Category Archives: Healthy Living

Everything you want to know about how I live healthy 85% of the time. Tips and tricks on what you can do to stay healthy—while staying happy!

Short Rib-Turkey Chili

Short Rib-Turkey Chili platedIn the beginning of June, I received an email from Miner Family Winery about a chili cook-off. Since I was about one year into my blog and creating recipes each month, I thought I would challenge myself and give the competition a try.  I had never entered a competition like this before.  The only requirements were that the recipe had to be submitted by a specific date and the recipe had to use one of Miner’s wines.  I love chili and I love spice, but I did not have an old standby chili recipe and I had never made chili with wine before.

So after some thought into what would make for a good chili made with wine, I decided on short ribs and ground turkey.  Yes, this recipe definitely falls into the “naughty” category, as short ribs and healthy don’t kind of mix… but short ribs do make for a very tasty chili.  I used Miner’s Odyssey wine in this chili; it’s a Rhone style red wine.  It worked really well with the short ribs.  Well enough to win third place in the cook-off! The prize was a magnum of Miner’s Rosato wine.

Short Rib-Turkey Chili Dried Entero Chili PeppersThis “award-winning” chili is made with a variety of chilies:  jalapeños, California chili powder, cayenne chili powder, paprika.  The jalapeños and cayenne provide a really good amount of heat.  Dried California entero peppers are also added, rounding out the chilies and the dish. These peppers do not provide much heat, but they add a lot of body to the chili.  Whole pods are cooked in the chili and then halfway through the cooking stage, the peppers (minus the stems) are puréed with some cooking liquid and then added back to the chili pot and mixed through. I use 2 big peppers or 3 small peppers for this recipe.  If you cannot get the dried California entero pepper pods, you may substitute them with Guaijillo chilies,  which are a bit spicier so you may need to watch the heat. You can also buy California entero chilies online.

Short Rib-Turkey Chili with Dried California Entero PeppersEnglish-cut short ribs are used for this recipe.  The meat is diced into 1/8 pieces prior to cooking to  This helps the short rib meat blend with the ground turkey so that each bit has both types of meat. To prepare the short ribs, trim the fat and slice the meat off the bones.  Then dice the short rib meat into about 1/8″ pieces.  Reserve the bones, as they will be added to the pot to flavor the chili.

Short Rib-Turkey Chili with Dried California Entero PeppersTaking the up front in browning and belying if the short ribs, turkey and peppers and onions will help keep the chili consistent and balanced with turkey and short ribs in each bite.  Add the short rib pieces to the heavy pot and sauté for 2 minutes over medium heat, until meat is brown.  Add the green bell pepper, jalapeños, and onions to the pot and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the spices and mix through thoroughly and sauté for 2 more minutes. Then, add the ground turkey and mix through thoroughly breaking up the turkey so that they turkey combines with the rib pieces and the onion and peppers.  Sauté for another 5-7 minutes until the turkey is browned.  Then add the wine, coffee and tomato sauce and mix through add the dried California entero peppers and add the short torn bones and submerge I to the liquid.  Cover pot and simmer, mixing though occasionally.

Short Rib-Turkey Chili with Dried California Entero PeppersAfter about an hour and a half, discard the short rib bones, and take the California entero peppers out of the pot, discard the stems (note, the stems may have separated form cooking so you may have to dig for them in the pot), and place the peppers with about a cup to a cup and a half of cooking liquid to a blender and purée.  Add the purée back into the pot and mix through. Then add the masa harina (a finely ground corn flour used in authentic Mexican dishes), mixed with warm water, and the cocoa powder to the pot and mix through, cover and simmer for another hour and a quarter to an hour and a half.  To serve, garnish with sour cream, which balances the richness of the short ribs really well and tempers the heat.Short Rib-Turkey Chili with Dried California Entero PeppersShort Rib-Turkey Chili with Dried California Entero Chilies


2 lbs English cut short ribs

2 lbs ground turkey – dark meat

1.5 tablespoons cumin

1.5 tablespoons dried California chili powder

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon paprika

2 large jalapeños (or 3-4 small), stem removed and diced with seeds

1 onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 ¾ cups Rhone style wine

