Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gearing up for the "Take a Chill Pill" Challenge.....

Causes of Stress:
unorganized workspace
unorganized home
too much sleep
not enough sleep
too much exercise
lack of exercise
too much information
poor eating habits
lack of nutrients
unrealistic expectations
no expectations
lack of purpose
lack of sex
no on/off switch
constant tardiness
lack of spiritual practice
extreme, fanatical spiritual practice
blood-sucking, energy draining relationships
no real relationships
financial difficulties
lack of funds
too much money

These are just a few causes of stress in our lives.  Next week's challenge is going to be "Take a Chill Pill". Some of us might have a few of these in our lives, some may have just about all of them.  Some of them can be changed, omitted.....some are more difficult to overcome.  In the midst of our struggles and the things that occupy our minds 24/7 we need to take time to step away from our problems and learn to chill.  Most of us are always running on empty and never take time recharge, refuel, or restore.  Taking time to chill can give us a new outlook on life and perhaps a new way of viewing, healing and hopefully eliminating the stressors in our lives or at least dealing with them in a healthy, more practical way.

Get ready.......we are going to learn some ways to "Take A Chill Pill!"

If you wish to participate in this challenge, click the FACEBOOK icon here on this site or email me at: !

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Healthier Lasagna

Mmmmmm....Lasagna! Who doesn't love it? This delicious concoction of layers upon layers of wide noodles, melted cheeses, and tomato sauce is the traditional celebratory meal of every Italian house-hold.  Every holiday my mom asks us what we want for dinner and we all beg for her famous lasagna! 

When my son was growing up, lasagna was not just reserved for special occasions.  It was his favorite meal.  Every couple of months I would make a big pan of my healthy version, divide it up and freeze it.  That way, when he said he wanted lasagna, all I needed to do was pop it in the oven. 

Stouffers has a commercial that suggests you can bring the family together if you serve their lasagna.  It is a nice idea but honestly, any meal will gather your loved ones around the table; you just have to plan it. I have tried the Stouffers version and speaking as a true Italian, it is NOT lasagna! It is frozen solid and packed with fat, calories and preservatives.  I would NEVER serve it to my family! They also have a Vegetable Lasagna but don't be fooled into thinking its healthy because of the vegetables.  It is even more fattening and unhealthy than their traditional style.

A few reasons why we usually reserve lasagna for special occasions are because it is time consuming to assemble, takes awhile to bake, and it's loaded with meat and cheese which makes it rich and full of fat and calories.  In honor of National Lasagna day, I thought I would share a few ways to make it a little easier and less of a guilty pleasure. 

Whole grain all the way........
Whole wheat pasta of any kind is always the better alternative.  It might take some getting used to but eventually you and your family will enjoy it and prefer it over the typical white flour kind.  Whole wheat pasta tastes better in my opinion and holds up better with sauces or in casseroles.

No cooking required........
You can completely eliminate one whole step in your lasagna preparation if you use noodles that don't need to be boiled first.  You can find "No Cook" or fresh lasagna noodles in gourmet stores and most Italian specialty stores.  You might need to use a bit more sauce than usual because the dry noodles will soak up some of the liquid as it bakes. Make sure you take that into account or your lasagna will be too dry.

Add some green.........
Tossing some spinach into your lasagna will boost the nutrients.  Steam a pound of fresh spinach in a little water and drain it very, very well  and chop it up. You can also use a small package of frozen chopped spinach. Thaw it, drain well, and add just mix it into your ricotta cheese mixture.  You can even use frozen chopped broccoli, if desired. 

Leave out the meat..........
Whole wheat noodles and cheese makes lasagna a complete protein ( has as much protein as a piece of steak).  You certainly don't need the meat.  It is just one more time consuming step (you need to brown the chop meat first) and turns your masterpiece into layers of fat upon fat.  If you MUST have the meat, use lean ground turkey.  You can also try a meat alternative like MorningStar Crumbles.  One package is equivalent to one pound of chop meat.  Quickly brown it in a frying pan with a little olive before adding it to the lasagna.  Once it's all cooked and the flavors all meld together, your family won't notice it's not real meat!

Tofu to the Rescue......
Cut back on the fat and calories in all that ricotta cheese by subsitution some it with crumbled tofu.  If you are using one 32oz container of ricotta, use only half of it and make up the difference with the tofu (be sure to drain the tofu well before adding).  Once you crumble it up with a fork, it looks exactly like the ricotta cheese. Tofu is high in protein and takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. 

You need a little fat.....
Fat free ricotta cheese and mozzarella in your lasagna is a complete disappointment.  Don't try it! I never use fat-free products of any kind.  They are artificial, plastic-like substances that never taste like the real thing and to use them in something you've worked so hard on is an abomination.  Your lasagna will never taste the same or as satisfying.  If you are concerned about fat, mix 1/2 of reduced fat ricotta cheese with the whole fat kind. Do the same with your shredded mozzarella.  It's okay to indulge once in awhile and this is one of those times. You will be more satisfied and eat less if you have it the way you want it.  And.....if you are omitting the chopmeat, you won't feel as guilty having the cheese.

