Salmon – The Deliciously Fatty Fish

Raise your hand if you love salmon! I don’t know if it’s all the Omega 3s in salmon, but it’s one of my favorite dishes. Well, actually, it might be taking the top spot (along with scallops, but that’s not a fish.) Anyways, I digress.

seared-salmon-rawFirst, let me talk about how great salmon is for you! It contains a bunch of health benefits, supporting your heart with omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which slow down plaque build-up in the arteries. Those same Omega-3s boost your brain power while also helping your eyes by protecting the eye cells from sunlight and free radicals. It also contains my favorite Vitamin, Vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium among countless other benefits! It also contains astaxanthin, a super antioxidant that helps protect your skin from UV-radiation while supporting eye and heart health. Yea, this beautiful fatty fish is loaded to the gills (pun intended) with positive health benefits. So let’s talk about why people may not cook it at home…

Many people reserve fish for ordering at a restaurant. I’ve heard every excuse from I hate the way it smells up my house to I have no idea how to cook it, to it tastes so much better at the restaurant. Well, I’m here to help you out because seriously, I love salmon, but I hate spending $30 on it at a restaurant when I can buy a quality piece of wild caught Alaskan salmon for around $7-10. Here are a few tips for all you lovely fish eaters out there!

Grizzly Bears Love Salmon Too
Grizzly Bears Love Salmon Too

1. Every salmon needs a good sear (well at least I think so). I love the crispy crust when it’s complemented by the tender inside. It’s so good, my mouth is watering right now. My favorite way to get that crust to to cook my salmon in a skillet on the stove. First, I get the pan searing hot, add a little olive oil, and the salmon, skin side down (if you have a skinless piece of salmon, don’t worry about it). Turn the heat to medium low. Cover the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then flip, cover, and cook for 2-3 minutes more. What comes out is a perfectly cooked salmon. Seriously. Anyone can do that! Yes, even you!

IMG_15662. Ok so now you know how to cook the salmon. It won’t be fishy tasting (that only happens when you overcook it), but your house may smell a little fishy after cooking. I understand. No one likes that smell in their house, only on the docks. So what do you do about it? First shut your doors to the rest of your house. Try and confine the smell as much as possible. The be sure to open a window, put a fan on, just do something to kick the smell out. Once you’re finished cooking, clean up, right away. If it still smells like a dock, simmer your some cinnamon sticks, cloves and citrus peels on the stove for an all natural air freshener. And if you just can’t get the smell out, leave a small bowl on the counter filled with white vinegar, baking soda, or coffee grounds which will help naturally dissipate any remaining smells come morning.

3. Think you can’t cook as good as some restaurants? Think again. You may not be able to rival a 5 star establishment, you can still wow your guests and yourself, by cooking up a delicious seafood meal. The key is to cook it properly (see number 1) and then add some jazz to it! I love making a light dill sauce to go along with my salmon. Take 1 cup Greek Yogurt, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 3 tablespoons freshly chopped dill, the juice and zest of one lemon, salt and pepper and BAM! – you’ve got yourself a fancy salmon sauce.

Are there any other hurdles that are stopping you from cooking up a seafood feast this evening? Let me know about them and I’ll see if I can help you!

Looking for healthy kitchen inspiration? Let me design a food plan that fits your budget, time constraints, and preferences while focusing on your health concerns! I’ll get you back on track for 2015 by eating delicious food that’s easy to make and good for your body and soul! Contact me at info@mbeewell.com for a free consultation!

Bee Well,

Melissa
info@mbeewell.com

 

Advertisements

A Healthy Holiday Detox

The holidays are great. It’s a time for baking your favorite cookie recipe that was passed down through generations. For me, I bake kozlocki – aka little bites of heaven – a Polish cookie filled with jam. It’s so good. And my holiday wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make pierogis from scratch. I also go overboard cooking intricate dishes that I wouldn’t normally waste my time on. But, that’s what the holidays are for! Of course, there are also the libations – beer, wine, champagne toasts, and fancy cocktail drinks. But, now… as my friend said yesterday “if I look at another stuffed mushroom I’ll throw up.” My sentiments exactly.

IMG_1382
Cookies for days….

 

IMG_1384
I swear they’re my kryptonite

So now that your body has been thoroughly stuffed over the past week (ok month) and you’ve probably not been keeping track of your workouts, it’s time to give yourself (and your body) a break and hit that reset button!

