Thursday, March 20, 2014

Feeling Inspired

It has been a while since I’ve blogged. Earlier this week I was out to dinner with my cousin and we were talking about how it’s hard to pick up things (like blogging) again after being away from them for so long simply because it seems a little awkward: what do I say? How do I start again? Do I pick up where I left off or do I start new? Even relationships can be like that sometimes. Today I’m feeling inspired. I realized, what matters isn't so much what I write or how I say it, but rather that I do write something. I love blogging and today I am grateful for the inspiration that came over me which lead me to writing this post.

This past week changed my life. A friend, about my age, was diagnosed with leukemia. Healthy, young, newly married, beautiful, cheerful, lively, wonderful human struck with disease. Her prognosis: to take on the fight head on until she beats it. Winning is the only option. She is in my every thought as I have been sending her and her beautiful family positive energy all day, all night, everyday & every night. How fitting that today, the first day of spring, is coupled with her first day of full force 24/7 treatment. It is the beginning of her physical battle. Mother Nature is alongside her breaking through the darkness of yesterday to arrive at a new beginning. Life is fragile. Don’t ever take for granted a morning you wake up healthy. Already so proud of her, I want to thank her for being my hero. She is the bravest person I know. She is a ray of sunshine that has struck so many lives, giving every life she’s touched inspiration and the reminder we all need to appreciate our many blessings.

If there’s something you used to enjoy or something you haven’t done in a while that you think about often, do it. If there’s a person you haven’t spoken to in a while, call them. It’s never too late and it’s never been too long to pick up where you left off. Life is too short to miss this moment.

Happy First Day of Spring! Sending you bursts of positive energy to keep up with this battle, my friend, which you will, undoubtedly overcome. Here’s to new beginnings: we must remember our strength to face what we fear, our courage to fight for what we believe, faith to keep us optimistic in times of doubt and above all, we must cherish the love we receive from family and friends to carry us through the journey.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Remnants of Valentine’s Day…

Talk about a healthy heart – what were you doing yesterday? Actually, the real question is…does your heart feel full today?!?

Now that the romantic dinners have been eaten, cards have been written, flowers delivered, gifts given, champagne glasses toasted…what’s left? How does your heart feel today? Are you satisfied? Regardless of how you spent yesterday’s holiday, or your personal feelings about Valentine’s Day, everyone deserves a surprise once in a while and deserves to hear “I love you.” Whether or not you think it’s a silly holiday is not the point. The point is that we all love feeling loved. And whether you’re married, dating or single, you are loved by someone.

Yes, every day we should remind those we love how special they are and how much they mean to us. But we don’t. Instead, we get tangled in life’s chaos. Our sweetheart is one thing … loving them, doing special things with them and for them, getting/giving presents for no reason, saying I love you…all of that stuff happens on a regular, if not daily, basis (and if it doesn’t, it should!) It’s not necessarily your sweetheart who needs the reminding…what about your mom, your dad, your best friend, your grandmother, your cousins, your siblings, your teachers, your grandfather, your co-workers, an old friend who you you've lost touch with...what about those people? Do you say “I love you” to them as often as you feel it?

Keeping your heart healthy will feed the rest of your senses. Knowing that you’re loved is very satisfying…so how about reciprocating by giving someone who makes you feel loved everyday a little bit of that same satisfaction. Send someone special a card today, or give them a phone call (someone who you didn’t spend last night with) just to say hi and to tell them that you love them too.

At the very least, Valentine’s Day is the reminder we all need to get us to exercise our emotions. Whatever yesterday meant for you, take something from it…get inspired to spread happiness and love today.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Take a Moment to Breathe

I want to remind my readers that this is not just another one of 'those cooking blogs.' Rather, it is a place where I share my thoughts about health as it pertains to the body, mind, heart and soul (especially how these different aspects of health pertain to young adults, like myself.) This blog is my outlet, my place to share my thoughts and my passions (cooking being one of them) with others my age who hopefully can, at the very least appreciate them, if not get something out of them. I encourage your thoughts, comments and feedback!

