Give Kale a Go – It’s So Versatile

Versatile Kale

I used not like Kale, but I’ve come to like it a lot, though I’m not sure about addiction! So I smiled when I read a newsletter item from Margie King today, saying she’s addicted to Kale salad.

Have a look at this link where you’ll find the salad recipe. She’s a really good resource for information about nutrition and menopause, and much much more besides. Sign up for her newsletter while you’re there.

One reason I use Kale is because it’s so versatile. I always keep some in the crisper drawer now, and have learnt how to care for it.

When you get it home, wash it in cold running water to remove any sand or dirt.  Store it in a loosely closed plastic bag in the crisper.

Is it good for you?
Definitely! But don’t tell anyone.  You’ll get a good lot of Vitamin K and vitamin C although that dimishes the longer you cook it, and a raft of trace minerals. And, it’s bursting with anti-oxidants, those powerhouse nutrients that help to deal with the nasties that we encounter all day long in our so-called progressive society.

What to do with it?
I just made Kale chips (and polishd off the lot). It’s a sneaky way to get otherwise resistant people to eat something good. They’re quick and easy, and here’s how.

Torn leaves

Torn leaves

Kale Chip recipe
Turn the oven to 180c. Remove the central spines and discard them, then tear the leaves into bite size pieces.  If they’re wet, dry thoroughly.

Then you are going to oil and spice the pieces before drying in the oven.  What you use here is open to your choice.

I used Olive oil spiced with Cayenne pepper and Sea salt. Add a good splash of oil to the baking tray, sprinkle on the spices, mix well, then using your hand, massage the oil into the leaves so they are fully coated.  Don’t drown them though.

Spread the leaves evenly in one layer over the tray, place into the centre of the oven, and turn the heat down to 150c.  Leave for about 15 minutes, checking that they are not burning.

Drain and cool on papertowel

Drain and cool on papertowel

While they shrivel and may go brownish, they must not burn because they’ll taste terrible.

Drain and cool on a paper towel to sop up any remaining oil, and try not to eat them all immediately.

 

Other ways to use Kale
The young curly Kale that’s available now is not too strongly flavoured, so you can add it to almost anything without anyone really noticing:

  • add a leaf or two (or three) to anything that goes in the blender, such as smoothies and soups
  • chop into soups, especially hearty ones with beans or lentils
  • chop finely through pasta, rice or other grain dishes at the last minute
  • breakfast frittata – braise kale in a little coconut oil and water or stock.  When tender or the liquid is gone, whichever’s first, add a couple of beaten eggs, stir well, and cook till done
  • serve braised under fatty foods such as sausages

So why not try some of this wonderful and versatile vegetable; you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and your body will thank you.

Get Fit – At Any Age

Walk the dogs

We all really need to include some serious exercise in our lives, and if you find it challenging (or even if you don’t) there’s an easier and more efficient way to do it.

Even in retirement, most of us can find excuses for not exercising, the commonest of which is not enough time.  How bizarre is that?

After half a lifetime of fitting in a dozen things at any one time, suddenly with time on our hands, that time telescopes into nothing.

How we’re designed
It can be argued, and lots of clever people do, that humans are designed for short bursts of high activity, sandwiched between lighter exercise.

Happy Fred

Happy Fred

That fits nicely with the picture of early humans mooching about the prairie looking for dinner.  With nothing much about, our ancestor spots a small animal nearby, takes off and runs it down.

Bingo! Fred Flintstone, gasping for breath, but happy. Dinner’s in the bag.


Fit as a flea, in 15 minutes
Well, the good news is, once you ‘get it’ you only need to spend 15-20 minutes 3 times a week to end up fit as a flea!

Called High Intensity Training – HIT for short – it sounds forbidding, but in fact is a quick and simple way to get and stay in top condition.

The idea is you do super short bursts of exercise followed by a rest period…your heart goes flat-out then recovers before doing it all again.

