Friday, December 28, 2012

The Healthiest Way To Cook Your Vegetables

by Sarah

When cooking vegetables, do you ever wonder what the healthiest method of preparing them is? Often times, recipes require cooking precious veggies in a way that will give you the most taste value, which unfortunately wipes out many of the benefits of eating them at all. As a gift for Christmas, I received a wonderful health food book, The World's Healthiest Foods, by George Mateljan. This book goes in to great detail about not only what some of the healthiest foods out there are, but how to prepare them (and even gives recipes).

 Here is an easy list of the most common vegetables and how to cook them, while still keeping them full of nutrients.  If vegetables aren't cooked carefully, you can destroy their beneficial antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients. 

Before we jump into how to cook each vegetable and how long, let's first look at a brief description Mateljan gives of his top three methods for cooking vegetables:
Healthy Saute- An important feature of this method is that it uses no fats or oils. Heating fat or oils has been found to create free radicals and carcinogenic compounds, which are harmful to our health. Healthy saute quickly cooks vegetables in a minimal amount of time, concentrating their natural flavor and moisture. 
Healthy Steaming- This method brings out the vibrant color of vegetables while giving them a delightful al-dente texture.  It is a gentle moist way of cooking that preserves flavor, color, and nutrients. It is a quick method of cooking because, compared to boiling, it you don't have to wait for as much water to come to a boil  (2-3 minutes for steaming versus 10-15 minutes for boiling). It's also energy efficient. The lower nutrient loss from steaming is the main reason this method of cooking is so often recommended. 
Quick Boiling- This is a commonly used cooking method but one that does dilute some of the flavor from the vegetables.  Some water-soluble vitamins, such as the Bs and C, are also lost. However, it is the method preferred for cooking spinach, beet greens, and Swiss chard because some studies have shown that it helps reduce the oxalate content of these vegetables.

Asparagus- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw 
Avocados- no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Beets- Healthy Steaming (15 minutes), okay to eat raw
Beet Greens-Quick Boiling (2 minutes), 
Bell Peppers- Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Bok Choy- Healthy Saute (4 minutes), 
Broccoli- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Brussel Sprouts- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Carrots- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Cabbage (Red)-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
                (Green)-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes),
Cauliflower- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Celery-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Collard Greens- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Corn- Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), 
Crimini Mushrooms- Healthy Saute (7 minutes), 
Cucumbers- no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Eggplant-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), not suggested to be eaten raw
Fennel- Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Green Peas-Heathly Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Garlic- Healthy Saute (1 minute), okay to eat raw
Green Beans-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes)
Kale-Healthy Steaming (5 minutes), okay to eat raw
Leeks-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Mustard Greens-Healthy Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Olives-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Onions-Healthy Saute (7 minutes), okay to eat raw
Potatoes-Healthy Steaming (10 minutes)
Romaine Lettuce-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Sea Vegetables-no cooking suggested, okay to eat raw
Shiitake Mushrooms-Healthy Saute (7 minutes)
Spinach-Quick Boiling (1 minute), okay to eat raw
Squash, Summer-Healthy Saute (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Squash, Winter-Healthy Steaming (7 minutes)
Sweet Potatoes-Healthy Steaming (10 minutes)
Swiss Chard-Quick Boiling (3 minutes), okay to eat raw
Tomatoes-Healthy Saute (5 minutes), okay to eat raw

Source: The World's Healthiest Foods by George Mateljan
Photo Credit: Find this photo on Pinterest here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Borrowed Faith

"When the world is falling out from under me, I'll be found in You. Still standing."- Brooke Fraser

{Photo: Getty Images}

When I first really starting authoring Style + Wisdom, I was on a Rob Bell kick.  Something about everything he said helped me out at the time and one thing that he said that has really stuck with me over these past years was about “borrowing faith.” He said that sometimes, we aren’t always going to have enough faith our own, but the good thing about living in a world with millions of other people is that we can borrow it when we need it.  And, that there was nothing wrong with doing this.  It wouldn't make you less of a believer in God because you had found yourself in truly hopeless time of sheer despair; it was just a thing we'd all go through at some point.

While you may immediately seek comfort in that, it’s important to see both sides of the “borrowing faith” concept. There are going to be times when your job, your role as a believer in God and even just “good”, is to let someone else borrow your faith.