2 8 oz cans tomato sauce

1/2 cup brewed coffee

2 dried California entero chilies (or 3 small ones)

1 cup water with 3 tablespoons masa harina

2 teaspoons cocoa powder

1 15oz can of pinto beans, less sodium

Trim top layer of fat off of short ribs and slice the meat of the bones and dice the meat into very small pieces – about 1/8” in size. Reserve bones, to add when cooking the chili. Combine cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, paprika in a bowl and set aside. Add short rib meat to a Dutch oven on medium-high heat and sauté 2 minutes, until meat is browned. Add the diced onion, green bell pepper and jalapeno peppers to the pot, mix through and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the spice mixture and mix through and sauté 2 more minutes. Add ground turkey and mix though thoroughly so that the turkey and short rib combine with the onions and peppers in small pieces. Mixing thoroughly for about 5-7 minutes until al the turkey is browned. Then, add the wine, coffee and tomato sauce, and mix through. Add the California entero peppers and the bones from the ribs and submerge the peppers and bones into the liquid. Cover and cook on a simmer for 1.25-1.5 hours.

Take out the California entero chilies from the pot, discard the stems and place the peppers with about 1 -1 ½ cups of cooking liquid into a blender and puree. Add pureed mixture back to pot and mix through. Add 3 tablespoons of masa harina to one cup of warm water mix until combined and smooth, then add to the pot along with 2 teaspoons of cocoa powder and the beans, and mix everything through. Cover and simmer for another 75-90 minutes.  Serve with sour cream on the side.

Makes about 10 cups, serving 6-10

Fab 5: Healthy Food List

It’s January. The time of year when we remember just how well we celebrated the holidays by the fit of our clothes. And, we make resolutions to be healthier and leaner.  I am all for doing whatever it takes to get the motivation to live a healthier life.

Since I have launched this blog, I have written about workout programs, calorie-trackers and eating guidelines that help me to continuously live and eat healthy. In the spirit of the New Year, here are my top 5 foods that help me maintain eating healthy week in and week out.  These are food that I have come to love and believe in for helping me eat healthy, maintain calorie control and feel satisfied.

Almonds/Almond Butter

amond butter w alm

A handful of almonds go a very long way.  Nine clinical studies have shown that almonds help lower cholesterol when part of a diet low in saturated fat. Almonds, high in monounsaturated fats, also help reduce the risk of heart disease. They are great as a snack, and I sometimes chop them up and put them in my oatmeal.  But most often, I eat almonds in the form of Almond Butter – 1 tablespoon on a rice cake for breakfast. It’s filling, healthy and makes for a low-calorie breakfast.


BeansBeans are high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper and zinc. Studies show that eating beans regularly may decrease the risk of diabetes, heart disease, colorectal cancer. (dr oz) I eat beans 4-5 times a week.  I put them in my salads (garbanzo, northern, kidney and black beans) about a half a cup for a serving, and make bean-based soups.  Not only are they healthy, but they are hearty, leaving me full. I often add pumpkin seeds or other nuts to my salad or soup to help make it a complete protein meal, such as my lentil soup with mushrooms and pepitos.

Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes    

lundberg rice cake

For this one, I named a brand rather than just including brown rice cakes.  It’s because I love these organic gluten-free rice cakes more so than other brands because they are sturdier, tighter packed and can therefore hold toppings better, even wet toppings like tuna salad.  This is my personal view (I’m not collecting money to say this).  Since Lundberg’s are tighter packed, they contain more calories than the lighter ones but they are also more filling.


salmon en papillote garlic

I make a concerted effort to eat fish several times a week because fish offers high protein at fewer calories than other animal proteins and there are great health benefits. Research, published in The Annals of Internal Medicine, suggests that eating oily fish once or twice a week may increase your lifespan. Salmon, in particular, is considered an oily fish and one that is very high in omega-3 fats, which have been shown to reduce heart disease.  Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids may help with other conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and many more.  I often poach salmon, bake it in a roasting pan or en papillote – steamed in parchment paper (see recipe).   

