Turkey Time!

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Well folks it is that time of year again. I am not talking about the end of the semester, however that does sound wonderful! I am talking about major holidays. Children are excited to see Santa and make their Christmas list. Stores are ready to make bank on all the black Friday deals and Christmas music will be playing on every radio station from now until New Years. Every year I am puzzled and think the same thing, why do we bypass each holiday? It seems like before Halloween with are thinking about Thanksgiving, before Thanksgiving we are thinking about Christmas, before Christmas we are thinking about New Years and so on and so on. Do not get me wrong, I am guilty of wishing my life way at times, but let us not forget about one of my favorite holidays of all time, Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a time to come together with your family and celebrate each other. It is a time to give thanks to the blessings in your life. On this day you can sit down for dinner with your family and overindulge on all of the food and it is completely acceptable. Who would want to miss out on that opportunity? So for now, let us forget Christmas and black Friday deals. Let us focus on what is most important, food! (….. I meant to say family!)

I know for my family, the turkey is the most important food item we serve. All of our side dishes are based around this feathery creature. If this is true for you and you have been designated as the honorary chef for your family, it is important that you keep yourself and your family safe.

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Cooking a turkey can take some time and effort. Undercooking and unsafe handling of this delight can cause foodborne illnesses. That is something we don’t want! Let’s focus on some tips to help us prepare the bird in a safe way. The United States Department of Argiculture (USDA) breaks this down for us into 5 steps and these include thawing, cleaning, separating, cooking and chilling. Let us take a closer look at each step.

Step 1-Thawing: The USDA recommends thawing the bird in one of three ways. You can thaw the bird via refrigerator, cold water or microwave. However the USDA recommends thawing the bird via refrigerator. If you choose to thaw with this method, keep in mind that for every 4-5 pounds of bird equals 24 hours of thawing time in the refrigerator. If you choose to thaw via cold water, you will want to place the bird in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. It is also important to remember to cook the bird immediately after thawing with this method. The final way to thaw a turkey is by the microwave. This method depends on the size of the turkey. You will want to defrost according to the weight and you will want to cook immediately after thawing.

Step 2- Cleaning: Once the turkey is thawed, the next step is to clean it. Unlike fruits and veggies, the bird cannot actually be cleaned! The only way to destroy potentially dangerous bacteria is to cook the bird. However, it is important to remember to wash your hands for 20 seconds using soap and warm water. It is also important to make sure your utensils, plates, counter tops, and cutting boards are thoroughly washed.

Step 3- Separate: Make sure the turkey is separate from fresh foods. You can achieve this by using a different cutting board, plate and utensils to prepare the turkey. If a dish touches the raw turkey, wash the dish with warm water and soap.

Step 4- Cook: This is probably the most important step to be cautious about. It is vital to cook the turkey to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, also if you have stuffing in the turkey, the stuffing should reach 165 degrees F as well. How do you check the internal temperature? You can do so by testing 3 parts of the turkey with a cooking thermometer. The first part you will want to test is going to be the thickest part of the breast. The second place to test will be the inner part of the wing and the last place you will test will be the inner part of the thigh. Once all three of these areas reach the proper temperature, your bird is safe to serve!….. Well you might want to let it cool down first.

Step 5- Chill: This step is just as important as cooking if you choose to save the leftovers! It is important to get those left overs in the refrigerator within 2 hours after the turkey has been cooked. You can store the leftover turkey in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you choose to freeze the leftovers for a later date, you can actually keep the meat frozen safely for 2-6 months. Also reheating the leftovers follows the same guidelines as cooking, they should be reheated to a temperature of 165 degrees F.

Keep in mind that bacteria can be very vicious because you cannot see it, smell it or taste it. Now that we know how to safely handle our bird, we can have a nutritious dinner! I hope that each one of you has a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving! For more information on food safety, you can visit foodsafety.gov.

What is your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

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NYC Marathon Recap

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you guys are enjoying the frigid temperatures that we are experiencing right now. Take from a girl who was in Florida 3 days ago, this cold is for the birds.

I have wanted to get around to typing up this post for the last 2 weeks, but with all the travelling, it has been put on the back burner. I finally made it, today is the day.

On Sunday, November 2nd I ran the New York City marathon! I had been looking forward to it for about 8 months, since I found out I got in way back in March. The NYC marathon is set up as a lottery, so you put your name in and you find out if you were accepted months later. There are a lot of people who don’t get in and try for years and years, so when I managed to get in on my first attempt, I knew I had to get to New York come hell or high water! It felt strange not running in my beloved Chicago marathon this year, but I sacrificed for the Big Apple, baby.

