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Best Diets for Losing Belly Fat

Winning the battle of the bulge (around the waist) is a goal for many people in the United States. We have become a sedentary, overweight nation and the quest for fat burning diets that work is a valid pursuit. Here are some top foods that you should incorporate into your daily diet as well as recipes that will help to get you slim and trim! Drink plenty of water and add in 45 minutes of exercise every other day and you will be looking in the mirror at a new figure.

1. Monounsaturated fats... moderation, are great for your system! This fat is found in avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, and dark chocolate and helps to reduce things like heart disease. Our body needs good fats to function, so this type is the one to eat within a balanced diet. You’ll find that you become full faster, have energy for your workouts, and have handy snacks around when you need a pick me up at 3pm while at work.

2. Whole grains...

...such as oatmeal and seed/grain breads will make a great breakfast that keeps hunger at bay and aids in digestion. Eating a breakfast of whole grains will help the pounds to melt off because you stay full longer, it’s nutritious, and it provides ample fuel so that your blood sugar and energy doesn’t drop part way to lunch and you end up snacking on unhealthy vending machine treats.

3. Protein shakes and smoothies...

...made with whey and protein powder are fabulous ways to drink down hunger and boost energy levels! Some think that protein shakes are only for athletes trying to pump up at the gym, but that’s simply not true. Have one as a midday snack and you will feel energized to get through the day and because many flavors can hide in a smoothie, toss in ample berries, some veggies like spinach, and oils like flaxseed oil and you will get down some of your necessary vegetable intake.

4. Egg whites...

...are a real treat and help to fight belly fat! They contain lots of protein and metabolize fat with vitamin B12. An egg-white omlet for breakfast with a small bowl of oatmeal and berries could be just the kickstart that you need for your day, acting as a better meal than a bagel and cream cheese or sugary cereals!

5. Lean protein meats and fish...

...will help your body to get trim because it takes more energy (fat burning energy) to process proteins than fat or carbohydrates. Fish like salmons and tuna, lean beef, and turkey are great ways to incorporate this into your diet.

6. Get those dairy products into your system!

Yogurts along with low fat or skim milks and cheeses can help to get your waist tight because calcium is a fat fighting super hero and can even prevent it from forming.

7. Tea... rich in antioxidants and fights off illness and pounds! Brew pitchers of iced tea to enjoy throughout the day or drink a couple of cups of hot tea and you’ll find that you are burning more calories than if you weren’t drinking the tea. There have been studies that show that people who drank tea about 4 times a day burned 260+ more calories a day than people who did not.

Now for some yummy recipes that are healthy and filling, which will get you going for your goal of a svelte figure.

Italian Zucchini Bake

1 can(s) (28-oz) diced, tomatoes
2 clove(s) (minced) garlic, or .25 tsp. garlic powder
2 tablespoon(s) (chopped) parsley, or 2 tsp. dried
2 teaspoon(s) (dried) basil
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/2 teaspoon(s) pepper
4 zucchini, about 1.25 lbs.
1/2 cup(s) (shredded) fat-free , mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup(s) (grated) Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine first seven ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer for 30 minutes.
Cut zucchini into ¼-inch-thick rounds and sprinkle with salt. Drain on paper towels while you heat an indoor grill or stove-top grill pan to medium-high.
Coat grill pan with nonstick cooking spray. Grill zucchini for 4 minutes, or until slightly softened, turning over halfway through.
Remove bay leaf from sauce and pour half the sauce into pie pan. Arrange half the zucchini slices on sauce. Top with ¼ cup mozzarella and 2 Tbsp. Parmesan. Repeat layers, using remaining sauce, zucchini and cheeses. Bake for 40 minutes, or until center is bubbly.

Spiced Shrimp over Rice

1 pound(s) (large ) shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoon(s) (ground) cumin
1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon(s) cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
1/4 teaspoon(s) pepper
1 cup(s) white rice, uncooked
1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
large yellow onion, diced
1 (orange) bell pepper , diced
1/2 cup(s) (golden) raisins
14 can(s) (diced) tomatoes, in juice
juice of 1 lemon


In a medium bowl, toss together shrimp, cumin, cinnamon, salt and pepper; set aside.
Cook rice as package directs.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and peppers, and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add shrimp and sauté 2 minutes, or until pink. Add raisins and tomatoes to skillet; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 3 to 4 minutes, or until shrimp is cooked through. Stir in lemon juice just before serving. Serve shrimp mixture over rice.

Protein Packed Breakfast Sandwich.

1 small turkey bacon
1 large egg
1 (whole-grain ) English muffin, split and toasted
1 slice(s) (fat-free) Cheddar cheese


Mist a small nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray; warm over medium-high heat. Add turkey bacon and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove bacon from pan; drain on paper towels.
In hot skillet, cook egg as desired. Place egg on one half of English muffin, top with cheese slice, bacon and remaining half of muffin.

