Bow Ties with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cream…but not really

I found a great recipe on my favorite recipe website, AllRecipes.com, and decided to make it.  Actually, I decided to make something kind of like it that was much more healthy.  It was delicious and not too much work!  I made it with Ronzoni Healthy Harvest pasta, which has a serving of vegetables in every 4 oz portion.

Side note about AllRecipes.com- I love this website for two reasons: First, you can search by ingredient so it will give you recipes that combine what you already have, and second, there are SO MANY reviews that if there’s a better way to make something, someone has usually found it already.  I also signed up to receive healthy recipe emails once per week.

Original Recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/bow-ties-with-sausage-tomatoes-and-cream/detail.aspx

My recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound turkey sausage (I used sweet), casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes (I used 1 can diced and 1 can no salt added diced)
  • 1 box mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can small white beans
  • 1 box frozen peas, thawed
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cups fat free half and half
  • 1 box pasta (whatever shape fits your mood), prepared according to box instructions
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Directions

  1. Brown turkey sausage in olive oil.  After it is browned, add in garlic and onion.  Wait 5 minutes and add in mushrooms, red pepper, and celery.  Saute until vegetables are soft.
  2. Mix in tomatoes and fat free half and half.  Simmer until mixture thickens (it took me a little over 15 minutes).
  3. Mix in white beans and peas.  Simmer 5 more minutes.
  4. Serve over pasts and top with fresh parsley.
  5. Enjoy/bask in the glory of eating a healthy, delicious meal.

Bethany

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Train, Say your Prayers and Eat your Placebos!

Hulk Hogan rules!  His famous rants have been embedded in my brain since childhood.

Sorry the video is blah,  but YouTube isn’t perfect.  Don’t pay attention to the part beyond Hulk Hogan. I have no idea how to edit that out because its not my video. I just found it.

For me it’s more like, train, (don’t bother with praying), and eat your placebos.  I know everyone says how important vitamins are to maintain your health. I bought into that nonsense as well.  The amount of pills I take is ridiculous, but the truth is that it’s nothing compared to how many pills true athletes consume. I’m a weekend warrior at best.  (Calm down ego. It will be OK. There there now, don’t cry).

Below is a breakdown of what I take and what each vitamin is good for (according a paraphrased version of what it says on the bottle).

Omega 3 Fish Oil

  • Supports joint health – WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? MY JOINTS ALWAYS HURT! (or I’m just old).
  • Maintains healthy looking skin – MY SKIN IS A MESS! (To be fair, that could also be stress induced.)
  • Supplies DHA which is required for optimal eye and brain function – I WEAR GLASSES NOW THAT I’M OVER 30! (But only in class and to drive at night)
  • Healthy cholesterol levels and are necessary in the maintenance of normal blood pressure – CAN’T COMMENT ON THIS ONE B/C I DON’T HAVE A PCP.

Vitamin C

  • Provides immune support – I FEEL LIKE I’M ALWAYS ABOUT TO GET A COLD.

Vitamin D3

  • Supports teeth, bone, and immune health – SEE FIRST NOTE FOR OMEGAS.

Vitamin B12

  • Essential for energy production and a healthy nervous system – I’M SO TIRED, AND A NERVOUS NELLY.

Glucosamine

  • Promotes joint flexibility and mobility – SEE VITAMIN D COMMENT.

One a Day Men’s

  • Formulated to support heart health – NO PROBLEMS SO FAR.
  • Healthy blood pressure – NO CLUE. I GUESS SO.
  • Immunity – SEE VITAMIN C COMMENT.
  • Physical energy – SEE VITAMIN B12 COMMENT.

Zinc

  • May help support natural resistance – RESISTANCE TO WHAT?

Maybe I’m taking the wrong doses. Maybe I’m taking too many vitamins. Maybe I’m not taking enough. Everything I take seems to have one thing in common however.   They might as well be sugar pills.  To be honest, I have not noticed the affect of any one of these. Perhaps I should keep a log and test to see the physical effects of each one and track the stats. Nah, too much effort.

I know research proves how essential vitamins are for healthy living. Half of what I take is not FDA approved, so I know it’s not a governmental conspiracy.  But shouldn’t I be feeling a difference?  Maybe if I stopped taking them all together I’d be worse off, and what I take now is just keeping me afloat. Is there anyone out there who can describe what I’m supposed to feel after I take my vitamins?  Comment and let me know. All I know is that I feel buyers remorse every time I see my receipt at GNC.  But I keep going back. Why?  Because I’m a Hulkamaniac!

