Disclaimer: I am being compensated for this blog post as part of the Philip Stein #liveintune campaign. Opinions expressed are my own.
When you think of romance, what comes to mind? For me, a hopeless romantic, romance is epitomized in the movie Titanic when Jack Dawson (played by Leonardo Dicaprio) sacrificed his life to let Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet’s character) live. Romance oozes from the movie The Notebook, especially when Allie Hamilton (played by Gena Rowlands) and Noah Calhoun (played by James Garner) die in their sleep with their arms and bodies so beautifully intertwined.
In my own life, the idea of romance makes me think of a particular day during my childhood. Almost 30 years ago, in the late afternoon on a crisp winter day, my first true love rode miles on his horse to meet me in the woods. Forbidden to see one another, we knew we risked being caught by our parents—but that only made the desperate, sweet teenage kisses we shared and the way we professed our undying love to one another even more special. When I think of romance, I also think of another boyfriend—my last before I met the man who would become my husband. He called me gorgeous (even though I didn’t think I was) and always made me feel like I was the only woman in the room.
I also witnessed romance recently when our 44-year-old friend Harvey married Elise, one of my best camp friends. Although they first fell in love 22 years ago, when they were both 22, and parted ways, they were unexpectedly reunited after Elise’s previous marriage ended. They’ve been inseparable ever since. To mark the magic, Harvey counted down on Facebook the 22 days until their wedding day with poems, anecdotes, and gorgeous photos. A greater romance I’ve never known!
While romance—a “love affair” or “an emotional attraction or aura belonging to an especially heroic era, adventure, or activity”*—can be inspired by, or be expressed with, grand dramatic overtures, sometimes even little things can be romantic. Having been happily married to the same man, a hard working and devoted father to our two sons, aged 15 and 11, for more than 20 years, I think we’d both agree that it’s the little things—the inside jokes, the small gestures and favors, squeezing in a little one-on-one time (in between two full-time jobs, our sons’ homework help and basketball games), and enjoying solo time together when our sons go to overnight summer camp—that help us keep the spark alive.
Whether you’re looking for love, on the cusp of it, or are in a committed relationship, there are things you can do besides reading the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy (trust me) to ignite romance (or at least give it a jump-start). Here are three of my top tips to help you do just that in your own life:
1. Reclaim and redefine date night. At the beginning of their relationship, most couples seemingly make all the time in the world to go on dates and spend time together. But when the initial excitement of the relationship starts to dim, and real life sets in, many couples often find it too easy to allow work, children, or other responsibilities to get in the way of their private time together. Of course parenting or caring for older parents, logging too many hours at the office, and having a long to-do list can move date night to the back burner, it’s important for your own health—and that of your relationship—to reclaim date night. Even if that means grabbing a quick bite to eat, seeing a movie, or simply walking to and from favorite frozen yogurt shop (my husband and I started doing this just last summer), penciling in one-on-one time together each week, as you would an appointment, shows each of you—and the rest of your family—that your relationship matters and is worth making time for.
2. Put the ‘action’ in your activities. Instead of meeting for the usual drinks or heading to dinner and a movie with your significant other—or friends—plan something more active. Taking a brisk walk, jog, or bike ride in the park, heading to a spin or dance class, or training for some sort of competition together (like a 5 k race, triathlon, or even a charity walk) not only gives you quality time together, but can help you get in shape or stay fit. When we were first married, my husband and I would do 5K, 6 mile and 10K running races together (once we even did a 10 miler). We also play golf together, and love to hike together in places like Colorado, California and Hawaii. Being active in new and different ways not only creates a sense of adventure and accomplishment, but it can help you feel better physically and mentally—and help you be more open to experiencing romance. And as I wrote about in my upcoming book, Younger Next Week, being active and exercising can boost libido (it helps blood flow to al the right places, if you know what I mean). Let’s not forget that regular exercise also helps you look and feel better, and can therefore indirectly boost your confidence in-between the sheets!