Spinach and Chicken Casserole

2 cup(s) (cooked skinless) chicken breast, 2 cups cooked skinless chicken breast (10-oz. package cooked, diced
1 package(s) (10-oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup(s) (reduced-fat) sour cream
1/2 cup(s) (reduced-fat) mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon(s) (garlic) powder
1/2 teaspoon(s) black pepper
3/4 cup(s) (grated) Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup(s) (shredded, reduced fat) mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly coat an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine chicken and spinach in prepared dish. In bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.
Add about 1/4 of cheese mixture to pan with chicken and spinach; mix well and spread evenly in pan. Top with remaining cheese mixture.
Bake in center of oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes, or until top is nicely browned.

Shrimp and Spinach Pasta

6 clove(s) garlic
1 pound(s) shrimp, peeled and deveined
zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoon(s) (chopped) flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
4 teaspoon(s) (extra-virgin) olive oil
8 ounce(s) whole wheat pasta, such as rotini, penne or shells
6 ounce(s) (baby spinach) rinsed and patted dry
4 teaspoon(s) (grated ) Parmesan cheese, optional


Mince 4 cloves garlic. Mix garlic with shrimp, lemon zest, parsley and salt in a bowl; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Crush remaining garlic and combine with olive oil in small microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute.
Prepare pasta according to package directions.
Coat a large skillet with nonstick cooking spray and warm over medium-high heat. Add shrimp mixture, cooking shrimp about 3 minutes per side. Add spinach, drained pasta and oil mixture. Toss to combine; heat through. Serve immediately, topping with grated Parmesan if desired.

Meaty Pasta

1 pound(s) (90% lean) ground beef
1 pound(s) (Italian-style hot or sweet lean) turkey sausage , casings removed
2 clove(s) garlic, minced
2 teaspoon(s) (dried) oregano
1 cup(s) (diced) carrots, about 2 medium
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 whole(s) portobello mushrooms, chopped
1 can(s) (diced) tomatoes
1 jar(s) (26-oz) marinara sauce
1 pound(s) linguine


Warm a large skillet coated with olive oil-flavored nonstick cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and sausage to skillet along with garlic and oregano. Sauté until meat is no longer pink in middle, about 8 to 10 minutes, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon.
Add carrots and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Add zucchini, squash and mushrooms, and sauté for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables soften.
Add tomatoes and marinara sauce. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 to 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and toss with sauce in a large bowl.

Here’s to a skinny, healthier new you! Adding proper nutrients daily can help your body fight the fat for you!

5 Real Ways to Improve Your Immune System in a Month

Your body is one tough cookie, fighting off illness, staying functional, and being an overall well honed machine. Although it works very well through its own measures even without you paying super close attention to how, it does need help sometimes in building up its defenses. Here are some ways that will boost up your immunity:

1. Enjoy yourself.

Listening to your favorite music, hanging out with friends, and laughing a lot releases the body chemicals and anti-bodies that keep your body healthy and happy. Thinking positively also has the same effect, so trying to keep a bright outlook and cheerful mood will increase your chances of staying healthy.

2. Stay well rested!

Getting a good night’s sleep does more than help you keep bleary eyes at bay, it helps your body to fight off illness and remain balanced. Your skin fares better, mind becomes more focused, and the body works at its best!

3. Get outside.

Fresh air really does a body good! Walk your dog, play touch football with friends, chase your children around the park, just get out and enjoy the fresh air and get some exercise. These activities will not only help your weight stay stable, but will hinder the onset of illnesses because your body’s defenses will be stronger.

4. Eat right.

Having a balanced diet is your body’s best bet at functioning to optimal levels. Lemons and other citrus fruits are fantastic for the immune system, so adding oranges, grapefruits, and more to your diet will give you a tart kick to the day but also build up your immunity. Proteins are also useful for a stable diet and strong immunity as they supply important fuels to the body. Herbal supplements, teas rich in antioxidants, and leafy greens also create balance.

5. Stop smoking/drinking coffee.

Coffee can lead to dehydration and smoking is known to cause a plethora of harmful effects on the body, so stopping both habits will cause a surge in immunity boosting chemicals. Smoking suppresses white blood cells and the caffeine in coffee can deplete needed minerals! Increase water intake if you must have some caffeine.

A healthy body can be fully yours if you take the steps needed daily to boost up your immunity. Treat your body right and it will last you for as long as you live!

