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Healthy Living Tuesday: My Favorite Healthy Cooking Tools

   

Healthy cooking toolsHealthy cooking and eating can be snap if you have the right tools.  After years of building my collection of food-related gadgets and tools I have a core set of items I use weekly, if not daily.  Not all of these items are for cooking exactly, but they all contribute to my goal of healthier living through eating:

       

Blender Bottle:  I received the Blender Bottle as a gift years ago and it became an almost immediate staple in my eating regimen.  The Blender Bottle beats nearly any liquid and powder combo into a smooth consistency.  My typical use for this handy tool is mixing up protein shakes.  There isn’t a protein powder I have tried that hasn’t been sufficiently whipped by the wire whisk and I love it.  The bottle also has a screw on lid which makes it a reliable travel companion.

Vitamix blender:  Oh Vitamix how I love thee!  My smoothies have never been smoother and so are my soups, sauces and whatever I throw in there.  Expensive?  Yes.  Worth it?  I think so.  It’s a luxury for sure and my old blender did a reasonable job, but nothing I ever made compared to the texture of how the Vitamix can get it.  The key to making this a worthwhile investment, in my opinion, is branching out beyond smoothies.  Use it for soup, sauces, nut milk, juice, crushed ice, etc. and it will become a go-to for lots of cooking projects.

Shaker cup:  This isn’t so much a cooking tool as it is a part of my health regimen.  Much like the Blender Bottle, the shaker cup from Konsyl is helpful in getting things mixed, but I specifically use this cup for psyllium husks and water.  I find that this mixes infinitely better than with a spoon.  Water + fiber, 5 – 10 second shake and voila – you’re ready to chug.

Salad keeper:  When I to get more greens in my diet the first thing I usually think of is salads with romaine, spinach, arugula, etc.  My issue is buying a whole bunch of produce and then having it linger and wilt because I lost track of it in the fridge.  The handy salad keeper nearly eliminates this issue for me.  When I get home from the store I clean, dry, mix whatever greens I bought together and throw them in the salad keeper.  That way they are ready to eat as soon as I want them.  The container also reminds me that I have greens in the fridge and they seem to last at least a couple days longer when I store them this way.

Food dehydrator:  When I am craving lots of protein there is nothing easier to eat than jerky. The problem with store bought jerky is that it’s expensive and often loaded with stuff I don’t want to eat like MSG and nitrates.  Making homemade jerky is a snap with a jerky gun and a dehydrator and in less than a day 2.5 pounds of meat becomes one delicious pound of jerky.

Now that you’ve heard about some of my favorites in the kitchen, what are your favorite healthy cooking tools?
 
 
About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness consultant and fitness
writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that
she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for
personal training session 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons
at the top or bottom of this article to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or
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Healthy Living Tuesdays: 5 Tips for Healthy Holiday Entertaining

   
Healthy Entertaining
photo credit: Fields of View via photopin cc

With the holidays approaching rapidly it’s a great time to discuss healthy holiday entertaining.  Healthy entertaining can take on a variety of forms – from providing healthy food for your guests to engaging guests in healthy activities. Today I’ll focus on 5 tips to serve your guests healthier food options to help them get through the holidays without adding extra pounds.  Here are 5 of my favorite ways to keep entertaining healthy:

       

1) Make lots of dishes vegetable-centric.  Vegetables are a versatile and low-calorie option for any party.  A veggie tray is a great place to start, but don’t just include the usual celery and carrots.  Thin stalks of raw asparagus, sticks of raw fennel or jicama, endive leaves and other more exotic editions can really punch up the interest in your vegetable offerings.  Use endive or cucumber rounds as a vehicle for dips or spreads instead of crackers.  Include diced and sauteed veggies in dips to enhance the flavor and bump up the nutritional content.

2) Help your guests practice portion control. Portion control is the perfect way to practice healthy holiday entertaining.  Serve baked goods like cakes, pies and brownies in smaller pre-cut portions.  Make cookies slightly smaller than usual.  Serve dips and spreads in pre-portioned amounts by scooping two tablespoons into foil cupcake liners.  This not only helps with portion control, but it makes serving especially easy.  Use festive 3 oz. cups (like Dixie cups) to portion out nuts, trail mix, chips or other items that would typically be served in a bowl.