3. Connect by disconnecting. Because for so many of us, the smart phone or laptop has become like a third appendage, it’s become far to easy to lose touch with all of our senses that allow us to recognize and enjoy romance—even when it’s staring right at us. So when you’re with your sweetie, put that cell phone away and really pay attention to him or her. Use all your senses to look at, listen to, touch and completely engage with your significant other. You may find that not having all the distractions reminds you why you were drawn to him or her in the first place. Just like you let nothing come between you and your Calvins, it’s wise to not let a cell phone or laptop come between you and your partner.
What are some of the ways you introduce or bring back the romance in your relationship? Share your to-dos, tips and ideas with the hashtag #liveintune below to help others bring romance back into their lives too.
Image of Harvey and Elise from their amazing wedding via Marc Millman Photography.
*Source: Merriam-Webster dictionary
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Here’s a delicious, hearty side dish from registered dietitian Victoria Shanta-Retelny.
Creamy like a typical risotto, but less fatty and caloric, this nutty-tasting rendition of the Italian classic will keep your heart healthy and fill you up on fewer calories!
Yield/Servings: 4 (½ cup) servings
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 cup wild rice
1 ½ cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
2 rosemary sprigs, remove needles, minced
2 Tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Steam the squash in a steamer pot over boiling water for 10 minutes or until tender enough to mash with a fork. Puree squash in a food processor and set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and sauté onion and garlic over a low heat until soft and lightly browned.
3. Add rice and stir until well-coated add broth and water. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to simmer, cover. Stir frequently, once rice has fully absorbed the liquid and is softening add squash and rosemary. Stir to combine.
4. Stir in ricotta cheese; season with salt and pepper to taste. It should be thick and creamy with the rice soft on the outside, but firm in the middle.
Carbohydrates: 15 g
Total Fat: 2 g
Protein: 2 g
Fiber: 2 g
Cholesterol: 8 mg
Sodium: 73 mg
Sugar: 4 g
Source: Victoria Shanta-Retelny, RDN, LDNclick to comment
Whether you just ran a marathon (or are preparing for one), or simply want some nutrient-packed fuel to get your day going, this tasty twist on the typical pancake is sure to please. Add an extra half cup of fresh fruit or 100% fruit juice, and you’re good to go. Enjoy!
Yield/Servings: 12 pancakes
1 cup spelt flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
1 over-ripe banana
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup vanilla almond milk
¼ cup walnuts
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ teaspoon unsalted butter
1. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon together. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, mash the banana and stir in the Greek yogurt. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the banana and Greek yogurt mixture to the eggs, and stir until combined. Add the almond milk and stir until incorporated.
4. Pour the liquids into the bowl with the flour, and gently fold until just incorporated, taking care not to over-mix.
5. Stir in the walnuts and blueberries.
6. Heat a nonstick skillet or electric skillet over medium-low heat, and coat the skillet with butter. Note: only coat the skillet with butter for the first batch.
7. Pour ¼ cup of the pancake batter into the skillet and heat until bubbly and golden brown, about 2-1/2 minutes.
8. Flip the pancake with a flat-sided spatula and cook an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Notes: You’ll know pancakes are ready to flip when you see little bubbles on the surface. Make extra pancakes on the weekend and freeze the leftovers. They reheat quickly in the microwave and you’ll have a homemade no-fuss breakfast in a flash.
Source: Flat Belly Cookbook for Dummies by Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, Tara Gidus, RD, and Kristina LaRue, RD
Full disclosure: No good or services were exchanged for posting this recipe.
What’s your favorite way to make/eat pancakes?click to comment
Stressipes (rhymes with recipes) are solutions for the negative ways stress affects what (and how much) you eat, how you move, how well and how much you sleep, and how you handle all the things in life that make you feel stressed.
Even if we think otherwise, we have the power to not let stress get the best of us, and adversely affect our habits. In the Stressipes web series, I will show you simple solutions using real food, exercises, and lifestyle strategies to help you survive and thrive despite whatever tries to bring you down or debilitate you, physically or mentally.