Top 10 Fitness Blogs to Bookmark in 2011

Working out in order to maintain a well conditioned body and physical appearance is important for overall health.  Many people have taken to the internet in order to share their tips and experiences with one another via fitness blogs.  Ordinary people, fitness gurus, runners, marathon participants, swimmers, gym enthusiasts all come together on the internet and have their voices heard.  Here are some of the top fitness blogs from 2010 that you should watch for in 2011.

1. Toni, Ashley, and Stacey run this fun blog that issues fitness challenges, shows workout images, shows running fashion/gear, gives advice on good workout songs to get you moving, and shows the journey of women who want to get healthy and in shape.

2. Ross Enamait is the brains and brawn behind this manly fitness site.  Bulk up and make those muscles swell with his techniques and videos.  He has a background of training athletes for events and personal training, so his content rich site specializes in making videos and posts showing him training people and using the techniques that he speaks of and showing that he lives the life that he is promoting (a healthy, athletic life).

3. Fitness pro Sarah Rippel is a personal trainer with a toned, buff yet feminine body who showcases ab workouts, videos, pictures and more on her totally fitness addicted blog.  She has a true passion for getting in shape that shows through her writing and workouts, the excitement for honing out a terrific shape is all too present!

4. Ben has lost an astonishing 120 pounds after making a promise to his grandmother to get his life and body in order.  The blog shows his love for fitness, weightloss journey, and how he’s gone on to run marathons and even complete an Ironman.  Ben Does Life and you can keep up with him!

5. Follow the personal journey of Syl, who has run her way from 220 pounds to 142 pounds!  Two pregnancies caused her to gain weight to what she’s always considered a “chubby” frame at 160 pounds 5’4” and one day just got tired so she took off running in the middle of winter and hasn’t looked back.  Check out her fitness tips, marathon updates, and down to earth life updates.

6. Carla Birnberg is a personal trainer and bodybuilder who has shared her fitness techniques on her popular website since 2007.  Her posts show how to get the kids and any partners involved with working out, how to maintain a great figure, and her daily regimen served up with a great sense of humor and self.

7. This is THE fitness blog to know, with tons of tips and informative articles done in a no-nonsense approach.  Learn correct form, important nutrional information, healthy weight plans, and amazing fitness techniques from the fitness brain of Brad Schoenfeld.

8. Tricia whittled her body down from a size 24 to a 4 by becoming conscious of the proportions of her food and learning to love to run.  She showcases her running tips, marathons, along with the adorable progress that she makes with her 3 year old son and teaching him to love running.  He’s even done marathons too!

9. Being a mom doesn’t have to get in the way of having a fit, toned body and Lisa who is a mommy/personal trainer helps women to fit in fitness along with healthy eating and maintaining a balanced life through the hectic happenings of having children.  Get gadget reviews, workout tips, and healthy recipes from Lisa.

10. 22 year old Katie has lost 50 pounds and maintains that loss with healthy eating and a love of exercise that she showcases on her blog.  The blog shows her races and the buildup/training that precedes each race along with yummy foods/recipes meant to nourish and fuel the body while tasting good.

Whether you are a buff already and looking to communicate with other fitness fans or a newbie that wants to lose some weight, there are fitness blogs catering to many different age ranges and fitness levels.  Hopefully these help you on your search for good fitness reading material!

Also, if you live in Chicago and fell victim to sports-related injury, check out our Chicago chiropractic services.

Best Foods for Athletes

Training your body into a well honed machine is a task that requires major attention to detail when it comes to nutrition and a fitness regimen.  There are foods that work for maintaining a lean physique, foods that fuel you for a long game or for endurance, and foods that help to pack on muscles if that is the desired outcome.  Just what are these needed foods?  Let’s look at some now!

1. Almond Butter

This food is great for endurance and awesome as a healthy substitute for peanut butter.  Eaten on toast or with bananas, it is packed full of calcium, potassium, fiber, and protein.

2. Dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt)

These have a great amount of calcium, which forms strong bones that in turn aren’t as susceptible to injury or being broken.  Don’t consume this right before an event, it’s more something to have as a part of your daily diet so that you can reap the benefits.

3. Salmon

Omega fatty acids from this fish will protect your cardiovascular health for athletic events and burns excess fat while maintaining your muscles.  As a rich source of protein, it will fuel your body just right for a race without making you sluggish!

4. Vegetables rich in iron

Having the right balance of iron within your system will pump energy throughout your body and restock the iron that is depleted from your body while exercising.  Stamina is amped up while fatigue is diminished by consuming vegetables such as chick peas, broccoli, and spinach, all of which contain great amounts of iron.

5. Bananas

Potassium speeds up recovery when working out and not having enough in your system could lead to muscle cramps but be sure not to over indulge in potassium because it can lead to a heart attack.

