1 Siggi's = Better Than the Rest...

I recently noticed a new brand of yogurt floating around Stop & Shop and a few local health food stores.  Yesterday, after weeks of curiosity, I decided that it was time to give it a whirl and with that I tossed it into my cart. I tried it today - consensus - Siggi's yogurt could be the king of all "healthy" yogurts.  When it comes to taste....ehhh, I'll just say it is an acquired taste, especially if what you are used to is Dannon's Light n' Fit. The vanilla flavor, which is what I tasted today is semi-sweet and slightly bitter with deep vanilla undertones.  It tastes (and is) REAL and NATURAL, which is what we should be going for when it comes to all of our food. With that said, I had no problem finishing the 6 oz container. The texture is rich and thick and impressively, the vanilla clearly has vanilla beans whipped in. Yes, real vanilla beans! 

Siggi's is an Icelandic style yogurt that is low in fat and high in protein.  It is sweetened with agave nectar (low glycemic index sweetener) and is low in carbs and sugar, making it a great treat for anyone on a low carb diet. The yogurt container is adorable and it comes adorned with an endless list of reasons to buy this brand over any other brand...

-All natural
-Milk from grass fed cows
-No aspartame
-No sucralose
-No gelatin
-No artificial colorings
-No preservatives
-No high fructose corn syrup
-No rBGH (which means the milk has been produced without the use of recombinant bovine growth hormone

Okay, now we know what Siggi's does not have. Here is what it DOES HAVE...

A plethora of live cultures, and to be exact:

-B. Lactic, L. Acidophilus
-L. Delbrueckii Subsp. Bulgaricus
-L. Delbrueckii Subsp. Lactis
-S. Thermophilus

This yogurt, because of all the live active cultures is a must for anyone taking antibiotics. The active cultures keep the antibiotics from killing the good bacteria that your body needs and loves :)

Nutritional information based on a single serving size (one 6 oz. container):

Calories: 120
Fat: 0g
Sodium: 65g
Carbs: 12g
Sugars: 10g
Protein: 16g !! 

Siggi's takes healthy yogurt to a whole new level. Do you have a favorite yogurt that you use for baking, mixing or just plain eating? What do you love about it? 

Vegetable Mash and Pretty Hearts

Hellooooo! It has been way too long since I last posted anything, so I wanted to share my dish from last night. But before I do, let me explain why I have been so absent -- my sister got engaged last weekend :) So last week was one of happy distractions and wedding talk. Now, things for me are fluttering back down to reality (not so much for my sister) and the kitchen has returned as my weeknight sanctuary.

So onto last night's "kitchen creation," a combination of the vegetables that I was craving.  It was less of a combination and more of a mash...a vegetable mash if you will, of cauliflower, parsnips and sweet potatoes!   It actually was quite tasty and mucho healthy!

This dish comes packed with beta carotein and vitamin C (both potent antioxidants), vitamin K, folate, fiber, B vitamins (thanks to the parsnips) and an abundance of minerals.

Here's how to make the dish, but it is better (and more fun) to experiment with the vegetables that you like the most or happen to be craving at the moment.

-Half a bundle of cauliflower, cut from the main stalk.
-1 large parsnip, peeled and cut down into large pieces
-2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut down into large pieces
-TBSP of thyme
-Parsely, finely chopped (abt 2 tablespoons)

Place the above veggies into a large pot and let the water come to a boil.  Leave veggies in the boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes - OR - until they are soft.  Pull a parsnip or sweet potato out and stick with a fork to test the tenderness.

Meanwhile, while the veggies are boiling, toss the thyme and parsely in a pan w/ canola oil.  Let this lightly saute for 5 -10 minutes.  Once the veggies and saute is done, drain the veggies, and run cold water over the top to stop the cooking.  Mash the veggies together with a masher!  Add the sauteed thyme/parsely and some salt and pepper to taste.  Mix together and eat it up.  This makes enough to last for 3 meals.

Ohhhh! And I know it has been some time since Valentine's Day, BUT.....check out this adorable beet salad from our V-Day dinner.  The restaurant, Harvest, in Cambridge, Massachusetts used a heart-sharped cookie cutter to cut the beets!  Sooo creative and a great way to have fun with your food!

Beet Salad w/ Blue Cheese Terrine

Green Eggs & Bacon Toppers

This week I have been playing in the Green Grapes Blog Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge and it has been a lot of fun! Monday's challenge was to incorporate avocado into a breakfast, so I came up with something called Green Eggs & Bacon Toppers.  This dish is pretty tasty and it would also be good for lunch or dinner, paired with a soup or salad. 