Sweet Potatoes


Sweet potatoes are a true super food so it’s no wonder they make my top 5 healthy food list.  They’re filling, healthy, gluten-free and high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B6 and C.  When cooked well, they are naturally sweet and moist and require no butter or anything.  Just wash them, wrap them in foil and bake in a 400° oven until they are soft.  It takes a while – depending on size, it can be 1-1 ½ hours. Because they take so long to bake and a microwave doesn’t do them justice, I often make them on a weekend and keep them in the refrigerator for eating later in the week.  I’ll eat them at room temperature at lunch or heat them up for dinner.

Another way I eat sweet potatoes is to make chips out of them.  Dice the sweet potatoes into 1/4″ pieces.  Place on a baking sheet. Add olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and cayenne pepper and bake in a 400° oven for about 25 minutes.  The pieces with the skin on will get a bit crunchy  the inside pieces will not.  You will need to watch it so that the potatoes are not too crunchy, or else they’ll be burnt. I sometimes eat this as a snack, or as a side dish.



Breast Cancer Prevention Foods and Health Tips

Breast CancerOctober is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  There are so many articles written about what foods and what type of lifestyle habits help with prevention. I have read a lot of these articles.  I lost my mother to breast cancer 7 years ago. It was actually Paget Disease, a specific type of breast cancer.  So in honor of her and the millions of women – and men – who have been touched by this disease, and for the many millions who hopefully will be successful in preventing this disease from personally touching them, I present a roundup of breast cancer prevention food and health tips from around the web, that will hopefully influence your heathy living and eating choices for prevention against breast cancer.

Monthly Breast Self-Exams Adult women of all ages are encouraged to perform breast self-exams at least once a month.  Johns Hopkins Medical center states, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important.”

Annual Mammography Screening mammography can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 70.

Exercise regulary and often. Research suggests that physical activity reduces overall breast-cancer risk by about 10 percent to 30 percent. For most healthy adults, the Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, plus strength-training at least twice a week.  For a great strength-training regimen, see my blog post on my Female Body Breakthrough.

Avoid becoming overweight. Obesity raises the risk of breast cancer after menopause, the time of life when breast cancer most often occurs. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and the World Cancer Research Fund conclude that there is convincing evidence that being obese or overweight causes breast cancer after menopause.

Limit alcohol. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center reports that the more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, they suggest that you limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.

Avoid hormone replacement therapy. Menopausal hormone therapy increases risk for breast cancer, according to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The Center suggests, that if you must take hormones to manage menopausal symptoms, avoid those that contain progesterone and limit their use to less than three years.

What to eat to minimize risks:

Beans Women who eat legumes at least twice a week have lower rates of developing breast cancer than those who eat beans less frequently.

Blueberries Fresh blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, including cancer-fighting chlorogenic acid as well as the anthocyanin pigments that give them their color

Cruciferous Vegetables Research shows that eating a diet high in cruciferous vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussel sprouts, bok choy and kale, have been proven to prevent all sorts of cancer, including breast cancer.

Green Tea: Green tea offers an excellent source of catechins, potent antioxidants. Studies have found that women who sipped green tea daily were less likely to develop breast cancer.

Mushrooms: A study published in Nutrition and Cancer in 2010 found that higher mushroom intake is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer among women who are premenopausal. Cremini, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, among others, contain antioxidants such as L-ergothioneine that may confer cancer protection.

Salmon, Sardines, Shellfish: Researchers at the University of Southern California and the National University of Singapore found that postmenopausal women who ate an average of 1.5 to 3 ounces of fish or shellfish daily were 26 percent less likely to develop breast cancer during the five years of the study than those who ate less seafood.

Spinach: Researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that women who ate spinach more than twice a week had lower rates of breast cancer than those who rarely ate the vegetable.

What to eat when fighting breast cancer

Cruciferous vegetables: Based on data collected for the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a comprehensive, large-scale study of breast cancer survivors in China, it appears as though consumption patterns of cruciferous vegetables, or vegetables from the cabbage family, are directly proportional to survival rates. The breast cancer-specific mortality rate among women who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables, for instance, was as much as 62 percent less than among those who consumed the least or no cruciferous vegetables.