Roll it up...........
This is no less time consuming, but it is a fun and different way to make lasagna. Take cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles (the no-cook type won't work for this), spread a layer of your cheese mixture, top with a little chopped spinach and roll each noodle up lengthwise.  Place them on their sides into a baking pan (spread a thin layer of sauce in the pan first), pour a little more sauce over just bake in the oven.  Bake covered for about 30-45 minutes, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and then put back into the oven uncovered for about 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.  Figure 2-3 rollups per person (4 if your guests are very hungry).  This is an impressive meal to serve to company and less heavy than the traditional slices of layers and layers of pasta, sauce and cheese. 

Get creative! Have fun! You can toss just about anything you want into your lasagna: toasted pine nuts, shredded carrots, sliced mushrooms! Prepare it with all the love you have in your heart and your family will love you for it...........

And this is my Daily Cyn.............

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Ticket Stub........

Always the visually inspired is something that might be insignificant to you, but it means everything to me. While riding the train home one Friday a year ago, I was filled with sadness and incredible loss. The conductor noticed, took a ticket stub, punched a smiley face into it, and handed it back to me.

Take this ticket," he said to me. " Look at it, make your wish or say your prayer and put this in a place where you will see it everyday. Don't stop wishing or praying until what you ask for comes to pass. When it does, pass it on to someone else who needs it."

I did exactly what he said and I still have the little ticket stub on my bulletin board where I can see it daily. I say my prayer and believe that it will come to pass when the time is right.

What is it that you are asking for? Do you know you might not have what you want because are not actually asking for it? Regardless of whether you believe in God or the power of the Universe working all things together on your behalf--put it out there and ASK.  Keep asking and believing until your prayer is answered. 

My faith is not in the little ticket stub, but in the act of asking and believing. This little token was given to me by someone who genuinely cared at that moment and hated to see a girl looking so lost and sad.  I was at the lowest point in my life and I had lost all faith.  In an instant it was restored by an act of kindness.  There is great power in a gesture like that.

And this is my Daily Cyn........

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sugar Blues- (sneaky ways sugar creeps up on you and keeps you addicted)

Sugar is a drug.... a subtle, great tasting drug.  You might not even be aware you are addicted.  You alway want something sweet.  You crave it.  Dinner is not complete without a tasty dessert.  You can't walk past a vending machine with out buying a candy bar during your mid-afternoon break.  When you are good for a whole week you reward yourself with the sweetest, most sinful dessert.  You even get your kids hooked on sugar by promising ice cream or cookies for a few hours of good behavior.  The more sugar you eat, the more sugar you crave.

Sugar is a man-made substance that was not designed by nature and was never meant to be consumed by humans... which is why it makes us so fat! But just like any drug, once you break free from the hold of it's addiction, it loses it’s power over you and you will be able to say “No” to eating sugar.

And if you’re like many of my clients and myself, the thought of eating sugar will actually gross you out. You may not believe from where you are sitting right now that sugar could be gross, but this IS how it happens.

Wouldn't it be great to look at a plate of donuts like you would look at a crack pipe with chemical-glaze on top?


Breaking an addiction is hard, but if you have the right TOOLS, it CAN be done. I've seen it happen lots of times and there's no reason that it won't work for you.

Sugar addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break because today sugar is in EVERYTHING. You are probably eating foods with sugar in them and you don't even know it.  And now that sugar is in EVERYTHING, the first step in breaking your addiction to sugar is to become aware of it.

Awareness is the KEY!

Become aware of what foods have sugar in them. Make the habit of reading the ingredients label on all your foods. You're going to be amazed at how much sugar you're actually eating.

Sugar is in your drinks, mayonnaise, ketchup, all your condiments, salad dressings, sauces......

So the first step is becoming aware of where sugar is around you by reading the ingredient labels on everything you eat and always asking, "Does this have sugar in it?"

Sugar is subtle and sneaky with lots of "code names". Here's a list of words that really mean sugar:

- sucrose

- lactose

- glucose

- dextrose

- honey

- sorbitol

- fructose

- maltose

- molasses

- corn syrup

- maple syrup

- corn sweetener

- juice concentrate

- natural sweeteners

If you see any of these in the ingredients, think of them as SUGAR.

Our Metamorphosis Challenge this week is SUGAR BLUES. We are going to to try and avoid sugar for the next 7 days.  That means, no donuts for breakfast, no sugar in your coffee (and no artificial sweetners, either), no sweet stuff after dinner.  The purpose of this challenge is to make you aware of how much sugar you actually do consume on a daily basis and how much better you will feel once you eliminate it. As with any drug, you feel good for a little while, but eventually you will begin to crave more and more until it begins to control you and possibly ruin your life. 

If you are fatigued all the time, wake up feeing exhausted, have trouble falling asleep at night, don't have the energy to accomplish your tasks, you are gaining weight, and you are lacking that spring in your step; sugar COULD be the culprit.

