Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Smart Macaroni & Cheese

Let me just start out by saying that I do allow my kids to eat packaged Mac & Cheese. I personally as a mom, prefer to make this home made recipe at my home. It is really simple, healthy and yummy. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Kraft or Velvetta, but you can definitely make a healthier dish with the same taste instead. This recipe is so filling with the whole wheat pasta. This recipe comes out pretty cheesy so we usually half the sauce ingredients, but it just depends on how you like it. Just have your kids try it and see if they love it too!

1 pkg (14.5 oz) Whole Wheat Elbows, we prefer the Ronzoni Smart Taste
3 T butter
3 T flour
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cup shredded cheese
1 cup frozen vegetable (peas, carrots, mixed)

Cook past according to directions, with four minutes left add frozen vegetables. In a medium saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour. Gradually stir in milk over medium heat, until sauce thickens. Stir in salt and pepper. Add cheese sauce into pasta and veggies.

If not serving right away, put in oven at 300 degrees for 30 minutes.

Makes 6 servingsr

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Benefits of Stretching

In my kick box class I was thinking today about stretching and why would should stick around the extra five minutes of class to do it. Well here is a list of benefits I have found:
  • Stretching increases flexibility. Flexible muscles can improve your daily performance. Tasks such as lifting packages, bending to tie your shoes or hurrying to catch a bus become easier and less tiring.
  • Stretching improves range of motion of your joints. Good range of motion keeps you in better balance, which will help keep you mobile and less prone to injury from falls — especially as you age.
  • Stretching improves circulation. Stretching increases blood flow to your muscles. Improved circulation can speed recovery after muscle injuries.
  • Stretching promotes better posture. Frequent stretching keeps your muscles from getting tight, allowing you to maintain proper posture and minimize aches and pains.
  • Stretching can relieve stress. Stretching relaxes the tense muscles that often accompany stress.
  • Stretching may help prevent injury. Preparing your muscles and joints for activity can protect you from injury, especially if your muscles or joints are tight.
  • Stretching improves energy. Taking in deep breaths while you stress allows better circulation and can give you more energy throughout the entire day.
I think I will definitely reconsider the next time I want to leave early.

Here is also a list of basic stretching rules:
  • Target major muscle groups. When you're stretching, focus on your calves, thighs, hips, lower back, neck and shoulders. Also stretch muscles and joints that you routinely use at work or play.
  • Warm up first. Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of injury, including pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently pumping your arms, or do a favorite exercise at low intensity for five minutes. Better yet, stretch after you exercise — when your muscles are warm and more receptive to stretching.

    One caveat: If you plan to stretch only after your workout, increase the intensity of the activity more slowly than you would if you had stretched your muscles before exercising.

  • Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds. It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds — and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscle or problem area. That can seem like a long time, so keep an eye on the clock or your watch. Then repeat the stretch on the other side. For most muscle groups, a single stretch is often enough if you hold it long enough.
  • Don't bounce. Bouncing as you stretch can cause small tears in the muscle. These tears leave scar tissue as the muscle heals, which tightens the muscle even further — making you less flexible and more prone to pain.
  • Focus on a pain-free stretch. Expect to feel tension while you're stretching. If it hurts, you've gone too far. Back off to the point where you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch.
  • Relax and breathe freely. Don't hold your breath while you're stretching.
For some really great stretches that target your large muscles go to Spark People.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Maybe we shouldn't go out to eat...

You may have seen this article by now, but if you haven't this is shocking and frightening. This was featured on Good Morning America; they researched how many calories were in restaurant kid's meals. Chili's was one of the restaurants featured and some of their kids meals contain up to 1300 calories...WHAT? Find the article here.

You will honestly be shocked. I think we need to find out what is in our food before we hit these restaurants from now on. I am definitely going to think twice before ordering my kids a meal next time we go out to eat!