And I’m not talking about Fergie and Will I Am. I’m talking about the food, a nutritious bean-like choice. Am I way behind the times that I did not know black eyed peas are considered a lucky New Year’s food? In the Southeast, dishes that contain black eyed peas are served either just after midnight or during New Year’s Day.
The practice has several proposed explanations. Some say it relates to a Jewish tradition of eating black eyed peas at Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. In the 1730s, non-Jewish people were said to pick up the tradition from Jewish individuals living in Georgia.
Another explanation dates back to Civil War times, when black eyed peas were traditionally used for livestock feeding rather than for feeding people. When the Union troops raided and stole other crops from Confederates, they left behind the black eyed peas. People discovered they were quite nourishing, and felt lucky to have some food left for the winter.
It could relate to slavery as well. Black eyed peas were sometimes some of the only foods given to slaves to eat. On New Years in 1863, celebration for the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation was done by eating the only food around – black eyed peas.
Still others claim that the tradition simply relates to the south being a great place for farming – so black eyed peas are eating each winter to celebrate this crop which holds up well and is cheap.
Black eyed peas are served a few different ways on New Years, depending on location and family tradition:
- With collard, turnip, or mustard greens, or cabbage, in which the greens are said to represent money and the black eyed peas are said to represent coins.
- Served with a side of cornbread, to represent a brick of gold.
- Black eyed peas with stewed tomatoes are said to represent health and wealth
- Served with pork, the black eyed peas represent prosperity because they swell when cooked while the pork represents positive happenings for the next year (since pigs move forward when foraging)
- Some say for the best chance at luck, you must eat exactly 365 black eyed peas at New Years.
- Some people cook black eyed peas and toss in a new penny or dime. If you get it in your dish, you’ll have luck the next year. Disclaimer: I don’t recommend this, especially with kids – what if they swallow it?! But just sharing traditions.
In any event, black eyed peas are a great nutritional choice from the legume family. A half cup contains only 100 calories along with 6.5 grams of protein, 5.5 grams of fiber, and a hefty 45% of your daily folate needs.
Happy (early) New Year! (And if you still haven't signed up for our 2012 Challenge, do so here
! It's going to be great!)
(Historical data from Amanda Galiano & Sheridan Alexander)
Have you made a New Year's Resolution yet? What are you hoping for? Losing weight, eating better, and exercising more often top our lists.
Every year, many of us go about setting these resolutions but fail to stick to them. In fact, after 6 months, only about 50% of people who made a resolution are still sticking to it. Fast forward to 1 year, and that number declines to less than 10%. So should we even bother to try to make changes?
Of course! But we need to do it the right way.
Enter the 20-12 Challenge
at Inspired Wellness Solutions. Rather than setting vague, overarching goals, our challenge program will provide you with small, feasible nutrition & fitness challenges to tackle during the next year. In fact, you’ll be provided with 20 challenges each of the 12 months of 2012! That's 240 specific challenges that will help you make 2012 your healthiest year yet.
What's a "challenge"? It could be a variety of tasks, each one of which is provided in an email with quality nutrition and fitness background information and tips. An email might discuss the health benefits of whole grains rather than refined grains, and ask you to try cooking a dish with brown rice that week. Or an email might discuss the benefits of running, and ask you to run 1 mile that day.
Each challenge you complete earns you points - and the 3 participants with the most points at the end of the year will win cash prizes! 1st place will receive $250
, 2nd place will receive $150
, and 3rd place will receive $75
. This is in addition to your chance at winning other monthly raffle giveaways, exclusive to challenge participants!
Check out the new 2012 challenge page
for more details and instructions on signing up. Only $8/month to participate, or $75 when you pre-pay for the entire year!
This is a great, affordable program that gets you nutrition and fitness information from a Registered Dietitian at a very low cost - not to mention the chance to win cash prizes at the end of the year!
Just wanted to let you all know that I'm in New York visiting family over the next few days, so I'll probably have a lack of posts until after Christmas. We got into my family's house last night at 1am, and have been spending the day doing some last minute shopping and meeting up with friends. Tomorrow, we'll be visiting my best friend from home, her husband, and their adorable 2 year old daughter up in Albany. Then on Christmas we'll spend the day at my dad's house, enjoying time with the family.
A little preview of what our family holidays are like - definitely entertaining! (That's my brother at Christmas last year).