I don’t think any of us knew how to react to the events that occurred in Newtown.  I, for example, was angry at what happened.  I wanted to write something on the blog that could offer any amount of hope, but I was unsure as to how I could offer anything to these people, who had their children murdered (it feels inappropriate to even type out what happened.)

However, Obama’s speech this past Sunday in Newtown opened a little bit of light on the tragedy.  It was a time when a lot of folks needed some faith and there didn’t seem to be a lot around. Even still, the President had the courage to get up in front of the country and give some inspiration, in a town that had it’s heart ripped out.

Nothing can make what happened okay or easier to deal with, but President Obama did a good job at saying that all of us are grieving and that we can find a little bit of comfort in that we share the pain.  

I think it inspired a lot of Americans to finally step up and lend a helping heart.  It was easy to first embrace fear and hatred when the news of another shooting happened, but as you heard the President speaking, it became time to embrace compassion towards the families. There was a shift in energy the moment that someone stood out and offered a small dose of inspiration.

Maybe it's time to stop speculating on what happened, stop blaming people you've never met, and just embrace hope. Do anything you can to bring up the faith levels within this country.  I’m not exactly sure what that means for anyone in particular who is reading this, but hopefully it sparks something within you to do something. 

While these people grieve, it’s time for the rest of us to have enough faith for them, so that someone out there who needs it can reach out for it. Every small shift in embracing love matters. Even a small dose of hope can change the outlook of someone who holds a ton of fear, hopelessness, and sadness. It takes a lot of evil of this world to get someone to that point, but think about how small of a dose of love it takes to begin to ease away that pain. Love is powerful.   

What can you do today to boost your own faith, if it is time to share with someone who has no faith? What can you do, the thing that you do well in this life, no matter how small to inspire someone today? Even if it's as simple as giving up on some sadness in your own life. Be an example to someone else and show them what strength is.

"Charlotte.  Daniel.  Olivia.  Josephine.  Ana.  Dylan.  Madeleine.  Catherine.  Chase.  Jesse.  James.  Grace.  Emilie.  Jack.  Noah.  Caroline.  Jessica.  Benjamin.  Avielle.  Allison. God has called them all home.  For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory." -President Barack Obama

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

KeVita Sparkling Probiotic Drink Review

by Sarah

KeVita's Sparkling Probiotic Drink combines the benefits of probiotics with a light, refreshing, and absolutely delicious taste.  Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that aid in digestion and intestinal health and when your gut is abundant in these live microorganisms, your overall health improves. Kevita stresses that 80% of your immune system lives in your gut, making these probiotics not only essential for our digestive system, but vital to our everyday health. When healthy bacteria is around, it is less likely that bad bacteria can take over the intestines, so the more healthy bacteria we have, the less likely we are to get sick. Some of the reasons the amounts of healthy bacteria can begin to decrease are: poor nutrition, stress, antibiotics, and even simply aging. 

You can get probiotics many ways.  Between yogurt, vitamin supplements, and natural drinks like kombucha, there are many options on the health-food market.  KeVita, however, offers a refreshing soda-like way to get your probiotic fix.  There are only a handful of flavors of these sparkling probiotic drinks: I've tried Coconut, Mango Coconut, Pomegranate, and Strawberry Acai Coconut and I would recommend all of them to you. Even while these drinks taste sugary, you can rest assured knowing that they are certified organic, GMO free, dairy free, dairy free, lactose free, gluten free, vegan, low in calories, and of course, contain four strains of live probiotics.  (When I was younger, my Dad would always buy me yogurt with live "friendly bacteria" in it any time I was sick or taking antibiotics and I would wonder why it tasted so good--Stoneyfield BaNilla yogurt--if it was secretly crawling with little creatures. Long story short, don't be scared of how it sounds to drink "live microorganisms" because there is nothing in the taste that gives it away. Of course, that flavor of Stoneyfield yogurt is seriously the best yogurt out there, even though it isn't as easy to find these days.)

Wouldn't it be nice if all products in a grocery store were proud enough of their product to have a list like that right on their label? One of the reasons why we chose to highlight this product on the blog is because of how healthy it is and how even if you have a unique diet, you can still drink this. There are a lot of things you can find in a grocery store that should never be part of a human being's diet and actually hurt your body instead of helping it to flourish.  With so many health problems around, it's safe to say that choosing the right items to put into our body is beyond important.  Regularly replenishing your body with probiotics is one thing you can do to take care of your immune system and the way your body absorbs the vitamins out of the food we eat. 

