Dealing with Breakfast Boredom

It is not hard to find breakfast items for those who eat the normal breakfast fare, but for those who eat more Paleo/Primal due to necessity or preference, breakfast can be a bit more challenging. Here’s a new delicious favorite of mine that you may just want to try, especially for those are wanting to add more vegetables in their breakfast or are tired of eggs or can’t eat them: Turkey Vegetable Scramble.  It does not take long to throw together, and requires only one pan to be washed. Also, scroll down for some other ideas.

Turkey Vegetable Scramble
(Serves 4

1 lb ground turkey
1 bag frozen broccoli florets
1 container sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion chopped (0ptional)
1-2 tablespoons of duck fat (or coconut oil)

First heat the fat or oil in a large skillet adding the broccoli first. Salt and pepper it a little. Cook on medium for a few minutes, then add the turkey and onion.  Salt and pepper a little more with each new addition. Lastly add the mushrooms when the rest is about halfway cooked.

You could probably throw everything in all at once and it would turn out fine, but that wouldn’t seem like much of a recipe.

There are countless variations you can make with this basic idea. For instance, the turkey can be substituted with ground beef, ground lamb, ground bison, ground organ meat, or baby shrimp. As for the vegetables, I have used chopped celery, spinach, chopped cabbage, shredded carrots, minced garlic, and zucchini chopped into bitesized pieces. Remember to add the vegetables that need to cook the longest in first.

Other Non-Egg Breakfast Ideas

Sausage: We buy the big links in the meat case at Whole Foods, throw them in the oven in a 13 X 9 baking dish, and cook for about 30-40 minutes at 375 degrees when we first get up in the morning. They cook while we drink our coffee. Make extra to heat up quickly for the next few days.  Add some fruit like berries, or a leftover vegetable. Husband always like his with a banana.

Bacon: Lay the strips out on a large baking sheet with sides, cook for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees.  Add some fruit or leftover vegetable.

Protein shake: Blend in a blender or with an immersion blender protein powder (I use grass-fed bone broth protein isolate), with coconut milk (canned) or almond milk, frozen berries, and a big handful of greens like arugula, spinach, kale, or mixed green lettuce. You can also add a number of other things like chia and/or ground flaxseeds, avocado, a little banana, almond butter, etc.

Deli turkey with avocado and/or fruit

Bone Broth: Don’t laugh. One to two cups of this makes an excellent breakfast just by itself.  It is very nourishing and easy to digest.

Homemade beef jerky: I have not yet made my own, but one of my brother-in-law’s made some for me, and I have had fine, quick breakfasts with beef jerky and some berries. Or you could substitute the jerky for an EPIC bar or Paleo Stick.

Leftovers: Salad with some meat like steak cut into bite sizes is one of my sisters favorites. One doesn’t normally think of salad for breakfast, but on days that I have time to chew it is pretty satisfying. Then of course, any other leftover you have can definitely be option.

Egg dishes: From omelets to hard-boiled eggs to scrambled to egg muffin cups, eggs can be delicious and made in a huge variety of ways, so they definitely deserve a mention, however, I wanted the emphasis in this post to be breakfasts-other-than-eggs.

And finally, for an occasional treat:
Paleo pancakes-There are many recipes out there you can google
Paleo bread spread with a nut butter

Breakfast doesn’t have to be boring.  We just need to think outside the box a little. I gladly welcome any additional ideas you might have.

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Move More With Music

Who can sit still to Runaround Sue by Dion? I dare you. Seriously, try it.

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They are saying lately that sitting is the new smoking, meaning that being sedentary can be as detrimental to your health as smoking.  Whether or not that is true, one thing is true, moving more and sitting less is definitely a healthier choice.

We need to move more. But how?  It behooves us to find some ways that we enjoy and then work it into our lives.  One thing I recently discovered is Tabata, which I recently wrote about; another is moving to music.  This can take various forms, like the obvious, dancing; or rebounding on a trampoline, or something more creative and unconventional like moving across the room in a variety of ways, such as skipping, bunny hopping, sashaying, etc. Enjoyable music with a good beat is key to me.

I subscribe to Pandora.  Johnny Rivers playlist is my favorite.  It features a lot of great dancing songs like the one above.  Other times I deviate and just go straight to YouTube and pick a song I know has a good beat.