To make this little creation:

1/2 avocado (mashed)
2 hard-boiled eggs (remove the yokes)
2-3 pieces of turkey bacon

Basically, you just dice the 2 hard-boiled egg whites and the turkey bacon, mix them with the avocado, add some salt and pepper to taste and voila!  Serve them atop a whole wheat English muffin.  Make sure you use freshly mashed avocado for this dish.  I referenced Incredibleegg.org on how to boil eggs.  Yes, yes I know how to boil eggs!!  But I wanted them to come out perfectly and by following these directions the eggs were just that. It hurt to throw out the yokes, but in the name of health...I did.  Now, if you are vegetarian, you can still make this dish by substituting some veggie bacon strips in place of the turkey.  

So that was Monday's breakfast. Yesterday's (Tuesday) breakfast challenge was to incorporate flaxseed into a dish. I will my post my creation at a later date because what I really want to talk about is ALL the snow we are getting in New York!!  For the first time in my career life I was dismissed early from work. It truly was a snow day, which is something unheard of in the world of corporate Manhattan!  When I got out of work, I took some lovely pictures of snow-covered trees.  It was so relaxing...

I was thinking the one above would make a nice computer wallpaper...


After the picture taking, I enjoyed the early dismissal with a glass of wine and some cheese & crackers, which were topped with prunes! Nothing like a little sweetness and fiber. It was a guilty pleasure (as was my afternoon) followed by a whole wheat English muffin pizza sprinkled with garlic powder.  

Maybe I should have titled this post "The Power of English Muffins" with two mentions in one post. You can put so many different foods and flavors on them and they swing more toward the healthy side since they are not huge.  Do you have a favorite way to enjoy English muffins? 

Ahhh, with that I must say goodnight...

A Little Yoga & Some Smoothies

This Saturday I went with my friends Katy and Heather to Exhale Spa for some Yoga 1/2, which we followed with delicious smoothies at the nearby Candle Cafe.  The yoga session was nothing but tranquil thanks to our instructor Jerry's calm and friendly demeanor.  His class is welcoming and far from intimidating for the first time yogi, or "yoga virgin" as he put it when he learned that this was Heather's first yoga class. He taught slowly and his direction was clear, making for a great environment to learn the beginnings of yoga.  

Exhale Spa has a few locations in NYC and we went to the Upper East Side spot at 980 Madison Avenue. The facilities are beautiful and the atmosphere is nothing but intimate and cozy. Individual classes cost $23.00, but packages are available for multiple sessions.

Onto the yumminess that was the smoothies at Candle Cafe.... Sweet Potato Pie (Katy), Vanilla Protein (Me) and Chocolate Protein (Heather).  There were lots of other interesting concoctions that Heather and I passed on for the simple and delicious Vanilla and Chocolate, while Katy definitely earned points for being the most adventurous with the Sweet Potato Pie. 

The Supreme Protein Shake consisted of soymilk, banana, vanilla/chocolate and protein powder that contained a supplement of bee pollen and Katy's Sweet Potato Pie had sweet potato, hemp milk, nutmeg, cinnamon and maple syrup.  Some of the other delectable smoothies on the menu included PB & J, Berries & Cream, Mocha Latte, Amazon Mania and Apple Betty.  There is also a full juice bar at Candle Cafe where you can get any veggie juice of your pleasing and a little wheatgrass if you wish. Check out the full menu here.  Oh, and just a side note, the food is delicious! The menu is vegetarian; all the food is seasonal and grown free of pesticides and chemicals.

Just a couple pics :)

Yummy looking Wheat-Free Oatmeal
Chocolate Chip Cookies

The counter was piled high with
plates of "better for you" cookies.

The Candle Cafe store front at 1307 3rd Avenue. 

Folic Acid Tastes Better In A Wine Glass

My sister introduced me to an easy and delicious green drink this summer and oddly enough this week, in the dead of winter, we both were craving the same green smoothie.  I hit the grocery store, stocked up on the supplies and we went to town with the blender.  If your kitchen is well stocked with healthy staples you probably can whip this up without a trip to the g-store.  This drink is as easy to make as 1-2-3...

1) Hand full of Spinach

2) 1 Banana

3) Almond Milk

It's good to go, plus anything else you want to add...

My sister, Jenny, likes to add a squirt of flaxseed oil (which you can't taste - thankfully). This morning, I made the smoothie with a little OJ (vitamin C helps you to absorb the iron in the spinach).  I know a lot of people out there like to add ground chia seeds, which I have never tried.  Chia seeds would totally elevate this drink to SUPERFOOD status.  But the taste, I wonder, is it goooood?

And then of course, the glass you choose can totally enhance the experience of drinking a green drink -- or any beverage for that matter :)  

Check out this Women's Health link for some great info on Folic Acid and how to get it.  

What do you add to your smoothies? I notice a lot of bloggers have fun names for their smoothies, do you have one? 

Jumbo Banana Muffins - Vegan & Delicious!

