health

Sweet Potato (Yam) Goodness!

Rachel Lifestyle, Nutrition Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , ,

Fantastic sweet potato snacks – Sadly I cannot take credit for these; they are courtesy of the Whole9 website and the Whole30 program and are a recipe I took directly from there.  I must give credit where credit is due, and these deserve the shout-out!!

I do make some killer ‘proprietary’ yam chips…I will include those on here soon!

Post-Workout Sweet Potato Chews

Cast of Characters:

  • Sweet potatoes. I thought these were yams, but apparently they are sweet potatoes.  Whatever, I don’t really care.  Just get the orange ones.  The yellow ones don’t survive being baked and cooked.
  • Cinnamon. I’ve read that it improves insulin sensitivity.  It’s also delicious.
  • Coconut oil.  It imparts a subtle coconut taste that rounds out the flavor of the sweet potato in a truly marvelous way.

 

Now Do This:

  • First, you have to bake the sweet potatoes, so preheat oven to 325.
  • Spread a piece of aluminum foil on a middle rack and bake as many as you can fit for about an hour.  You want them soft, so the skins easily pull away from the sides.
  • After baking, let them cool in the oven until it’s convenient to move on to the next step.  Sitting in the oven overnight is fine, in fact.
  • Now you have to peel them. If you baked them long enough, you should be able to get most of the peel off with your fingers.  Use a knife for any stubborn bits.

  • Next, you need to slice them and arrange them on a baking sheet.  You can use a pan liner (like Silpat) to make removal of the finished product easier.
  • Cut them about 1/2 a centimeter thick.  You want a uniform thickness if possible, and I find 1/2 cm gives me enough potato to keep it from becoming a mess when I transfer pieces to the pan.
  • Arrange them flat side up.
  • Now, melt your coconut oil and paint on your potato slices using a pastry brush.
  • Give a healthy dusting of cinnamon (I really load up).
  • Then back to the oven it goes for the “drying”.  Cooking at 350 for 50 minutes brings about half the pan to an acceptable level. They sizzle nicely under the high heat.
  • Usually, I’ll remove the done ones and throw the pan back in for another 10 minutes and that produces pretty good results. I’ve also done 300 degrees and 90 minutes. That works pretty well too and is more forgiving, meaning less crispy pieces. You may have to experiment a bit. If you go too long or too hot, you will have sweet potato crisps.  Not bad, but I prefer the chewy consistency of soft dried fruit.
  • Partition slices into perfect transportable snack-size portions and pack them in Ziploc bags or covered glass storage containers.  (I don’t know how long they keep because we’ve never had a batch last longer than a couple days.)  Enjoy!


Butternut Squash Season!

Rachel Lifestyle, Nutrition Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , , , ,

chopped_butternut_squash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butternut Squash is a personal fall favorite.  Versatile, filling and chock full of vitamins and minerals (think beta carotene, potassium and fiber), this staple can be made into soups, savory dishes, sweet desserts and, of course, roasted as is!  A plethora of wonderful recipes are a mouse-click away (check out www.foodnetwork.com and www.cookinglight.com) but a personal favorite involves the combination of this autumn staple with everyone’s favorite superfood quinoa!  The following is a Rachel Rettman original, simple, easy recipe bound to please even the most finicky eater:

  • 1.5 cups white quinoa (remember to use a 1:1 quinoa to water ratio to truly cook the quinoa properly)
  • 1.5 cups cooked butternut squash (cube into 1/2 inch pieces, toss with salt and olive oil and bake at 400 degrees for 15 min)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sauteed white onion
  • 1/3 cup chopped celery or jicama (crunch factor)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • *optional – add a 1/2 cup of chopped apple of choice
  • leave plain, or use salt/pepper, a tsp of honey, 1-2 tbsp olive oil and your choice of lemon juice/vinegar and some mustard (1/2 to a whole lemon, 2-4 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp mustard depending on preference) to make a light dressing

 

Cook the quinoa, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Saute onions with a dash of olive oil, also seasoning to taste.  Combine cooked quinoa, cooked squash, onions and mix.  Add cranberries, celery/jicama and optional apple and mix, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Add light dressing or skip it, then sprinkle walnuts on top and enjoy! Want things a little sweeter???  Add candied walnuts for a savory/sweet explosion of taste (For fewer carbs, stick to plain nuts and omit apple and cranberry).

