After many weeks of holiday gatherings, tasty treats and too many glasses of champagne, I think we are all looking to start the new year on the right foot. I love this time of year because it seems that everyone has a renewed energy, drive and commitment to living a healthier life. Today I’m going to share a few words of advice to any and all of you who might be reading this looking for a little inspiration as we head into 2011.
1) Make one small change a week. The key to making permanent lifestyle changes is to start out small. If you haven’t been going to the gym regularly but vow to go 5 days a week starting January 2nd, you will burn out in 2 weeks. Instead, set a few obtainable goals and commit to just one a week. Here are a few ideas:
- Drink 2 additional glasses of water per day.
- Reduce soda consumption by one serving per day.
- Exercise 3 days a week for 30 minutes. Everyone has 30 minutes, 3 days a week. (Thank you Curves for that life lesson!)
- Get 8 hours of sleep.
- Eat breakfast every day.
- Increase fruit and vegetable consumption by 2 servings a day.
2) Eat Foods That Come From the Ground or Have a Mother:Clean eating is something I am very passionate about because it takes away a lot of the thinking. I might not eat perfectly all the time, but if I’m eating a food that is real and comes from the ground or has a mother, I feel less guilty.
- Foods That Come From the Ground or Have a Mother: Apples, Almonds, Avocados, Salmon, Turkey, Yogurt.
- Foods that Don’t: Doritos, Chicken Nuggets, Miracle Whip, Pepsi, Hot Dogs, Cheetos, Oreos, Bratwurst, Frappachinos, Graham Crackers, BBQ Sauce, Ketchup.
3) Move More. All you need to do to lose weight is move more than you did last week. Not currently exercising? Walk around the block this evening before dinner or walk for 10 minutes on the treadmill. Next week, add on 10 minutes. Love the eliptical machine? Add in a 15 minutes of strength training. Cardio buff? Try Yoga or Pilates this week. No gym membership? No problem. You Tube has videos for free that you can do right from your home office. On Demand also has hundreds of free workouts in the Fitness section – some as quick as 10 minutes!
In honor of starting the new year on the right food, today I’m sharing one of my favorite crock pot recipes – perfect for a Winters day when you need a little comforting. My trick here is using less meat (just 3 oz per person) and adding in cannellini beans for added protein and fiber without the cholesterol or saturated fat. By slow cooking the chicken with veggies, there is absolutely no need for oil and the chicken becomes so tender that it literally shreds apart when it is done cooking. Serve over your whole grain of choice – I decided to have it with bulgur wheat.
Slow Cooked Tuscan Chicken and Beans
- 12 oz chicken breasts
- 3 cloves garlic grated
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 red pepper diced
- 1 zucchini diced
- 15 oz can cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 15 oz can fire roasted tomatoes diced
- 15 oz can tomato sauce unsalted
- Place chicken breasts in the bottom of your slow cooker and season with garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add diced peppers, zucchini, beans, fire roasted tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- Stir well and heat on Low for 6 hours or High for 3 hours.
- Towards the end of cooking time, use two forks to shred chicken and stir well.
- Serve over brown rice, whole wheat pasta or Bulgar wheat as pictured above.
Photography by Alejandro Photography // Recipe by The Lemon Bowl