Here’s the link to Episode 1 of Stressipes on You Tube! I hope watching it gives you a laugh to help you destress!
Have a great day!
Source of image of Paul Heyman and Elisa Zied: Jeff Fusco.
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I was recently asked to be part of a FREE online event designed to empower parents to raise healthy, successful kids. The event is called “Relationship Based Parenting: The Simple Truths about Raising Healthy, Successful Kids,” and it takes place between August 12th and 23rd,.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, freelance writer, and author, I’m humbled be one of 21 speakers from around the world who was asked to participate. Created and organized by Abby Bordner, the event brings together top speakers in the fields of child psychology, child development, writing/publishing, and authors of bestselling parenting books to answer two key questions:
- What does it take to raise healthy, successful kids?
- How can I become a better person while doing it?
While you can listen to my interview on August 14, 2013 at 8 PM EST/5 PM PST, all of the interviews done with the speakers between the 12th and 23rd of August will be available to you.
I truly hope you’ll join this community of parents and professionals in what is sure to be a valuable exploration of the most important things we can do to raise healthy, successful children.
Click here if you’d like to join this FREE event.
Full disclosure: I received no compensation for granting or promoting an interview, nor will I receive any compensation when or after you join the event. It just seemed like a terrific event that I could contribute to!click to comment
In the clever, information-packed new book, The Clean Separation, Kara Landau (The Traveling Dietitian) helps readers who have endured a life-changing event–a break-up or end of a relationship, the loss of a job, or the death of someone close to them–use the power of nutrition to lift their spirits and move them towards the next chapter of their lives. With warmth and positivity, Landau lays out a ‘business plan’ that readers can personalize to help them structure their lives while minimizing stress as they move towards their ‘new normal’. She also utilizes her insights about the eating habits and lifestyle practices of people from around the globe to make real-world recommendations readers can use to optimize their health and well being. Delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and desserts by Susan Irby (The Bikini Chef) round out The Clean Separation to help readers follow the book’s food and nutrient recommendations.
Even if you haven’t recently endured a break up of any kind, you’ll no doubt find this delicious Thai Tasty Chicken Wrap from The Clean Separation a delicious addition to your menu. Enjoy!
2 cups chicken breast, roughly chopped
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup diced green onion
1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon thai red curry paste
4 8-inch high fiber flour tortillas
4 leaf lettuce leaves
1. Season chopped chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat and add chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, adding the water, as needed, to prevent drying.
3. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the cooked chicken, green onion, peanuts, coriander, and ginger root.
4. In a small mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, mustard, honey, lime juice, and curry paste. Mix well and then add to chicken mixture.
5. Place wrap onto a flat working surface. Top each with 1 lettuce leaf, spread with 1 1/2 Tablespoons yogurt mixture and top with 1/2 cup chicken mixture. Fold one edge of wrap in towards the center slightly. Fold both side edges over filling.
6. Spray non-stick saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. Add wraps and heat until lightly golden. Serve warm or cold as an on-the-go snack.
Make chicken mixture ahead of time for the ultimate go-to snack for mid-week. These wraps are delicious served hot or cold.
Serving size: 1 wrap
Saturated fat: 2.4g
Is there a nutritious, delicious meal you like to cook or eat after a break-up or loss?
Full disclosure: The publisher sent me a complimentary copy of the book.click to comment
When they’re born, you hold them so tight
When anything’s wrong, you make everything right
They can make no mistakes, they’re just learning their way
And you hold their hands and guide their day
As they learn to do more things on their own,
They trip, they fall, and you throw them a bone.