I am not saying you can NEVER have sugar again.  I am not that unrealistic.  The best part of the wedding is the wedding cake, there are birthdays to celebrate, and occasionally you just want to bake brownies.  I just want to cause an awareness of how much sugar you actually consume in a day, to stop the cravings and the vicious cycle, and be the healthiest, most radiant person you can possibly be. 

If you wish to join the Sugar Blues Challenge with us, click on the FACEBOOK badge here on my blog-site and attend the event.  You can also comment here if you wish to participate or email me at:  Just be sure to put Sugar Blues in the subject line!

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

Friday, July 23, 2010

To Fish or Not to Fish...........

I don't eat cow, deer, pig, or fowl but on occasion I will eat salmon or tuna (not tuna in the can- FRESH tuna!). I agonized over adding fish to my diet after not having it at all for years.  I became very ill a few years ago  and my doctor asked me if I would at least consider eating it a couple of times a month.  I had been burning the candle at both ends for many years and was suffering the effects from running on nothing but pure adrenaline for such a long time.  I needed slow down and heal or else!  I tried for many years to be a die-hard vegan but it just wasn't working with the lifestyle I was leading and the stressful work environment I was in.  I gave it my honest effort but there came a time I just needed to "give in!"  When I am extremely stressed, a nice piece of grilled salmon really does help me feel better. I made the painful decision to occasionally add it to my diet.

I am the only non-meat-eater in my family and circle of friends.  It's tough to exist in that environment.  Most people think I just don't eat red meat so when I go to their home for dinner or a BBQ, they want to feed me chicken.   I don't DO chicken! I always make sure I have a veggie burger wrapped in foil to toss on the BBQ or I try fill up on the vegetables and salad at the dinner table. I am very satisfied with a baked potato and a salad for dinner when everyone else is enjoying roast beef or baked ham. A couple of years ago I was invited to a friend's for dinner.  She assured me that she had warned her family that I was a vegetarian.  Her mom served a beautiful lasagna and as we sat down to dine, I learned that they were all making a great sacrifice on my behalf because the lasagna was prepared with ground turkey rather than the traditional chopmeat filling they usually enjoyed!  I swallowed hard, smiled, and tried to pick out the pieces of meat as inconspicously as I could and cover it all with my napkin. I don't think any one but my girlfriend actually noticed what I was doing.  We still laugh about it to this day!  
When I go out to a restaurant I usually order salmon or sushi-grade seared tuna. Tuna steaks are much too thick and the consistency is too "meaty" for me to enjoy or digest. Choosing fish as my entree is often much healthier than the so-called vegetarian options on the menu (usually some kind of pasta dish in a rich creamy sauce). Other times I will order pasta with fresh broccoli, garlic and oil but it is often prepared with chicken broth which I DON'T want! When you are a vegetarian for many years and are not accustomed to animal fat, your body is no longer able to digest it and the side-effects of anything cooked with meat or in beef or chicken broth are disasterous to say the least.  I do suffer a bit when I eat salmon or fresh tuna but not as badly. 
A great option for those of you who choose not to eat red meat or want a healthier alternative, is seared grilled tuna.  Always make sure it is sushi-grade fresh tuna. It should be bright red (it is only tossed on the grill for just a minute so you get that delicious grilled taste), sliced very thinly,  and often has a sesame seed crust. There is virtually no fat in this meal and usually served with a spicy wasabi sauce or some kind of soy ginger dressing to dip it in. Ciao Baby! (an italian chain restaurant) and The Outback serves it as an appetizer. I always order it as my entree with a big tossed salad when I go to either of those places.
Some people will argue with me that I am not a true vegetarian because once-in-a-blue-moon I will eat fish.  99.9% of the time my diet is a plant-based diet.  If a bean dish or tofu is offered on the menu at a restaurant, I will choose that instead, but honestly, how often is that going to occur?  Most of the time we end up at some kind of steak-house for dinner and it's tough to sit there munching on a dish of steamed brocolli when everyone else is enjoying filet mignon or prime rib. This is when I either opt for the fish (grilled or steamed- no sauce) or order a big salad and a baked potato.  It depends on the mood I am in.  I am done beating myself up emotionally over this or feeling like a "veggie failure". There is no Veggie God in the sky waiting to strike me the next time I eat a piece of fish!  It is what it is and I refuse to be in bondage to anything, including food. 
And this is my Daily Cyn...........

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mix it Up

Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.....

The person who coined this phrase probably lived a century ago when times were much different.  Folks rose at the crack of dawn and had farms to tend, livestock to feed, crops to plant and harvest. They ate large breakfasts to provide fuel for the many tasks at hand, stopped for lunch in the late afternoon, and before crawling into bed at sundown, enjoyed a light supper.

Life is different now; as are our eating habits.  Most of us don't even eat breakfast in the morning.  Some of us are so busy at work that we often skip lunch and then make up for it with enormous dinners. Skipping meals and then overindulging later will eventually compromise our health and our waistlines. 