Walk

Walk

Choose something you like
Doesn’t matter at all what you choose to do.

Walking for many people is all they ever do. But you can row, swim, ride a bike or lift weights. Or anything else that takes your fancy.

Start small

Start small http://www.stockvault.net/user/profile/93322

The only important bit is that it’s something where you can vary the speed at will. Which means skiing or rock-climbing probably won’t work!

Start where you are
Even if you’re completely unfit when you start, you can take as much time as you need.  It might take you the whole year or it might take a few weeks; who cares?   Getting fit is the only goal here. No competition.

Jog

Jog

You might only manage to walk slowly to the front gate. Just do it, then once you get your breath back, see if you can repeat it. You might only get halfway the second time.

Congratulations!  Progress
The focus is on doing something, and continuing to do that something, with tiny improvements as you can manage.

And you improve

And you improve

And then you build on that, adding repetitions, getting faster, and lessening the time between each effort.

Below is a fantastic infographic from Dr Mercola’s website. It gives you a graphical look at this whole thing.

Give it a try, and quite soon you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Every little helps.

peak fitness benefits

Improve your body’s ability to burn fat, growth hormone production, insulin sensitivity, and glucose tolerance by trying the Peak Fitness program, which incorporates minutes-long high-intensity interval training. Discover more about the benefits and proper way of doing this exercise program by checking out this infographic.

Never Give Up – Give Yoga A Try

Yoga?

Life challenges can sometimes seem just too big to deal with.
Watch below if you’re looking for a monumental motivation.

So can Yoga work for you?  You bet it can.

photo by:

Walking Into Active Retirement

Retirement Blues Cramping Your Style?

If retirement isn’t fun or at least interesting, what’s the point?  All that wasted anticipation.

Retiring is a lot like arriving at No Man’s Land. You’ve never been there before and you can’t see any familiar landmarks. There’s no structure, and you don’t know the rules.

If you don’t belong to social groups outside of work, you might find yourself completely alone, not knowing anyone any more, and not really knowing what to do about it.

But the good news is, it’s not that hard to get a new network going, even if you don’t think you can.

Get A Walking Group Going
A few weeks ago, I started a walking group, with just this in mind. Every Monday at 2pm, a motley crew of 3-6 women go off on some track or trail that I’ve discovered in the preceding week.

It’s supposed to be about fitness, but really, that’s just a side issue.  We have fun. We chat. We laugh. And of course, we walk.

Every week, we seem to get lost. Not ‘dangerously’ lost, since most of the tracks we choose are close to town, and don’t really pose any danger.  And, most of us carry mobile phones.

It’s a lovely easy way to make new friends.  You’re not stuck with anyone, since you’re free to move ahead, or slow down on a whim. Everyone walks at their own pace, so it’s easy to spend a bit of time with everyone, in a very casual way.

Small Group with Wide Knowledge  
A snippet of conversation is all it takes for interesting connections to surface. There are only 6 of us in the group, and one of them found herself talking to her neighbour’s mother.  Two others had worked together years ago, and hadn’t seen each other since.

Spectacular diversity

Spectacular diversity

It’s truly amazing just how much varied knowledge is packaged in a small group.  There’s bound to be someone who knows all the bird species in the area.  Another will tell you about the trees and grasses on the path.  And someone is sure to know the history and gossip of the area.  Fascinating stuff.

Finding a core group
I didn’t want a group of people I already knew, since the idea was to make new and interesting additions to my life. So to get started, I invited a friend I don’t see much….a good chance to see her a bit more.

Then, I told a couple of people in my gym class. I didn’t really know them except to say ‘hello’ in passing. They liked the idea, and one of them brought a friend.   Another person I see at Mahjong, so I invited her too.

The track

The track

I also made sure we were of similar age and fitness.  We do want to exercise as well as enjoy the fresh air, so this is an important consideration.  And I don’t want to have to deal with broken legs and such if I can help it!