6. Oatmeal

By eating oatmeal before a sporting event, an athlete would get a surge of energy from the complex carbohydrates and because it is easily digestible, it wouldn’t slow down the body.

7. Quinoa

Packed full of nutrients, this is considered to be a powerful super food!  Athletes have been using it since ancient times in order to fuel the body for endurance.  The reason that it is called a super food is because it contains protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and iron along with all 9 essential amino acids!

For anyone trying to race, compete, or do anything at all athletic, these aforementioned foods will have you in great shape and are perfect for building up a well maintained physique.

Top 10 Health Blogs to Bookmark in 2011

Achieving optimal health is a worthy pursuit and many people document their journeys to healthy bodies on well done blogs.  Here are some of the blogs that you should check out in 2011 in order to get your health in order and find support through like minded people.

1. This is an incredibly resourceful site that shows recipes and marvelous articles such as how dairy can affect insulin, the importance of fitness for the elderly, workouts of the week, and just generally sage advice that will create a better you.  Daily bites from this apple will keep you in sound physical and mental shape.

2. Roni has lost 70 pounds through blogging and shares her health, fitness, and diet tips.  Now pregnant, she focuses on remaining healthy for herself and the baby and shows how you can be a healthy fit mommy as well.

3. A hilarious food and nutrition blog that’s about “finding balance between fitness and your greedy side”.  This mother of 4 tests out health foods and rates their yum factor and price effectiveness while also giving fitness tips and up to date articles about fitness that she finds interesting.

4. Wanting to stay healthy doesn’t have an age limit and this 65 year old has created a great blog showing that being fit after 40 is very possible.  He talks about health issues that arise with age such as arthritis and how different diets affect your metabolism and figure when older.

5. Body image, self esteem, and mental health are the main topics of this wonderful blog.  Learn to love yourself, how you look, and figure out that you are worthy with much to offer the world!

6. This blog is hard on the food industry and gets you to really look and pay attention to what you are putting into your mouth and consuming.  It sheds light on consumer product claims and shows that losing weight is hard but doable, even after age 45.

7. Touted as the “natural health critic”, this blogger investigates alternative health remedies, shows the benefits of certain foods and vitamins, shares wisdom about health issues, and interviews health specialists.

8. Fashionable health gear, numerous workouts, food/drink tips and much more are seen on this site for the savvy sassy fitness lady.  It’s like hanging out with your girlfriends and dishing to each other about staying healthy.

9. Like your health facts served up very professionally and like they are coming at you from a doctor?  This is the site for you then!  Learn about cholestrol, cardiovascular health, treating things like snoring, and clearing acne.

10. Nutraceutical researcher Jon Barron covers how to do healthy detoxes, anti-aging tips, weight loss, digestive health, and more.

Whether young or old, male or female, there are blogs that will suit your fitness needs.  No matter if you are already fit and want camaraderie or a newbie to fitness and need a helping start, these blogs can ensure that you are at your healthiest!

5 Healthiest and Most Fund Winter Activities

It’s quite easy to become sedentary and a homebody in the winter, trying to keep warm from the icy winds and cold snow.  Staying healthy and active in this type of weather for those who don’t like the cold can be a pain, but there are so many wonderful activities that will keep you in good shape mentally and physically while utilizing the winter wonderland of snow.

1. Go on a romantic skiing trip with a lover.

The romance prompted from cuddling on the ski lifts, learning the slopes together, and curling up with hot chocolate at the lounge afterwards in front of the fireplace is sure to light some sparks that will keep you and your sweetie mighty toasty!  Bundle up and have fun learning how to ski or sharpening your skills if you already know how to and then spend the evenings warming together.  Rent a cozy cabin and make use of the hot tubs that are generally found there!

2. Have winter fun with your kids outdoors by building a snow fortress and having a snowball fight, sledding, building a snowman, or making snow angels together in the piles of lush white snow.

Running around outdoors for a bit while wearing warm clothing and protective gloves and hats will keep you and your family active and spending quality time together!  Have some apple cider or hot chocolate hot and ready to drink when the fun time is over and the whole family will remember those good time memories.

3. Ice skating!

This winter activity can be done solo, with a friend or lover, or with the whole family.  Swirling and twirling on the ice could be a fun game where you could race each other, play hockey, or learn to do tricks such as figure 8s on the ice.  You won’t even notice how many calories you are burning because of how much fun you are having!  It’s great exercise and a way to utilize the great fun of winter.

4. Get a Wii Fit or Xbox Kinect.

These video game consules are good for those extra cold days where no one wants to leave the house and lets you still have the fun of playing a video game but also burns calories like a workout.  Instead of completely vegging out in front of the television or playing a normal video game sitting down, why not participate and bowl, box, kickbox, and dance your way to a lean healthy body?  No one will even notice that they are doing a workout because they’ll be too busy trying to top each other’s high scores!