Here are a few of my YouTube favorites that come to mind:
Kryptonite by Three Doors Down
Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees
Human Wheels by John Cougar Mellancamp
Beat It by Michael Jackson
Wild Night by Van Morrison
Easy Lover by Phil Collins and Philip Bailey
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg by The Temptations

One easy workout routine using music that I invented is called the Fab4.  I dance to 4 songs and within those 4 songs I do 4 exercises that work different larger muscle groups: jumping jacks, squats, push-ups, and sit-ups.  You can do 15-25 of each one time, or all of them with each song, depending on your energy and/or fitness level.  I recommend the latter, but hey, the other will get you off the couch too.

Another way music causes me to move more is that it energizes me.  Back in the early days when we were first married we always put on “workin’ music” while we cleaned our apartment every Saturday.  I still put on workin’ music when I really need to conquer some housework.  Even on normal days I often have music playing, and I have noticed I just move more when I do. Like I am swaying to the beat while I am chopping celery, or sashaying down the hall with a load of laundry. Or, if Runaround Sue comes on I just have to stop what I am doing and dance it out.

Ahhhh, magical music.  I love it!

I would enjoy hearing some of your favorite dancing songs, or favorite ways to move more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tabata-My New Favorite Way to Exercise

It can take ten minutes or less. Most of us can find 10 minutes on most days, right?

Tabata is a high intensity workout that was developed from a study in 1996 designed by, and named after, Professor Izumi Tabata in Japan.  It involves intense full body exercise for 20 seconds, then 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times for a total of 4 minutes.  So if you add in a few minutes of warm up and cool down, both of which are highly recommended, you end up at about 10 minutes. One study showed better results of those doing Tabata for 4 minutes 4 times a week than the group that exercised 5 times a week on a stationary bike for 1 hour.   I’m in!!!

HOW TO DO TABATA

Warm up: I like to start off by moving my body around to one song on Pandora, usually Johnny Rivers station playlist.

Then I access the free Tabata timer app that I downloaded to my iPhone and iPad. This tells you when to do the 20 seconds of high intensity exercise and when to rest for 10 seconds.

Actual Tabata: It goes something like this:

20 seconds rapid squats, 10 seconds rest

20 seconds push-ups, 10 seconds rest

20 seconds jumping jacks, 10 seconds rest

20 seconds burpees, 10 seconds rest

REPEAT

Cool down: Do slow movements and stretches to another song on Pandora. Done!

Simple and quick.  That’s my kind of exercise.  In addition, it provides both an aerobic and anaerobic workout that is great for improving endurance, stamina, and fat-burning, it protects/builds muscle tissue, and improves glucose metabolism. Here is a great link with video demonstrations and more information: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/ask-the-ripped-dude-what-the-heck-is-tabata-training.html.

It is recommended that you perform Tabata 1-3 times a week, with rest days in between. Let me know what you think after you try it!

OTHER FAVORITE EXERCISE IDEAS

I also like exercising on my mini-trampoline or rebounder. It is particularly good for draining the lymphatic system and increasing bone mass. It is also easy on the joints and good for stress reduction. Did I say fun too?

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And…

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There are these nifty decks of cards called Fitdecks that are a wonderful resource for ideas of different kinds of exercises that you can perform. They were developed by Navy Seal trained Phil Black. The two above are specific for exercises using only your own body weight and for children, respectively. There are a number of other versions, such as yoga and kettleball workouts.

The big takeaway here is find something you enjoy doing to move your body more, and then do it. I hope this blog inspires you to be more active. Your body will be happier for it.

Of course I advise that you check with your doctor beforehand if you have any concerns before starting any new exercises, and you need to build up gradually if you are not accustomed to exercising. Happy moving more.

 

 

 

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Quirky Thursday-Can Gray Hair Really Become Brown Again?

Check this oddity out. I came across something really weird the other day.  I had just finished blow drying my hair and found a long strand of hair on my face. When I took it off I noticed that half of it was brown and half of it was silver, with clear demarcations in colors, no gradual blending. Then I looked to see if I could find a root on one end because I was curious to see if the hair started out brown, then turned gray, or vice versa. Sure enough the brown end had the little root thingy. The only conclusion one could possibly come to was that a gray hair somehow turned brown again. Does this really happen?

me at wedding2.jpg

So I googled it and found a bunch of other people have experienced the same thing.  Some people say that they didn’t feel like they were doing anything healthier, with some even saying that they were recently under more stress. But others were saying, more in fact, that they had recently started trying to be more healthy, trying to reduce stress, and taking more supplements.  The supplements that were reported by far the most frequently were fish oil, Vitamin B’s, and Vitamin D.

