Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Anchovy Experiment

Have you ever tried anchovies?  Before last week I'd only heard of them being served on pizza and had never been brave enough to try them.  It seemed as if they were either something that people loved or hated and I honestly couldn't think of anyone who loved them!

The latest issue of SELF Magazine has an article entitled The Pasta Lover's Diet with six guilt-free recipes.  They all looked yummy, but the one that caught my eye was Rigatoni with Roasted Broccoli and Chickpeas.  I love chickpeas!  The high-fiber beans were highlighted as the star of the recipe.  I decided to give this recipe a try; however, I was completely caught off-guard when I started to add the list of ingredients to my shopping list: 

1 can (2  oz) anchovies packed in oil, chopped, oil reserved

What??  Anchovies???  Ewwwwww!  I debated making the recipe without the anchovies, but after some thought decided to jump in with both feet.  I always tell JJ and Ellie that you can't say you don't like something if you've never tried it.  It was time to Walk the Walk and not just Talk the Talk.  Bring on the anchovies! 


1 can (2 oz) anchovies packed in oil, chopped, oil reserved
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 can (15.5 oz) chickpeas (liquid reserved), rinsed and drained
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 lb broccoli, cut into small florets
1/2 lb whole-wheat rigatoni
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, saute anchovies with oil and garlic until anchovies dissolve and garlic browns.  Add chickpea liquid and bouillon to anchovies; cook, stirring, until bouillon dissolves.  Pour anchovy mixture into roasting pan; add chickpeas and broccoli; stir to coat.  Roast 20 minutes.  Cook rigatoni as directed on package until al dente.  Drain rigatoni, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.  Add pasta to chickpea-broccoli mixture; roast until pasta is completely cooked, adding reserved liquid a little at a time and stirring to reach desired consistency, 5 to 10 minutes.  Remove from oven; let sit 5 minutes; serve topped with Romano.
Serves 4.  450 calories, 7 g fat (2g saturated), 77 g carbs, 13 g fiber, 25 g protein

This pasta dish is SOOOO good!  The recipe was fairly simple to make.  I ended up putting the veggies in a roasting dish that wasn't big enough to hold the pasta, too.  Instead of dirtying another dish, I added the veggies to the pasta on the stove and completed cooking it there rather than putting it in the oven.  As it states in the directions, the anchovies dissolve as you cook them so it didn't really even feel like I was eating them!  My family wouldn't have known either except for the smell that filled the kitchen (though my children are in that hormonal dramatic stage so their reaction was a tad exaggerated!).

Not interested in giving the anchovies a try?  No problem!  Ironically, my sister found this recipe at the same time and decided to try it, too.  We were talking about these fabulous new recipes we had tried and discovered that we both tried the same one.  Guess what?  She left out the anchovies!  Even without them, she enjoyed the dish as much as I did. 

Anchovies or not, this is a healthy yummy pasta recipe.  If you've never made anything with anchovies, I encourage you to experiment and give them a try!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

40 Days . . . Make That 38 Days . . . OK - I'm Shooting for 36!

Sometimes we have great ideas, great intentions of starting something, or great hopes of making a change, but then everyday life gets in the way.  We unexpectedly have to work late.  One of our children gets sick.  The pile of homework brought home resembles Mt. Everest.  Whatever "it" is, time runs out and our plans are shoved aside.  The old me would have thrown my hands up and with a huff of frustration saying, "There goes those plans out the window!  Just FORGET it!"  The new me looks at those situations and says, "OK, it didn't work out today.  What does tomorrow look like?"  Sometimes I have to look at tomorrow and the next tomorrow and the NEXT tomorrow, but the RIGHT tomorrow often comes and when  the time is right I'm ready to jump in.  That's exactly what has happened with my plans for Lent this year.

Though I have never participated in the practice of giving something up for Lent, I fell in love with an idea that I read about in Guidepost Magazine ( - 40 Days of Kindness.  Lent is about sacrifice.  Sacrifice doesn't always mean denying ourselves of something.  Sacrifice can be taking something that we have and giving it away - whether it's our time, our smile, our things . . . you get the idea.  Plus, there are MULTIPLE health benefits to doing good deeds such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, improving school performance, reducing chronic pain and more!  The website has a ton of information and a TON of ideas about good deed doing.  40 Days of Good Deeds - This seemed like the PERFECT project for The Jenkins Family! 

The night before the first day of Lent seemed like the perfect time for me to introduce this new project.  I selected one of my journals from my collection of blank journals (It's a bad habit - I can't pass a beautiful or colorful or sweet leather-smelling journal without buying it!  I already have enough to capture a lifetime of words and ideas, but I just can't stop myself from buying more!) for us to record our Good Deeds every evening.  I couldn't wait to see what ideas my family came up with of ways to give to others!  Tuesday arrived - I and was ready to share the idea with my family over dinner and kick-start our Good Deed Adventure on the first day of Lent. 