I have been thinking about my own eating habits lately. I eat well, I don't binge, and very rarely indulge in foods that are fattening or unhealthy.  Given the way I do eat, I should be a stick figure but instead I am carrying around extra pounds I don't want. I have especially noticed this over the past year and I am not happy.  Yes, I am in my late forties, don't exercise as often as I should, and I am going through menopause.  These could be contributing factors.  Genetics can also play a part but I have worked very hard my whole life to avoid being obese like the majority of my family. 

I can and should exercise harder and more often but "the change" and aging I can't do anything about. 

My life has changed in the past year.  My jet-setting, wild and crazy lifestyle came to a screeching halt when I fell in love and decided to give my first relationship in ten years an honest effort. My guy and I only see each other on the weekends and occasionally one night during the week.  We tend to eat a lot of pasta when we are together.  I am a vegetarian and he would never be satisfied with the tofu, grains, greens, and salads I eat.  We usually have dinner together late at night and he doesn't want me to prepare two different meals; he wants us to share one.  Some kind of mararoni dish seems to be the only choice that will make him happy. Before I started dating my guy, pasta was something I very rarely ate.

 Now that I am in a relationship, I go straight home after work most evenings rather than going out with friends.  This is a big change for me but I am certainly not sitting around snacking alone all night. I don't even have anything in my house to really snack on

So why am I having issues with weight?

 Some friends and I are participating in a Conscious Eating Experiment.  We are learning to be fully aware of what we are eating, when we are eating, and why.  I am giving this an honest effort because I don't want to be carrying this weight around any longer.  It makes me tired, unhappy and self conscious. One of the major things I have noticed, besides my current less than glamorous lifestyle, is that I tend to eat dinner late every night. By the time I get off the train after work, come home, unwind, feed the cat and prepare and cook something to eat, it's 9:00PM.  I am the most energetic in the morning and afternoon.  At night (unless I am out)  I want to chill, work on the computer or watch TV.  So I am eating a big dinner late at night, sitting down, expending very little energy, and falling asleep on a full stomach.  This can't be good!

Combine my big late night dinner with my need for more exercise, the big change in my lifestyle, my age, and the fact that I recently entered menopause.  Sounds like a recipe for weight-gain!

I have decided to mix things up a little.  I usually eat breakfast mid-morning.  It's a healthy breakfast but not a very large one.  If I add more protein to my breakfast it will keep me going until late afternoon.  I can eat my lunch around 2PM and make that meal larger than what I am accustomed to.  My lunch will be more like dinner. When I get home later after work I can have something light like soup, a salad, or some lean protein and fresh steamed vegetables.  Consuming larger meals during the day when I am expending most of my energy will cause me to burn off the majority of what I eat.  I am willing to give it a try. 

Now, if I can just find another spot to put all those clothes draped over my treadmill, I should be thin again in no time............

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


I recently began to read again one of my favorite books by Deepak Chopra called The Book of Secrets....Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life.  I have a habit of devouring a book completely and then revisting it again several months or even a few years later.  I always discover something new within the pages, learn new lessons, and the message of the book seems to be exactly what I need to hear at that moment. 

One of the subjects that Deepak touches on in this lovely book is our relationship to time.  He writes that time isn't demanding; although we all act as if the clock rules our existence (or if it doesn't, we still keep a close watch on it).  Time is meant to unfold according to our needs, and wants.  It will start to do that only if we give up the belief that time is in charge.

We are always racing against time.  This causes unwanted stress and we accomplish nothing.  We don't grow and nothing changes.  We are like hamsters running furiously in an exercise wheel.  We are exhausted but we are still in the same place.

In order to move to a new stage of growth, we must resolve to change our relationship to time.  The best use of time is to reconnect with your being; who YOU are.  The misuse of time does the opposite; it takes you away from who you are.  Allow yourself to be in the present moment. To be present is to be fully aware and fully conscious of the time and space you are in.  Nothing else should occupy your mind but what you are doing at that very moment.  In the present moment the river of time is allowed to flow.  To go along for the ride we need to nothing but remain absolutely still. 

Try to adopt a few or just one of the resolves below and see how it changes your reality. 

I will let time unfold for me.
I will keep in mind that there's always enough time.
I will follow my own rhythm.
I will not misuse time by procrastination or delay.
I will not fear what times brings in the future.
I will not regreat what time brought in the past.
I will stop racing against the clock.

And this is my Daily Cyn............

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fat Cat Syndrome (Lessons about Food from Sambo the Demon Cat)

I share a house with a cat; Sambo the Demon Cat.  I should say, Sambo shares the house with me because when he moved in; he  completely took over.  He is strictly an inside pet.  He does not have the pleasure of roaming the neighborhood, hunting mice, squirrels and birds, or chasing leaves.  He is not sedentary by any means, he tears my house apart; especially when I leave him alone for a few days.

