Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exercise More, Stress Less

Faithful readers of BEYG know that we are not advocates of exercising for weight loss. But we can't think of a better way to stay fit and feel great. Regular exercise makes a body feel wonderful, when not done to excess, and folks who are physically active just know that it has positive effects on their mental health as well.

Now some clever scientists at Princeton University are showing how regular exercise can produce new cells in the brain that do not react to stress. The article, goes into depth on this study and others which are demonstrating how rats brains are changing in response to exercise, and are becoming less anxious and stressed. Several studies involve putting rats on a running program and then subjecting them to laboratory-induced stressful situations. The runner rats were cool as cucumbers.

"It looks more and more like the positive stress of exercise prepares cells and structures and pathways within the brain so that they’re more equipped to handle stress in other forms," says one graduate student affiliated with the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Laboratory at Dartmouth. And it appears that the benefits appear somewhere between 3 and 6 weeks of getting on a regular training program. In the University of Colorado experiments, for instance, rats that ran for only three weeks did not show much reduction in stress-induced anxiety, but those that ran for at least six weeks did. "'Something happened between three and six weeks,' says Benjamin Greenwood, a research associate in the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, who helped conduct the experiments."

It's no surprise that there aren't any quick wins in the exercise department. Good things come to those who wait, and persevere. I'd better shut my laptop and start doing my exercises!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ode to the Humble Pea

Most folks with kids come to appreciate the humble pea as it's an easy food to cook (from frozen) and most kids enjoy this cute, round finger food. Personally I hated peas until I moved out on my own because I'd only encountered them in their canned incarnation. Like most moms in the 70s, my mom only served vegetables that came from a can, so I thought that all peas were mushy and a sickly, grey-green colour.

But at our house, we love our peas which are fresh from the pod in the summer and fresh from the freezer the rest of the year. Frozen foods have come a long way in recent years and they're generally picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen which preserves most of their vitamins and minerals. And because peas are so often "right there" in the freezer, just 3 minutes and a pot of boiling water away from being ready-to-eat, they make their way into lots of dishes.

I encourage you to consider adding peas to your meals, for an extra dab of fibre, protein and vitamins. If you've already got a main with a starch, a protein and a veggie side, you could add in peas to bump up the veggie factor. Here are some ways to incorporate peas into your meals:
- add to green salads
- add to pasta salad (try rotini, chicken, grape tomatoes and peas)
- add to creamy pasta dishes (e.g. shells, baby shrimp and peas)
- adding green peas to boxed macaroni and cheees bumps up the veggie quotient but still serve another vegetable on the side
- add to stews (in the last 5 minutes)
- add to soups (even canned veggie, chicken noodle)

This last suggestion we do frequently, and I love the way peas add colour and thickness to pureed soups. Go to your favourite recipe site, such as or, and type in 'peas' and you won't believe how many interesting recipes pop up. Eat your peas today!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


This is not a post about food. This is a post about my latest fashion favourite. Call it a gown for Recessionary Times. A "little black dress" for the eco-conscious, if you will.

This is me pictured above in my Snuggie. It's cozy and warm, makes me happy, and enables me to keep the thermostat turned down in our leaky old house. It may not be sexy, but then I don't plan on wearing it anywhere. I suppose you could go for the zebra or leopard pattern if you wanted to mince around the house looking mysterious. And it looks like anything goes at those Snuggie Parties. Call me a bore, but I'm not taking this baby into the great outdoors. I'm too afraid that harm might come its way: it might get stained, or torn. It's not even fire-retardant, poor thing.

I love my Snuggie! It's a baby blanket for adults. I just hope I'll be able to get a new one before it disintegrates from overuse, like my childhood blankie did. Poor Boodie....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Hallowe'en Party

originally uploaded by follepourchocolat.
We had a Hallowe'en party this past weekend and I made gingerbread pumpkin cookies, vegetable macaroni and cheese and a veggie tray with dip. I was planning on sharing the recipe, but the truth is, I didn't keep track of what I did.

Baked Mac n' Cheese with Veggie Sauce

- Cook some whole grain macaroni according to package directions; drain in colander
- At same time, place a mixture of vegetables in a pot and just cover them with water. Bring to a boil. I used leek, broccoli stems, carrots, and some cauliflower.
- Boil until tender, about 15 minutes; let cool
- Puree vegetable mixture in your blender, reserving a bit of the water and add milk. It should be quite thick, not watery. Add vegetable water if it's too thick (i.e. you cannot pour it)
- Place macaroni back into pot you used to boil it
- Pour the vegetable puree over the macaroni and mix it in with a spoon. Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, or less.
- Put pasta into a buttered glass baking pan; sprinkle with 1 cup (or less) of shredded cheese of your preference
- Cover with foil and place into an oven at 400F
- Bake for 20 minutes, then remove foil. Bake until cheese topping bubbles.
- Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

The kids loved this dish and so did the adults, with everyone being quite surprised when they learned it was chock full of veggies. Yummy, good cold weather food. Oh! and the pumpkin cookies were a hit too....