In order to “reset,” we need to focus on the three main systems that play a crucial role in the elimination of wastes: circulatory, digestive, and lymphatic. Your circulatory system pumps blood and oxygen through your body, carrying waste products away from cells while your digestive system separates the nutrients from the waste and your lymphatic system collects fluid throughout the body where anything harmful such as bacteria or other contaminants are removed before being returned to the bloodstream. Our goal is to help all these systems function at their optimum levels so you can ditch that sluggish feeling you’ve been harboring since last week!

First things first – get “it” out of the house! Don’t tempt yourself by keeping a big pile of cookies on the counter or a delicious bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy in the fridge. It’s getting cold, you’re hungry, and it’s there, of course you’re going to go for it instead of the kale salad that you could make. So do yourself a favor and just get rid of all the “excess” lying around your house and by “excess,” I mean all the “food stuff” you would only have around this time of year.

Ok now that you’ve gotten rid of the goodies, drink some water. Every time you want a cookie, drink a glass of water. Every time you’re craving that delicious pierogi with sour cream, drink a glass of water. You get my drift. With all of the heavy and sugary laden foods that we’ve been consuming, our body is craving water, especially while we’re sitting in heated houses (the dreaded dry heat!)

Fresh Red Beets
Beets – Nature’s liver cleanser

So now that you’re running to the bathroom every 30 minutes, let’s get you eating some detoxifying foods. Try adding some beets to your diet, filled with magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium they help your liver stay in tip top shape. Ginger is another liver cleanser, spiking your metabolism while flushing out waste. You can also add some sweet pineapple to your morning smoothie, providing you with a good dose of bromelain, a digestive enzyme that clears out your colon. You can even add a dash of cinnamon to your yogurt that’s full of calcium, iron, and manganese which helps you process fatty acids while keeping your blood sugar stable.

You’re drinking your water, eating your veggies, and now you’re going to get your sweat on! Head to the gym, get outdoors, or take a yoga class! A body in motion stays in motion and a body that’s been lying on the couch eating cookies, will continue to lay on the couch and eat cookies. I know the first step is hard, but once you get back in your workout routine, you’ll look forward to it. Try and head to your favorite yoga studio or practice some detoxifying poses at home to help promote digestion. Here’s a little sample of a great detox yoga flow.

high-lunge-twist-400x400
Twists are great for stimulating the digestive system

At the end of the day, rest up in a mud, clay, or epsom salt bath instead of going for that cookie and glass of wine. These minerals will help draw out toxins from the body, helping your muscles rest (and your mind!) Add some arnica oil to help soothe your muscles even more.

Don’t wait until 2015 to get going, give 2014 everything you’ve got for a fresh start in the new year! And if you’re looking for someone to be accountable to, give me a call. I’ll help you stay on track so that your goals will become your priorities. Instead of “dieting,” I’ll help you live.

Bee Well,

Melissa

 

 

My Tips for Sticking With the “Healthy Program”

Vegetables
Make your life as colorful as these beauties!

Starting a routine of health can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to drinking enough water, getting your portion of fruits and vegetables, and exercising regularly. Let’s face it, most of us are gung-ho for the first week and then by the second week we’ve already snuck in a few late night sessions in the freezer and have hit the snooze button instead of taking a run outside.

After the third or fourth time we think to ourselves “well I’m already off the wagon, I might as well just stay off the wagon.” Then we fall back into our slumps and it isn’t until six months later that we’re thinking about starting that new diet that everyone is talking about, just to repeat the cycle all over again with absolutely no results!

Well, I’m here to say – let’s break that cycle and stick with it! 

Oscar Health Insurance who provides health insurance to those living in New Jersey and New York, recently asked me for my tips on keeping up with my health and fitness objectives, what changes I make to my daily routine, and really, how the heck do I stay on track? Well, I’ll tell you one thing before I give you my secrets, no one is perfect, not me, not you (sorry to burst your bubble), not anyone! But, the beauty in all this imperfection is that we can accept ourselves, blunders and all, no matter what. The point of adopting a healthy routine is to live a healthy life.

So, let’s get started:

Play Ball? Yes, even in the snow!
Play Ball? Yes, even in the snow!