 Sambo came from a very happy, healthy home and he was far from malnourished when I adopted him.  A few months after he became my room-mate, however, I noticed he put on weight.  He was completely preoccupied with food.  He would sit for hours in front of his dish, waiting for food to miraculously appear. I tried to keep his bowl full but as quickly as I filled it, he consumed it and then cried for more.  He could be in any corner of the house, curled up in a ball fast asleep, but the opening of the refrigerator door, the silverware drawer, the turning of a stove knob, or the rustling noise of a bag or box would snap him to attention.  He would be right beside me, circling around my legs, crying for a handout.  I could not prepare food or eat a meal without him flying through the air like Superman and landing on the counter or table begging for his portion!  He would grab the food right from my plate with his little paws. I tried everything to discourage him; yelling, scolding, spritzing him with a water bottle.  Nothing worked.  I locked him in another room while I was cooking or eating my dinner.  He would sit in there and cry.  I would feel guilty. It was a constant battle and I was so aggravated that I considered giving him up.  I couldn't believe I had such a glutton for a cat and I knew if he kept obsessing over food and I kept feeding him to shut him up, he would just get fatter and fatter.  I knew it wasn't healthy for him. 

I thought long and hard about this and came to the conclusion that his unhealthy preoccupation with food was due to sheer boredom.  Sambo is not your normal, aloof, independent cat. He is very social and affectionate and loves being any place I am.  He is left alone for several hours a day while I am at work and almost every weekend with nothing to do but sleep and eat.  The only stimulation, pleasure or satisfaction he had was food.  A full belly was a substitute for his true cravings for fun, love and attention.   I was determined to cure him of this unhealthy habit.

I went to the pet store and bought him all kinds of toys.  Sambo now has his own little basket in the livingroom filled with play mice, plastic balls, stuffed animals, empty toilet tissue rolls, and other goodies. Each night before I go to bed, I retrieve all his playthings from under tables, chairs and from behind furniture and refill his basket for the next day. I thought he might like to see what's beyond his four walls so I put a little table underneath the window facing the back yard so he can jump up and down from the window sill easily.  He is completely fascinated with the outside world and spends hours in his little spot gazing at birds and other small animals, watching the leaves blow on the trees, and whatever else goes on out there. He sharpens his claws on little straw rugs and scratching posts scattered around the house, and he has a wicker laundry basket he loves to hide in. I take time every evening I am home to play with him, pet him, kiss him and reassure him that he is loved.  I hold him in my arms, put on music and dance around the house with him.  It is as if he has an inner alarm clock because every night at the same time he comes running for his playtime, loving, and dance session.  After about a month of this, I made an interesting observation.  His belly is no longer his god.  I can cook a meal without interruption as he happily play with his toys.  I don't have to fill his food dish the minute I open my eyes in the morning because he is already perched on his windowsill and more interested in observing the morning activities in the yard.  I actually have to call him several times now to come and have his dinner. It's as if I have a brand new pet.  I am forever tripping over his toys and baskets but I would rather do that then have an overweight, unhealthy, unhappy cat.

Why am I telling you this? It might sound cute or totally absurd, especially if you are not a cat lover.  There is a lesson in all of this. What worked for Sambo can work for you.

Do you find yourself preoccupied with food? You just can't wait for your next meal? You think, you plan, you prepare, you over-indulge?  You eat when you are not hungry and then you feel guilty because you consumed unhealthy foods that you know are not good for you?  Food is the one addiction that is socially acceptable.  Smoking, drinking in excess, and recreational drugs are strongly discouraged and unacceptable to many, but too much food is perfectly fine.

Are you living to eat rather than eating to live? Do you eat when you are bored,  lonely, or when you crave love and affection.  Is your waistline expanding and your clothes feeling tighter and tighter?  Are you tired and discouraged by your constant battle with food? You run the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other health issues when overindulgence becomes a habit you cannot break.  Food is a quick and easy fix, and while it might satisfy for the moment, you are left empty and craving more and more. Perhaps you eat because something is missing in your life.  I would like to help you discover what's missing. 

This week I am focusing on Conscious Eating.  Conscious eating is paying attention to what you are nourishing or not nourishing your body with and why.  There is an emotional side to eating which most of us are not even aware of.  You eat ice cream and you think it's because you just want ice cream.  There is no harm in having a dish of ice cream but if you find yourself continuously reaching for it and are not satisfied until you demolish the whole container, there could be reasons why. 

I hope you will join us in the Conscious Eating Experiment.  Click the Facebook badge on this blogsite and  become a Metamorphosis friend to participate or send me a message here with your contact information and we can discuss it further.

And this is my Daily Cyn.......

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Rise and Shine! (How to Make Your Morning)

When you hit the ground running the moment you open your eyes in the morning, you often set the tone for a very hectic day.  

I could never start my day the way my man does!  I dont live with him 24/7 but when I do stay with him I am slightly concerned about his morning routine.  He sets his alarm to go off ten minutes before he actually needs to leave for work.  It's somewhat understandable; he only needs to brush his teeth, drag a comb through his hair, pull on a pair of jeans and he is ready to go.  He is like a mad man barking commands as he tries to assemble everything he needs for the day in a matter of moments.  He always forgets something.  He never has time for breakfast and is still half asleep and too grouchy to accept anything I offer him to take and eat on the way.  He just grabs the coffee mug from my hand, take a big gulp, and growls, "I love you" as he races out the door.