Kess

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Wired on Caffeine?

If you’re anything like me I am completely dependent on coffee the point where I remake my coffee for the next day the first thing I do in the morning is walk over to the coffee machine and press the on button so my caffeine fix begins to brew I am one of millions of Americans who are fixed on coffee this article below is a fantastic job of listing out The benefits and harms of caffeine.  Clearly not being dependent on anything is a good thing.  However since so many of us work so hard it’s it’s good to know there are some health benefits to that cup of Joe in the morning.

Coffee Pros

  • 1. Antioxidants. Coffee is rich in antioxidants like chlorogenic acid and melanoidins. Antioxidants help prevent oxidation, a process that causes damage to cells and contributes to aging.
  • 2. Parkinson’s disease. Regular coffee drinking reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease. A number of studies [1],[2] have demonstrated that people who drink coffee on a regular basis are significantly less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
  • 3. Diabetes. Coffee drinking has the potential to protect against the development of type 2 diabetes. A prospective study[3] as part of the US Nurses Health Study found that moderate consumption of both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee may lower the risk of type 2 diabetes in younger and middle aged women.
  • 4. Liver cirrhosis. Coffee drinking may protect against liver cirrhosis, especially alcoholic cirrhosis.
  • 5. Gallstones. There is some evidence [4] that coffee drinking may be protective against gallstone formation in both men and women.
  • 6. Kidney stones. Coffee consumption lowers the risk of kidney stones formation. Coffee increases the urine volume, preventing the crystallization of calcium oxalate, the most common component of kidney stones.
  • 7. Improved mental performance. Caffeine in coffee is a well-known stimulant. Coffee promotes alertness, attention and wakefulness. The cup of coffee can also increase information processing.
  • 8. Alzheimer’s disease. Regular coffee drinking may help to protect against Alzheimer’s disease. Recent study [5] in mice showed that caffeine equivalent to 5 cups of coffee per day reduced the build up of destructive plaques in the brain.
  • 9. Asthma. Caffeine in coffee is related to theophylline, an old asthma medication. Caffeine can open airways and improve asthma symptoms.
  • 10. Caffeine safety. In 1958, caffeine was placed on the Food and Drug Administration’s listas generally recognized as safe. Coffee Cons

1. Heart disease.This is somewhat controversial. Most prospective cohort studies haven’t found that coffee consumption is associated with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

  • On one hand, diterpenes cafestol and kahweol present in unfiltered coffee and caffeine each appear to increase risk of coronary heart disease. High quality studies [6] have confirmed the cholesterol-raising effect of diterpenes. Also, coffee consumption is associated with an increase of plasma homocysteine, a risk factor for coronary heart disease.On the other hand, a lower risk of heart disease among moderate coffee drinkers might be due to antioxidants found in coffee.
  • 2. Cholesterol. Heavy consumption of boiled coffee elevates blood total and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels [7]. Unfiltered coffee contains two cholesterol-raising compounds cafestol and kahweol.
  • 3. Blood vessels. Coffee negatively affects the blood vessel tone and function.
  • 4. Heart rhythm disturbances. Coffee can cause rapid or irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmias).
  • 5. Blood pressure. Although coffee drinking is not a significant risk factor for hypertension, it produces unfavorable effects on blood pressure [8] and people prone to hypertension may be more susceptible. Recent Italian study found that coffee drinking can slightly increase the risk for development of sustained hypertension in people with elevated blood pressure.
  • 6. Osteoporosis. Coffee intake may induce an extra urinary excretion of calcium. Heavy coffee consumption (600 ml or more) can modestly increase the risk of osteoporosis, especially in women with a low calcium intake [9].
  • 7. Heartburn. A cup of coffee can trigger the heartburn.
  • 8. Sleep. Most are aware of the stimulatory effects of caffeine. High amounts of caffeine taken before going to sleep can cause difficulty falling asleep, tendency to be awakened more readily by sudden noises, and a decreased quality of sleep. However, some people can drink coffee and fall right asleep.
  • 9. Dehydration. The caffeine in coffee is a mild diuretic and can increase urine excretion. This effect may be easily neutralized by drinking an extra glass of water.
  • 10. Dependence. Although “generally recognized as safe” by the FDA, caffeine is still a drug, a mild central nervous system stimulant, and it produces dependence. Caffeine withdrawal is a real syndrome. You may get a few days of headache and irritability if you choose to quit drinking coffee, however, it is relatively easy to break this habit, and most people are not addicted to caffeine.