That's when the obstacles starting rolling my way.  Stomach Flu.  Piano lessons running late.  A Work day that would not end.  I'm picturing the final obstacle course on the TV show Wipeout when contestants are climbing up the ramp and large logs start rolling down toward them.  They either jump over them or get knocked into the freezing water below.  Needless to say, it's Saturday morning and the fourth day of Lent.  I've been knocked off course the last four nights, but I keep climbing up the ladder and facing the next log rolling my way.  I'm convinced that today is the day when I will get to share my idea with my family and we can kick-off our 40 . . . 36 Days of Good Deeds!   

There are two things that I hope you take away from reading about this experience of mine:

1) If you have an idea, a hope, a dream, an inspiration and an obstacle throws you off course, DON"T GIVE UP!  Try again tomorrow.  And if need be - the next tomorrow or the next tomorrow!  Trust me, the right tomorrow will come.  Two quotes that I love about perseverance:
Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.  - Thomas Edison
When the world says, “Give up,” Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”- Author Unknown
2) If you are feeling stressed out, over-whelmed or know that you need to do something to kick-start your Health Journey, I invite you to join me on this 36 Days of Good Deeds Adventure.  I obviously don't know the outcome, but I have a feeling that it's going to be AMAZING!  If 36 seems like too much, start with seven or even one!  I'll keep you posted on our Adventure.  Let me know if you start your own.

Happy Good Deed Doing!

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Favorite Heart Healthy Breakfast

Last week one of my residents (I work in a Senior Citizen Apartment building.) brought me the latest issue of Taste of Home Magazine.  He recently had a heart attack and purchased the magazine after seeing "Eat Your Heart Healthy" printed across the top.  As we reviewed the heart healthy recipes together one of them caught my eye - Brown Sugar & Banana Oatmeal.  One word . . . YUM!!!  I made it for my dinner that night and it's so simple to make that I've eaten it for breakfast every day since.  If you are a fan of oatmeal, you have to try this!

Brown Sugar & Banana Oatmeal
1 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 large ripe banana, sliced

Combine the milk and oatmeal.  Microwave for 2-1/2 minutes.  Stir in the brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and banana. 
215 calories, 2g fat, 3mg cholesterol, 71 mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 10g protein

February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease is the #1 killer among women.  Prior to starting my Fitness Journey I was living with many of the risk factors associated with heart disease - high blood pressure, overweight, being physically inactive, and family history.  One in four women will die from heart disease - I didn't want that to be me.  I don't want that to be you.  Check out for more information about heart disease and what you can do to prevent it.  And while you read it - enjoy a bowl of heart healthy oatmeal!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dessert with Breakfast???

My drive into work today started out as a torturous one!  The residents of the apartment building where I am a social worker had asked me to pick up donuts to go with our morning coffee.  So as I sat in Pittsburgh's nasty Parkway East traffic, I was stuck in a car filled with the amazing aroma of fresh baked donuts.  The one cup of bran flakes with skim milk I had had for breakfast was not helping me fight the desire to pull over, throw the lid off the top box and just devour those donuts.

Then the DJ shared a health tip that he had recently heard - Individuals trying to lose weight who had dessert with their breakfast lost more weight than those who did not.  WHAT?!?  The rationale actually did make sense to me.  1) Eating the dessert in the morning gave you the entire day to burn off the extra calories vs. eating dessert after dinner.  2) Eating dessert in the morning helped to satisfy one's sweet tooth rather than fighting the sweet tooth all day before eventually giving in to the craving and eating way more sweets than you should. 

I decided to put this tip to the test (after all - as my fellow Pittsburghers would all agree - Bubba from the 100.7FM morning show is a very reliable source!).  Earlier today I sat down with my residents and slowly ate a fluffy vanilla cake donut covered with chocolate frosting and pink sprinkles.  MMmmmmm . . . It was SO good!  I purposely savored every single bite.

Here we are several hours later after a day that included the Food Bank bringing several full-size sheet cakes from Sam Club in their monthly delivery, multiple trips past the vending machine and an extremely late lunch.  I truly have not been tempted once.  When I see the cakes or the vending machines I automatically think back to the donut I enjoyed earlier rather than fighting with myself about sneaking a bite or getting a snack.  On a day that would normally be filled with cravings, I haven't had a single one! 

I'll report back to let you know how the rest of my day goes, but so far so good!  I give this health tip a thumbs up!