Serve this alongside a protein and another veggie (think spinach or kale salad) or all by itself for a wonderful seasonal dinner!

 


Veggies are Like Legos…

Rachel Nutrition, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , ,

I have come to think of veggies like I do Legos…they are interchangeable parts that can be mixed and matched to form new things.  The ingredients are the same, but the pairings and combinations change, bringing ever-important variety to the table, literally.

Recently Rachel Rettman – Fitness. Nutrition. Lifestyle. has been prepping food in a wonderful Kosher kitchen (read more about Kosher here), which adheres to specific levels of cleanliness and food preparation guidelines.  All this to say that the food and what it is prepared in is extremely clean and well kept.  Helping others to stay healthy by bringing lots of prepared, chopped, cleaned, and portioned items such as chicken, eggs, veggies, grains, salads, etc. into their lives makes THE different between staying on a clean eating plan and ordering that pepperoni pizza at the end of a long day.

Contact us NOW for meal preparation services; whether done in our kitchen or yours (this is another option), you will be ecstatic to have all the ingredients on hand to build your very own Lego-style lunches and dinners – endless combinations of health at your fingertips!

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Values in Action – Live your Goals!

Rachel Lifestyle, Nutrition, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , ,

sbuxfood3

 

 

 

 

 

When considering any life change, whether it be buying a couch or taking on an entirely new eating plan, it is important to consider the reasons behind the decision.  Do you need a new couch because the old one looks bad, or because there are springs poking you in the behind?  Is the couch you are considering comfortable or does it just look good in a living room, and what do you plan to use it for?  Will it rarely be used or will the family spend lots of time on it talking, playing games, watching movies and otherwise relating to one another?  Purchasing furniture might seem simple, but understanding your values and the WHY behind choices can make a huge impact on the final decision.

The same holds for health-based changes, such as beginning a new eating plan.  Are you doing it because you want to lose weight, feel better when you wake up, play with your kids/grand kids more easily, or to attenuate the effects of an illness or looming potential disease?  Maybe a new mom is looking to get the pre-baby body back, or an elderly person is trying to prevent hip fractures; the point is, these kinds of motivators must be internalized and understood in order to not only choose the best path, but also to stick with that path in the long run.

Whether we know it consciously or not, our underlying values drive our ability to make and stick with both (seemingly) less important decisions like purchasing a couch, and more important decisions around making fundamental healthy living improvements.  If we spend some time thinking about the drivers behind why we want what we want, the chance for long-term sustainable change and incorporation of new lifestyle habits becomes second nature.

The next time you have a sizable decision to make (we are not talking about broccoli vs. asparagus), take the time to align your personal WHY with the choices you have in front of you.  Pick the option that best represents your belief system, then sit back (on the couch) and reap the benefits of such a thoughtful investment!


Subsidies vs. Penalties…Which do you Prefer?

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, Wisdom, Workplace Wellness Leave a comment   , , , , ,

happy people

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you hear the words “subsidy” and “penalty” which one are you more likely to respond to?  Do you like the idea of getting some positive assistance, or does the idea of getting docked or penalized resonate with you?  When discussing how to encourage participation in and adherence to wellness programming, subsidies and penalties are two sides of the same coin; you can either reward someone for doing the right thing (subsidy), or punish them for a lack of participation leading to poor health (penalty).  It boils down to motivation, and what motivates each individual.  In the case of workplace wellness, it also depends on what kind of a culture the employer wishes to foster.

If a company wants to promote health and wellness as positive, beneficial work-life elements, subsidizing healthy people makes sense.  If everyone starts at the same baseline, and people are rewarded for exercising, eating well, maintaining / monitoring health conditions, and stress reduction activities, those people can feel good about their accomplishments and see tangible reward for healthy living; on the other hand, people who do nothing get nothing.  Doing the reverse, punishing people for a lack of health, would seemingly create bitterness and resentment around the idea of health.

At the end of the day, companies need to align their benefits practices with overall company culture; we live in a world where fewer people fully separate from work at the end of each day as more people are working in flexible environments that inevitably create mix work and personal time together. Values-driven wellness goes beyond the office and helps employees to incorporate health into every aspect of life.