I am a muffin lover that is constantly on the hunt for a good muffin, and as always, the healthier the better. I thought how perfect would it be to find a recipe that is soo delicious and soo healthy that I wouldn't mind eating it everyday for breakfast?  Well friends, last night I made Veg Webs Best Banana Muffins Ever, and so far, at least in my mind, they are the best VEGAN banana muffins ever! And they only take about 10 minutes to prepare.
I made these muffins with my new jumbo muffin tin and when the batter was done, there ended up being just enough for 3 muffins.  The recipe is supposed to be good for 24 mini or 10 regular size muffins. I calculated the nutritional info and for one jumbo muffin, it boiled down to this:

Fat: 8g
Saturated Fat: 3g
Calories: 372
Protein: 6g
Fiber: 6g

I tweaked the recipe only slightly by using spelt flour instead of white flour-for the added fiber and protein, and passed on the carob and walnut additions.  The muffins came out moist and chunky and I imagine next time I will try them with the walnuts for even more of a chunk-factor.  

* These muffins blow past attempts at healthy muffins (Mineral Packed Molasses Muffins & Gluten-Free Blueberry Muffins) OUT OF THE WATER.  In fact, I would not recommend either of those muffins, but these Bananas, you've got to try!

Fast & Frenzied Eating

Typical Lunch: Greek Inspired Salad
w/ olives, feta, peppers & maybe some chicken or beans w/ balsamic and olive oil.

Each and everyday I eat my lunch at my desk in front of a computer screen.   Each and everyday I eat my lunch alone and in about 10 minutesEach and everyday I eat my lunch and I get interruptedSounds nice, right?  Well, not only is it a very pleasant experience, but it is NOT healthy.  Let me use myself as an example of what not to do when you eat your lunch, or any meal for that matter. 

I would imagine that a lot of "nine to fivers" eat in a similar manner to the one described above. Tisk! Tisk!  Today Americans eat their food on the go -- in their cars, at their desks, over the sink, even on the subway platform and in trains.  To eat is to multi-task and it is sad that the experience of eating has become less of a priority and more of an afterthought.  Where are the days when people would gather around the table to enjoy good food, company and conversation??

When I find myself slipping into a tailspin of hurried eating (like my lunch of most recent), I step back, breath and slooooow down.  Here are some tips on how to recover from the fast and frenzied eating patterns and slip back into a relaxed and healthy routine.  

1) Eat when you are hungry.  Easy...Need I say more? 

2) Get rid of distractions.  Turn off the tv, computer, cell phone and focus on the food (if you are alone) and also your company (if you are with company).

3) Eat in good company.  If you are eating with people enjoy the situation and the conversation. Try your hardest to make the experience a pleasurable one.

4) Chew slowly, eat slowly.  The more you chew your food, the easier it will be for your body to digest it. It will also force you to eat more slowly.  The slower you eat, the more time your tummy will have to recognize when it is full, which means in all likelyhood you will eat less.  One trick you may have heard is to put your fork down in between bites.  Once you are done chewing and swallowing, grab your fork and have another bite.  This will help you to eat slowly. 

5) Savor the taste.  Relish the first few bites of your food.  These early bites are going to taste the best so you might as well enjoy them while you can.  After several forkfuls the food will lose some taste as our taste buds adjust. Begin to notice when you are no longer eating for enjoyment and satiation, but rather just for the sake of eating -- this is when you want to put your fork down. 

6) Relax.  The state of your emotions when you eat a meal will affect how it is digested.  If you are angry/agitated, food will move through your stomach quickly and vice versa if you are sad/depressed. 

7) Eat until 80% full.  It is better for your digestive tract when you leave some room for the enzymes to do their job.  It allows for efficient digestion and reduces negative side effects like heart burn, indigestion and gas.   Start to practice by not eating everything in front of you.  Leave some food on your plate.

8) Save room....for dessert that is.  If you know you will be eating dessert, save room! It will be more enjoyable and you won't be a stuffed muffin when you leave the table.

Today's dessert!
Carob Mint Creme Cup
Ohhh....Averie of Love Veggies and Yoga, if you are listening do you think it's possible to create a yummy homemade chocolate cup like this?? That would be awesome!!

What are your dining habits and at what pace do you eat your food?  What eating habits do you want to change?

About Me

New York City
Welcome! My name is Christine and I have landed here to share my love of healthy living and eating. I live in NYC where I am currently enrolled in the School of Integrative Nutrition. I am already certified as a holistic health coach and I have started seeing clients to help them reach their wellness goals. I started hot mama health to share the idea that it is fun to be healthy! Health is an adventure with endless foods to taste, exercises to explore, and challenges to meet! If you do not already feel this way, I hope that I can bring you into the light or at least stir a little inspiration here and there.
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