We all have those weeks when we're caught off-guard by a comment someone makes or behaviors from our friends, family or colleagues we're not expecting. How we deal with the unexpected and the negativity that sometimes surrounds us affects whether our minds and our hearts can ultimately find peace. We all need a little reality check every now and then, which is nothing to be ashamed of: we are only human. Don't be so quick to judge others...there's usually much more than what appears on the surface. After all, in the very act of writing or speaking a judgment of someone else, you are doing that which you're in essence ridiculing.

No cooking recipes today. Instead, I leave you with this thought: go do something for yourself today. It's Saturday, so take a little break. Clear your head, your heart, your mind, your soul. Find a way to get rid of all the negativity or uncertainty of the week that is now behind us. Do something for yourself. Reconnect with you.

In the words of Danielle, from the move Ever After: "...just breathe."

Friday, February 3, 2012

National Wear Red Day

Friday, February 3rd…do you know what today is? Today is American Heart & Stroke Association’s National Wear Red Day. Did You Know…
-Stroke is the No. 3 cause of death, heart disease being the No.1 cause of death in women
-A stroke occurs every 40 seconds
-Every 4 minutes someone dies of a stroke
Shocking, right? Wear red today to support the billions of people around us who are currently suffering & those who have suffered from stroke and heart disease in the past.I have joined the train to end stroke challenge, which is a campaign sponsored by The American Stroke Association (a division of The American Heart Association) that involves fundraising for the cause & running a ½ marathon in June. I joined because I've watched many people who I love suffer from disease, and I thought, if they could be brave enough to fight against their diseased bodies, I can work towards helping save the lives of others. If you’d like to join me on this journey, visit my page to learn more or to make a donation in your name:

Every little bit really does make a BIG difference. The power is in our hands to prevent and overcome stroke and heart disease. Join me on the journey…you’ll be happy you did =)

Do you know what else today is…Today officially begins Super Bowl WeekendHappy Friday!! And, what a BEAUTIFUL Friday we’ve been blessed with: sun’s out, weather’s beautiful, it’s wear red day – a day to give back and help save lives, AND there are 2 days until our boys kick off in Indianapolis…what more could you ask for?! =)

In light of The American Stroke Association’s Wear Red Day/supporting their cause and my week of Super Bowl Recipes, here’s a little something special to satisfy those of us who have a bit of a sweet tooth =) You can use this as a Super Bowl dessert, OR for Valentine’s Day (or BOTH)!

“Raspberry Surprise”:
Ingredients: 1 2/3 cups crushed pretzels, 1.5 tbsp maple syrup (or honey), ¾ cups melted butter, 8 oz. non-fat cream cheese, 1 carton of fat free cool whip, 2 packages of raspberry Jell-O, 2 packages of frozen raspberries, 2 cups boiling water.
1)Preheat oven to 350
2)Mix first 3 ingredients to make a crust
3)Pat crust into 9 x 13 inch pan & bake for 10 min.
4)While that’s cooling, blend cream cheese & cool whip. Once blended, put mixture on top of pie crust.
5)Combine Jell-O mix with boiling water and add frozen raspberries, once mix is completed dissolved.
6)Spread Jell-O mix over cream cheese mixture
7)Refrigerate overnight
Cover with additional Cool Whip & fresh raspberries before serving, if desired.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Only 3 days till game time!!!

Yesterday was super busy, so I missed the Wednesday recipe...Sorry!!! Today I’m giving out 2 recipes to make up for missing one yesterday! If you still can't think of what to bring to your Super Bowl party...try one of these:

Vegetarian Chili:

Ingredients: Olive Oil, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1 chopped onion, 1 28 ounce can of tomatoes, 2 -3 cups vegetable broth, 1 6 ounce can of tomato paste, 2 cans black beans (drained), 2 cans red kidney beans (drained), non-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional) & then all the important spices: red pepper flakes, oregano, chili powder, fresh ground red pepper, parsley.
1)Sautee the onion, garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil until the onion is soft & brown on the outside.
2)Place the onions, and remaining ingredients in either a crock pot or a cooking pot. Add spices.
3)Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours (if in crock pot), or for 3-4 hours if in stove top cooking pot.
4)Serve with non-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top, if desired.