Some people reported having all gray hair, then seeing swatches of black or brown appear, or whole heads of blond, brown, or black hair return in their forties, fifties, on up to the seventies in age.

Two reasons why hair turns gray in the first place is due to lack of pigment cells or hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is naturally produced in the cells of the hair follicle, but there comes a point when we are not able to break down the hydrogen peroxide as well, and this turns the hair gray, not blond, as one would typically expect. So if the enzymes that break down the hydrogen peroxide return to normal levels, then normal pigmentation could once again take place.

Other reasons for graying: Normal aging is probably the most common one. However, it is thought nutrient deficiencies can contribute. One study indicated that low vitamin B12 levels can cause premature graying. And smoking has been found to definitely cause one to turn gray sooner.

Since I found that one half and half hair I have searched for more, but alas, have not found any.  However, I find it interesting that I have been trying to reduce stress, have been taking cod liver oil and fish oil; Vitamin B Complex, and more Vitamin D3 since it is flu season (like 5,000-10,000 IU’s, because the last time I checked my Vitamin D blood level was 43 ng/mL and am aiming for 60-80 ng/mL’s), so who knows, maybe that ONE was the first of many.

Have any of you had a reversal of gray hair? If so, can you attribute it to anything?

 

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Quirky Thursday-Eating Termites

I have 3 adorable sisters, one of whom is always trying to push me out of my comfort zone.  She recently pushed me out of a boat because I was hesitating getting in the water.

Imagine my glee recently when I discovered an opportunity to push her out of her comfort zone. Those of you who follow me on Facebook have heard part of this story, but bear with me.

We were on a Caribbean island. I was ahead of our group of six, when I came across a foursome stopped on the trail looking at a tree with a termite tube. One of them was telling the others that termites taste “kind of minty/chocolatey”.  They discussed this a bit, then all four sampled one just as my group was approaching.  My curiosity abounded at this point.  What does a termite really taste like?

I looked at my sister with a devilish gleam in my eyes challenging her to try eating a termite.  I can’t remember who went first, but we all tried one, snatching ones directly off the tree and popping them into our mouths.  It wasn’t really crunchy like I thought it would be, although there was one little crunchy thing in it, maybe a termite pellet.

I thought it tasted more herby and astringent than minty/chocolatey. My husband, who owns a termite company, thought they were probably of the Formosan varietal, although I wouldn’t know by taste given my infantile termite palate.

I found out that we had entered the insect-eating world of entomophagy. And that there is a cookbook called The Pestaurant Cookbook devoted to tasty insect recipes.  I also found out that kilogram for kilogram termites are higher in protein than beef. And if people switched to an insect-rich diet it would help reduce world hunger, we could reclaim from the livestock industry 30% of the world’s land, and polar ice caps could be saved due to the reduction of 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Like wow!, but I am still not sold.

What is the real takeaway here? Pushing yourselves and taking up challenges can be the real spice to life. Thanks Sister P, and just know that I believe in revenge.

 

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Weight Loss-One Story Told

We had a 6 week weight loss contest at work right after the New Year. Each contestant had to pony-up $20, and one winner, going by percentage lost, at the end, would get the entire amount.  There ended up being 26 participants, so the winner took away $520.

Last week everyone still in the game weighed in.  The 1st place winner, I will call her FN, lost an amazing 27 pounds, which equaled a weight loss of 14%. Second place went to HC, who did almost as well with a  20 pound loss and 12.5% weight loss, while 3rd place put in some respectable numbers as well, 11 pounds and 8%, although neither of the last two got any of the money.

It is always fascinating to me what plans/diets people use to successfully lose weight. Second place, HC, lost her weight by following Weight Watchers low carb plan.  FC, on the other hand, kind of came up with her own plan, which made it even more fascinating to me. Thankfully, she agreed to be interviewed.

Basically, FN ate 3 meals daily, no snacks.  Kind of like Whole 30-on-super-steroids-type of diet. But she got great results and ate healthy food.

Breakfast: Almond milk protein powder shake from Garden of Life (she had this every day for the entire 6 weeks for breakfast)

Lunch: Meat- chicken, fish, or beef; and cabbage soup for the first 4 weeks, then she got sick of the cabbage soup so just had vegetables with the meat after that.

Dinner: Meat and vegetables, or meat and more cabbage soup.

During Week 4 each day FN added one small apple to her lunch.  Interestingly, much to her chagrin, she did not lose any weight at all, stating, “I almost gave up and just quit”.  But instead, she decided to learn from it and adjust what she was eating. So for the final two weeks for lunch and dinner FN ate tilapia, asparagus, and broccoli.

