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Yes, you can enjoy your big July 4th bash and stay healthy!
By Coco Peate
I love celebrating the 4th of July. The gathering of family and friends, the fireworks – and yes, the food! There are just so many delicious all-American foods that are enjoyed on this day. And of course some of us add our own spin to this American holiday with our favorite dishes that aren't American at all! As a kid (and today!) my father would BBQ on the 4th - but we had Mexican sides, salsa, tortillas, and all sorts of other Mexican goodies - along with our hotdogs and potato salad.
In fact, I love the whole summer because I can catch up with friends and a great deal of our catching up happens over BBQs. However, if you are not careful, all the BBQs can wreak havoc on your health goals. Try following our simple rules to help survive the BBQ season while keeping your health goals on track and still having a great time.
Try some of these suggestions:
- Use small plates: Did you know that research shows that people who use smaller plates eat less, without really noticing it? So grab a plate from the kids table or from the dessert/appetizer area.
- Smart appetizers: Use a fruit platter or a veggie platter with a low-calorie dip. How about a shrimp platter with a low-calorie cocktail sauce?
- Good sides: High carb goodies are plentiful at BBQs, but try picking up a whole grain alternative. Whole grain bread products contain fiber that helps lower bad cholesterol and helps prevent gastrointestinal diseases. Pick vegetables that are deep in color and high in nutrients, like broccoli or green beans. Skip the foods that are high in refined carbs, like potato chips. They are high in fat and low in nutrition.
- Smart drinks: Remember that with wine, the darker the color, the more antioxidants. Also remember that some alcoholic drinks can just be skipped all together. A margarita can have about 600-800 calories, while a glass of wine or beer can have much less. Your guests, especially the younger ones, may really enjoy fruit smoothies.
- Check out your plate: Follow the power plate rule: 1/2 of your plate should be fruits or veggies, 1/4 should be whole grains and 1/4 should be your lean protein. Remember to fill your plate with the healthiest options first too, to help you feel fuller faster and leave less room for dessert and drinks.
- Share: Bring one healthy side or dessert to share, at least you know you will have one good and healthy thing on your plate!
- Don't forget dessert! You don’t have to skip dessert all together, but watch out for your portion. The difference between a small and large piece of cake/pie can be hundreds of calories. Make a dessert that includes lots of fruit, like this delicious, low-calorie and easy to make parfait.
Very Berry Parfait Recipe
Makes 6 servings
What you will need:
- 4 cups of fresh sliced berries: strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. You can try adding mandarins, bananas, pomegranate kernels, kiwi - be creative!
- 4 cups of fat free vanilla pudding cups
- 2 cups of lite whipped toping like fat-free Cool Whip
- 2-3 tablespoons of Amaretto liquor (or anything similar will be ok, we sometimes use Disaronno Amaretto liquor). You may want to make a small batch for the young guests without the liquor and use 1 tablespoon of almond extract instead of the liquor.
- 6 parfait glasses. You can also use wine glasses, small clear glasses or dessert cups.
What to do:
- In one bowl, mix all your berries.
- In a second bowl, make your filling by mixing your liquor, pudding and Cool Whip together.
- Take ½ the filling and add it evenly to your 6 glasses.
- Add your fruit mixture to the glasses, evenly and generously!
- Add a final layer of the filling to each if your glasses.
- Top with a small mint leap, a little shaved chocolate, or extra berry mixture.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. For a festive 4th of July touch add a little American flag to the top (you can find these at craft stores) - Viola!
This past Saturday I ran my very first 1/2 Marathon - yay! I had the pleasure of training with a wonderful group of moms from my children's school, who encouraged and motivated me. Here we are after we all crossed the finish line. Looking good!
I know that my 1/2 marathon may not seem like a huge deal, but it is to me. I wrote about why I started running and why I finally decided to run this race - you can find that post here. Honestly, it felt like such a big day for me, mostly because getting to race day proved to be harder than I had planned. First, I couldn't register because the race was full. Lucky for me a few spots opened on my birthday and I officially enrolled. Next, I hurt my foot on our 12 mile run two weeks before the big race....Lucky for me it healed. Then there was finding time to train. Finally, my baby scratched my eye so bad the week before the race that I couldn't see...Lucky for me it healed fast too. On race day I felt really good...both feet and eyes were working as they should!
My friend from my running group picked me up at 5:30 am and then we met up with the other ladies from our group to carpool to the race. It was fun and exciting getting there at the crack of dawn and chatting away. This particular 1/2 marathon is part of the Great Race of Agoura. The Great Race is a huge fundraiser (they have several races that morning) for local schools and really has a ton of community support behind it. The volunteers were out in full force so early in the morning and that made me super happy. A bathroom break was next and then we made our way to the start line, which is located at the top of a residential street.
I felt nervous and excited at the same time. The race starts easy...you go down that long hill that you climb earlier (to get to the start line) and for the next 3 miles you run on flat land through charming Old Agoura. At mile 3 you hit the trail head and for the next 7.5 miles you run on the Cheeseboro Canyon Trail in the Santa Monica Mountains. It is really quite beautiful...You would never guess that you are so close to LA and a major freeway! I started the trail portion feeling really great, with a good pace that I kept up until mile 6. That's when I almost cried. I realized that the hard part of the race was just starting. The flat trail was about to turn into a series of hard short climbs. I said a quick prayer and kept on going. Yep, those little rocky parts were harder and longer than I remembered from our practice runs but everyone was pushing along.
Then came the LONG steady climb up to the highest elevation. Most people, including me, walked for part of the climb. I made it to the top - pictured below - I was VERY happy to see this view! I knew that the next part of the race was mostly downhill!