They push and pull but at the end of the day
They just want you close to them as they lay
They go off to school and camp on their own
And there’s more and more proof, over time, how they’ve grown
They speak of their challenges, their highs and their lows
And how they thrived despite some blows
Your pride overwhelms you,
You know you played a part
In showing them the way
To live with heart
To be kind and polite and have respect for others
To work hard and play hard and treat friends like brothers
They may hate you or love you intensely at times
Roll their eyes at you sometimes but always end with a smile
Your journey is long but you know it’s just a phase
For soon they’ll be gone and you’ll all part ways
They’ll start their own lives and have families of their own
But you know that’s what must be done when they’re truly grown
You’ll laugh and you’ll cry and think back to the days
When all they did was love you with their innocent gaze
You know you’ll survive and accept what will be
Because you too have done to your mom what you will soon have to see
So enjoy the moments, they go much too fast
And savor each day as if it’s your last
Being a mother is the greatest gift ever
And their love is yours for now and forever
Try this delicious recipe, excerpted from Today Show nutritionist Joy Bauer’s new book, The Joy Fit Club: Cookbook, Diet Plan and Inspiration (Wiley, 2012).
MAKES 4 servings
Serving Size: about 1 cup wilted spinach mixture with 3 scallops and 1/4 of the avocado
Prep Time (start to finish): 25 minutes
2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
12 fresh or frozen sea scallops, thawed if frozen (about 11/4 pounds total)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
8 cups fresh baby spinach (about 8 ounces)
1 medium avocado, halved, seeded, peeled, and thinly sliced
1. Finely shred enough of the lime peel to make 2 teaspoons zest. Cut the lime in half and juice enough to make 2 tablespoons. Set juice and zest aside.
2. In a large nonstick skillet cook the shallots in the olive oil over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until shallots are just tender, stirring occasionally.
3. Meanwhile, rinse the scallops with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the scallops evenly with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper. Lightly coat scallops on both sides with oil spray. Coat an indoor grill pan or another large nonstick skillet with oil spray. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. Add scallops to grill pan or skillet. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until scallops are opaque and cooked through, turning once halfway through cook time.
4. Add the lime juice, honey, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to the shallots in the skillet. Just before serving, add the spinach in two batches to the shallot mixture. Cook, tossing gently with tongs, for 30 to 60 seconds or until spinach is just wilted. Immediately divide spinach mixture among four serving plates. Top each serving with 3 of the scallops. Top each serving with one-fourth of the avocado slices and sprinkle with reserved lime zest.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Calories: 262, Protein: 28 g, Total Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 1 g, Cholesterol: 49 mg, Sodium: 536 mg, Carbohydrate: 17 g, Fiber: 4 gclick to comment
According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylactic Network, as many as 15 million people have food allergies The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that more than 300,000 ambulatory-care visits a year among children under the age of 18 are caused by food allergies.
It’s likely someone you know is allergic to food. Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, or pecans), wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish account for about 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions. Being allergic to one or more foods can certainly affect everything from how and where a person eats to how they socialize.
And if parenting wasn’t tough enough, raising a child with one or more food allergies can be an even bigger challenge—but it can be an enlightening one. Just ask Susan Weissman, author of the poignant new book Feeding Eden: The Trials and Triumphs of a Food Allergy Family. Read on learn more about Susan’s heartfelt and courageous journey to help her son manage his food allergies and find her strength (and herself) along the way.
Q: Your son Eden was first diagnosed as allergic to dairy when he was nine months old, so why did he have an anaphylactic attack just after he turned one year old?
A: After Eden had his first life-threatening allergic reaction we realized that he must have been allergic to more than dairy foods. Sure enough, he tested as allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, eggs, a variety of legumes, seeds, fish and shellfish. Basically, he was allergic to seven of the top eight most common allergens.
Q. Did Eden’s allergies diminish naturally as Eden grew older? Or do you think there were other factors involved?
A. That would depend on whether you want to view Eden’s allergies as a cup half full or half empty. I’ll describe the half full cup: Eden has fully outgrown his allergy to some foods within certain categories (i.e. he can eat sunflower and pumpkin seeds but not sesame seeds. He can eat shrimp but not all shellfish.) He was diagnosed eight years ago, so no, outgrowth hasn’t happened quickly. And it most likely will not happen, given the scope of all of his forbidden foods.