I hope you'll take the next few days to treat yourself to some well-deserved time to relax. Don't stress about making the perfect holiday meal or getting all the gifts wrapped just right - instead, take in the lights, the music, and the feel-good holiday spirit that surrounds us at this time of year. Your health and your body will thank you for giving it some much needed R&R!
And just a little teaser...we will be rolling out a new promotion here with the start of the New Year that you will definitely want to hear about. Be sure to follow the blog (you can subscribe to the RSS feed, found on the right), follow us on facebook
, and/or follow us on twitter
for more news about this very soon!
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and joyous wishes for all the other holidays you are celebrating! Looking forward to talking more with you next week.
Over the next two weeks, you probably will spend a lot of time with friends and family celebrating the holidays. These holiday parties can often mean packing on the pounds - but not this year! With these great tips, you’ll navigate your way through the festivities without adding extra weight.
1) Eat only the best sweet treats
There will likely be lots of sweet temptations during the holiday season – your coworker brings in a pecan pie to work, your book club members bring Christmas cupcakes to your meeting, and holiday parties become a potluck of yummy desserts. Before you indulge in each and everyone, ask yourself – is this really a special holiday treat? If it’s your grandma’s pumpkin pie that she only makes once a year – dig in. But another box of store bought cookies out in the office break room? Take a pass.
2) Drink smart
Holiday parties often have opportunities for drinking alcoholic beverages - remember that calories in these add up quickly, especially in mixed drinks. Light beer or vodka and seltzer are some lower calorie choices. Alternate between alcoholic beverages and water during the course of the night.
3) Plan ahead with a healthy day of eating
Don’t hold off on eating all day to “bank” your calories for the party that night – you’ll most likely be starving by party time and end up binging on high calorie treats. Instead, be sure to eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. If you won’t have time to eat a light dinner before the party, be sure to snack on a fiber and protein rich snack beforehand. Fiber and protein help you feel full and satisfied longer, so that apple and peanut butter may help you fight the urge to pick at all the appetizers when you arrive.
4) Be prepared
If you’re bringing food to a party, consider bringing a healthy option – that way, you know there will be something for you to eat. Top a fruit salad with some pomegranate seeds for a delicious and festive touch to a healthy dish.
5) Keep moving
Remember that not all holiday activities have to revolve around food. Ready to brave the cold? Try a Jingle Bell run this week. Need some extra excitement at the family get-together? Get everyone in the family moving with some Dance Central for X-box Kinect. Staying at a hotel for New Years? Take advantage of that indoor pool and do some laps on New Years Day.
Every year you vow to finish holiday shopping early, and every year you find that you’re still not done and it’s a week before Christmas! Time to worry? Not with this handy list of the top holiday gifts for nutrition and fitness fanatics. Treat your friends and family (or yourself!) to one of these great choices:For the person who loves cooking...
1) Cookbooks – There are tons out there – and who doesn’t like browsing around Barnes and Noble for something like this?! Take your time looking for something that might be a good match for the person. Are they looking for family friendly meals? Maybe try Rachael Ray’s Yum-O! Family Cookbook
. Do they enjoy making a lot of different types of cuisines? The American Dietetic Association Cooking Healthy Across America Cookbook
might be a good choice.
2) Or create your own cookbook and gift basket! Put together a packet of some of your favorite recipes, and then buy some of the staples you need to give make them – like a basket with whole wheat pastas, brown rice, beans, and some new spices and the corresponding recipes.
For the runners...
3) Fuel Belts
– A perfect gift for endurance runners and triathletes. The classic endurance fuel belt holds four 7-ounce bottles to keep you hydrated and has a handy pouch to hold keys, money, or other necessities.
4) Body Glide
– Essential for long distance runners. Body Glide can be rubbed along spots where chafing usually occurs.For the swimmers...
5) Waterproof mp3 player – If you have a swimmer on your list, the new waterproof mp3 players are great for those who are bored with quiet laps. A little musical motivation may be all they need to kick it up a notch.
For those who need a little more fun in their workout...