Flaxseed: University of Toronto researchers found that women with breast cancer who ate two tablespoons of ground flaxseed each day slowed their rate of cancer-cell growth.

Garlic: In laboratory experiments, scientists have found that allyl sulfur and other compounds in garlic slow the growth of tumor cells.

Wheat Belly – Lose the Wheat, Lose the Belly

wheat belly

There is such a phenomenon around gluten-free these days.  It’s everywhere…new products are popping up in the grocery store, bakeries and pizzerias have gluten-free options.  And it’s more than celiac disease that is driving this trend.  According to Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly – Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight and Find your Path Back to Health, wheat is the cause of many health problems such as obesity, fatigue, arthritis, gastrointestinal distress, and cancer. My friend Candy, who has suffered from arthritis for most of her adult life, stopped eating gluten at the suggestion of her acupuncturist and now has no pain when she gets up in the morning.

Dr. Davis identifies the over processing of wheat that has been done for mass production as the root cause.  He says that the wheat of today is not the wheat our grandparents grew up on, as it has been genetically modified for mass production.  The end product of the modification results in elevated blood sugar which leas to fat, specifically around the abdominal area. He writes “the higher the blood glucose after consumption of food, the greater the insulin level, the more fat is deposited.”


The book goes into technical explanations about wheat and its effect on the body and it is quite interesting. It’s helped convince me to stay away from gluten most of the time. Dr. Davis mentions a wheat available today that is most similar to the wheat of generations ago, without the genetic modifications and therefore without the elevated blood sugar levels.  It is known as Einkorn wheat (see recipe for flatbreads) and it is perfectly fine for gluten-sensitive people, though those with Celiac disease should not eat it.

Up and at ‘em.

up and at em

It’s hard getting up in the morning to go exercise.  And as the sun rises later, it’s gets even tougher.  Though I find I do better, more rigorous workouts in the morning than at the end of the day.   So when I struggle to get up in the morning to go the gym and think really hard about reaching for that snooze button, I think of these three things that I say to myself:  1) I know that when I work out especially with weights, I actually feel the endorphins working and start to feel good – more energetic, stronger – during the workout; 2) I know that once I’ve worked out and am starting my workday, I feel like I can take on the world – and life’s challenges – because I’ve already accomplished something for myself; and 3) I know that with working out, I fit into my clothes better, look better and feel stronger throughout the day.  I use this mantra to help me focus on my commitment to better workout routines. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

The Incredible Edible… Egg White


Ever meet those people who can eat anything and still burn the calories?  I know I have… and with keeping this blog positive, I will just say that I wish I was just like them!  There are things you can do to get your metabolism working faster.  Working out helps.  Eating helps too.  Yes, eating, not starving, actually helps speed up your metabolism.  And eating something first thing in the morning, is the way to to start.  Nutritionists say you should eat something within 15-30 minutes of waking up.  Typically, I am not that hungry when I first wake up.  So the thought of eating something means it has to go down easy, not be filling, and be pre-made.

On most days, I’m heading to the gym right after I get up, at which point, hungry or not, some protein is good to digest.  What I have found works great, whether I am working out that morning or not, is to eat an egg white.   To make it easy (and not require any work or thought at 6:30 in the morning) I keep a supply of hard boiled eggs in my fridge.  I make 6 at a time – and peel one or two of them at each serving, popping the whites in my mouth and tossing the yolks in the compost can.  It’s quick, goes down easy – even at 6:30 am – and does the trick for getting my metabolism going for fortifying my workout.  I eat 1-2 egg whites in the morning –1 ½ -2 when I work out with weights in the morning and 1 when I’m not working out.  Each egg white is about only 25 calories providing about 6 grams of protein.  So what’s wrong with a little egg in your face?!


