Saturday, February 27, 2010

Kale with Garlic and White Wine: Quick Recipe

Don't know what to do with Kale? There are so many different kinds. My favorite is more tender--the curly red kale or a curly green kale. The other kales seem to have a tougher texture. If you have other ideas about the many varieties of kale, please send them in!

Kale is great for detoxing, and I think of it is one of Mother Nature's wonder sweepers. That's right, it helps sweep your system clean! Even better- this takes less than 15 minutes to prep and cook. Organic Kale is encouraged to avoid pesticide toxicity.

1 Bunch Kale
2-3 tbl olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
fresh ground pepper
2-3 dashes of white wine or veggie broth

1) Strip the leaves away from the stalk. You can just tear away, as if you were tearing a piece of paper. Throw out the stalks (they are too tough for my tastes!). Rinse the leaves in water and strain. If the leaves are bit wilted, leave in water for about 5 minutes, allowing the leaves to plump up from the water.
3) If you like shredded leafy dishes, then you can take the leaves to the chopping board and chop them as you wish. I like to cook quickly since I'm usually hungry, so I just cook the leaves as I tore them.
4) Prep garlic--2-3 cloves chopped or as they are peeled.
5) Heat pan/skillet at high heat. When it's warm (about 30 seconds) a few dashes of olive oil will give a thin layer to the bottom of the pan. Wait 10 sec, then put in garlic to sizzle! Fresh ground pepper in the oil now helps gives a more roasty taste to the pepper. When the garlic is slightly brown, add leaves. Stir with spatula so that the leaves are thinly coated with the black pepper and olive oil about 20 sec.
6) Add 2-3 dashes of wine or veggie broth to bring out the veggie flavor. Wine helps make the kale sweet and you get some extra antioxidants!
7) Turn heat down to medium and cover to help cook the kale. Check the kale in 30 seconds-1 minute. It should be ready and a rich bright green with all stir fry, don't let the green veggies start going brown--take them off the stove as they are just wilted and know they continue cooking from the heat. You want the veggies barely cooked and brightly colored.

Other great kale recipes you can try can be found on this world's healthiest food encyclopedia site.

Yummy Halibut Recipe

From one of my favorites--- wellness doctor and author: Dr. Mark Hyman
A great halibut recipe that brings in a rainbow of veggies, low glycemic load, and a yummy lean protein.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Get the good fats for a smarter brain and stronger heart health

Is your memory not as sharp as you'd like it to be?
Worried about cholesterol?
Did you know that omega-3 deficiency is the 6th biggest killer?

Get your good fats!
Hear all about it!

Get your good fats!
Tasty good fats!

Yes, essential fatty acids (omega-3) are needed for brain function and heart health and our bodies can't produce them. Here's an article summarizing a Harvard health study

I prefer to get my nutrients through food, but some days, I don't want to deal with possible digestive issues or a fishy breath (especially since I sing!). So on the days I know I'm not getting my omega-3 through food, I take an omega-3 supplement with my dinner--a fish oil supplement that has high quality control, and free of heavy metals because it is derived from small fish. Small fish don't get the metal toxification the way big fish do. You also want wild fish whenever possible, and not farmed fish that may have been fed corn and other unnatural feeds that actually make them sick. My favorite fish entrees are grilled wild salmon, or sea bass with herbs and mushrooms baked in parchment paper.*