It's a fast way down for about a mile...then you hit flat land, climb one more tough hill and finally you run on the streets for the last 2.5 miles. The last 2.5 miles took forever to finish. I was beyond excited to see that finish line! It was so nice to congratulate the ladies in my group on our run - we all did great! After the race my family took me out for a celebratory lunch - I enjoyed the biggest burger and cocktail! Here's a picture of me after I had made it up and down that hill!
How did I do? I finished in 02:07:11. I think that's great. 8 months ago I had struggled on my 1st post baby run. It was 2 miles and I cried when I got home because it had been so hard to complete. I have come a long way...until the next one!
I believe in hiring companies that not only do a great job but are also are good stewards in the community. A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to have Zerorez SoCal come to my house and clean my kitchen and bathroom floors. They did a wonderful job and I will definitely have them over again to work on other areas of my house. I told you all about their non-toxic technology that's used to clean pretty much any surface in your home and how their water is so safe that even my kids drank it! See the picture on the left?
But did you know that Zerorez SoCal is also actively involved in helping our communities with their Zerorez SoCal Minor Miracles program? That's what makes them a really awesome company - they care about their work, your family's health, the environment and the communities that they serve.
"Minor Miracles is a program Zerorez SoCal has developed to help deserving organizations or individuals. We regularly choose individuals or organizations that we feel need a lift, and we clean their home or offices for free. We have noticed that helping provide a clean, healthy environment is greatly appreciated by recipients and gives them a psychic “boost”, and it also allows us to be a part of our community by improving the lives of those we touch with our “minor miracles”.
I have been incredibly fortunate to be around people who care about giving to others. The earliest lesson came from my parents, who taught me to give to the less fortunate, even though we didn't have much ourselves. Then, for a large part of my childhood I was enrolled in an after school program where I later volunteered as a mentor. I saw so many people give their time to help inner city children. Now, I am involved on the Board of two non-profits. I know first hand that these organizations depend on community support in all shapes and sizes! That's why I love the Zerorez SoCal #minormiracles program! They are doing their part to work with local organizations to better carry out their missions!
Do you know of a non-profit, church, or community space in Southern California that could benefit from free cleaning by Zerorez SoCal's #MinorMiracles program? Please take a few minutes and fill out this form and submit your nomination. Note their Service Areas: Orange County, Los Angeles County, Ventura County, Riverside County, San Bernardino.
Some of their past “minor miracle” recipients include:
- Working Wardrobes offices and showroom – helping the homeless train, dress, and apply for employment.
- U.S. Veterans offices – Provide apartments for veterans who are homeless and seeking a new start
- Women’s Shelter of Huntington Beach
- Mother’s Day Program (10 deserving moms provided cleaning service, recipients to remain anonymous) One winner filmed here: http://youtu.be/5vq2lr8ON-I
- Family of five teenagers who lost their father to a heart attack (recipients to remain anonymous)
- Whitehouse Restaurant of Anaheim – over 500,000 free meals provided to homeless “motel” kids
Zerorez SoCal Services include:
- Carpet Cleaning (great on berber!)
- Area rug cleaning (incl wool, silk, cotton, Persians)
- Upholstery cleaning
- Tile and grout cleaning and resealing
- Natural stone cleaning (marble, travertine, etc.)
- Hardwood clean and buff
- Mattress cleaning
- Air Ducts and Furnace cleaning
- Pet urine removal
- Linoleum and vinyl tile cleaning
- Counter top cleaning
- Shower cleaning
- Leather furniture cleaning
- Patio decks, garage floors, walkways
- Autos, boats, and motorhomes cleaning
- Carpet stretch and repair
- Commercial facility cleaning
St. Patrick's Day Recipe Tips by Coco Peate
Happy St. Patricks' Day!
I love that you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, that’s for sure! It’s a great holiday for fun and games. It's one of those days that everyone can enjoy and be a little green!
I've been thinking about healthy snack and recipe ideas for celebrating this holiday with your family, check them out below.
Tip 1: Start with Green-Colored Ingredients
- Green Apples
- Green Beans
- Green Chiles
- Green Grapes
- Honeydew Melon
- Spinach Pasta
- Spinach Tortillas
Tip 2: Plan a green meal. Just add a dab of green food coloring to some your favorite soft-textured foods. Here are some suggestions:
- Alfredo Sauce
- Cake Frosting (white/light colored)
- Cottage Cheese
- Cream Cheese
- Deviled Eggs (add green dye to yolk mixture)
- Low Fat Vanilla Pudding
- Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt
- Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
- Mac & Cheese (with a white cheddar sauce)
- Vanilla or Banana Milkshakes
- Mashed Potatoes
- Ranch Dressing
- Pasta Salad
- Pesto Sauce
- Potato Salad
- Scrambled Eggs
- Sour Cream (for garnishes)
- White Gravy
- Whipped Cream (low fat)
Tip 3: Serve Green-Colored Recipes/Foods
- Leafy Salads
- Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- Spinach Ravioli (with a cheese sauce)
- Spinach Dip (with green veggies)
- Spinach Soup
- Spinach Tortillas (as wraps)
- Green Fruit Pops
- Green Colored Smoothies or Shakes. This site has some great ideas.
- Whip up a batch of sugar cookies, adding a couple of drops of green food coloring to the dough. Try substituting 1/2 of the white flour with wheat flour.
- For a healthier alternative to corned beef and cabbage, try these two recipes at Healthyrecipeoftheweek.com and www.dailyspark.com.
VidaCoco.com provides the modern Latina with an array of resources and tools for homemaking, family life, health, fitness, nutrition & culture. Enjoy! Learn more
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