1. Write down WHY you want to be healthy. What’s the reason you want to start living a healthy lifestyle? Is it because you want to run a marathon one day? Is it because you want to be able to run after your grandkids? Or is it because you want to wake up in the morning and be ready to start your day? Whatever the reason is, write it down! It can be multiple reasons. For me, it’s all about how I feel – and the fact that I want to keep up with my high energy pup! And when you are tempted to forget the healthy lifestyle, you can go back to this list and remember why you’re going to pass on the french fries and order a plate of vegetables instead.

2. Being healthy is easy, it’s just a pain to @ss sometimes. The first week, the first month, the first couple of months, may seem like your world is slowly attempting to suffocate you. However, its your food addictions that are talking to you. Your body, I promise, is thanking you but may need to shed some toxins in the meantime. Once your body is calibrated, you’ll be craving your morning juice or smoothie packed full of vitamins and antioxidants instead of that fast food egg muffin. I promise, things get easier and soon your body will be expecting vegetables instead of preservatives!

3. Stock your pantry, fridge, freezer. Make it easy for you to succeed! Make a list before you go grocery shopping and figure out what you need to make healthy meals and snacks that week then prepare them in advance so that some sliced up carrots and celery with a hummus dip is ready to go when you look in the fridge, rather than seeing whole carrots and heading towards the cabinet to open up a bag of chips. If you eat out for lunch a lot, make a list of healthy restaurants to go to or start making your own lunch (you’ll not only save a few pounds on your waistline, but you’ll also save some money in your wallet!) Be your biggest supporter by setting yourself up to be healthy! 

My half marathon buddy!
My half marathon buddy!

4. Life is so much more fun with a partner on your side, so find someone who will call your bluff when you skip a workout! Find a workout buddy. Sometimes all we need is someone who can help motivate us and vice versa.If you don’t know anyone who could be your workout buddy, try getting a health coach or trainer once a week to get you motivated again and again. Once we start moving, our bodies tend to like to keep on moving. As that commercial says, “A body in motion, stays in motion.” And the chances of it staying in motion instead of stalling goes up with a motivational friend by your side!

5. Allow yourself to occasional treats. Yes, you can have that brownie, cookie, cake, ice cream, whatever your craving is, HOWEVER, that portion should be small and it should be controlled. This may be more difficult when you first start your healthy lifestyle or if you have a sugar addiction, which most people in America do. Being healthy doesn’t mean you eat spinach all day long, but it does mean that you keep your body running in optimal condition. Some people can have a glass of wine and a morsel of chocolate and that’s it, while others have to drink the whole bottle and then they eat the whole package of Oreos, know what type of person you are so that you’re prepared. But, in the end banning foods will only make you want them more. 

And finally, never beat yourself up if you fall of the wagon. Just realize you did eat three portions of pasta and drank way too much wine, but then pass on dessert. You can always hop off and hop on. As you continue to learn how amazing you feel, you’ll stay “on” longer and have fewer “off” moments.

Remember, you’re doing this for YOU!

Be Happy!
Be Happy!

It All Starts with DIRT!

Dirt!The weather is finally starting to get warm. The sun is higher in the sky and staying out past it’s winter bedtime. The shades of winter are blossoming into the bright greens of Spring. All this means summer to me. Hot days (which I love), warm nights, and fresh produce.

What’s a better way to hang out with Mother Nature than to start your own garden in your backyard? You’ll enjoy the fruits of your labor while spending some quality time getting down and dirty.

So what are some of the things you need to know when you start an organic garden? Well, you need to know your soil. If you live near the ocean, you may have sandy soil or maybe it’s clay or silt (or loam). It’s best to understand what your soil needs to be in balance so you can grow great tomatoes, cucumbers, and one of my favorites – herbs, all types of herbs!

 

Soil TypeHere’s a quick tip on how to figure out what soil you have:

  1. Fill a quart jar with a third of topsoil, then top with water until almost full.
  2. Screw the lid on tight and shake until all of the soil has dissolved.
  3. Leave the jar alone and let the large particles begin to sink to the bottom.
  4. After a minute, the sand portion of the soil will sink to the bottom, mark it on the jar.
  5. Now go do something fun and leave the jar alone. As you’re out having fun, the finer silt particles will settle into the sand leaving you with an array of different colors indicating various types of particles.
  6. The next morning, check on your jar and mark the thickness of the next layer, which is clay. On top of the clay will be a thin layer of organic matter while the erst of it will be floating in the water. If there’s no organic matter in the water, you probably need to add some to help your soil out, but more on that later!