6) Dance Central 2 for X-box Kinect – My fiancé just got this for us recently, and I absolutely love it. The Kinect sensor measures your movement as you follow along with the dancers onscreen. You can play by yourself, or battle against a friend. A perfect gift for those who don’t like traditional exercise, this game makes burning calories fun!
subscription and a compatible mp3 player - I’m not really an I-pod girl, so I love my little Sansa Clip
mp3 player. It’s small, cute, and clips on easily to my sports bra or pants. I subscribe to Rhapsody, which for $10 a month lets you transfer unlimited music onto compatible mp3 players
. Their music guide has a top tracks list and other playlists, so if I’m in need of some new motivation I can skim those for some new tracks.
8) Gift certificates - Think about fun fitness classes like zumba, kickboxing, or maybe something slightly scandalous like pole dancing!For the serious athletes...
9) Timex Ironman Watches
– These come in varieties from moderately priced to expensive, and have tons of features. Track laps, distance, and pace. Some have corresponding heart rate monitors, and others have GPS enabled capabilities.
10) Foam Rollers – You can find these online at various websites, as well as certain sporting goods stores and specialty running stores. Basically, it’s a firm foam log that comes in varying sizes. You use it with your body weight to put pressure on muscles and help work out those knots! It’s a great, reasonably priced tool (especially for runners).For the endurance junkies...
11) Adventure Outing - Think outside the box for some adventure based gifts. Perhaps a whitewater rafting excursion, skydiving passes, or a ziplining trip? Groupon, Buy With Me, and Living Social can make finding these a little easier and less costly.
12) Inspired Wellness Solutions Gift Certificate - And of course, an IWS gift certificate is sure to make anyone on your list happy, from your sister who wants her kids to eat vegetables to your niece who is training for a 10K. You can order one of our services
online for them, or contact us
for a gift certificate in any dollar amount and let them choose what they want to use it on.
In the traditional sense, gnocchi refers to Italian dumplings made out of potato and flour. Different brands at the grocery store contain different proportions of each, and may also contain additional ingredients – such as cheese or squash - so the calories in a serving may vary. For the purposes of the recipe below, the 16 ounce bag of gnocchi I had contained 4 servings at 270 calories each.
The recipe below is wonderful because it takes only about 20 minutes, start to finish. You can serve this for dinner with another veggie side dish, like some squash or a salad, and dinner is done. The spinach in this recipe is a nutritional powerhouse – it’s a great source of Vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like iron. And if you want to add some extra protein to the mix, you can mix in some chopped grilled chicken.
For those of us who are endurance athletes, this dish is great because it contains good proportion of carbohydrate – essential for replenishing glycogen in your muscles. Plus, if you’re an athlete who’s tired of the same old pasta dishes for carbohydrates, this can be a good alternative to add to the rotation.
Gnocchi with sautéed spinach, garlic and onions
Makes 4 servings (approximately ¾ cup each)
- 16 ounce bag of refrigerated or frozen gnocchi (if you wanted to spend more time on this meal, you could try making the gnocchi yourself)
- 10 ounce bag of raw spinach, rinsed and drained
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, boil water in a large pot. Add gnocchi. Gnocchi will be done when it floats on top.
3) When onion is tender, add garlic to the skillet. Cook for 1 minute.
4) Add spinach (it will shrink down as it cooks, so if you can’t fit it all in the pan at first just keep stirring it around until you can add the rest). Cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
5) Drain gnocchi. Toss with spinach mixture. Portion out into 4 equal servings (approximately ¾ cup each).
6) Sprinkle 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese on top of each serving. Yum! Nutrition Analysis
per Serving: 353 calories, 6 g fat, 63 g of carbohydrate, 12 g of protein
I just signed up for Fitocracy the other day, and I love it! Basically, it’s a social platform for tracking your workouts. It’s nice because it allows you to see a record of what you’re doing each week, and I find that record keeping (whether with exercise or with a food diary) helps you stay more accountable to your plan.
For each workout you log, you earn points. Per their forum, “the amount of points you receive is based on what the developers feel is the fitness benefit of an activity, not necessarily the raw amount of energy used.” So unfortunately, the caveat is that you don’t see the raw calories burned – but there are plenty of other internet applications for this. The more points you earn, the further you move up in the “levels” of the site.
When you log exercises, other people on the network can see what you’ve done and give you “props” for your workout. You can also join groups that have common goals, like weight loss or starting strength (for strength training beginners). And my absolute favorite parts of Fitocracy are the quests and achievements! Quests are specific workout tasks you can do to earn extra points. For example, “Someone’s Chasing Me! - Run a mile in under 10 minutes” or “No Chicken Legs Here – perform any calf, hamstring, and quad exercise at least 1 time.” There are also achievements that you can unlock for bigger tasks that generally take consistent effort to achieve – like running 20 miles.
