 15 reps of each, three times a week. A strong back also helps prevent aches and improves posture, so you’ll look better in any outfit.

Back Extension

A: Lie with abdomen on ball (available at most sporting goods stores), with upper body and neck parallel to floor. Place hands behind head and rest feet wider than shoulder-width apart on floor behind you.

B: Slowly raise upper body so that chest is several inches higher than ball. Hold for 3 seconds. Return to starting position and repeat.

Don’t …raise back higher than is comfortable

Tip: If you’re struggling to keep the ball steady, do this move with feet against a wall.

Reverse Back Extension

A: Lie with pelvis on ball. Place hands beneath shoulders on floor in front of ball. Rest feet on floor behind you.

B: Slowly lift legs, keeping knees straight, until ankles and back of head are in line. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to starting position and repeat.

Don’t …raise legs higher than head

Child’s Pose with Twist

For a back stretch, kneel behind ball with palms on top of it. Sit back onto heels and roll ball forward so head is between arms. Hold for 30 seconds. Roll ball and twist to right as shown above. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat to left side just once.

Good luck, healthy girl!

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One-Pot Chicken
Whip up this quick weeknight dish

5 minute prep!

This weeknight dinner comes together in no time–and leaves only one pan to clean. Just sit back while the chicken and veggies bake, filling your kitchen with the aroma of a healthy, home-cooked meal

Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs meat case)
Baby potatoes (red or Yukon Gold)
Cherry or grape tomatoes (produce section)

Jarred pesto sauce (we used Classico)

Pesto Chicken Bake

In a large roasting pan, mix 2 1/2 pounds chicken thighs (or drumsticks), 1 1/2 pounds baby potatoes, a pint of cherry tomatoes, 1/2 cup pesto, 2 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and salt and pepper. Bake 45 minutes at 425°F. (Serves 4.)

Good luck, healthy girl!

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