Does this sound the least bit familiar to you?

We all have morning chores we must do before we can actually start our day.  There are lunches to pack, showers to take, breakfast to prepare, pets to care for, and all sorts of last minute details.  If my mornings were anything like my man's, I would be in a bad mood every day!

There are a few ways to make your mornings less hectic!

Get a good night's sleep. 
That's right! We need at least 8 hours of sleep to feel rested and ready to face the next day.  Get to bed at a decent hour every night.  Turn off the television and go to bed.  Do you have trouble falling asleep?  Most of us  try to fall asleep right after watching the news and our minds are filled with mostly bad, unpleasant, depressing reports.  Watch the news earlier in the evening and get into bed with a good book.  Read until your eyes get heavy and you will slip into a peaceful slumber. If you can't relax, take a warm bath before bedtime, or put on some soothing music to unwind.  I fall asleep every night to soft meditative music and sleep peacefully.  If you don't get enough rest you will wake up tired and keep hitting that snooze button repeatedly for ''just another 5 minutes". Before you know it, all those extra 5 minutes have made you half an hour late!

Do as much as you can the night before.
Anything that possibly be done in advance; do it.  Pack lunches for the next day while you're preparing dinner. You will only have one mess to clean up in the end. If the kids are old enough, let them fix their own lunches.   Review assignments, sign permission slips, load up the back packs and brief cases before you retire for the night.  Set your coffee pot on automatic timer so it's ready the moment you open your eyes.  You will only need to reach into the fridge for milk and juice in the morning if you set out the cereal boxes, bowls, silverware and glasses in advance. Mix your eggs or pancake batter ahead of time and store in the refrigerator overnight.  Does your family love Sunday morning pancakes? Always prepare a double batch, cook them all, and freeze half. All you need to do is pop them in the microwave for an instant mid-week breakfast.  Leave your kitchen as neat and clean as you possibly can before you go to bed. Nothing is more frustrating or time consuming than waking up to a sink full of dishes or crumbs left behind from the night before. 

Do you really need to shower and wash your hair every day?
Unless you dig ditches for a living, how dirty do you really get in one day?  Most of us are just addicted to the morning shower routine.  A shower helps me wake up in the morning but I will often bathe at night and hop into a shower for a minute or two in the AM to perk up. My hair is long, curly and dry so unless I go the beach or participate in activities that cause me to work up a real sweat, I only wash it every other day.  On non-shampoo days, a spritz with a water bottle and a quick blast of my diffuser and I am good to go.  Dry shampoo will help freshen your hair and absorb excess oil between washings. If your hair takes too long do every morning, you might have the wrong style.  Ask your hairdresser to suggest a cut that requires less maintenance. 

I have so many clothes but nothing to wear!
Go through all of your clothes.  Donate anything you have not worn in a year.  Those old size four Levi's you wore in high school- unless they still fit you and you actually wear them- give them away!  Special outfits such as gowns, little black dresses, Halloween costumes, items with price tags that you just had to have and are saving for "right time" should be stored someplace else.  If you don't have enough space at your place, ask a friend or your parents to store them for you.  Stream-line your closets and shelves and organize your drawers so you know exactly what you have.  Keep your clothes neat, clean, pressed, and folded or hanging in your closet. Decide what you are wearing to work the evening before and make sure it is ready to go.  How many times have you put on an outfit and discovered a missing button or loose hem?  Now you  will need to repair it quickly or take time to choose and change into something different.  Invest time on Sunday evenings to plan your entire wardrobe for the week. Arrange everything in your closet according to what you will be wearing daily (skirt, jacket, and hosiery on one hanger, slacks and matching blouse on another).  If you have everything separated into outfits, you will not waste time hunting in the morning for the perfect sweater to wear with your new skirt.

A little organization, please!
Create an area near the front door to keep everything you and your family will need for the next day.  Car keys should be on hooks or in a bowl on the table in your foyer.  Gloves, hats, scarves, and umbrellas can be kept in an attractive basket.  If all those items are tossed into the basket the night before this will eliminate the last minute scramble to find that missing glove when you need it.  You can do the same with mail or paperwork that needs to come with you the next day.  Store back packs, tote bags, brief cases, gym bags, boots or the shoes you plan to wear right near the door so you can't miss them and nothing will be left behind!

Set your alarm a half hour earlier each day.
Plan to rise and shine a little earlier.  There is something about being the first one up in the morning.  The house is quiet, no one is calling you, no one needs you! How sweet it is to have thirty minutes all to yourself! You can exercise, go for a walk, sip your coffee or tea in peace, read the paper, pray, meditate, or write your "To Do" list.  This is your time and no matter how tired you feel, try and set aside time for you. You will be peaceful, centered, and ready to begin your day by the time everyone else opens their eyes.  