Check out the article here: http://katieb.hubpages.com/hub/coffee-pros-cons

Spencer

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Goodbye NYSC

I have officially frozen my New York Sports Club membership and I cannot be more excited! Don’t get me wrong, I loved being a member and especially loved their spin classes, but I hated the fact that due to my current schedule, I can only get to the gym on Sundays and frankly paying $82 a month to go once a week is robbery. I actually went to cancel my membership à la the Friends episode where Chandler tries to quit the gym and was told that instead of paying $82 a month for a passport membership, they would give me the Morgan Stanley corporate discount of $54 a month! There’s $224 down the toilet since I started at M.S. 8 months ago! Ok I’m sorry, enough about how much I’m spending on my gym membership…

 Anyways, the reason for cancelling/freezing my membership you ask?

2 reasons:

1) It’s finally that amazing time of year when the temperature rises over 40 degrees (during any other winter I would write “20 degrees”) and all the joggers and bikers come out of hibernation. The winter is by far the hardest time to work out and stay in shape since it’s (usually) freezing outside and it gets dark at like 2pm. If you want to stay in shape you either have to hit the gym, starve yourself, or throw on super tight compression leggings, a long sleeved spandex shirt, shorts and normal shirt so you don’t look weird, extra warm socks, hat and gloves and maybe even a jacket and go for a run or a ride. I’ve done that and it SUCKS. Being outside isn’t that bad but getting dressed is a bitch; not to mention peeling off all of that sweaty clothing  when your done. When the weather gets nice, you can just throw on shorts and a t-shirt and head out. It’s a beautiful thing.

2) After three weeks of waiting, my Bowflex SelectTech 552 weights have finally arrived! If you remember, my birthday theme was to make life easier. Well having the equivalent of 30 dumb-bells in your apartment is a big help. The weights adjust 5 to 52.5 lbs. and they’re really easy to use. Not to mention they take up no space at all right next to Andy’s exersaucer, swing, bouncer, pack n’ play, play-mat etc… I can now finally lift weights before or after doing cardio without going to the gym, which is a huge deal for me. Coming home from school and doing a 15 minute workout could not be easier. This was actually the main reason for trying to cancel my gym membership. For $399, I was able to get 2 sets of weights and a stand for them. The stand actually costs another $159 but Bowflex threw in the stand for free and didn’t charge me for shipping; a pretty sweet deal if you ask me (this is what happens when you call and negotiate instead of buying right online- thank you Baruch MBA negotiating class). While you might be thinking “Hey $399 sounds like a lot of money”…it’s true- it is. But if you really think about it, I was spending an absurd amount of money on my gym membership (~$984) and now that I have my Bowflex 552 weights I don’t need my membership anymore! So really I’m being paid $585 to work out with Bowflex!! Ahhhhh…the power of rationalization…

Evan

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Jambalaya (three weeks too late for Mardi Gras, but still good!)

Jambalaya (three weeks too late for Mardi Gras, but still good!).

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Jambalaya (three weeks too late for Mardi Gras, but still good!)

I made this for dinner yesterday and it was a major success!  As is, this recipe makes a ridiculous amount of food (another way to balance everything- when I cook I make a ton so I don’t have to cook everyday) so consider cutting it in half if you want to make less.  This made AT LEAST six servings so we’re going to be eating it for awhile.  Luckily it’s delicious so we don’t mind!

Ingredients

  • Garlic (I used four cloves), minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 box of mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 can Hunts fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pink beans
  • 8 sausages (I used and definitely recommend Al Fresco’s Chipotle Chorizo Chicken Sausages), browned separately
  • 2 bag Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice (I used brown rice)
  • Salsa to taste- I used about 3 tablespoons, but it could probably have used a little more
  • Shredded Cheddar cheese (optional- cheese isn’t healthy but it’s so good that it’s worth it, right?)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute garlic, onion, peppers, mushrooms, and celery.  Add tomatoes and let cook for 5-7 minutes.  In the mean time, brown the sausages so they’re ready to go in as soon as the tomatoes are done
  2. Stir in browned sausages.  Microwave the rice while everything cooks together, and stir in the rice when it’s done.
  3. Stir in salsa and brown and black beans.  Let cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir and top with shredded cheese
  5. Enjoy

I think this is a good recipe because you can tweak it based on your tastes/what’s in your refrigerator at the moment!  My boyfriend added some hot sauce but the chipotle sausage was all the spice my delicate taste buds could handle!