5. Stay in bed!

Catching up on beauty rest is good for the soul so why don’t you relax a bit more when you can and recuperate with a comfortable day under the covers.  Getting enough sleep wards off colds, helps your immune system, and rejuvenates the body.  If you have a romantic partner, there’s no reason that a workout activity to burn calories can’t be included in the plans!

Winter doesn’t have to mean boring days of being couped up inside and sick.  Workout by having fun in the snow, play sports outside that only can be done in the cold weather, or snuggle up inside with the heat on to stay well and mentally sound.  Have a safe winter!

10 Tips to Not Gain Weight During the Holidays

Gaining weight over the holiday season from November through January is a long running tradition that doesn’t have to be in your future.  There are ways to stay on track and keep up the hard work that you’ve been doing throughout the year to lose and maintain the proper weight.  A couple of big meals needn’t completely throw you off track if you plan ahead and stay smart with your choices; here are 10 tips to help you stay svelte and healthy.

1. Keep track of what you eat by writing it down which makes you hold yourself more accountable for eaten items and also helps you to remember exactly what you ate.  Don’t skip putting down the samples that you noshed in the store or the glass of wine that you sipped while decorating the tree!  Every calorie counts.

2. Plan your meals ahead of time.  If you know that you love grandma’s famous sweet potato casserole swimming in butter, sugar, and marshmallows, allow yourself to have some but plan to only eat a little and keep the goal of loading up on other veggies in mind that are a bit more healthy.  By planning out the meal (such as thinking ahead to having a slice of turkey, three scoops of green beans, a dollop of dressing, and a spoon of sweet potato casserole) then you feel more empowered and have something to stick to, instead of just winging it and hoping for the best.  You can look up the calories in the planned foods ahead of time to really let you know where your goal intake should be. is a great resource to track calories.

3. Keep active!  Yes, running around shopping is a good way to burn calories, but also keep to a fitness schedule such as a workout dvd or 30 minutes on the elliptical.  This way you won’t feel so bad about an extra scoop of ice cream on top of Uncle Henry’s amazing 7-Up cake.  If super busy, write in exercise on your schedule like you would everything else that you are doing and then you may be better motivated to stick to your schedule if working out is actually IN the schedule.

4. Substitute in some low fat/low calorie ingredients to old family classics.  Test out the recipes before hand and see where corners could be cut and a bit of fat could be left out.  Most old school recipes that are passed down were not created with fitness and health in mind, such as creamy homemade frostings or rich home recipe side dishes, but some can be updated for a more health conscious mind-frame, like

5. Watch drink consumption!  This doesn’t mean just alcohol, but all drinks!  A lot of people count calories and completely forget to add in the yummy ginger ale punch from Aunt Ruth or the holiday cocktails that were consumed.  Another reason to keep alcohol consumption low is that when inebriated, you may decide to eat things that you wouldn’t have sober, such as a huge piece of cake because you are drunk and it’s in front of you.

6. Share the wealth!  If you find that there are too many tempting treats in your house at holiday time, take some to work or parties that you are invited to.  Someone gave you a box of chocolate to be kind, but you paying it forward by letting your coworkers intake some (most) of the box is a win win for everyone!

7. Pack healthy snacks while holiday shopping because being tempted towards an ooey-gooey Cinnabon is so easy when you haven’t eaten all day.  Instead, have trail mix, carrot sticks, or an apple in your purse so that you can still snack on something without throwing away all of your hard work.

8. Drink plenty of water so that you stay hydrated and also curb your appetite.  If you drink water before and during a meal, you are less likely to overeat because you will get full faster.

9. Refrain from skipping meals in order to save calories for a later feast where you overeat.  The body isn’t made for that gameplan, so it will only backfire by holding on to calories from a meal that it can’t use as fuel all at once because your metabolism is slow from not eating all day.

10. Slow down, savor the meal, enjoy the friends and family that you are surrounded by.  If you are busy talking and slowly eating to appreciate the full flavors, then you are allowing your body to know when it is full and has had enough.

Happy holidays!