All it takes is a bit of organization and discipline to stream-line your morning routine.  It will set the tone for your entire day. I can't guarantee you will not have upsets, stress and disappointments, but at least you will be able to face them in a better frame of mind.

And this is my Daily Cyn............

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Syrup.....Real vs. Imitation

As an advocate for REAL food, I want to briefly discuss the differences between real pure maple syrup and the imitation kind of syrup we have been pouring over our pancakes, waffles and french toast for years.

The majority of us substitute real maple syrup with imitation versions because it is cheaper.  I don't remember the last time I saw a television commercial for maple syrup but there are plenty of advertisements for the artificial brands. There people I know who have NEVER even tasted real maple syrup! They grew up with imposters such as Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth's.  When I was growing up, my mom was always on a diet and gave us reduced calorie imitation syrup for our pancakes and such.  In those days, lo-cal syrup was sweetened with saccharin (an imitation, no calorie sugar substitute linked to cancer in rats back in the late 1970's.  It has never been proven to cause cancer in humans but personally, I avoid ANY type of artificial sweetener as if it were "plague in a packet").  It wasn't until I was an adult and became interested in health and nutrition that I tried real maple syrup for the first time.  I always keep it on hand now to serve with Sunday breakfast, drizzle over baked acorn squash, or to add a touch of sweetness to homemade salad dressing.

Maple syrup is pure.  It is produced from the sap of maple trees; nothing artificial, no preservatives, no ingredients you can't pronounce.  Anything that does not state PURE maple syrup on the label is mostly cornstarch and water.  Maple flavored syrup by law must contain trace amounts of the real thing but it is not benefiting you at all. Pure maple syrup is rich in calcium, potassium, and magnesium.  Yes, it is processed, but when you weigh the differences between the production of maple syrup to a bottle of Mrs. Butterworth's, pure maple syrup is the smarter, healthier choice.

Here are the ingredients in Mrs. Butterworth's Syrup:  High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, water, salt, cellulose gum, molasses, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium hexametaphosphate, citric acid, caramel color, natural and artificial flavors. 

YUCK!!! I could't imagine pouring imitation, chemical-laden sugar water over a batch of my lovingly mixed, carefully flipped homemade pancakes!  What a tragedy that would be! Would you honestly want to serve this to your family?

Strive to make the best choices possible concerning the foods you eat.  Sometimes the best choices are a bit more expensive but in the long run are healthier and better for you.  Your body is your temple.  Treat it like a church.  You wear Sunday best to church.  Give your body the same respect. Give it your Sunday best every day with REAL food!

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Squash Sense..... Really Simple Skillet Recipes

As promised, here are a few more recipes using summer squash.  Enjoy.......and let me know if you try any of these recipes and how they turned out......

Summer Squash in a Skillet

6 large summer squash, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 -2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Slice squash in medium slices. In large iron skillet heat the olive oil;  add the squash and onions in layers, sprinkling salt and pepper between layers. Cover and cook over low heat. When squash starts to become tender, mix gently and chop the squash a bit as you mix, but not a lot. Cook until squash is tender, about 20 minutes or so.

It really doesn't get any easier than this :)

Zucchini Tomato Skillet

1/2 cup sliced green onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 lbs zucchini, unpeeled, sliced 1/2 " thick
3 fresh tomatoes, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges

 Cook onion and garlic in oil until onion is tender. Add sugar, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and zucchini. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes; heat through. Remove bay leaf before serving.  You can toss into hot cooked pasta as a quick delicious meal. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and enjoy!

And this is my Daily Cyn............

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Squash...........they are abundant. Our gardens are beginning to overflow with them. They seem to multiply and take over. You have so much of it that you give bags of it away to everyone who stops by the house. Not a gardener? Perhaps you push right by bins of squash each week at the produce market. They are inexpensive but you don't know anything about and have no idea how to cook them.

July is going to be all about Squash Sense. All month long we will be exploring these soft-shelled vegetables, learning how good they are for us, and trying new recipes. We will be baking them into bread, tossing them into stir frys, stuffing them with goodies, and more!

Summer squash are relatives of both the melon and the cucumber and come in many different varieties.  They come in different in shapes, color, size and flavor, but all share some common characteristics. The entire vegetable, including its flesh, seeds and skin, is edible. Some varieties of the squash plant produce edible flowers. Unlike winter squash, summer squash are more fragile and cannot be stored for very long.  This is why we try to give them away so quickly!

Although not as potent as root vegetables like burdock, garlic or onion, squashes have been found to have anti-cancer type effects. Although phytonutrient research on squash is limited, some lab studies have shown vegetable juices obtained from squash to be parallel to juices made from leeks, pumpkin, and radish in their ability to prevent cell mutations (cancer-like changes).

In research studies, extracts from squash have also been found to help reduce symptoms of a condition occurring in men called benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. In this condition, the prostate gland becomes problematically enlarged, which can cause difficulty with urinary and sexual function. Serve your man some squash and make it quick!!