Q. Do you think having the experience of having a child with life-threatening food allergies has made you a “better” mother?
A: Eden’s food allergies forced me to confront the simple truth Eden is physically vulnerable around food. My job is to teach him emotional awareness: how to protect himself so he can live in the world. But that’s what good parents do.
Q. Can you share strategies parents can use to make sure their kids are safe when they’re at school?
A. Parents are responsible for creating a partnership with teachers and administrators in order to prevent food reactions in schools. Teachers are not gatekeepers. An easy to remember checklist for parents to provide is: Information, Documentation, Medication and Communication. When parents model a partnership, children learn to self-advocate for their needs.
Q. Any advice for parents who have children with food allergies to help them better cope with situations they may experience?
A. I believe that all parents need to teach their children to live in the world, and to be happy despite the natural limits of themselves and their environments. But when your child has a chronic medical condition, you don’t have to accept diminished experiences. Once, when Eden was at a party, someone put a piece of pizza on his plate even after Eden has spoken up and clearly stated, “No thank you. I have food allergies.” Eden’s feelings were hurt when the server ignored him. I used that incident as an opportunity to teach him that very likely there will be people in the world who won’t acknowledge him in a variety of situations outside of his allergies. That kind of behavior hurts everyone’s feelings. And when that happens, Eden needs to learn to focus on enjoying himself with the people he cares about. The same can be applied to any childhood condition affecting the mind or body: Enact solutions and focus on them.
Q. So what are some methods for teaching children how to “live in the world they are given?”
A. Try to create an even playing field at home. Examples might be if a child has ADHD parents can offer physical outlets, if a child has dietary restrictions parents can offer alternatives like safe treats and if your child has learning disabilities they may have a creative outlet at home that requires their special skills. Eden knows that on days that he can’t have dessert in the cafeteria, he will have an extra one at home after school.
Q. Is there anything particular you worry about when Eden is at school?
A. It’s safe to say that all allergy parents fear for that one slip-up, the accidental exposure or ingestion to a deadly food for their child. But far more important, we fear that that the adults charged with our child’s safety would not recognize the warning signs of anaphylaxis and ensure that epinephrine is administered. That is why food allergy education and communication between parents and teachers is so crucial
Q. Do you believe that classrooms and even whole schools should be made “free-of” particular foods?
A. Not necessarily. Institutional food restrictions may be helpful under certain circumstances. For example, younger populations of student tend may need external precautions about foods and cross-contamination. But there are eight top allergens so it’s impossible to limit them all and feed children nutritiously. It might make more sense to cherry-pick the most dangerous and likely of food allergens, like peanuts and nuts, and offer alternatives like safe zones. But decisions like that are dependent on community need and ability.
You can learn more about Susan Weissman and Feeding Eden here.
Full disclosure: Susan is a friend and sent me a review copy of her book.click to comment
This recipe for EZ guacamole comes from registered dietitian Susan Piergeorge, author of Boomer Be Well!
Guacamole is a great dip, salad dressing, or topping for meats, poultry, seafood, or as a topper on potatoes.
1 avocado, washed, peeled, pitted and mashed
Lemon juice (enough to coat avocado to prevent browning—about 1-2 tsp.)
1/4 cup salsa, drained
1/4 tsp. ground cumin, optional
1. Mix avocado and lemon juice.
2. Stir in salsa to taste.
3. Add cumin if desired.
4. Store in covered container and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 65 Calories, 1gm PRO, 4 gm CHO, 5.5 gm FAT, 3 gm Fiber, 100 mg Sodium, 232 mg Potassium
This guacamole works great with these awesome baked Chili Lime Chips (see number 1 in a previous ZIED GUIDE blog post, 7 Light Bites & Tasty Treats). Enjoy!
What’s your favorite chip and dip combo this time of year?click to comment