Despite the lingering chill here in the Rocky Mountains, we’re collectively hoping that spring will emerge soon. With that in mind, Coach Stacy has been busy with a dizzying array of home improvements – painting, plumbing, electrical work, and carpeting – a spring-cleaning project on steroids.
I was summoned to the Coach Stacy Cabana a couple of weeks ago to check out the new carpet – which was quite lovely – when I happened to notice the master bathtub filled to the rim with athletic shoes.
“So…um…what’s with the shoes?” I inquired.
“Temporary storage,” Coach said. “I had to get them out of the closet so the installers could lay the carpet in there.”
“You mean all of those tennies were in your closet? Why, there must be dozens…”
Coach turned to face me and responded with unqualified conviction, “You can never have too many pairs of sneakers.”
I knew better than to argue. But my curiosity was peaked, so I started counting. 1, 2, 3, 4….
As I counted, Coach Stacy regaled me with the myriad reasons why one might be compelled to own multiple pairs of athletic shoes.
First of all, there’s the crazy complexity of the human foot: 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles. Such intricate anatomy requires just the right shoe for the demands of each specific activity. Running shoes are for running. Hiking shoes are for hiking. And neither work well on the golf course or Zumba class.
10, 11, 12…
Variety in athletic footwear also helps to ward off foot injuries. Different shoes naturally distribute the impact of movement differently, which subsequently reduces the strain, wear and tear on the tissues, muscles, bones and joints of the feet, thus lessening the risk of overuse injury. And of course, alternating shoes tends to extend the lifespan of each pair. The average running shoe, for example, is good for 350-400 miles. Say you run 4-5 miles a day, three days per week – that pair of shoes won’t last a year, especially if you throw a 10K or half marathon in from time to time. But if you alternate your runs with two pairs of shoes, you’ll double the mileage of each pair.
18, 19, 20…
Related to this is the fact that the average foot has 125,000 sweat glands, which, believe it or not, are capable of excreting nearly a quarter of a pint of moisture in the course of a day. Unless shoes are given the opportunity to dry out thoroughly between uses, that moisture turns into a thriving mass of bacteria which causes shoes to fall apart more quickly as well as contribute to the onslaught of athlete’s foot.
25, 26, 27…
Fashion also plays a part in Coach Stacy’s infatuation with athletic shoes. “Just the right shoe to match the outfit.” Recently, while shopping with Coach in the shoe department at Macy’s, I made the mistake of commenting that she already had a pair of blue sneakers, which led to a dramatic sigh and a pronounced rolling of the eyeballs as she responded disdainfully, “Those are navy blue. I need turquoise blue to match my new warm up. You know, the one with the silver trim?”
I took her word for it.
37, 38, 39…
Speaking of shoe shopping, do you know your foot type? Are you flat-footed or high arched? Do you tend to over pronate or under pronate? If you don’t know, try taking the wet test: Step your wet foot onto a paper bag and assess your foot type based on the shape that you see.
A Flat Arch – Your footprint shows the entire sole with very little curve. This foot type causes regularly recurring foot injuries such as plantar fasciitis and IT band syndrome. Go for a shoe with maximum stability and motion control.
A Neutral Arch – Your footprint is “C” shaped, with only the slightest over pronation. You probably don’t have many problems with your feet outside of occasional bouts with shin splints or plantar fasciitis. Opt for a mild-stability shoe to prevent the arch from collapsing.
A High Arch – You tend to under pronate (or supinate), which means you land on the outside of your feet when you walk. This tends to result in achy joints caused from too much pressure traveling up your legs. If this is your foot type, you should opt for a neutral cushioned shoe with a soft midsole.
42, 43, 44, 45
Here are a few more of Coach Stacy’s tips for buying the right shoes for happy feet:
- Bring or wear athletic socks with you when you go shopping for tennies. And while you’re at it, bring your orthotics as well. Wearing these while trying shoes on will ensure a proper fit.
- Avoid buying shoes that are too short. Use the “rule of thumb” – the end of your longest toe should be a thumb’s width away from the end of the shoe. While shoes tend to stretch out with wear, they don’t tend to stretch in length and buying shoes that are too short can cause hammertoe.
- Go shoe shopping later in the day. Research has shown that our feet tend to expand or swell somewhat as the day progresses, so shopping later in the day may prevent you from purchasing shoes that are too small.
- Avoid buying shoes simply because they’re a) cute, or b) on sale. Comfort and fit are far more important than looks or price.