Track it, Lose It!

lose it

Mindfulness and monitoring are the two ingredients for successful weight management, whether you want to lose a few extra pounds or maintain your current weight.  Dietitians will tell you to write your food intake down, keep track of it.  Sounds easy.  But it’s not.  It takes discipline and time. And yet, it does work.

Luckily, there are some great tools available to make the tracking and mindfulness easy.  The tool I use and highly recommend is the Lose It! app. There is a website component to this app too, but I use the app.  This app tracks your food intake and computes the calories for you.  You can set weight goals and it will compute how many calories you are allotted each day in order to reach your weight goal; you can even have it calculate your caloric allotment for maintaining your existing weight.

What I like about this tool is that once you start using it, it takes you less time to record your food intake because you can easily log a previous meal, or enter a specific recipe rather than individual ingredients each time.  It also has major food brands and restaurants embedded, so you can track your dining out calories.

The value in using an app like Lose It! Is that you learn portion control and the impact of substitutions.  The app makes it easy to see how you can pretty much eat what you want as long as is in moderation. Over time, you will get used to seeing what specific measurements look like so you quickly learn what a half a tablespoon of olive oil looks like or a half a cup of brown rice… You do this long enough and it becomes habit… making weight loss and maintenance much easier and achievable.

My personal tip:  manage the overall calories on a weekly basis (though I do enter them in daily).  This way I allow myself some days to go over goals as long as some days I am under goal, and I get to splurge a bit.

My Female Body Breakthrough – Part Two: Eating Right


I mentioned The Female Body Breakthrough, the Revolutionary Strength Training Plan for Losing Fat and Getting the Body You Want by Elizabeth Cosgrove, in an earlier post about the inspiration and direction it provided for my weight work outs.   The book offers more than eight exercises, it also offers some guidelines for healthy eating…that are really helpful.   I don’t follow all the advice — I’m just not a protein shake kind of gal… But I do follow a lot of the guidelines…. And all the exercises. It’s like having a personal trainer…really!

Some of the healthy eating guidelines I follow are:

  • Eat something within 15 minutes of getting up to start your metabolism
  • Eat something every few hours
  • Always include a protein and a fruit or vegetable at every meal – including snacks
  • Stay away from gluten
  • Keep within the guidelines 90% of the time (85%-90% is fine by me)
  • Workout in the morning

This book really has changed me.  And I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to be fit, toned and strong… You do need to have a certain amount of determination and motivation…. But the results you start to see within weeks should do the trick.

My Female Body Breakthrough

Female Body Breakthrough

In January 2012, I was starting to get serious about figuring out my next career move and I was prepping for a speaking engagement I had on the east coast. The person who was organizing my speaking engagement had a friend in Los Angeles that she felt I should talk to. I am pretty much always open to talking to anyone and actually believe that you can learn something from every conversation you have if you are open to it.

So I set up a call with this woman, Jennifer who runs a marketing agency in Los Angeles. We talked about work, life, work-life balance…. and during this conversation she told me about a book that within minutes of hanging up with her, I downloaded on my Kindle app. It’s called The Female Body Breakthrough, the Revolutionary Strength Training Plan for Losing Fat and Getting the Body You Want by Elizabeth Cosgrove. It is filled with great information on nutrition, what to eat, when to eat, as well as a 16-week great weight workout for women program.

Now keep in mind, at the time, I was watching Live with Kelly (before Michael) pretty regularly to kick start my day with a laugh before hunkering down on my job search. And when I started to read this book, I thought that getting Kelly Ripa-toned arms was somehow in reach. Well I may not have arms quite like Kelly’s, but I can tell you that they’re far more defined than they were. I work out with this program 2-3 times a week…. And take my ipad with me to the gym so I can look at the sketches of the exercises for reference.

My favorite exercise is part of the warm of the warm up; it’s called Bent-Over Y-T-W-I. You can see it from her book here I started with 2-3 lbs weights and moved to 5 lbs weights.

Bentover YTWI

This book was a real life changer for me. While some of the text didn’t really reach me, the exercise program definitely did. The exercises are all doable with some effort, and you definitely start to get stronger, feel stronger and believe that you can take on the world — and get the body you want.