So, presto. I have a very pleasant set of companions for an hour each week.  They don’t all come all the time, but there’s always someone.  In time I expect it will grow a bit bigger which will be great. But there’s no hurry.

What Makes it Work?
If you start a group, you’ll have to be prepared to do some organizing, at least at the beginning. In time though, I’m sure the others will share the task.

  • Decide if a coffee stop is part of the walk
  • Work out how long and how hard people want to walk
  • Set up a group email list, so there’s only one email to send
  •  Put everyone’s phone number into your phone, in case of last minute adjustments
  • Find a suitable walk – right gradient, length etc.
  • Clearly state the starting point with added directions if necessary
  • Print out a map if you can

Finding Suitable Walks
I’m really lucky to live in a place where public accessible walks are available within just a few minutes drive in every direction.  Many are maintained (more or less) by local councils, and so websites offer ideas and maps. I look for walks that fit our abilities, but with a bit of challenge.

Pretty stone bridge

Pretty stone bridge

If you’re not so lucky, streets and parks do the job.  But try to find some sort of interest or focus to make it more enjoyable.  Maybe choose streets that have blossom trees or a park with exceptional flower displays.  Many cities and towns have cycle paths, and these make good walking tracks.

If you have a beach nearby, that’s a bonus.  You get an additional benefit of increasing your workout when you’re walking on sand.

Motivation Just Got Easy
You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how satisfying it is to organize something like this.  You don’t have to work at motivating yourself – instead, you’ll look forward to it.  Not just because you have a stake in it, but because it’s so pleasant sharing with like-minded people.

To get started you might want to join a gym, a church, a choir or do some volunteering, so you have the opportunity to meet new people. Then, take it from there.

It’s Really Simple So Start Now
So, you see it’s really quite simple to start something, and before you know it, you could have a weekly outing to look forward to.

You could use the same method for almost any activity that even vaguely interests you. The sky’s the limit. There’ll always be people who are looking for the same things that you want, so don’t be shy.  Think of it as helping them out.

I’d love to hear about your group, and how you’ve managed to ward off the Retirement Blues. So do leave me a comment below.

Chocolate Fruit and Nut Treats

Yummy treat

Yummy treat

Halfway Healthy Treats

30g coconut oil
40g dark chocolate 70%+
approx 300g mixed fruits and nuts, chopped (dates, cranberries and ginger, with almonds, sunflower seeds and brazils is good)
2-4 teaspoons honey (optional)

Melt the coconut oil and chocolate over hot water. Add honey if used. Stir until well mixed and warm.
Chop the fruits and nuts small. Add chocolate mix and stir well until everything is coated in the chocolate. Scrape mix out onto foil, and wrap it up, using the foil to push it into a firm square.

Refrigerate until set hard.  Cut into small squares and store in an airtight jar.  Keep out of sight in the hope it will stay out of mind. Enjoy.

How To Start Somewhere
And Let Enthusiasm Propel You

running

”What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Stronger”, they say!  Whoever ‘they’ are.

So, my enthusiasm out-ran my capacity…..again!

I got really excited a while back because I’d started to run regularly. For years, I’d imagined myself running, but never got round to it. Admittedly, my start was on the treadmill, but running is running after all, so any level seemed a milestone to me.

the treadmill's a good way to start

the treadmill’s a good way to start

Too far, too fast, too soon
Then I got sore and my program fizzled a bit; I had enjoyed it so much I overdid it. I’d rush onto the treadmill EVERY day, perhaps worried that I needed to make up for lost time.

My body grouched, a lot, startled I suppose, that I suddenly demanded  amazing feats from it; was it wise to wait till I was 70 to start? So, for a few weeks now I’ve run an occasional 30-45 sec. spurt, otherwise indulging in a sedate walk.

Will I ever learn the lesson?
But a couple of weeks ago, a Step class caught my eye, and I reckoned it might be a good way to condition my body. I’d been to a class ages ago with another instructor, and supposed I could easily cope. Wrong!