Top 10 Vegetarian Recipes for The Holidays

Celebrating the holidays with vegetarian fare doesn’t have to mean only eating the green bean casserole with a bit of cranberry sauce on the side!  There are sumptuous eats that will make other guests forget that there is no meat involved and allow the vegetarians to feast along with everyone else on warm, hearty food for the holidays!  Here are some awesome recipes to bring to the Christmas table and start some new holiday eats traditions:

1. Baked Polenta with Asiago and Mushoom Sauce

6 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups polenta-style (coarse) corn meal
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese - divided use

1 (approximately 8-ounce) jar roasted red bell peppers, drained
1 pound medium mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (16-ounce) jar fresh-style spaghetti sauce
1 cup water
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley

  1. For Polenta: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
  2. Bring the water to a boil; add the salt. Add the cornmeal slowly, stirring constantly. Cook, continuing to stir, until the polenta begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Stir in half of the cheese.
  3. Pour into a buttered 8x8-inch baking pan. Bake until firm, about 35 minutes.* Cool for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese after 25 minutes. While the polenta bakes, make the sauce.
  4. For Sauce: Puree the peppers in a food processor or blender; reserve.
  5. Over high heat, brown the mushrooms in oil. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and reserve.
  6. In the same pan, place the reserved pepper sauce, spaghetti sauce, water, and rosemary. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. Stir in the reserved mushrooms and the parsley.
  7. To serve, cut the polenta into pieces; serve topped with the sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

2. Cheese and Spinach Soufflé Squares

3 tablespoons grated Wisconsin Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup sour cream
7 large egg yolks
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Wisconsin Sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Wisconsin Parmesan cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach
7 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  1. Generously butter a 13x9 inch baking dish. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over bottom of baking dish.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour, salt and pepper. Cook and stir mixture until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in sour cream. Heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat again.
  3. Beat egg yolks until thick and lemon-colored. Stir 1/4 cup sauce into egg yolks. Stir yolk mixture back into sauce. Add cheeses, mixing until well-blended.
  4. Cook spinach according to package directions. Drain and squeeze out excess liquid. Stir into cheese mixture. Cover and set aside.
  5. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar; beat until stiff but not dry.
  6. Stir about 1 cup of egg whites into cheese mixture. Gently fold mixture into remaining egg whites.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  8. Bake at 350°F (175°C) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until knife inserted halfway between edge and center comes out clean. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

2. Deep-Fried Tofurky

1 Tofurky roast
2 Tbsp. melted margarine
3-4 Tbsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning
Peanut oil for frying

• Thaw the Tofurky according to package directions.
• Bake, covered in foil, in a 300°F oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and remove the foil.
• Spread with the margarine and sprinkle liberally with the seasoning. Fry in a deep fryer for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

3. Vegetarian Lentil Loaf "Meatloaf" with Oats Recipe

Serves: 6
Preparation time: 10 minutes to prepare and 30-40 minutes to cook.
This version of Lentil Loaf is a classic. It's high in protein, yet free from soy. It is flavourful and has a lovely texture - this loaf is a perfect starter vegetarian dish. Appreciate lentil loaf for its unique taste - it doesn't try to copy the flavour of meat.
Because Vegetarian Meatloaf is smaller than a turkey, there is plenty of room left in the oven for roasting vegetable side dishes like sweet potatoes, turnip, or squash.

  • 1 (19 oz.) can lentils, drained, rinsed, and slightly mashed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 cup rolled oats (quick or large flake)
  • ¾ cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ – 2/3 cup spaghetti sauce or barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ – 1/2 tsp. salt
  • ¼ tsp. black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix lentils, onion, oats, and cheese in a large bowl and mix well.
  3. Add the beaten egg and mix well.
  4. Add the sauce, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour/scrape the lentil mixture in. Even out the top surface with a spatula or fork.
  6. Bake uncovered 30-40 minutes or until top is golden and crispy.
  7. Let cool at least 5 minutes.
  8. Turn out onto serving platter and garnish with parsley, if desired.

4. Vegetable Lasagna

1 package (about 8 ounces) dry lasagna noodles
4 carrots (about 3/4 pounds total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 zucchini (about 1 pound total), cut into 1/4-inch slices
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1/2 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon each dry basil, dry thyme, and dry oregano
1 (30-ounce) jar marinara sauce
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 cups (12-ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. In a large pan, bring 3 quarts water to boil over high heat. Add noodles and carrots; cook for 6 minutes. Add zucchini; continue to cook until noodles are barely tender to bite, about 4 more minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Set noodles, carrots, and zucchini aside, keeping noodles and vegetables separate.
  2. In pan used to cook noodles, combine oil, onion, mushrooms, basil, thyme and oregano. Cook over high heat, stirring often, until onion is soft and liquid has evaporated, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in marinara sauce.
  3. In another small bowl, mix spinach and ricotta cheese.
  4. Spread a third of the sauce over bottom of a shallow 2 1/2 to 3-quart baking dish. Arrange half the noodles over sauce. Over noodles, evenly layer half each of the carrots, zucchini, spinach mixture and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers, ending with sauce.
  5. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate until next day, if desired.)
  6. Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, uncovered, in a 400°F (205°C) oven until lasagna is bubbly and heated through, about 25 minutes. If refrigerated, bake, uncovered, in a 350°F (175°C) oven until bubbly and heated through, about 50 minutes.
  7. Let lasagna stand for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