The Expo took place Javits Convention center and I was eager to get there due to the fact that I had not set up marathon transportation to the start over the summer like I was supposed to. I read the information about my hotel wrong, so I was freaking out a little about possible not making it to the start line in time. When I got there everyone was so friendly, they just added me to a ferry like it was no problem at all. All that worry for nothing! The man at the booth where I picked up my information was also a Marshall University Alum, so I took that as an omen! After I got my bib it was time to relax and have some fun.

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I was pumped to see the Disney medals were there on display since I am running that one in January.

I was amazed to see all the different nationalities that flock to new York for the race. I didn’t notice this as much in Chicago, but it seemed almost like Americans were in the minority.

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You can tell by my expression there that getting a photo without people in it would be difficult. It was a busy place- there were over 50,000 runners. The place was huge and it was a madhouse.

On race morning I got up super early to crazy 35 mile per hour winds and cold temps in the 40’s. Not exactly the weather that I had gotten accustomed to by training over the summer months, but I rallied. As a marathon runner your nerves are shot in the days leading up to the race. here are some of the questions going through my mind.

1. Am I going to blow off the Verrazano bridge?

2. Is that click in my knee going to hurt?

3. Will eating that pancake affect my run?

4. Did I do enough yoga last week?

5. When did I ever think that this was a good idea?

Seriously, the worst part of running a marathon is the self doubt. Here I am, up and at ‘em on Sunday morning:

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The trip to the start line took about 3 hours, just a subway ride, ferry boat trip, and bus to the park where the start was located in Staten Island. By the time I got there I felt pretty worn out. Luckily I met some really nice people to chat with along the ride from Maryland.  (Hi Mark, Bill and Debbie!)

As I said goodbye to them and headed to my start corral, reality started to set in. I mean, this was New York! The crown jewel of marathons! Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” was blasting at the start, and if that doesn’t get you going, what will? The race itself was a blur of supportive family, friends and New Yorkers. 26.2 miles of a mix of pure fun and torrential winds. It didn’t really bother me though, it’s amazing how inspiring a crowd of people can be. Why have any self doubt when people tell you for 4 hours how awesome you are?

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My husband and I had a conversation about how serious I look when I run. So… when I spotted him here at mile 25 (I was near death) I gave him a big smile. It actually did make a pretty good picture!

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I’m not going to lie- it feels pretty good to add this bad boy to my collection. What a fantastic, unforgettable experience. I’ll remember if forever. My Dad asked me why in the heck I was doing something so crazy, and I told him that one day when I’m old and gray, I’ll sit with my granddaughter on my lap and tell her about how Grandma ran the New York marathon on a cold windy day in 2014. Dad seemed OK with that answer, and when I got back with my family, they treated me like a superstar. Not too shabby. My Mom even sent me a new ornament for my Christmas tree (a total surprise, and I’ll cherish it forever)!

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Let me know about your marathon experience! I always love swapping stories!

-Michele

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#MotivationMonday Quotes, and Apps, and Ice Cream, oh my!

Happy #MotivationMonday everybody!! This week, I have an interesting mix of things that motivated me and my workout.

1. Charity Miles App : I’ve actually written a blog about this awesome app, so if you’re interested, check it out here. Basically, the app donates small amounts of money to a charity of your choice based on the distance you walk or run. Since we had some beautiful weather, and I had been stuck inside writing a paper, I decided a run to the park was necessary. But it seems like on Sundays, I have a real problem getting off the couch. So, I turned this app on, picked my charity, and ran for a cause. If you’re looking for something to motivate your run, this is it!

 

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I have posted this quote before for #MotivationMonday, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. I think sometimes people, me included, get caught up in finding things wrong with their body that they forget to appreciate what they have. So when you work out, keep in mind how much you love your body, not everything you don’t like about it.

“Positive Mind. Positive Vibes. Positive Life.”

3. clip_image004My last motivator is actually food. Even though I know it’s not good to rely on food to get you through your workout, I still like to reward myself every now and then. School this week has been so stressful that I desperately needed chocolate. A friend had mentioned “Talenti Gelato,” which I had seen in the store, but was too much of an ice cream fan to try it. I thought I would branch out this week, and I bought the Fudge Brownie flavor. Oh my. I have seriously been missing out. It has all the richness of chocolate ice cream, but it’s a lot lighter and doesn’t make you feel as full afterwards. There are also a ton of flavors, which is cool. If you haven’t tried Talenti, you definitely should!