3) Make healthy substitutions when possible.  The nutrition of many recipes can easily be improved by making simple substitutions.  In dips and spreads use low or no fat sour cream or cream cheese in place of full fat varieties.  Substitute oil for applesauce or pureed pumpkin in baked goods like cakes or brownies.  Use leaner cuts of meat when possible or opt for reduced fat and sodium varieties of cured meats.  White flour can often be substituted in part for whole wheat or other more healthful flours.  Remember that when making substitutions things may not come out exactly as anticipated due to differences in ingredients.  You may want to attempt a trial run before your big event if you plan on tweaking ingredients.

4) Cut down on liquid calories.  Holiday beverages like eggnog and even alcohol can wreck havoc on your calorie intake so offer your guests lighter options.  Diet soda, sparkling water, tea, coffee and other low or no calorie options are a good place to start.  Lighter beers and wine spritzers can be good options if you want to include alcohol.  Club soda over ice with a squeeze of lime and a few cranberries served in a tall, clear glass is a nearly calorie free and very festive looking drink I love.

5) Focus on appetizers instead of a big meal.  Tiny bites, light drinks and mixing and mingling can be just as much or more fun than a sit-down meal.  Your guests will get to sample a variety of lighter food options without having to sit down to a big holiday spread.  Having a variety of light appetizers over a full holiday meal can save a ton of calories and give your guests a better choice in how much they want to consume.

Follow these easy tips for healthy holiday entertaining and you’ll be on your way to having a great holiday event without the guilt of stuffing your guests with unhealthy food.

About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a Kansas City personal trainer, fitness consultant and fitness
writer. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009 when she decided that
she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes. She is available for
personal training session 7 days a week both in the Kansas City metro and virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons
at the top or bottom of this article to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or
Pinterest.

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Healthy Living Tuesdays: Healthy Hobbies Beyond Fitness

   
photo credit: ginnerobot via photopin cc
photo credit: ginnerobot via photopin cc

Running races, working out every day or participating in sports activities can take up lots of your time.  For those that enjoy these pursuits fitness can be an excellent hobby. Fitness is an important pursuit, of course, but there are other hobbies beyond fitness that can be equally important in creating a full, healthy and happy life.

       

In my leisure time I love walking, exploring trails, hitting the gym and participating in other physical activities.  I also have a couple hobbies that help keep me healthy, but aren’t physical.  The first hobby I participate in often is reading.  Reading helps stimulate my mind and keeps me constantly learning.  Reading is also a great escape from a busy life and slipping away into a fictional world far away from my own can be a great way to relax and forget about things for a while.  When I’m not perusing fiction I am furthering my health and wellness knowledge by studying research publications, journals, and other resources.  This helps keep me fresh, knowledgeable and on top of my fitness game not only for myself, but for my clients too.

My other big hobby is cooking.  Cooking is a great hobby for people looking to stay healthy because it puts control of what goes into your body squarely in your hands.  Cooking has always been a pastime of mine, but as I have worked to reclaim my health and fitness I have taught myself to cook healthier and better for myself and my family.  This has been very rewarding because I have been able to research, prepare and enjoy healthful meals that have contributed positively to reaching and maintaining my health goals.  Learning to cook is a super valuable skill that I highly recommend for anyone looking to take charge of their health and wellness.

Finding healthy hobbies beyond fitness will help you create a full and rounded base of health and wellness that contributes to your overall well-being.  Besides fitness what hobbies do you pursue that could be considered “healthy hobbies”?  Leave a comment below and share your healthy hobby ideas.
 
 
About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a personal trainer, fitness consultant and fitness writer based out
of the Kansas City metro area. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009
when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes.
She is available for personal training session 7 days a week both in the Kansas City
metro and
virtually.

If you liked this article please share it with your friends! Use the share buttons at the top or bottom of this article to post it to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest.
 
 

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Healthy Living Tuesdays: I Hate Running

   
photo credit: Ernst Moeksis via photopin cc
photo credit: Ernst Moeksis via photopin cc

I’m not going to sugarcoat this. I hate running. “What?!” you might exclaim as you read this.  I know, it seems weird.  Fitness pros, athletes, children, whoever… they all seem to be in love with running.  Tons of my Sweat Pink Sisters are avid runners – many doing marathon after marathon, but not me because I just don’t like it.  “Why?” you ask…

       

To delve into my hatred of running we have to go way back to childhood.  I was a slow runner.  Every year I would dread the timed mile run in gym class because I knew I would finish in the bottom half of the group.  No matter how hard I pushed my little lungs and legs just couldn’t get me there faster.