5. Cream of Pumpkin Soup Topped with Curried Pecans

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecan pieces
1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion. Cover and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the curry powder and the pumpkin puree, then whisk in the broth until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of the maple syrup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to develop, stirring occasionally.
2. While the soup is simmering, make the curried pecans. In a small bowl, combine the pecan pieces with the remaining maple syrup and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining curry powder, tossing to coat. Place the pecans in a small baking dish and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, use an immersion blender to puree the soup right in the pot. Otherwise, transfer the soup to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Stir back into the pot. Return the soup to the stovetop, turning the heat to low. Whisk in the coconut milk, taste to adjust seasonings. Heat until hot, do not boil. Serve the soup garnished with the pecans.

6. Citrusy Root Vegetable Puree

2 pounds celery root (celeriac), trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 lemon
1 orange
4 tablespoons margarine or butter
1 teaspoon salt
1. In covered 4-quart saucepan, place celery root, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and enough water to cover; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 to 18 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Drain vegetables in colander.
2. Meanwhile, from lemon, squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. From orange, with zester, remove as many slivers of peel as possible for garnish; squeeze 2 tablespoons juice.
3. In batches, transfer vegetables to food processor with knife blade attached; puree until smooth. Return puree to same saucepan. Stir in lemon and orange juices, margarine, and salt; reheat. (If you prefer a chunky texture, return vegetables to same saucepan after draining and mash with potato masher until desired consistency.)
4. To serve, spoon puree into serving bowl; garnish with orange-peel slivers.

7. Basmati Rice Pudding

3/4 cup white basmati rice
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
4 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
1 slightly heaping tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
pinch of fine sea salt
1. Combine 1 1/2 cups water, the rice, and the salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over very low heat 8 to 9 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Check frequently and stir to make sure it doesn't stick. Add 3 1/2 cups of the soy milk and the sugar. Continue simmering on very low heat for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is soft and most of the milk absorbed. You want a spongy texture, with no bite. Remove the rice from the heat.
2. Pour 1/4 cup of the remaining soy milk into a bowl and whisk in the cornstarch to dissolve. Add the vanilla extract and cardamom. Pour the cornstarch-milk mixture along with the remaining 3/4 cup soy milk into the hot pudding and stir to combine. Add a pinch of salt. Serve warm or at room temperature.

8. Carrot Pistachio Cupcakes

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon fresh-grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 cups grated carrots
1 1/2 cups chopped dried apricots
1 1/2 cups chopped pistachios
4 large organic eggs
1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2 cup organic milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1. Make the batter: Heat oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line an 8-cup muffin pan and set aside. Combine the flour, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice in a large bowl. Toss the carrots, apricots, and nuts in the flour mixture and set aside. Whisk together the eggs, olive oil, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl and add to the flour mixture. Stir until just combined. Transfer 3 cups of batter to each cake pan and 1/4 cup batter to each cupcake liner. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean - about 40 minutes for cakes and 20 minutes for cupcakes. Cool cakes in the pans on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Release cakes from pans and cool completely on the rack. If freezing, skip to Step 2. Frost with your favorite icing.
2.To freeze: Double-wrap the cake layers in plastic wrap or place each one in a large resealable plastic bag, removing excess air. Place cupcakes in a plastic container with an airtight lid and freeze for up to 2 months.

9. Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie


  • 1 1/2 cups low-sodium mushroom broth
  • 1/3 cup dry red wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, and cut into large dice
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds cremini mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and small dice
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and small dice
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and small dice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 cup whole milk


In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, wine, tomato paste, and flour until evenly combined and smooth. Stir in dried mushrooms and set aside to reconstitute, at least 30 minutes. Strainmushrooms before using, reserving liquid.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with heavily salted water by 2 inches. Bring potatoes to a boil and cook until fork tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Heat the oven on broil and place a rack in the upper third. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven (or oven-ready saucepan) over medium-high heat. When it foams, add half the mushrooms and cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and set aside. Repeat to cook off remaining mushrooms.

Return pan to stove over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter, onion, celery, and garlic, and cook until softened and golden, about 2 minutes. Add celery root, carrot, parsnip, andherbs, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook until browned and softened, about 6 minutes.

Add wine mixture to pan and deglaze by stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Let cook until simmering and slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved mushrooms and any juices that have accumulated and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve in pan.

When potatoes are ready, drain well. Return to pan and mash until uniformly smooth. Fold in remaining 2 tablespoons butter and milk, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If necessary, keep warm over low heat.

Dot potatoes over vegetable mixture and spread to edges of pan to cover completely. Rough up the surface of the potatoes so there are bits that will get browned and crunchy. Bake until top is golden, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve.