 

Bethany

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No Remote? No Problem!

Sometimes getting to the Gym is hard to do. Furthermore, it’s even more difficult to enjoy exercising.  Running on a treadmill and simply staring at a TV can be incredibly boring.

Is there a more interesting way to stay in shape?  You bet!  With Nintendo’s Wii and Xbox Kinect these platforms now allow the common person to stay in shape. On Nintendo Wii Sports you loose an impressive 248 per game sitting.   Similarly Xbox Kinect’s Boxing game can help burn over 250 calories as well.

Not bad for just playing a game at home. As long as you get off the couch!

However the one research study I was able to find on the subject came fromMichiganStateUniversity.  The research studied over 350 participants through a meta-analysis while playing Dance Central on Xbox Kinect. Interestingly researchers didn’t find any significant difference between playing an active video game and traditional physical activities, however all vitals including a faster heart-rate and oxygen consumption were stronger than if the body was resting.

So if you’re trying to find a fun a way to get distracted while getting healthy, go ahead and pop in Dance Central to get the party started!

Spencer

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Oh Injuries….You’re Killing Me!

Injuries. Ugh. So annoying!  I hurt myself just thinking about writing about hurting myself. As all 8 of you have been reading, I’m fairly active. What you don’t realize is that half the time I’m nursing some sort of injury due to stupidity, clumsiness or just being old. I guess people say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because my father who played college basketball was nicknamed Ace, as in “Ace Bandage”.

In the past 5 years I’ve damaged so may parts of my body its comical. I over compensate in order to prevent future injuries. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always prove to be successful. Let’s break it down, shall we.

The first time I tried BJJ, not only did I suck and have no idea what I was doing, I contracted a staph infection.  Don’t know what that is?  Google it!  (Or don’t… it’s gross) It was my fault though. Generally speaking you need to shower very soon after competing in combat sports. Heat and moisture are breeding grounds for bacteria. Stupid me went to a friend’s house to watch UFC afterwards and didn’t wash up.  Bad idea. Since then I purchased a ton of products to help prevent any sort of skin infection from ever occurring again.

YOUR EPIDERMIS IS SHOWING!

1. Under Armour – I prefer a long-sleeve compression shirt to wear under my Gi. Not only does it keep you cool and dry, it helps prevent chaffing and skin on skin contact. But any compression shirt / rash guard will do.

2. Shock Doctor- Same idea as the compression shirt.

Yes, I admit it. When I wear the shirt and the pants together (before) I put my Gi on, I look like either a Cat Burglar or Mike Myers from SNL. Pretty ridiculous, but if it helps prevent any further skin infections, I’m game.

3. Defense Soap – To expand on my paranoia, I bought this product when I first heard about it on the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast. This all-natural, antibacterial soap cleans and disinfects after rolling around with a potentially smelly dude. Joe Rogan is a BJJ player, aside from being a comedian and commenter for UFC. Mixing comedy and fighting? My kind of entertainment!

4. Neosporin – I tend to get scratched a bit, so this is always in my gym bag ready to be applied if I’m cut.

5. Lotrimin. Never used it. They say to use it if you contract Ringworm.  Because I’m afraid of everything, I bought it anyway. I hope the package stays unopened forever.

6. Vaseline- I usually use this on my face and around my neck.  The Gi is pretty rough on your skin, and this helps alleviate friction so my face and neck doesn’t get scratched up.

HEAD, SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES!

(more like ears, teeth, knees, toes, and black eyes)

7. Head Gear – Get some, unless you wear your cauliflower ears like a badge of honor, which many professional fighters do. I on the other hand prefer to have my wife still love me, so I protect my ears from being permanently damaged. I’ve never actually experienced cauliflower ear, but I have been tender after class, especially when going to sleep and resting my head on the pillow. I woke up wondering why my ears hurt so much. That’s because they looked like this.

OMG!!! Just kidding! I found that in Google Images.  My ears were just a bit red.  Since then I went and purchased Cliff Keen Head Gear. They are very comfortable and I don’t even notice them on my head when I roll except when the strap chokes me out before my opponent does. Yikes.

8. Knee Braces – BJJ tends to put in you horribly uncomfortable positions at times. Flexibility is very important in order to attempt to control your injuries. Unfortunately, I’ve had weak knees for most of my life. I always keep my knee braces with me, which helps stabilize my knee caps and keep them from moving laterally. The last thing I need is a torn ACL or MCL. I prefer Shock Doctor’s brand.