If you like competition and enjoy checking tasks off a list, this site might be great motivation for you! I’ve got 10 invites through this Fitocracy link
, so if you’re interested feel free to join.
And….if you like the quests aspect of Fitocracy, stay tuned for some special fitness challenges I’ll be starting right here at Inspired Wellness Solutions in January. This will be a new program where you will be able to compete from anywhere in the United States for great prizes!
(Full disclosure: I have no relationship to and no compensation from Fitocracy – I just like it!)
Meatless Monday has become a national movement, encouraging consumers to reduce their meat consumption by cooking vegetarian meals on Mondays. Eating a more plant based diet can be beneficial to both your health and your wallet, as certain types of meat contain unhealthy saturated fats and often are one of the pricier items in our grocery cart. In addition, more energy and resources go into processing meat, so cutting it out just one day a week can positively impact our planet too.
Keep in mind that you should still choose balanced meals. Some people take Meatless Mondays as excuses to pile up the pasta and rice, and skimp on nutrient packed fruits and veggies. Sometimes, it may be hard to think of meatless protein sources as well, but consider these yummy choices: beans, nuts, peanut butter, lentils, veggie burgers, and tofu (and of course, whole grains contain some protein as well).
Stuck on ideas? Try a southwestern salad - one of my favorite quick and easy dinners. Top your favorite lettuce greens (I like romaine for this) with corn, black beans, avocado, and a few crushed up tortilla chips. Mix together a little olive oil, some fresh cilantro, lime juice, cumin (or taco seasoning) and pepper – instant dressing! Or top your salad with your favorite salsa. Yum!
Check out the video below for more information about going meat free one day a week, and visit the Meatless Mondays website
for tons of easy, tasty recipes.
Yesterday, I had such a great day at the gym. I walked in feeling quite energized for a Saturday morning, and did a warm up on the elliptical, followed by a 3 mile run on the treadmill, then wrapped up with some boxing. I ran those 3 miles faster than I have in all of this past year – what a great accomplishment!
Many days at the gym don’t necessarily go like this though. Some days, it’s hard to find the motivation to get out there and kick butt. You’re tired, you want to just lounge at home, you need to run errands – and the list could go on and on. For those days when you aren’t feeling motivated, try one of these tips:
Tips for when this looks like torture!
Enlist the help of a friend or coworker who loves exercising, and set up times to work out together. Accountability and friendship are great tools in sticking to your goals. Plus, if you’re competitive you may find you push yourself more when you’re exercising with a partner.
10 minute rule
Put on your workout clothes and sneakers and commit to doing just 10 minutes. If you feel like going home after that, go ahead. But most of the time, you’ll see the hardest part was just getting out the door – once you’re there, you’ll probably want to continue.
Racing to the finish
Sign up to train for a road race, triathlon, or some other type of event. Having a goal to work towards can help you stick to your schedule.
Put some new music on your I-pod – those upbeat tracks can help you push through! A few personal favorites: “Heart of a Champion” by Nelly, “Bossy” by Kelis, “Break my bank” by New Boyz.
Switch it up
If you feel like boredom is contributing to a lack of motivation, consider switching up your routine. If you normally run indoors, get outside and explore your neighborhood. If you are always on the elliptical, change it up and try a spin class.
Make a deal with yourself – check off 10 more workouts, and treat yourself to that new workout tank top or some compression socks.
Lastly, remember to pay attention to your body. If you've been training hard consistently and really don't feel like working out, it may be your body's way of telling you to rest. Take a day or two off, then start fresh again.
This video is about 10 minutes, so it’s a bit long – but it has great information about how influential exercise is to our health. Dr. Mike Evans presents the information in a very unique and entertaining way. Exercise reduces the risk of developing many chronic diseases and can reduce complications and alleviate symptoms of other diseases. The video summarizes some great evidence for this specific to certain conditions like arthritis, dementia, pre-diabetes, anxiety, and more.
A powerful take home point - only 30 minutes every day is enough to make a difference! Remember that on those days that you think you don’t have enough time to exercise. Even on your busiest days, you can add in a quick lunchtime walk or squeeze in a 30 minute workout video at home. Every little bit counts!