55, 56, 57…58
Turns out Coach Stacy is the Khloe Kardashian of the athletic shoe world; there’s a pair of tennies in her closet for every sport imaginable. And while 58 pairs of sneakers may seem a little over the top, I’ll probably never be able to tell Coach that her shoes don’t match her warm-up. On the other hand, such a comment would provide her with a compelling reason to go shoe shopping, which she probably wouldn’t mind at all.
I have a friend who’s something of a diet junky, rolling with every new plan that travels up the turnpike. The ultimate yo-yo dieter, she enjoys dramatic early success with each new regimen, but ultimately loses the battle to lack of both interest and willpower, expanding and contracting throughout the year.
Jenny Craig? Too expensive. Atkins? Too constipating. Sonoma? Yawn.
I made an interesting observation, though, the other day. Coach Stacy’s dog, Baxter, had become quite the porker in recent months. Seriously, Coach dressed him up as a pumpkin for Halloween and he totally owned the look. Despite his daily walks and the two flights of household stairs he was doomed to routinely navigate – not to mention the thyroid medication prescribed by his vet – the little guy seemed destined to forevermore shop in the “Big & Tall” doggie sweater department.
Until one day recently when an alarming discovery was made. Seems somewhere along the way Baxter had figured how to open the large bin that contains his dog food, and he’d been helping himself to it – evidently quite frequently – when left unobserved. Well of course, that signaled the end of free grazing in the Coach Stacy cabana. Baxter’s food is now locked up securely, and like the rest of us, he’s currently enjoying only three squares a day.
And it shows. While Baxter will likely never be especially lean, he has dropped a few pounds. So here’s a diet breakthrough: If you want to lose weight, simply place your pantry under lock and key. And then lose the key.
It works for Baxter. Though, of course, he still likes to scarf down a Red Rope now and again…
Gus: Now, gimme a word, any word, and I’ll show you how the root of that word is Greek. Okay? How about arachnophobia? Arachna, that comes from the Greek word for spider, and phobia is phobia, is mean fear. So, fear of spider, there you go.
Schoolgirl: Okay, Mr. Portokalos, how about the word kimono?
Gus: Kimono, kimono, kimono. Ha! Of course! Kimono is come from the Greek word himona, is mean winter. So what do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe. You see: robe, kimono. There you go!
And so, in honor of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Coach’s Kitchen presents three delectable snacks featuring Greek yogurt. To paraphrase Gus: You see…Olympics, Greek yogurt. There you go!
Pasta with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Creamy Lemon-Yogurt Sauce (from www.ezrapoundcake.com)
8 0z whole wheat linguine (or pasta of choice)
½ cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp grated lemon zest
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil
3 medium (8 0z) zucchinis cut into thin strips (3 inches long and ¾ inches wide)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
½ pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the pasta, and cook about 9 minutes, or according to the package directions. Rmove ¼ cup of the cooking water, and set it aside. Drain the pasta. Set aside
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, and salt and pepper. Set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the zucchini, and cook just until wilted, flipping them over occasionally with a spatula. (The zucchini will be soft and somewhat see-through.)
Use a spoon or spatula to push the zucchini aside so a space on the bottom of the pan is clear. Add the garlic, and cook for 15 to 30 seconds, until golden but not really brown.
Mix the garlic into the zucchini.
Stir in the tomatoes and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the zucchini mixture to the yogurt mixture, and stir to combine. Add the drained linguine, and toss gently to combine. Add the reserved pasta cooking water a tablespoon at a time, if necessary to thin it. Divide among four bowls and serve.
Yields 4 servings
303 calories, 7 g fat, 14 g protein, 49 g. carbs, 255 g sodium
Spicy Flatbread Pizza (from www.stonyfield.com)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
4 wheat pita breads (6-inch diameter, cut horizontally in half)
½ tsp dried crushed red pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
3 Tsp olive oil
1 cup pitted kalamata olives (or other brine-cured black olives, coarsely chopped)
½ cup sun dried tomatoes coarsely chopped
½ cup crumbled Feta Cheese
6 cups plain Stonyfield Organic Greek plain nonfat yogurt
1 lb boneless lamb leg (cut into thin slices 1-inch square)
Salt and pepper to taste
For yogurt cheese: Using a yogurt cheese maker or layered cheese cloth, strain the whey from 6 cups of yogurt for 3-6 hours in the refrigerator. This should yield about 2 cups of yogurt cheese°.
Preheat oven to 400°. Toss lamb in 2 Tbs of olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper together.