9. Mouth Guard – I hate mouth guards!  They are essential in protecting your teeth, but until recently my only experience with them were the cheap boil and bite kinds, which is exactly what it sounds like. You boil the piece until it becomes soft, and then you immediately bite down on it to “mold” it to your mouth. It is horrible, very gag inducing, and not comfortable. I ended up doing some research and found a great company called Fight Dentist out in Las Vegas that creates custom fitting mouth guards. They send you a mold that you have to put into your mouth for a few minutes until it forms to your teeth.  Then you send that mold back to the company. A few weeks later, they send you your custom mouth guard.

It fits perfectly!  No gagging!  And when I say no gagging, I only mean when I wear the finished product. Making the mold was certainly a traumatic experience. Lets just say that I was hovering over my kitchen sink dry heaving, tearing up, semi-puking the whole time. My wife was yelling at me to stop while simultaneously crying hysterically because she was laughing so hard due to the idiocy of the scene. She couldn’t understand why I would continue to hold the mold in my mouth while throwing up in the kitchen, but trust me, it was worth it! I love you Fight Dentist! Great Product!

10. Toes – Ever break your toe?  It SUUUUUUUCKS!!!!!!! I wasn’t even rolling when it happened. We were just doing a warm-up drill and my pinky toe got caught on the mat…and the rest of my body went the opposite way. It was extremely unnatural looking, and when the toughest guys in gym look at me and cringe, you know its bad.  I quickly smashed it back into place like a Neanderthal. Not sure if that was a good idea or a bad idea. I was easily limping for 3 weeks because I couldn’t put any pressure on my foot. Of course I didn’t go to the doctor, because I figured that all they would do was tape it up. Instead, I went to Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a six-pack of athletic tape. So now, every time I get on the mats, I tape my pinky toe to my ring toe on both feet. So far so good. I’ve been clear of toe injuries since implementing that into my mummified safety routine.

11. Black Eyes – It happens, even though I’m not getting punched. Sometimes you knock heads. Sometimes its a dude’s shoulder that comes crashing into your eye-socket. Other times you’re in control and your opponent is flailing away and you get caught with an elbow. Here are a few pics of mine from earlier this year.

Yes, its 2 black eyes. One in each eye, and no it wasn’t at the same time. They actually didn’t hurt at all. I just bought some Arnica gel from CVS to help with the bruising and iced it.

AFTERMATH

These injuries can get annoying, but not enough to make me stop participating in the sport. The hardest part of dealing with them is deciding what story to tell my wife about what I did to hurt myself yet again…. and asking her to take care of me. The other difficult part of the situation is explaining to my coworkers that I’m not in Fight Club. You know what? Let them believe that I am. Maybe they’ll think twice about giving me more work to do.

Kess

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Healthy Banana “Milkshake”

I’m a dessert fiend so I’m always looking for a way to get my next sweet fix.  This is actually a really quick dessert (or snack) we used to make with my mom when we were kids and I still love it!  It’s filling and satisfying!

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cap of vanilla extract (I don’t know if “cap” is a real unit of measurement but it’s always worked for me!)
  • 1 packet splenda/sweet n low/equal/ sweetener of your choice
  • 6-8 ice cubes

Directions:

  1. Add banana, milk, vanilla, and sweetener to blender
  2. Blend on medium until mixture is smooth
  3. Add 1-2 ice cubes at a time, mix, then add more until mixture reaches desired consistency
  4. Enjoy immediately!

I’ve made a few variations of this recipe- chocolate, chocolate banana, strawberry banana- the possibilities are endless!

Bethany

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Get Some Shut Eye

I went to my doctor the other day and he gave me some interesting advice. In order to stay healthy you need sleep.  Infact the lack of sleep can result in illness and possibly other sever health issues such as a stroke.  What’s interesting is the body has been shown not to need sleep, however for the mind it’s critical to receive sleep.  Why?

During sleep helps store long term memories, helps reduce stress, and leads to you being more alert. There was an interesting article I found on about.com regarding some myths about sleep (http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongenergy/tp/sleep_myths.htm)

Here are some the highlights:

  1. Sleep is more than simply a period of rest; it is an essential time for your body to perform routine maintenance
  2. If you get less sleep your ability to do certain cognitive and physical tasks is decreased.
  3. You Can ‘Catch Up’ During the WeekendWhile sleeping      late helps catch up on your sleep debt, it alters your sleep schedule,      which leaves your body adjusting to different schedules.

Here’s to a good nights sleep!

Spencer

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