10. Tofu Peanut Butter Pie


  • 16 ounces soft (silken) tofu
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 pre-made pie crust


Combine the tofu, peanut butter, sugar, soy milk and vanilla in a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.  Spoon into the pie shell. Refrigerate at least 2 hours and serve.

We hope that you and your family enjoy the yummy treats shown here today!  Happy holidays and eat well.

6 No-No’s of Dieting

Weight loss is an ever present goal for many people and with that goal in mind, they fall into fad diets, yo-yo diets, healthy lifestyle changes, and many other means to reach that end.  On the road to losing weight, there are certain dieting no-nos that will be detrimental to achieving long-term weightloss and health.  Wonder just what those no-nos are?

  1. NO mindless snacking - people often eat absentmindedly in front of the television or computer and it adds up to over eating!  Snacking without paying attention can equal devouring an entire bag of chips when only 1/4th of the bag was the caloric goal.  As well, eating without hunger as the motivation can wreak havoc on a diet. Bored eating or emotional eating will lead to weight gain instead of loss.
  2. NO sabotage/Have the right team of support for your diet - friends and family around you that will encourage your efforts and won’t sabotage what you are doing.  The right team will try and workout with you, keep an eye on your snacking or “bad foods” intake, and applaud when you reach goals!
  3. NO out of control proportions - when dining out, have the restaurant pack up half of the meal before it even comes to you because proportions at restaurants are too large these days.  Make sure that the dining plates at your own home are small/medium in size so that you don’t overeat and have half of the plate be vegetables.
  4. NO unrealistically strict diet plans - you won’t stick to your diet or make the needed LIFESTYLE changes if you build up a diet that is impossible to maintain.  Figure out a plan that works for your life and then stick to it, with sporadic treats so that you aren’t mentally miserable on the mission to healthy living.
  5. NO starving yourself - trying to starve for weight loss will have the opposite effect and make you gain more rapidly once normal eating commences and your body will hold on to any food.  Keep snacks such as baby carrots, trail mix, celery sticks, peanut butter and crackers, or other healthy treats with you to munch on through out the day.
  6. NO giving up - it didn’t take a month to gain the weight so don’t beat yourself up if it takes more than a month to lose it.  Realistic goals will be key to ensuring that you can go the distance with your diet plan.  Know that you’ll have to workout, you will have to change your eating habits, but most importantly, you’ll have to change your mindset.  Slipping up every now and again is inevitable, but get back on track and your svelte healthy figure will be an amazing reward!

Immune System Booster Foods

With the changing of the seasons from warm summer to cool fall and cold winter, comes the chance for the flu and other sicknesses to create havoc in your body.  Pumping up the immune system with foods rich in vitamins and antioxidants are the best way to fight off colds, protect your body from the flu, and stay your healthy self throughout the season.  Here’s a listing of our top 10 immunity boosting foods that will help you to power through:

1. Oranges...

Are mother nature’s power fruit!  They are rich in immunity boosting vitamin c, potassium, vitamin B6, and flavonoids.

2. Carrots...

are a super helpful vegetable that build up infection fighting cells within the body because of beta carotene.  Not only will they help guard against colds and the flu, eating carrots often can protect against cancer!  They stimulate macrophages which makes it produce a cancer fighting agent.

3. Garlic...

Doesn’t just ward off vampires, it wards off illness too!  The garlic juice has amazing immunity boosting qualities, so have plenty of pasta and soups loaded with garlic and a side of garlic bread.

4. Pasta & Bread...

Wait, what? Yes, speaking of pasta and bread, many grains contain vitamin E that will boost your system's defenses.

5. Broccoli...

Your mom was right when she told you to eat your Broccoli, it really does help immensely with the immune system and can be added to many dishes from salads to omelets.

6. Fat Free Yogurt...

When eaten daily, it can supply your system with a fighting squad of live bacterias and immune boosting nutrients to get you through the cold season.  The vitamin D that it contains can knock a cold right out.

7. Almonds...

They are a great snack to help build up your immunity.  They contain zinc and proteins which will help to fight infection through the white blood cells.

8. 100% Fruit Juice...

Drinking 100% fruit juice will also give you the nutrients that your body needs and makes a great alternative to sodas.

9. Flax seed oil...

It has omega-3 which the body’s immune system loves.  This can be added to oatmeal or smoothies.

10. Ginger root...

It is fabulous not only in cocktails, but also if you have unfortunately come down with a cold. Ginger kick-starts sweating and lowers feelings of nausea.

There you are, the complete arsenal of foods to have that will get you through the flu season.  Keep hand sanitizer around and healthy foods in your belly and you just may achieve a sickness free winter!

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