My Zen Zone

If you know me, You know that I am not svelt and lanky. I am fat. I can say that and smile because all of my other health parameters are excellent (cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.). I am also one of the least flexible people I know. In an attempt to lose some weight and gain some flexibility, I began taking a chair yoga class at North Port Yoga and Wellness in the beginning of May. I love it and have seen a change in my body. I have lost 5 pounds and, so far, kept it off.

Last week I was sad to find out that the chair yoga class was being changed to a gentle and restorative yoga class. After emailing back and forth with my yoga instructor and the studio owner and reading a Yoga Journal article about this practice, decided to give it a try.

When I arrived at the studio yesterday morning, my instructor, Martha, explained a little about what we would be doing. She immediately put my mind at ease and assisted me with the worst part of the practice, getting on the floor. After some stretches, we entered rest and digest and began the gentle postures. Propped up with bolsters, bricks, and blankets, Martha put me into 5 poses that I remained in for 5 to 10 minutes each. I could feel the stress and tension completely leave my body. It was blissful.

I’m looking forward to next weeks class.  Speaking of classes, how did I find this yoga class? My employer signed up with a company called Peerfit. Each month employees get 16 credits to use towards different physical fitness opportunities. Gyms and studios who participate have classes you can sign up for using your credits. That is how I found North Port Yoga and Wellness and I’m so glad I did.

Namaste.

Dessert doesn’t have to be unhealthy

My husband, Mike, and I have been TRYING to eat healthier.  Being food lovers, this is very difficult. Tonight I decided to show him that you can have a tasty dessert without ruining a healthy eating day.

Poached pears with raspberry sauce

For the poached pears

2 pears (I used bosc), pealed, cut in half and cored
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp. honey
1 cinnamon stick
3 small pieces of candied ginger

Place the pears in a small saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Once boiling, lower temperature and cover until sauce is reduced and pears are tender. Remove cinnamon stick. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the raspberry sauce

1 pint raspberries
1/4 water
1 tbsp. honey

Put ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  When berries have started to burst, stir.  Simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat.  Pour into a fine strainer over a boil and remove to remove all of the seeds.  Taste. If not sweet enough, add 1/2 tbsp. honey.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve 2 halves of pear in a bowl with cooking juices. Drizzle with the raspberry sauce. DELISH!

I served them with a spoonful of vanilla ice cream and some fresh raspberries.

Fudge made with pinto beans???

Each month I try to find a different “theme” for the cooking program at the library.  For February, I thought it would be nice to do a Valentine’s Day theme, so we’re doing three kinds of fudge and making an origami box to put it in as a gift to the participants’ valentines. One of the many request from the attendees is to have healthier recipe options. I scoured the internet and found No Bake Pinto Bean Fudge on www.food.com and decided to try it.  Here are the steps to make this fudge.

Mash the contents of one 15.5 ounce can of pinto beans.  I did mine in the food processor until smooth.

Add 3/4 cup of cocoa powder

Melt 1/2 cup margarine (or butter) and pour into food processor.

Add 1 tablespoon of vanilla and 2 pounds of powdered sugar.

Add the equivalent of 1 pound of sugar substitute*.

Turn on food processor and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.

Doesn’t that look yummy?  Hard to believe there are pinto beans in there!!!!

Pour the mixture into a greased 9″ x 13″ pan and spread evenly.

Chop up 4 ounces of walnuts (optional)

The recipe I have from www.food.com mixes the walnuts into the fudge. I thought it would be nicer sprinkled on top.  What do you think??

No Bake Pinto Bean Fudge
www.food.com

Ingredients:

1 – 15.5 ounce can of pinto beans
3/4 C cocoa powder
1/2 C margarine/butter, melted
1 tbsp vanilla
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 pound sugar substitute (or equivalent to 1 pound of sugar*)  I used splenda baking blend
4 ounces walnuts, chopped (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mash beans (I did mine in the food processor)
  2. Mix together all ingredients
  3. Grease a 9′ X 13″ pan, spread mixture into the pan
  4. Put in the refrigerator and chill thoroughly
  5. Cut into squares and enjoy!

*Make sure to read the sugar substitute package to get the correct measurement to equal 1 pound of regular sugar.

Cheers…you just drank all your calories for the day!

Like any all-American girl, I like a nice adult beverage.  From beer to wine to frou-frou fruity girl drinks, I love them all.  As a person who is trying to enjoy food and drink AND watch her weight, those drinks can use up a lot of my daily calories. What’s a girl to do?

We all know about “light” beers. Most of them have about as much flavor as a cardboard box in a blender.  The only two I’ve been able to tolerate are Bud Light Lime and Michelob Ultra.  I rarely indulge in these two treats.  If it is extremely hot, like it has been lately, I do enjoy them after they have spent some time in the freezer.  Ahhhh….refreshing.

I haven’t found any other good light bottled adult beverages. I do love the Smirnoff Blueberry Lemonade, but I often think twice about drinking them.  There are several companies working on some lower calorie drink mixes, as well as some chefs sharing their lower calorie recipes.

I just tasted the Crystal Light Appletini mix.  Granted, I tasted it without alcohol, but I wanted to see how the mix itself tasted without the bad influence of the alcohol.  At 5 calories a serving compared to 160 calories for an alcoholic appletini, it is a great calorie deal.  The flavor is not quite as good as a real appletini, but it’s not horrible.  Unfortunately, they are limited time only. There are two other flavors – Mojito and Margarita. I’ve heard they are both good, but have not had a chance to try them.

Crystal Light Appletini Mocktail

There is another company that has zero calorie drink mixes.  Slim Stix has a margarita, a mojito, and a cosmo mix that have no calories.  The only calories you would take in are from the alcohol you add to them.  A while ago I signed up to get a free sample and have yet to recieve them. They are only available in stores on the West Coast. You can, however, order them from Amazon or the Slim Stix website.

Lisa Lillien, know to her fans as Hungry Girl, has a whole cookbook with guilt free cocktail recipes.  It is called Hungry Girl Happy Hour.  The recipes are really easy and use everyday items that you already have if you are watching your calorie intake. You can check out some of her cocktail recipes on her website, Hungry-Girl.

So, next time you want to indulge in an adult beverage but don’t want to ruin your diet, look into these ideas, and “Cheers!”