Step class

Step class

It’s not the first time I’ve over-estimated my capacity, and I guess it won’t be the last.  I wasn’t at all sure I wouldn’t succumb to a cardiac arrest right there, and my heart and lungs demanded lengthy pauses to convince them all was well.

Undeterred,  I rocked up again this week, paced myself better, and got to the end in much better shape. Now I’m on a mission to get fit enough to do the whole class with no ‘old-lady’pauses.

I’m not obsessive, though you could be forgiven for thinking so. Maybe a huge surging enthusiasm is closer to the mark.

Marathon maybe?

Marathon maybe?

And how fantastic that is, as you grab at passing interests and parlay them into rich and exciting episodes that spice up your life.

I can’t begin to imagine where this one could lead, but then, I rarely see it coming. And maybe that’s a good thing.  Would I want to know yet that I’ll be running my first marathon at 85?

Earn a treat
Left over from one of those fantastic grabs is a love of food. I work at keeping my body truly healthy, and at the same time I like to eat well. And I like to have treats. Juggling all those can be quite tricky, but I came up with one good idea recently.

I try to have a little dried fruit, nuts and dark chocolate every day, but keeping the portions halfway reasonable is hard.  So I combined them all to make what seems to me something just short of decadence. Try them here.

Recipe: Necessary Treats

How To Make Food Simple, Fast and Healthy

Fresh Fabulous Food

Squeezing the maximum amount of healthy, good-looking food from our limited outlay of time and money, challenges most people.  And as we age, the issue just gets highlighted  some more.

Well, guess what?  Eating well actually takes a whole lot less time and money than most people think.  You don’t have to rival a Celebrity Chef;  lesser mortals (like us) have some of the secrets as well.

You needn’t shop at high-end delis, or spend half your life slaving over the hot stove.  You can turn out food that will nurture you, body and mind, and get a gratifying response from your friends, without much trouble.

Times change
But even though money often becomes a priority as we age, it’s not the only issue we have to deal with. Our circumstances may change in many ways that can impact the way we eat.

Chief cook

Chief cook

The family shrinks, or we might now be single for all sorts of reasons.  It’ll undoubtedly bring a different slant to how we prepare meals.

You might be surprised to feel relief.  You can eat exactly what you want when you want it. Roast chicken for breakfast and porridge for dinner?  No problem.

For some, it’s the first time they’ve been alone, and possibly have never had to cook for themselves before. They have no idea how to cook, shop or think about nutrition.

And for many people, cooking for just one or two is a real issue.

Easy-peasy

Easy-peasy

They find it difficult to buy small enough quantities, end up with too much and feel bad wasting it. Or get a take-away.

Any or all of these issues end up undermining our nutrition, often without us even noticing.

Fresh and brightly coloured
 If we choose to break the etiquette rules, that’s no big deal.  It’s the overall picture that’s important. If we aim to get the necessary basics everyday, then we’re cruisin’.

Our daily needs

Our daily needs

Make your food fresh, unprocessed and with lots of colour. Lots of vegetables and fruit; a little meat, fish and dairy; not much bread and grains; some nuts, seeds, and of course, a little dark chocolate.

As well, a couple of litres of water (filtered), tea, a little coffee and just a little wine.

Shopping
If you only shop at the supermarket, you might want to find some other places to shop.  Make friends with a local butcher. They don’t mind when you ask for 90grams of Fillet steak or 2 Lamb cutlets.  You’ll soon get over your shyness.

Shop at specialty fruit/veg markets, and you’ll often find it’s cheaper, with more variety and fewer pre-packs.

Real food

Real food

Make a rule to generally only eat food that looks like itself – potato doesn’t grow in a packet, nor peas in a tin, so don’t eat them; use fresh. Or frozen is a good second choice.

Keep it simple
Then the trick is to make eating simple and pleasurable.