What has motivated you this week?

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Functional Foods!

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When asking the average person what does being healthy mean to you? The most common answer may be, “being physically fit and eating well.” In today’s society there are about a million different ways to lose weight or promote a healthier life style. It is like every time you turn on the television you see a commercial that is promoting a product to help your hair grow or your skin glow. Have you ever opened a magazine and read about a certain drink that will help you lose weight or promote heart health? There truly are a wide variety of substances and medications you could take to promote health. But what about getting back to the roots of things and just eating food? That is right, just eat food! Have you ever heard of functional foods?

What are functional foods? According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, functional foods are foods that provide additional health benefits that may reduce disease risk and/or promote good health. The term “functional foods” originated in Japan in the 1980’s. Japanese health authorities viewed functional foods as a way to advance quality of life.

What types of foods are functional? Here are the top 10 functional foods and how you could benefit from consuming these.

· Oat and oat products- may help lower cholesterol levels, thus reducing risk of heart disease risk.

· Soy- lowers cholesterol and reduces heart disease risk

· Fatty Fish- contains omega-3 fatty acids that may prevent against stroke and heart disease.

· Cranberry Juice- reduces risk of urinary tract infection.

· Tomato sauce and cooked tomato products- may protect against certain types of cancer.

· Red wine- could protect against heart disease.

· Black and Green tea- could have a cancer preventative effect.

· Yogurt- beneficial effects on gastrointestinal function and immunity.

· Onions, wheat, nanas, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic and a variety of fruits and vegetables- could prevent constipation, protects liver function, reduces blood pressure and cholesterol, and may have an anticancer effect.

· Low-fat foods- may reduce the risk of disease. More research is needed to promote this.

Here is a delicious recipe that I enjoy making. This pasta contains a mixture of functional foods:

Rainbow Penne Pasta

Ingredients:

32 oz. uncooked gluten free penne pasta

8 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

8 cloves garlic

1-56 oz. package of frozen broccoli florets

4- 15 oz. can garbanzo beans

3 medium red bell peppers

1 tsp. salt

Instructions:

Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to instructions on package. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the broccoli, beans, pepper, 12 tablespoon of water and salt. Cover and turn heat on medium. Steam and stir occasionally for ~5-7 minutes. Toss the pasta with the vegetables and serve.

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy recipe. If you would like to learn more about functional foods I would like to invite you to my senior capstone. The presentation will be next Tuesday, November 18, 2014, in Corbly Hall room 103 from 6:00-7:00 PM. After the 1 hour presentation I hope you walk away feeling satisfied on your new found information on functional foods. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to allow YOUR brain to travel to the world of functional foods.

Do you know of a spice or herb that is considered to be ‘functional’?

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#MotivationMonday

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I’m sure you’ve all seen it somewhere on social media, maybe you’ve even hash tagged it yourself. Well, if you’ve been on any of our social media on Mondays, you’ll see that I post a healthy fitness motivation quote every week. And since these posts are always our most popular, I figured why not bring #MotivationMonday to the blog too.

So every Monday, I will be posting a blog with quotes, pictures, songs, basically anything that motivates me to be healthy and workout. This week, it’s all about the music….

1. “Anaconda” by Nicki Minaj : This song is great to run and workout to. The beat is constantly changing and accelerating which helps you power through your workout. And of course, the fact that it constantly references “Baby Got Back” is fun too. I’m usually not much of a Nicki Minaj fan, but this song is really great for my gym playlist.

2. “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance : If you’re not a huge fan of the faster hip hop workout songs, “Stolen Dance” may be worth a listen. It still has a great beat for working out, but it’s a little slower. The chorus is so catchy! I caught myself singing it as I was running.

3. “Trumpets” by Jason Derulo : When I first heard this song, the band was playing it at a Marshall game. I loved it, so I went home and downloaded it. Now, it’s one of my workout staples. It’s something about the trumpet chorus that keeps me running faster and pushing my body harder. I definitely recommend giving it a listen.

4. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses : This last song is a classic. If rock gets you motivated, then give this song a listen. It is a really powerful, high-energy song that makes you feel like a rock star during your workout (which is the best form of motivation).