 


Wellness at Work – Let’s Take a New Approach

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Wisdom, Workplace Wellness Leave a comment   , , , , ,

veggies and lady

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Workplace wellness is a hot topic… and a burgeoning $6 billion dollar a year industry.  Unfortunately, a recent study by RAND, commissioned by the Obama Administration, concludes that wellness programming does NOT produce statistically significant benefits to employees, while costing employers, on average, $521 per employee per year.  How is this possible? How can health-promotion NOT lead to positive, measurable results?  The answer is simple – Both employers and program providers are focusing on the WRONG topics and interventions.

Typical programs are focused on short-term goals, like getting a health screening or going to the doctor; more involved programs might include smoking cessation counseling.  But trying to get blood pressure monitored without other lifestyle intervention, or getting someone to stop smoking without properly addressing the myriad behavioral issues surrounding smoking on a larger level is pointless.  Small changes may be observed, but as the RAND report shows people almost always return to their original status quo.

Programs needs to focus first and foremost on long-term health habits – creating and sustaining healthy behavior that becomes part and parcel to each person’s daily life.  Moreover, these programs need to be individualized to mesh with company culture, complete with adaptations that reflect individual employees as well as larger company value systems.  Successful programs will address the whole person, in and out of the office, and encourage camaraderie and peer support while fostering a positive environment of health.

Thus, the top 3 most important considerations for a corporate wellness program are the following:

  1. Aligning wellness programming with company culture, creating a visionary values-driven unique approach to health.
  2. Addressing the whole person, in and out of work, and providing individualized support to achieve this goal recognizing that people will have unique priorities and stressors, requiring different intervention techniques to be successful.
  3. Deliver thorough but slow and steady change – no one likes a shock to the system,so programming should reflect the pace at which buy-in is both observed and fostered.

Biometric screenings and other sophisticated-sounding but realistically underwhelming tools are a thing of the past; from here on out wellness providers must stay focused on meaningful, values-driven programming if they are to prevent, or even reverse, the upward trend of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other (primarily) lifestyle-related illnesses.


Workplace Happiness…it IS a Big Deal!

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, Wisdom, Workplace Wellness Leave a comment   , , , ,

TV-Mad Men-Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the U.S. people spend the majority of their lives at work; therefore, it makes sense to find ways to make that time enjoyable and fulfilling.  While one’s job might not always be the stuff of childhood dreams or ultimate passion, there are some things employers can do to align careers with personal goals and desires.

Check out this Huffington Post article on the topic of workplace improvements; it is full of interesting research and makes 3 important points to remember with respect to work-site health and wellness:

  1. Work-life balance is essential: We all need time to attend to personal matters and responsibilities beyond the office. Employers are smart to assist employees with the likes financial planning assistance, child care and flexible hours.
  2. Health and Safety are priorities: Workplace health and wellness programming, including fitness, nutrition, and lifestyle/stress management can mean the difference between expensive, sick employees and proactive, healthy and dedicated workers.  Investing in such programming is also a way to attract top talent!
  3. Employees need Recognition: Everyone wants to be acknowledged for a job well done, and such accolades can go a long way towards improving morale and loyalty.  People who feel good are more productive and efficient, and feeling valued also improves self esteem, which improves health.  A positive feedback loop is created!

In this day and age there are so many ways in which employers can give back to their staff…health and wellness services are one of the BEST ways to let employees know that their overall well being is of utmost importance to the company.

Improve your bottom line, figuratively AND literally, financially and physically, with health and fitness!

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Make Healthy Eating Fun For Kids!

Rachel Nutrition Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

5_colors_a_day_produce

 

 

 

Make Healthy Eating Fun!

Instead of ‘tasting the rainbow’ according to Skittles candy, encourage kids to eat healthy by tasting the rainbow of fruits and veggies available throughout the year!  Here are some ideas for each color:

  1. Red – Strawberries, raspberries, red pepper, tomatoes, red apples, pomegranate, cherries, radishes
  2. Orange – Carrots, orange pepper, oranges, kumquats, clementines, yams, honeydew, papaya
  3. Yellow – corn, squash, yellow pepper, sweet potatoes, yellow zucchini, lemon, banana
  4. Green – broccoli, peas, green beans, green apples, kiwi, lettuces, cucumber, green grapes, pears
  5. Blue – Blueberries (can anyone think of anything else)?
  6. Purple – eggplant, grapes, marion berries, blackberries, red/purple beets, purple onion
  7. White – cauliflower, potatoes, jicama, coconut, white onion

Have fun, make it a game, and encourage suggestions from the kiddos!  Maybe they will even want to help with dinner!