Look for simple recipes.  If the list of ingredients is as long as your arm – pass!
If there are many different steps – pass!
Spend time looking at the pictures.  Notice how the dishes are presented. It’s surprising how much better well-presented food tastes.

cooks tools

cooks tools

Get a book and capture all the new ideas you find. When you see interesting combinations for salads, soups and vegetables, write them down. Browse the deli cabinets – you don’t have to buy; just nick the ideas, go home and make your own.

If you go online and type in “recipes for one” or “easy one person chicken” (or whatever), you’ll turn up heaps of ideas.

Not everyone writes good recipes though, so pick and choose. Here are a couple of great sites that I found with a quick search.

http://www.singlefare.com/all-recipes/
http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/category/course/meals-for-one

Plug into technology
Learn to make the most of those under-used appliances. The food processor and stick mixer or blender will become your new best friends.

New friend

New friend

Make sure they work, and that you know how to take them apart to clean them properly and easily. Find them a new home if necessary, closer to the action. It might be the right time to move cupboard contents around, so the kitchen works more efficiently now things have changed.

Clear out of the freezer, keeping only the things you actually use.  Don’t freeze things just because you feel bad about throwing them out.  If you hate broad beans, dump them.  It frees up space for the things you do like.

Why bother?
We all need food, and it’s just as easy to choose simple and healthy as anything else.  You can make fantastic food that’s good for you, in the same time it takes to open packets. You’ll know what’s in it, you’ll save money, and you’ll feel better.

Breakfast fruit

Breakfast fruit

Make a start when you include some fruit for breakfast, some sort of salad, no matter how simple, for lunch, and at least two vegetables for dinner; that way you’ll be close to getting what you need, whatever happens.

You’ll find some recipes already on this site, and as time goes by, there will be lots more. If you’d like to share any, please either include them in the comments, or email them to me.  I’d love to hear your ideas.

And since you’re so committed to good health, I’ve saved a treat for the end

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate

 

Walking Your Way to Lower Blood Sugar

Evening stroll

Type 2 Diabetes is basically a life-style disease, so it’s quite shocking to see the statistics.  In the general adult population, the number is around 1-10, but as age creeps towards 65+, that figure skyrockets to 1- 4. 

Those statistics make it clear that Seniors are at great risk of this condition, and many won’t even know they have it. But the effects of high blood sugar, though silent, can cause all sorts of serious ongoing health issues including heart disease and stroke.

It’s not only the people who’ve already been diagnosed with the condition that need to take action; seniors in general will want to pay attention as well. And it’s not as hard as you might expect.

walk the dog

General exercise and diet are, of course, really important. But, if you want to kick-start your path to improved health, there’s a really simple initiative you can introduce into your life. Some recent studies have turned up a simple method of reducing blood sugar levels.
Simple walking.

Short and sweet is best
Surprisingly, researchers found that gentle walking done for short intervals is more effective than continuous walking. And it produced sustained reductions in blood sugar.
Go for a stroll
The study suggests that walking after meals gets the best results, and ideally, just 15 minutes after each meal.

Earlier generations knew a thing or two; people commonly  took a post-prandial stroll to help digestion and have a chat.  I wonder why we don’t do it any more? Too busy, I suppose!

Find Some Time
This simple and pleasant form of exercise will benefit everyone; not just those who already have diabetes or those at risk;  it’s good for us all. Surely we can make time for a short relaxed stroll and a chat? Or a bit of quiet time?

winter walkingMake a plan that helps you incorporate your walk into your normal daily activities. Maybe you can go to pick up the newspaper after breakfast; go to the post office after lunch; make it up, but make it happen.

Evening is often the nicest part of the day, so venture out and try it.   Why not start a lovely new routine? If you don’t have a family member or a pet to go with you, maybe you could encourage a neighbour or two to join you.

 walkingEven when it’s wet or cold, you won’t shrink; snuggle into a woolley scarf and matching beany.  It’s a great way to wind down from your busy day, and you might even make some new friends. 

 

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