Our thoughts? We love these drinks.  They are delicious and you feel like you're cheating on your diet because the drink has the fizz of a soda, but you are absolutely taking care of your body while sipping on this beverage.  

The cost of one of these drinks here in Pittsburgh is around $3.29 and is only available at select Market District locations. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Caitlin Peabody, of The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, on the Holiday Classic, "The Nutcracker"

by Sarah

This year marks the start of the second decade of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's The Nutcracker, a unique Pittsburgh version of the holiday classic from artistic director, Terrence Orr.  The ballet is currently in full swing, since its opening night on December 7, 2012. Every year since 2002, the show runs throughout the month of December, giving families, couples, and friends the opportunity to experience this holiday tradition. To give you a taste of what the show is all about, we had the opportunity to interview a ballerina who is dancing as many as twelve different roles this season. Caitlin Peabody will be dancing almost every female role throughout the 20-show run this year, including Marie and the beloved sugar plum fairy.  

Caitlin, who has been with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre's corps de ballet since 2009, says that what keeps her going throughout this season of The Nutcracker is the nostalgia she remembers from seeing the ballet as a child. "Knowing I'm bringing a little holiday joy to a kid out there, is what keeps me going every show. I remember that feeling of Christmas being so wonderful as a child. I want that to happen for all the kids in the audience." 

We recently did a Q & A with Caitlin to get to know her a little better, get the scoop on how the dancers stay sane during the longest running ballet they do all year, and even what her favorite scene is from The Nutcracker. As a little holiday treat from the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Style + Wisdom, if you comment below with your favorite scene in The Nutcracker, you can win 2 tickets to see the show.  

Describe, in one sentence, what The Nutcracker is about: 
The Nutcracker is simply all about families and friends being together for the holidays to experience a bit of magic!

Is there any added pressure when dancing in a ballet that so many people hold close to their hearts? Or, is it mostly excitement?
I don't think there is any added pressure when dancing The Nutcracker... at least not for me. Knowing I'm bringing a little holiday joy to a kid out there, is what keeps me going every show. I remember that feeling of Christmas being so wonderful as a child. I want that to happen for all the kids in the audience.

Favorite Scene?
I love the snow scene. It's so beautiful, and I will never get sick of that music!

What has your training been?

I trained with Boston Ballet School.

You're from New Hampshire originally- do you ever miss it? What is something about Pittsburgh that makes you feel less homesick?

I miss New Hampshire all the time... It's hard to find much here in Pittsburgh that reminds me of it. Pittsburgh being a city, is everything New Hampshire is not. Though, I have found one thing that kind of works. I live in Friendship. So in the fall and winter, I'll go for walks around the neighborhood. When the leaves are all colorful and crunchy to step on.  In the winter, all the christmas lights on everyones houses... seems to bring a bit of New Hampshire comfort to me.

We will be watching you in costume and ballet slippers, but when you aren't performing, what item in your closet are you most attached to? 
I love my scarves! The ones that are attached all the way around.

What has been your biggest on-stage faux pas? Any embarrassing moments?
When I danced in Boston, I full out fell on my butt. Feet went flying in the air, people backstage even heard it... not a great moment.

This will be a 20-show run, which is probably hectic for everyone in the show- what are your tips for staying healthy with a hectic schedule?
To keep going during the month long run, I become very strict with my schedule. I try to keep a calmness about me. Take each hour by hour. Never think too much into the future, cause then you'll start freaking out about the difficult role you have to dance in a week, when you still have other ones to tackle right now! Plus I make sure to eat lots of protein, and get plenty of sleep on the day off.

How old were you when you knew you wanted to pursue ballet?
I knew when I was a freshman in high school. I had just joined Boston Ballet School and was watching the company perform Giselle. The moment those willies chugged across the stage, I knew!

For a lot of people in Pittsburgh, The Nutcracker is one of their favorite parts of the holiday season. What is your favorite part of the holiday season in Pittsburgh?
It's hard for me to pick just one holiday favorite moment in Pittsburgh. I love getting my tree and decorating it, and I truly love Christmas Eve. I get together with friends here who have no family around, and we cheers lots of yummy drinks and foods to the holiday.