So now that you know what type of soil you have, you can be more prepared on how to balance it and make it the optimal home for your fruits, vegetables and herbs. In my next post, I’ll give the elements of a balanced soil and help you turn your sandy, clay or silt soil into a vegetable’s dream!

Who Keeps Me Healthy?

The other day I was asked by the American Recall Center to share my own story about “Who Keeps Me Healthy?” So many people come to me for nutrition advice, that it’s interesting to think about the person or people who keep me on my toes. I had some thinking to do.

My Husband and Layla, Leading the Way

I thought back to when I made my first conscious decision to optimize my own health. I’ve always had a passion for food and health, but when a loved one gets sick, it somehow always cements the point and pushes you onward and upward.

Growing up, my grandparents mainly cooked “old fashioned” meals of mashed potatoes, vegetables, and meat. I remember it also being sprinkled with some fast food treats and my favorite, cinnamon twirls. I’m not sure exactly what it was that caused the cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease, but I knew that somehow, it was related to how well you treated your body. (This is not to say that my grandparents ate unhealthy foods, actually they ate pretty well, always with their grandkids in mind). Then and there, I decided I would take care of my body to the best of my ability and enjoy my life, all so I could live a long and healthy life.

Cooking for My Family
Cooking for My Family

I realized that just like any other relationship, how you treat your body is how your body will treat you. Treat it well, with the best of food, exercise, and mindfulness and you’ll be rewarded with a relationship that flourishes. Treat it like a garbage dump and you’ll eventually land there too.

Flash forward a few years; I began to sense how my own body began reacting differently to certain foods, while others would allow me to operate at an optimal level. My body wasn’t able run on “junk” without stalling. Days of eating bagels and cream cheese for breakfast were updated to steel cut oats with apples and peanut butter or my “smoothie of the day.” It was a gradual process, but one that my body is still thanking me for.

Staying Happy and Healthy
Staying Happy and Healthy

Today, I don’t just stay healthy, both physically and mentally, for myself, but mainly for my family. I want to put my best self forward so I can support them in whatever they need now, tomorrow, next week, next month, and 10, 20, 40 years from now. Whether it’s my husband who’s looking for a healthy and delicious meal, my dog who desperately wants to go for a run everyday, my dad who’s looking to lower his high blood pressure, or my brother who wants to supplement his training with healthy meals, I have made a commitment to be there as their guide to living and enjoying a healthy life.

So in honor of the American Recall Center’s “Who Keeps You Healthy” campaign, I want to thank my family for keeping me on my toes and being my “Health Hero.” I may drive you crazy when I tell you the sugar content of that power bar you’re about to tear open or how much sodium is in that white bread or when I try to sneak in vegetables to your meal, but in the end I know I’m not only keeping myself healthy, but you healthy too. After all, what’s the point of staying healthy if no one is enjoying the ride with you?

To my family, you continue to come to me for advice, challenge me with countless questions, and make me realize the importance of staying healthy.  Thank you for fueling my passion, being my inspiration and being my own “Health Hero.

“Bee” Well,

Melissa

Food Lover’s Dream for Heart Day

Part of my Valentine's Day gift from my husband. Now what to do with the goodies...
Part of my Valentine’s Day gift from my husband. Now what to do with the goodies…

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

The other day my husband (that still sounds weird for a newlywed) came home with a bag full of goodies after a trip through Amish Country.

“This is part of your Valentine’s Gift” he said, holding the bag high above my head.

“Ok! Let me look!!” I said as I tore through the bags.

In the bag he came home with maple syrup breakfast sausages (they’re amazing cut up in scrambled eggs!), three kinds of caffeine-free teas, snicker doodle cookies (which Layla my dog ate one of shortly after), red velvet whoopee pies, shoe-fly pie, fresh mozzarella cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and two types of sauce/dips (raspberry and mango) -YUM!

That night I cooked up his favorite, Chicken Parmigiano with the fresh mozzarella cheese of course and grated Parmigiano Reggiano over the al dente spaghetti.

Tonight for Heart Day I’m cooking up some of his favorites: butternut squash risotto with sun-dried tomatoes and marinated grilled steak dipped in spicy extra virgin olive oil. For dessert, fried ice cream. It’s a first for me. If it turns out good, I’ll post it, otherwise I won’t ; )

xo MBeeWell