Fast forward a year or two and my athletic abilities had not improved and a new problem had started to brew:  Breasts.  Big, jiggly boobs were now solidly attached to my body and there was no solution I could find to make running any more comfortable.   By 4th grade I felt I had been cursed.  The years of gym classes that followed were marred by a self-consciousness that everyone feels but hardly anyone talks about.

Once I grew up and started making my own fitness and exercise choices I continued to totally shun running.  My boobs hadn’t shrank and I still found it just as uncomfortable to run as I did way back when.  Man hadn’t invented a sports bra that could contain my girls well enough to make running anything I wanted to participate in.  Years of overeating and inactivity eventually left me overweight and out of shape and then even had I wanted to run I doubt that my body would have carried nearly 200 pounds very easily.

So what was a non-runner to do?  Everything but running it turns out.  Running really is a fantastic activity because it’s free, easy and almost everyone can do it, but it’s not the only exercise solution to getting cardiovascular benefits.  Walking became my go-to exercise when I started losing weight and once the pounds started coming off I graduated to more intense exercise.  The elliptical and stationary bike became my favorite pieces of cardio equipment because I could get my heart rate up and there was minimal impact on my joints.  Swimming and the rowing machine also became staples in my routine.

These days I admit that I will run once in a while.  If I am pressed for time, can’t get to the gym, want to get my heart rate up quick or am doing interval training I will run – but only occasionally.  There are many other activities that I enjoy far more and would rather spend my time doing.

The moral of my story is that while running can be excellent exercise, if you don’t like you don’t need to feel like you should do it.  There are plenty of other activities that provide the same or very similar cardiovascular benefits.  Exercising can be hard enough to make time for and if you don’t enjoy what you are doing you’ll be much less likely to stick with it.  Find exercise activities that you do enjoy and don’t worry about running if you don’t like it!
 
 
About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a personal trainer, fitness consultant and fitness writer based out
of the Kansas City metro area. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009
when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes.
She is available for personal training session 7 days a week both in the Kansas City
metro and virtually.
 
 

Like this Post? Check Out These Posts too:

Healthy Living Tuesdays: Healthy Travel

   
© Alicen Ronan
© Alicen Ronan

Healthy travel can be an essential part of the journey because if you don’t plan to stick to your healthy lifestyle (at least a little) things can quickly escalate to a no holds barred free for all of overeating and total laziness.  Don’t get me wrong – there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking a break once in a while, but vacation can actually be a good time to up your fitness game and incorporate new and exciting things you’ve never done before.

       

Back in 2011 I wrote an article on exercising while on vacation and today I want to expand on the fun activities I mentioned as possibilities for keeping yourself healthy while traveling. Because you’ll be in a new environment it can be a great time to try something you are unfamiliar with.  Lots of vacation spots offer access to recreational activities such as these:

Hike/Climb 
Hiking or even climbing if you are more advanced can be an excellent way to not only exercise but to get out and see sights that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Hiking offers benefits to people of varying physical abilities and because you can travel at your own pace this really can be something almost everyone can participate in. Look for well traveled, popular paths or consider hiring a guide. Be sure you have the right footwear for a hiking excursion too as you don’t want to spend the rest of your vacation with sore feet or blisters.

Bicycle
For me bicycling evokes being young and having fun. Recapture some of your youth by jumping on a bicycle and cruising around. It’s another good way to see the sites while getting exercise. Look for paths or common bike routes. In some places you might find bicycle tours or other guided bicycle activities geared towards tourists. Be sure to wear your helmet.

Swim/Surf/Paddle Board
Swimming is one of the lowest impact exercises you can do which makes it great for nearly everyone. Jump in your suit and hit the pool, ocean or local lake for some intense exercise and fun. Paddling around can burn serious calories. If swimming doesn’t sound fun then try a new water sport. Snorkeling offers some of the benefits of swimming, surfing challenges your swimming, strength and stability and paddle boarding offers similar benefits of surfing. There is sure to be some water based activity that gets your heart rate up.

No matter where you decide to travel look for activities you can do that are fun and physical. You won’t even realize you are exercising when you’re enjoying the activities you have picked.  You’ll also discover once you get home that participating in all those activities helped keep you on top of your exercise routine and you won’t feel bad about skipping any of your workouts!

 
 
About the Author
Alicen Ronan is a personal trainer, fitness consultant and fitness writer based out
of the Kansas City metro area. She has been a certified personal trainer since 2009
when she decided that she wanted to help others make positive lifestyle changes.
She is available for personal training session 7 days a week both in the Kansas City
metro and virtually.
 
 

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