Heat saucepan. Add lamb, cook to medium rare, salt and pepper to taste. Let cool. Brush pita with remaining olive oil. Cook 4 minutes until edges start to brown.
Combine 1 cup feta and yogurt cheese. Spread yogurt mixture on cooked pita rounds, 1/8 inch thick.
Cover with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and lamb. Sprinkle with remaining feta, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 4 minutes before serving.
Yields 4 servings
36 calories, 17 g fat, 25 g protein
Spicy Chopped Chicken Salad (from www.health.com)
4 sun-dried tomatoes
¾ cup 2% plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbs red wine vinegar
½ tsp ancho chile powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbs diced red onion
2 cornichons, diced
1 head romaine lettuce, finely shredded
1 ½ cups diced cooked chicken breast
1 cucumber, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 ¾ cups chickpeas
4 oz Cheddar, diced
Soften tomatoes in ½ cup hot water. Puree in blender with yogurt, vinegar, chile and cayenne; place in bowl. Stir in onion and cornichons. Toss with remaining ingredients. Serve.
Yields 6 servings
250 calories, 10.1 g fat, 23 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 6 g fiber, 55 mg cholesterol, 267 mg sodium
Pomegranates are nutritional powerhouses, and in-season now. Not only are they loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber – their ruby-red seeds make festive adornments to many a holiday dish. Try sprinkling pomegranate seeds (arils) on salads, over cold cereal or oatmeal, and in Greek yogurt. Pomegranates are also well paired with chicken and seafood and are the perfect ingredient in chutneys, salsas and jams. If you’re entertaining this holiday season, try some of these pom recipes:
Pomegranate Ginger Muffins (from www.about.com)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup minced crystallized ginger
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1 ¼ cups pomegranate seeds
1 cup milk
1 large egg
¼ cup butter or margarine
In a bowl, mix flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in crystallized ginger, lemon peel and pomegranate seeds. Make a well in the center.
In a measuring cup, blend milk, egg, and ¼ cup butter. Pour liquid all at once into well. Stir just until batter is moistened; it will be lumpy.
Spoon batter into 12 (2 ½ inch wide) or 24 (1 ¾ inch wide) buttered muffin cups, filling each almost to the rim. Sprinkle with 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar.
Bake in a 425° oven until lightly browned, about 16 minutes for large muffins, 13 minutes for small. Remove muffins from pan at once. Serve hot or set on a rack and serve warm or cool.
Yields 12 (2 ½ inch) or 24 (1 ¾ inch) muffins
Per 2 ½ inch muffin serving:
215 calories, 3.5 g protein, 6.3 g fat, 37 g carbohydrates, 290 mg sodium, 34 mg cholesterol
Gingery Pomegranate Punch (from www.realsimple.com)
4 cups pomegranate juice, chilled
4 cups vodka
¾ cup fresh lime juice, plus 1 lime, thinly sliced
6 cups ginger beer, chilled
½ cup pomegranate seeds
In a large punch bowl, combine the pomegranate juice, vodka, and lime juice; chill for up to 12 hours. Just before serving, add the ginger beer, pomegranate seeds, and lime slices.
Yields 10 servings
168 calories, 0 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 0 g fat, 16 g sugar, 8 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Vanilla Pomegranate Parfait (from www.eatingwell.com)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
1 cup pomegranate seeds
2/3 cup pomegranate juice
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 cup low-fat milk
¾ cup half-and-half
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ Tbs cornstarch
1 Tbs butter
½ cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
6 mint sprigs for garnish
To prepare compote: Mix 2 Tbs sugar with 2 tsp cornstarch in a small saucepan. Add pomegranate seeds, pomegranate juice and lemon juice; stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring, until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl. Refrigerate while you prepare the pudding.
To prepare pudding: Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium heavy saucepan. Add vanilla extract. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk egg, egg yolk, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 ½ Tbs cornstarch in a medium bowl. Reheat the milk mixture just until steaming. Carefully whisk one-third of the steaming milk into the egg mixture. Pour the egg-milk mixture back into the pan. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in butter.
To prepare parfaits: Divide the pomegranate compote among six 6-ounch parfait glasses, ramekins, or other small dessert cups. Spoon the pudding mixture over the compote. Cover and refrigerate until the pudding is well chilled and firm, at least 3 hours. To serve, garnish each parfait with pomegranate seeds and a mint sprig, if desired.