 


Starbucks…Healthy Food Mecca???

Rachel Fitness, Lifestyle, News, Nutrition Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , ,

 

 

 

For the few of us left in the world that do not drink coffee, there is little reason to go to a coffee shop such as Starbucks.  Or is there…On a recent trip in for (free, perfectly good tap) water after a long hike, a treasure trove of healthy, interesting, and TASTY food options were sitting on the shelves, much to my satisfied surprise.

Long hailed for its giant donuts/muffins/pound cakes, Starbucks has changed with the times as the times have called for more nutritious options for the working professional on the go.  Realizing that this particular Starbucks is a busy outpost in health-conscious Portland, OR, and knowing not all stores are same, here is a list of some of the options available on a Tuesday afternoon:

  • Dehydrated fruit chips/freeze dried fruit slices
  • Regular cut fruit
  • protein plates (think an egg, cheese slices, meat slices)
  • high quality trail mix
  • air popped popcorn (and pop chips)
  • KIND fruit and nut bars
  • Raw food bars, local too!
  • greek yogurt
  • Nice sandwiches without mayo slathered on, with respectable nutrition stats, protein, whole grain bread, etc.
  • cut veggies/veggie trays with hummus
  • Salads with protein
  • Nuts
  • Fresh pressed juices, locally bottled (not Odwalla or another national company; something with short shelf life)
  • The usual milk, soy milk, and other healthy options available steamed, in a latte, etc.
  • numerous gluten free, GMO free, dairy free etc. options
  • Also, many of the less healthy treats are much smaller and have calorie content listed

This is impressive!!!  A picky, raw-food-eating paleo gluten free vegan could come in here and do just fine.  Pretty cool, huh?

Fun fact – Between my first and second year of business school I interned at Starbucks corporate in Seattle – and happened to sit next to a food procurement team.  This was 2005, and it was all cookies, cakes, muffins, doughnuts.  Exclusively.  It was hard to resist (though I did a great job) but now it would be FUN to sit next to that team.

So, the next time you are hard up for a quick healthy meal, head to Starbucks – you can actually get your needs met, walk away feeling satisfied, and even grab and raw food bar for the road!

 

 


Food Dehydration – Fun for the Whole Family!

Rachel Lifestyle, Nutrition, Wisdom Leave a comment   , , , , , , , , , , ,

Creating fun, interesting, healthy and PORTABLE snack foods can be a challenge for even the most creative people.  Carrot sticks get boring, and buying packaged snacks gets expensive!  Those amazing Kale Chips from New Seasons Market are one of the tastiest snack foods this health enthusiast has tried all year (and the best Kale Chip ever, hands down), but at $6-7 for a 2.2 oz. container it is not exactly the bang for your buck most people look for.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One idea is to dehydrate your own food!  Whether you make Kale chips or apple slices, over time you will save $$ by passing up those $8 bags of dried fruit slices.  Nesco makes some wonderful, affordable food dehydrators, with entry level models starting at under $40!  Fred Meyer also sells a good entry level model, and they often run coupons too!  Mine was purchased this past weekend for $39.99 through creative coupon use, saving $20 off of the original price of $59.99.

Once you have your dehydrator, grab some apples, some peaches, some strawberries, and a big bunch of kale and get cracking; all the instructions for how to dehydrate come with the appliance, but please remember this IMPORTANT FACT: Despite what the directions say, you need to keep temperatures under 125 degrees Fahrenheit in order to maintain nutrient profiles; heats above 125 zap vitamins and minerals and begin to degrade foods.  You can even make beef or turkey jerky and bring healthy protein snacks to work without all of the preservatives found in any mass market jerky product.

This is a fun activity for the whole family, and a way to create a conversation around healthy snacking.  So have fun with it!!


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