As for the other elements:

Foodwise-During the 6 weeks FN did not drink any alcohol or sodas, no sugar of any kind, no processed foods, no fruit (except for the apple week), and no eggs, nuts/seeds (except for the almond milk daily), legumes, chocolate, coffee, dairy, or grains. As for fats, she ate some avocado and coconut oil.  She says that she started eating her meals very slowly early on.

Water-3 liters of water daily

Exercise-FN formally exercised 3 times in the entire 6 weeks: once on a treadmill for 25 minutes, and 2 cardio/aerobic workouts lasting 20 and 25 minutes.  However, she wore a pedometer and logged in 9,000-10,000 steps on most days.

When asked how she feels now, FN glowingly says much better than before the six weeks, a lot more energy, and better moods.  She plans to add in more exercise and continue eating much the same way with a goal of losing 25 more pounds. After that, she says with her beautiful smile, “I will buy new clothes with that money!”

Anyway, the most surprising thing to me about all of this was the fact that FN’s weight loss stalled apparently just because she added in one small piece of fruit daily.  I think sometimes we don’t get better weight loss results because we try to add in a little sugar, or a little wine, or a few French fries. It looks like hardcore might just get better results.

Thanks, FN, for sharing your success story! And congratulations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Amazing Brain

I am almost done reading a fascinating book about memory.It is especially intriguing to me because I have a horrible one; short term, my brain works pretty well, but is dismal with long term memories.  For instance, I can hardly remember anything that happened in my twenties.  This could be due to having 6 babies by the age of 32 and the lack of sleep thereof, which is an important memory storing time, or it could be due to other factors. This memory thing, however, is very crushing to me; I love my brain and I really want and need it to work well. So, for years I have been taking many steps to improve my memory and stay mentally sharp.

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Anyway, back to the book,  Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer. It is not so much a how-to book, which was disappointing to me, but rather an expose on the art of remembering, and how the author went from an average, run-of-the-mill-memory type of guy, in a matter of months, to the winner of the U.S. Memory Championship in 2006. To win, he had to perform many memory feats such as memorizing the order of two decks of cards in 5 minutes and memorizing the first and last names of 99 photos of faces in 15 minutes.

The brain is truly amazing. I remember (good for me) learning quite a while ago from somewhere (I forget), that the brain keeps working on things subconsciously when we are working on things, so that it is a good practice when we feel stuck on something to walk away from it and come back in a couple of hours.  I am naming it now: the Walk Away/Return Phenomena. Instinctively I knew about this because I had seen it in action while working on crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. Take crossword puzzles for example. I would work on one until I could not come up with any more answers. Then at lunchtime I would start working on it again. I would find that suddenly I knew a lot more answers. If I needed to continue after dinner, a bunch more answers were waiting for me when I resumed the crossword puzzle. The same thing with jigsaw puzzles. I can walk away, then come back later and suddenly be able to go to pieces and know exactly where they go. I have applied this practice often with various tasks such as writing difficult papers for my bachelor degree recently.  Or writing blogs.  It never ceases to amaze me what the brain is doing when you are not aware.

We once named a kitten “The Brain”.  Its sister was “Pinky”. We had to give them away, but the new owners kept their names. Which has nothing to do with anything, I just wanted to include it.

Anyway, I will share one memory trick Foer shared in his book.  It is thousands of years old. You assign items to places called “memory palaces”. I will make something up. Okay. Let’s say you want to remember a grocery list of 10 items:

avocado, pepperoni, blueberries, butter, bananas, lettuce, cinnamon, tuna, Grass-fed ground beef, and carrots

First try to memorize it rotely. Take like a 15 seconds. See how you did, then continue.

You then choose a place you know well, like your house.  You put the items one by one in various places. The more ridiculous spin on it the better.  Let’s say we stuff the avocado’s in the mailbox and they fall out turning into guacamole. Next, we visualize a car made out of pepperoni’s dripping in your driveway. On your doorstep is bush covered with blueberries that hummingbirds are eating.  When you enter your home you step on a cube of butter and go sliding into the kitchen, where there is a monkey sitting on the counter eating bananas. And so on. It seems like more work, but this is a primary way the memory experts can remember huge amounts of information, and they learn to do it very quickly.

Anyway, I recommend the book for its interesting factor.

Ahh, the brain.  Look forward in the near future for a post about brain health. It is such a great asset.

 

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