Buffalo Chicken Calzone:
Ingredients: Boneless/Skinless Chicken Cutlets, breadcrumbs, celery cut into small pieces, shredded carrots, non-fat shredded cheddar cheese, light Ken’s Blue Cheese Dressing, Hot Sauce, ¼ cup of chopped onion, Pillsbury Classic Pizza Dough
1)Preheat oven to 350
2)Clean chicken & cut into bite size pieces
3)Place uncooked chicken pieces & breadcrumbs in a plastic bag...shake mixture until all chicken is coated with breadcrumbs
5)Sauté onion, carrots & celery in skillet
6)Add chicken to sauté mixture
7)Let sautee mixture cool a little bit. Then, add hot sauce & stir.
8)Unroll Pillsbury Classic Pizza Dough on a flat baking sheet
9)Spread blue cheese dressing on flat dough
10)Spread sauté mixture on top of blue cheese
11)Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top
12)Roll calzone & bake for 20 – 30 minutes
13)Let calzone cool for a few minutes. Then cut into small pieces and serve =)

Super Bowl in 3 … Let’s go PATS!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Vegan Option

The countdown to Super Bowl Sunday continues...5 days left =) Here's a Vegan Option [this one's for you Jason =)]

Classic Bruschetta:

Ingredients: extra virgin olive oil, 1 – 2 tbsp of fresh squeezed lemon juice, 1 – 2 cloves of minced garlic, 3 cups of seeded & chopped fresh tomatoes, ½ cup finely chopped (or minced) red onion, salt & pepper for flavoring, 1 French baguette. Optional herbs/spices: (depending on what you like) fresh basil, parsley & chives.
1) Preheat oven to 375
2 )In a medium bowl stir together olive oil, chives, parsley, basil, lemon juice, and garlic. Add tomatoes and onion; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate mixture.
3) Cut the bread into small bite-size slices
4) Brush each side of each slice of bread with olive oil
5) Put slices of bread on baking sheet and toast in oven 4 - 5 min. on each side (or until toasted)
6) Spoon bruschetta mixture onto slices of bread.

Voila! Appetizer Idea #2...a vegan option that everyone can enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Super Bowl Ideas

Happy Monday!! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend. And now, we're back to the grind…this week’s going to be a long one and a cold one =( But, no complaints - we had such a BEAUTIFUL weekend…the sunshine and 50 degree weather certainly was quite an unexpected treat in New England (especially it being the end of January!!)
There is, of course, something very exciting coming up next weekend which is helping me to get through the cold week ahead…Super Bowl Sunday!! Having most of my family rooting for the Giants and most of my friends rooting for the Pats, this Super Bowl will be especially exciting for the Raspa’s =)

And so, the countdown begins…6 days until Kick Off. Some of us get excited, because we genuinely love the game and the rest of us get excited because Super Bowl is a great excuse for a party =) Regardless of why you're looking forward to next Sunday, all of us get pumped thinking about the food and booze that come with the game. YUM! Keeping our eating & drinking semi-healthy is important & it’s really not that hard. Don’t deprive yourself!! You can stick to all of your traditional favorites...but this year, prepare them differently; prepare them in a way in which you won’t feel guilty about having had them the next morning. I'll help you! Every day this week I will provide a new 'revised recipe'of a variety of classic, super bowl favorites. They're all easy to make AND the best part about them, in my opinion, is that they WON'T hurt your body OR your wallet =)

Today’s Recipe: My favorite Spinach & Artichoke Dip
Ingredients: 1 bag of fresh spinach, ½ small onion, 2-3 cloves of garlic, 1 container of marinated artichokes (found in the Goya section of food store), 1 package of frozen creamed spinach, salt & pepper to season, 1 cup of reduced fat shredded cheese (choose your favorite kind)
1)Preheat oven to 350
2)Sauté onion, garlic and fresh spinach with a drizzle of olive oil. Add salt & pepper for flavor.
3)While that’s sautéing, cut up artichokes into small pieces & add to sauté mix
4)Stir in packages of frozen chopped & frozen creamed spinach. Mix ingredients.
5) Transfer mixture to a casserole dish. Stir in cheese & place in the oven to bake for 20 – 30 minutes.

Voila! Delicious, perfectly healthy spinach artichoke dip =) … a great alternative snack to pick at on Super Bowl Sunday!