Food ideas:
1) Smoked herring dill dip (easy can from Trader Joe's or any specialty food store)
~~~ approximate recipe~~~
* 1 can smoked herring
* 1 ripe avocado (optional--get it creamier and you get your other omegas from the avocados!)
* 1 cup greek yogurt (more protein and thicker than regular yogurt, but feel free to use regular yogurt)
* 3 tblspn chopped fresh dill
* freshly ground salt and pepper to taste
* optional squeeze of lime
This can make a great dip for snacking with sweet potato chips (more fiber than regular potatoes!)
If you like sardines, you can use the dip recipe idea above. I personally can't get myself to like sardines because they are muskier in taste and found the smoked herring is just more my style!

2) If you're eating pasta or mac and cheese--add smoked herring.
Ends up tasting like tuna casserole. Use fresh herbs like lemon thyme or italian parsley to lighten the taste of the canned fish. Always find an opportunity to sneak in more vegetables like peas or chard into your entree.

More ideas about herring can be found on Wikipedia. It's a less expensive alternative to wild-caught salmon.
Read about an omega-3 cookie from an older post: walnut pumpkin cranberry cookie recipe.
*baking an entree in parchment paper in my toaster oven lets me not work for my dinner and let's me multi-task and check my email while dinner is quietly and cleanly cooking in its own juices inside a parchment paper. easy dinner!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

VISION HEALTH: More news about anti-oxidants

Tired eyes from the computer? Seeing fortieth, fiftieth birthdays around the corner? Take care of your vision!

When people lose their vision, it gets harder to keep up your cardio exercises and maintain good posture for your spine.

Another great article from Eating Well magazine, with great explanations on which foods have what nutrients and how those work with your body, from a nutrition professor at University of Vermont.

Summary here, with my commentary

1) Up your antioxidants
Vit. C food ideas - citrus, kiwi, broccoli
Vit. E food ideas - nuts, avocados
Lutein and zeaxanthin: leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards
If you need ideas for healthy recipes, search this blog for some easy recipes

2) Eat (whole) eggs
And I say, get the free range omega-3 eggs--these chickens were fed with omega-3 grains including flaxseed! Eggs boiled or scrambled make a great breakfast and starts your day right.

3) Help yourself to more “see” food - get your omega-3 fatty acids and zinc
Eat at least 2 servings of fatty fish per week. Inexpensive small fish like sardines and herring can be tasty as a dip. Smoked herring with greek yogurt, dill, and fresh black pepper makes such a yummy omega-3 and protein packed appetizer dip! If you eat salmon, make sure it is wild-caught and not sick farm-raised. If the restaurant menu does not say wild, it is not wild.

4) Consider a supplement
As much as I like to cook, I honestly don't have time to get fresh wild caught salmon every week, and I don't get my omega-3 fatty acids regularly. I don't like spinach enough to eat 3 cups of it every day. I don't like taking too many pills, and excited to find a line of supplements that I can drink as a healthy cocktail: antioxidants, multivitamin, and vision health. Omega-3 supplements are best carried with Vitamin E in a gel capsule form, so I just have to swallow this one.

5) Keep your blood pressure—and your weight—in check
If you live in LA, it is a driving town and you need to schedule in your cardio workout and you can't leave it up to chance. If you have a walking lifestyle already, give yourself some new challenges because the brain "adapts" to habits and you need to give yourself some changes to get the brain and body working smarter. With the great weather, why not sign up for one of our fitness hikes? Walk as much as you can--park your car farther from your shopping destination. Walk to support your local merchants and meet your friendly neighbors for a better sense of community. Need help losing weight or addressing specific health concerns? Sign up for a F.R.E.E. 20 minute phone consultation to learn more about wellness programs.

Feb 22 UPDATE: More commentary about antioxidants and vision health from the Johns Hopkins Health Alerts.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cut the sugar, get rid of some unhealthy weight

I'm happy that a food magazine like Eating Well is posting this article about sugar for us. All these years we were misled to think that low-fat diets would be the answer, while processed food companies got us addicted to sugar.

Simple tip: If you can cut down processed food and cook your own food, you'll automatically cut down your sugar. I tried to find a frozen entree I could keep as backup for the nights I'm too tired to cook dinner. I spent a good 20 minutes in the grocery aisle reading the boxes of Lean Cuisine, Healthy Choice, Marie Callendar's and more brands I can't remember. I'm sorry to report I could not take advantage of any of the frozen food sale items of what I used to think were healthier options. Instead, I'm now resolved to pack my leftovers as my personally designed "frozen food."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Easy ways to sleep better