You share a lot of healthy recipes on the PBT blog,- what was the last thing you made in the kitchen?
The very last thing I made in my kitchen was a roasted salmon filet with a yogurt pomegranate raita. Salmon is full of all that great protein and omega-3. Great for us dancers!

All things healthy aside, what is one guilty pleasure you can't resist?
I cannot resist anything Reese's. I love the Reese's trees this time of year. Then of course, there are the pumpkins and eggs at Easter. I literally have them stalked up in my freezer all the time.

TV show you are seriously addicted to:
I'm addicted to Chopped on Food Network and How I Met Your Mother. Plus The Today Show on the weekdays.

Your typical Starbucks order:
Double Tall Non-fat Pumpkin Spice Latte, when that's in season. This time of year is the same, but Peppermint Mocha. And for all the other non holiday days of the year... Caramel Macchiato.

Favorite way to spend a lazy Sunday?
A perfect lazy sunday would consist of cooking, wine, and a good book. Maybe throw in a good friend visit!

Lastly, what has been an amazing moment you've had while with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre? Anything that stands out?

Two moments stick out. Taking the bows at the end of a great performance when the audience loved it is the best feeling on earth. That feeling happened for me after dancing In the Upper Room my first season here and Tinkerbell in Peter Pan last year.

Comment below with your favorite scene in The Nutracker for your chance to win two tickets! We will announce the winner on Saturday Friday (December 14, 2012) morning! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pregnant Kate Middleton Goes Home After Being Hospitalized For Morning Sickness

by Sarah

Okay, maybe you didn't hear the news yet (like me) but Prince William & Kate Middleton are pregnant! The world is in a frenzy about the "royal baby" already and she is less than twelve weeks pregnant. 

The Duchess of Cambridge left King Edward VII Hospital this morning at 11am after being admitted four days ago for hyperemesis gravidarum, or acute nausea.  The palace announced the world's most eagerly awaited pregnancy on on Tuesday, December 4, 2012.  The child, whether it is a boy or a girl, could potentially be heir to the British throne.  Due to Kate's intense morning sickness, many are even speculating that she could be pregnant with twins! 

Is it just me or is this as exciting as the Royal Wedding?  

Photo Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pure Matters Brand Ambassador Announcement + Pure Matters Holiday Photo Challenge

by Sarah

I want to formally announce that I am a brand ambassador for Pure Matters vitamins, which is something that I am beyond thrilled about. These are vitamins that I genuinely believe in and want all of you to check out. The nice folks over at Pure Matters have even given me a personal URL (which you can visit by clicking here.)  By shopping through this link, you can receive 25% off.  (How cool is that?) 

I am a firm believer that your body needs to be a top priority in order for your mental & spiritual health to flourish, so I have been really trying to put my health first these past few months, with things like juicing, juice cleanses, taking vitamins from a company that I trust, yoga, and regular cardio workouts. I have a lot of vitamin favorites from Pure Matters that I plan on writing about (like my current obsessions, Alpha Lipoic Acid and non-GMO Pea Protein Powder for an an extra boost in my green smoothies.) Right now, however, I am here to chat with you about a fun holiday photo challenge Pure Matters is doing for the month of December.

You can participate in the What Matters Holiday Photo Challenge by following the prompts above and uploading a photo to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter for every day of December. (It's a few days into the month, but it won't be too hard to catch yourself up.) The concept of the photo challenge is to get you to step back from the holiday madness for a few moments each day and focus on what really matters during the holiday season-- what makes you laugh, what "strength" means to you, how you stay calm, etc. Just make sure you use the hashtag #holidaychallenge in all of your photos! 

Prizing includes a Fitbit One (seriously, this is on my "Christmas list" this year), a Lululemon gift card, and a BeWell Box subscription! (Just a little note: BeWell Box subscriptions are amazing.  Basically, for around $50 per month, you will be automatically shipped your core nutritional supplements and one additional bonus product.  Plus, you will get free gifts, samples, and special offers.  If you are a busy person, this is such a great way to stay healthy because it takes the guesswork out of taking vitamins. Instead of shopping around or remembering to re-order vitamins online, these babies will just show up at your doorstop.)  

For more on the holiday photo challenge, visit the Pure Matters blog.
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