Packed with nutrients, summer squash are excellent sources of manganese and vitamin C and a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, folate, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus.  They are good for your heart and can even help relieve the symptoms of arthiritis! Who knew?

Types of Summer Squash:

Zucchini: Probably the best known of the summer squashes, zucchini is a type of narrow squash that resembles a cucumber in size and shape. It has smooth, thin skin that is either green or yellow in color and can be striped or speckled. Its tender flesh is creamy white in color and features numerous seeds. Its edible flowers are often used in French and Italian cooking.

Crookneck and Straightneck Squash: Both of these summer squashes have creamy white flesh and generally have yellow skins, although sometimes you can find them with green skin. Crookneck squash is partially straight with a swan-like neck.

Pattypan Squash: This small saucer-shaped squash features skin that can either be pale green or golden yellow in color. Its cream-colored flesh is more dense and slightly sweeter than that of zucchini.

The possibilities for these abundant gifts from the earth are endless. Shred and bake in bread ( a sneaky way to get the kids to eat more veggies), lightly steam, slice and serve with dip, saute' in garlic and olive oil and toss into pasta dishes, scoop out the insides and stuff with rice, nuts, and raisins (my favorite).  You will never run out of ideas.

And this is my Daily Cyn...........

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Go Ahead and Splurge

I know I post some pretty odd recipes for dishes that some of you might consider forbidden or fattening. I just recently shared a recipe I found for heirloom tomato and goat cheese fondue. You bake it and serve along with homemade croutons for dipping! Have I lost my mind? Absolutely not!

Here is how I look it at. I stress the importance of REAL food. Real food is not processed, pre-packaged, or artificial. If God made it, it's ok to eat. The more it is tampered with, the more unhealthy it becomes for you. Yes, I am a vegetarian. NO, I don't eat meat. Yes, sometimes I post MEAT recipes- good, healthy ones! Not everyone can be like me. Not everyone can exist on my type of a diet. I don't expect you to and would never push it on you if it was something you absolutely, positively did not want. You want your meat, then by George, have it. I just want you to purchase and nourish yourselves with the best quality meat out there.

So.....back to the fondue recipe aka Sin in a Baking Dish..... If I am going to indulge or splurge on something I still want it to be something REAL. Sometimes you just crave something a little fattening, something considered "bad". Life would be so boring without the occasional treat. This fondue recipe would be absolutely PERFECT to serve to some guests on a nice summer evening out on the deck. Open a nice bottle of wine, put on some jazz , sit and chat and eat. I don't think it can get better than that. Your alternative? A pot of coffee and a dozen Dunkin Donuts..... donuts that will be left over because everyone is watching their weight? Donuts are heavy, sweet and for the most part, artificial. You will be left the next day with a bunch of stale donuts and tempted to dunk them into your morning coffee.

Constant denial can result in a total breakdown. The first emotional upset or situation that does not go your way will cause you to binge and eat every fattening, unhealthy thing in sight. Don't deny yourself. Give the fondue recipe a try! This dish will not cause you to gain weight, your blood pressure to increase, or your arteries to harden. Consuming an entire dish of it every day for the rest of your life just might! A Fast Food breakfast, lunch, dinner and the fondue later in the evening even a couple of times a week could be a recipe for disaster. 

Avoid artificial, processed, pre-packaged no fat, low fat, low sugar items. As appealing and guilt-free as that kind of food might sound; it is not REAL and you will NEVER, EVER be satisfied with it. You have to think and plan. You have to use a little wisdom.  Choose REAL whole food rather than faux-food as often as you can. You will be satisfied every time...

Find the recipe for the Heirloom Tomato and Goat Cheese Fondue on my Metamorphosis Facebook Page. Just click the banner to your right....

And this is my Daily Cyn..........

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave..............

I am taking a break from all things technological to enjoy my 4 day Independence Weekend! I always seem to be plugged in to something:  laptop, office phone and computer, my Blackberry.  I am always making or returning calls, posting, commenting, emailing, researching, Tweeting, writing a daily blog, managing my Metamorphosis page on Facebook and I just recently took on the responsibility of managing the Facebook page of a friend who just started a new business venture. I am always eating, sleeping and breathing these things because they are my passion and my lively-hood. Time to log-off for a few days........

I have posted below all the verses to our National Anthem - The Star Spangled Banner.  It is such a beautiful poem/song that I want to share it with everyone!  Most people might not even realize there are additional verses because all they've ever heard is the first one.  I hope you will take your time to read and reflect on the words for they are truly beautiful.  I hope they inspire a new love and appreciation for our great nation especially during this time of war and uncertainty.

May our flag always fly high and proud.  May we never forget those who fought for our freedom.  May we never forget those who are still fighting even now.  May God protect our soldiers and bring them back to the land of the free and the home of the brave.......

And this is my Daily Cyn..............

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

By Francis Scott Key 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,

What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,

As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,

In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:

'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,

A home and a country should leave us no more!

Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.

No refuge could save the hireling and slave

From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:

And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation!

Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land

Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,

And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."

And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave

O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!