Yields 6 servings
209 calories, 8 g fat, 4 g protein, 1 g fiber, 31 g carbohydrates, 48 mg sodium, 88 mg cholesterol
Although sweet potatoes were not served at the first Thanksgiving meal – they’d yet to infiltrate North American from the Caribbean – few sides are as gratifying as these sweet and nutrient-rich spuds. Sliced, mashed or pureed, these ‘tater recipes are sure to please your guests on Thanksgiving.
Sweet Potato Gratin (from www.familycircle.com)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 lb baking potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1 ¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp plus 1/8 tsp black pepper
5 oz Gruyère cheese, grated
1 cup heavy cream, heated
Heat oven to 400°. In a small bowl, mix together chopped garlic, rosemary and thyme. In a 2-quart baking dish, layer one-third of the sweet potato and baking potato slices, slightly overlapping some of the edges. Sprinkle with ¼ tsp of the salt, 1/8 tsp of the pepper, half the garlic-herb mixture and one-third of the shredded cheese. Repeat layering a second and third time. Mix remaining ½ tsp salt with heavy cream; pour over potatoes.
Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake another 25 minutes, until bubbling and top is golden-brown. Cool 15 minutes before serving.
Yields: 12 servings
Per serving: 178 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g protein, 15 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 310 mg sodium, 40 mg cholesterol
Rosemary Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Shallots (from www.cookinglight.com)
2 Tbs plus 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¾ cup thinly sliced shallots (about 2 large)
2 tsp brown sugar
2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Tbs finely chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp coarse sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add shallots to pan, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with sugar; cook 20 minutes or until shallots are golden, stirring occasionally.
Place potatoes in a medium saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 8 minutes or until tender. Drain. Place potatoes in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add rosemary, salt, and pepper; beat until blended. Spoon into a bowl; top with shallots, and drizzle with remaining 2 tsp oil.
Yields: 6 servings
Per serving: 202 calories, 6.3 g fat, 29 g protein, 34.9 g carbohydrates, 4.8 g fiber, 278 mg sodium, 0 mg cholesterol
Sweet Potato Soup (from www.tasteofhome.com)
1 cup chopped celery
½ cup chopped onion
1 Tbs canola oil
3 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), peeled and cubed
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp salt, optional
In a Dutch oven, sauté celery and onion in oil until tender. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat; simmer for 25-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Discard bay leaf. Cool slightly. In a blender, process soup in batches until smooth. Return all to pant and heat through.
Yields: 4 servings
Per serving: 133 calories, 5 g fat, 4 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates, 0 g fiber, 4 mg cholesterol
After you’ve carved your Jack-o-lanterns on Halloween be sure to save that gooey glop. Turns out it’s not only tasty in soups and pies – pumpkin is great for your skin as well. Rich in essential vitamins and nutrients that give skin a natural glow, one would think they’d pack pumpkin into every skin-care product on the market, since it’s bursting with:
• Vitamin A, which softens skin
• Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that reduces the harmful effects of free radicals
• Vitamin E, which reduces lines and wrinkles
• Minerals such as manganese, magnesium, zinc, iron and potassium, which generally improve the skin’s tone and appearance by breaking down dead proteins and fighting off inflammation
Despite the benefits of pumpkin to the skin – seriously, who wouldn’t want younger looking skin?? – surprisingly few commercial beauty products contain it as a primary ingredient. So why not make your own? Following are a few healthy pumpkin-based skin-care recipes that you can concoct from home using the pulp from this year’s Jack-o-lantern. They’re good enough to eat – but better to slather them on your skin instead. Enjoy – and have a safe and happy Halloween.
Pumpkin and Honey Mask (from http://www.womenshealthmag.com)
In a small bowl, combine the mashed pumpkin and honey. Stir until smooth. Apply to clean, damp skin in the evening, and leave it on for 20 minutes. (This mask can be sticky, so be sure to wear an old t-shirt when using it.) Rinse with water and pat dry. Apply once a week or whenever skin is irritated.
Sweet Pumpkin Body Scrub (from http://www.sparkpeople.com)
This body scrub will gently exfoliate and revitalize your skin.
Combine in a small bowl:
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup organic cane sugar
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Mix with a spoon until blended. Apply to body with gentle circular scrubbing motions, using a washcloth if desired. When complete, rinse with warm water.
Pumpkin Body Butter (from http://www.routeonepumpkins.com)
Mix ingredients in a bowl. Apply generously to clean skin and massage gently so as to work it well into the skin. Allow butter to remain on for 10 minutes or so, then rinse with warm water and pat dry.