What songs motivate you most?

What is getting you moving this week?

We’d love to know!

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Spread The Love!

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In honor of National Peanut Butter Lovers Month we will focus on some of the delectable delights for this popular spread. First things first, did you know that a peanut is not a nut? I know, I know! It’s nuts to hear this. Actually a peanut is a legume. So what makes this legume so special? What is it about the peanut that deserves an entire month to honor it? Let us take a look at the nutrient content of peanut butter.

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In two tablespoons or 32 grams per say, you will get 8 grams of protein, which is the same amount as drinking one cup of milk!!! Protein helps our tissues stay strong and our immune system function properly. Not only is peanut butter rich in protein, it is also a good source for certain vitamins and minerals. This tasty spread serves as a rich source of vitamin E and niacin (vitamin B-3). Vitamin E helps any inflammation in the body and helps our immune system. Vitamin E is also an antioxidant that helps repair cellular damage. Vitamin B-3, niacin, is great for energy production and cell development. Peanut Butter also offers magnesium and copper. Both of these minerals help to activate enzymes in the body.

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Now, if you know me then you know I have an undeniable love for this tasty treat. One of my favorite things to eat is, okay let me rephrase this… one thing I eat EVERYDAY is a banana with peanut butter. I feel like you could eat peanut butter with everything! Okay maybe not EVERYTHING, but you get the picture. While you can eat peanut butter on a number of things and it is a nutrient rich spread, it is important to be aware of the sugar and fat content in some of the products offered. Look for words in the ingredients like “high fructose corn” syrup and “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated”. Brands containing this could be vicious. Choosing a natural peanut butter is more nutritious, granted you might have to stir it, but it does not have the extra additives.

As we celebrate the peanut this month you have the opportunity to spread the love. Next time you are at the store and you go to purchase peanut butter, grab two! Drop one off at the Facing Hunger Foodbank. To learn more about how to help, please visit http://facinghunger.org/. Share your favorite peanut butter dishes below… and spread on!

What is your favorite type of peanut butter?

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A Look In The Mirror: Raymond Cousins’ Member Spotlight

Your early 20’s are supposed to be a time in your life where you are in prime health, able to do lots of physical activity without a second thought. Well, for Raymond Cousins, his early 20’s were filled with unhealthy eating habits and weight issues. But it was at the age of 24 that he took control of his life and decided he would live a healthy lifestyle full of opportunities he could actually grasp.

I asked Raymond about his health history and how he got to his unhealthiest…

“My weight and my eating habits were horrible. I have been doing gymnastics since the age of 4 and I did track in high school; but my eating habits overpowered the work I have put in both sports. When I started graduate school, I stopped competing, but increased fast food eating, tremendously. I never put any mind to my weight because I always said if I can still tumble, then I will not worry. I was eating fast food every day, sometimes multiple times a day and there have been occasions where I have went to two fast food restaurants in one setting. With exercise, I hated the gym. My friends would ask if I wanted to go and I would say “No” without any hesitation. Gymnastics was the only physical activity I was interested in, no matter how I looked.”

Before…

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We always ask our Member Spotlights what made them change, what moment motivated them to take control of their life, and for Raymond, it was seeing his image in the mirror and realizing he didn’t want to live his life with limits.

“I would have to take steps to get to my office at work and I would be out of breath before I would get to the top of the flight. I could barely bend to tie my shoes, and I was constantly feeling sick. One morning, I looked at myself and realized this is not how I want to live the rest of my life, so I decided to start taking baby steps to becoming a healthier me; not realizing that I had the potential to make such an amazing change that I have.”

Part of Raymond’s transformation has been eating healthier. He says his favorite healthy food is baked salmon, and sometimes a little mashed potatoes, even though they aren’t always the healthiest.

His favorite and least favorite part about working out?

“My favorite part about working out is doing group fitness classes that help motivate me. Some workout classes I’ve done are Zumba, Spinning, and the 5K training class, all through the Rec Center. My least favorite part about working out is if I can’t work out until late at night and I have to run outside, alone. That bores me to no end!”

The last question we ask of our Member Spotlights is what they would tell themselves before they started their fitness journey to encourage them to change.

Raymond’s answer is simple…

I would say ‘Self, you know you look a hot mess. Grasp your life, immediately!’”

After…

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Good advice from a great guy!

Way to go Raymond, keep up the amazing work!

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