Ok, some of you workaholics just won't be able to get *more* hours of sleep. However, you can sleep better for the hours you are dedicating to sleep.

Leave the bedroom area for relaxation. The brain really does associate space to tasks. One hour before you go to bed, stop the electronic stimuli. That means, stop checking email, texts, TV. Your eyes are tired and over-stimulated already by the bombardment of eletromagnetic stimuli from the computer and all that you do for work. Leave work behind and give yourself an hour to wind down. You can play mellow music, but nothing that you associate with work. Relaxing the eyes also helps to relax neck and shoulder tension.

Create a bedtime ritual. Start by planning backwards. Brush teeth, other bathroom tasks, decaf calming herbal tea, lotion/massage tired feet or crampy calves. Lavender lotions (preferably essential oils and not perfume) also have the benefit of calming.

Did you eat a full day's meals? Sometime you work so much, you forgot to eat lunch or dinner was too small. Don't eat right before bed, but check in with yourself in the evening after dinner to see if you need a small protein+carb combo snack. Don't make the mistake of eating crackers and feeling hungry in the middle of the night. If you eat dairy, try yogurt with fruit and nuts. Or try whole grain toast with almond butter. Or a small bowl of veggie soup (the fiber helps slow down the digestion and the warmth helps make you sleepy).

Did you know that 3 out of 4 American adults are calcium-deficient? Calcium-rich and magnesium-rich foods help relax the muscles so you can sleep better. Don't want to eat, but need a boost of calcium+magnesium to calm down the tense muscles? This is a calcium supplement that gets absorbed in 5 minutes on an empty stomach. Many of us also don't eat enough greens and are magnesium deficient, which not only shows up as tight muscles or maybe even headaches. You can take care of this deficiency with a magnesium boost. And if you've been flying between time zones or have had an irregular sleep schedule that needs to be re-regulated, L-tryptophan is really helpful -- well-loved by nurses who do over-night shifts or people who have had bad sleep due to allergies or noise disruptions. This formula of L-tryptophan really helped improve sleep and boost the mood of one of my weight loss students so that he had the energy to exercise!

4) RELAX THE BACK (and neck and shoulders)
Relax on a foam roller. This is the number one exercise toy I ask everyone to have at home. Every other exercise equipment you can use at the gym. This one is so popular, that the foam roller I lent a friend actually left town to go to his mother's house 2 hours away!
When you're too tired, the muscle tensions wound up in the day just find it hard to unwind. Used by physical therapists and Pilates instructors for core strengthening and spine alignment, all you have to do is take 2 minutes: 1 minute to lie on it (doing deep belly breaths) and 1 minute to lie on the mat to let your body feel supported in the newly relaxed position. The tension you carry into bed with you sometimes gets more wound up as you sleep, so why not let it go before you go to bed so you can sleep better!

I admit, sometimes my calves are tight, or my hip flexors are tight, and my stretching gives me some relief but it doesn't do the trick. Epsom salts to the rescue! I buy a big stash of Epsom salts to fill up my under-the-sink cabinet. You want to pour at least 2 generous cups of salts into your water to saturate your bath with Epsom salts (=magnesium sulfate)--so that you can absorb that Magnesium into your muscles, and all those hard-to-get places can loosen up. BONUS--if you've been stressed and constipated, epsom salts bath will also help relax your gut and move things along. Salts can be bought at the dollar store in LA, pharmacies everywhere, and if you have lots of storage space, I've heard the gardening stores keep them on stock to help tomatoes grow.

Worrying doesn't get work done. So leave the worries behind by writing it down. * By hand.*
Typing doesn't have the same release effect as handwriting your list of things you're worried about. Most things can wait for tomorrow. Turn off the "monkey brain"--yes that's the brain that spins its neurotic or repetitive wheel. Visualize a happy beach or park or your favorite relaxation spot. Your brain is powerful so go ahead and take command to train your brain to help you sleep better, more relaxed. You'll make smarter easier decisions when you are well-rested. Let your body reset well, and it's easier to be leaner and healthier.

More info on sleep is available from the National Sleep Foundation.

photo credit: Shoichi Shingu (

Restaurant Survival Guide

Here's a link to tips from Nancy Bruning, MPH on how to stay lean when eating at restaurants. Easy weight management/nutrition tool!
Just in time for Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 1, 2010

On Nancy Bruning's Talk Show: This Thurs 2/4 9amPST/12pmEST

Valentine's Day is around the corner and we've got strategies for you to stay healthier while surrounded by sweets that can give you a few extra pounds. Avoid the sabotage, with our healthy living strategies.

Live radio show on Thurs February 4 at 9am PST, or listen to the recording at your leisure. We would love to hear your questions! You can call in with your questions, or email them to us in advance.