Adaptable Recipes, Fall Comfort Recipes, Food Glorious Food

Makeover Meal Meal-Fall Comfort Edition

Summer is the season of hot weather, going to the beach, cool drinks, grilling, and long lazy days. Conversely, autumn is the season of cooler temps, leaves changing, sweaters, hot apple cider, comfort food, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. For so many of us, it’s time to put the oven on and head back into the kitchen.

 

Comfort meals are just the thing to help us hit the reset button in the midst of the stresses of work, school, and other obligations that can make us feel a bit off balance. During the week, we often don’t have the time or energy to deal with a long complicated meal. Even a slow cooker can be hard when you don’t have time to put the ingredients together, or some of us have even forgotten to put it on.  However, we came across a recipe in Southern Living that is easy, healthy and comes together in less than thirty minutes.

Chicken soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods and cure for all that ails you. The best thing about this soup is you can buy many of the ingredients pre-cooked and pre-chopped.  We’ve adapted the recipe for vegans and vegetarians ( no chicken, vegan noodles, and non-dairy milk) as a way to be sure that everyone can find comfort in a hot, creamy soup perfect for the cooler evenings ahead.

 

Enjoy and Happy Fall!

Creamy Chicken Soup recipe by Southern Living Magazine adapted by Still A Chick Lit

Total Time 25 minutes

¼ cup unsalted butter (unsalted vegan butter)

1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped

3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 -inch rounds (about ¾ cup)

2 medium celery stalks, chopped

4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen peas

1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 bay leaf

¼ cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

6 cups unsalted chicken stock (unsalted vegetable stock) (I like Kitchen Basics)

8 ounces Old-fashioned wide egg noodles (you can use pasta, such as orzo or even angel hair spaghetti to keep it vegan/vegetarian)

1 cooked or rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (omit for vegan/vegetarian soup)

½ cup heavy cream (dairy: light cream or half and half) (non-dairy: rice, soy, or almond milk)

1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar

2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened. Add flour, garlic, and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is fragrant and the flour begins to turn brown.

Add stock to the mixture and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, spinach, or peas and cook, stirring occasionally until the noodles are tender. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is heated through, about one minute. Stir in the cream, sherry vinegar, and remaining salt. Before serving top with thyme leaves. Serves Four.

Notes

  • For a vegan or vegetarian version of this soup, double the vegetables for an extra-yummy creamy vegetable soup.

There isn’t a lot of knife work for this recipe, however, if you’re not comfortable, most grocery stores and supermarkets have pre-chopped vegetables in their produce section. It’s also a time saver.

 

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Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Dinner Edition Unstuffed Peppers Skillet

 

 

 

We are always on the lookout for delicious recipes to start your week off right. To that end, we came across this lovely recipe by the Real mom Kitchen for an unstuffed peppers skillet. Many of us know and love a version of stuffed peppers made by our moms or grandmothers. The presentation was always as delightful to the eye as it was the palate.  Laura Powell’s unstuffed recipe is a great take on this classic.

To make this recipe a little more inclusive, we have adapted it for vegans and vegetarians too. Remember, you can season it your way. The seasonings used in Ms. Powell’s original recipe work nicely, but feel free to go with your own palate. It can easily be more Italian with the addition of dried oregano, basil, or parsley too. For an Indian flare, a little curry or Garam Masala might be nice. You get the idea, make it your way and enjoy.

Unstuffed peppers skillet recipe by Real Mom Kitchen adapted by Still A Chick Lit

 

3 bell peppers, diced (I used one green, 2 red)

1/2 onion, diced

1 lb ground beef or sausage (beef 80/20 or 85/15, 90/10) (Chicken: ½ pound ground chicken breast, ½ pound ground chicken) (Turkey: ½ pound ground turkey breast, ½ pound ground turkey)

(Beyond meat, ground, Gardein ground, Impossible Plant-Based Burger Ground, Farmland Protein, ground, Good and Gather, meatless beef style ground)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes

1 (14 oz) can beef broth (chicken or vegetable unsalted stock)

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce

1 tsp salt

pepper, to taste

1/2 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 cup uncooked extra-long grain rice

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (Daiya cheddar cheese shreds or vegan cheese shreds of your choice)

additional diced peppers and/or green onion for garnish

3 tablespoons canola or olive oil, divided

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large skillet with 1 ½ tablespoon of oil, add onion and peppers and sauté until tender. Remove from the skillet and wipe clean. Brown the ground beef or sausage until cooked through. Drain off any excess fat, then add the vegetables back in. * If you are using chicken, turkey, use 1 ½ tablespoon of oil to cook the meat thoroughly until no longer pink.  For the vegan ground, you can cook the onions, peppers, and vegan ground together in the oil until the vegetables are tender.

Add garlic to the meat or meatless mixture and cook for a minute until fragrant. Drain off any excess grease (meat).

Add tomatoes, beef broth, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, sugar, Worcestershire, and rice to the skillet.

Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cover. Cook for about 20-30 minutes until moisture is absorbed and rice is tender. At 20 minutes check and give a stir and continue cooking if needed.

Once the rice is tender, sprinkle cheese over the mixture and cover to get the cheese melted.

Once melted garnish with chopped peppers and /or green onion and serve. Serves 4-6.

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Original recipe adapted from Real Mom Kitchen  http://www.realmomkitchen.com

Health, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus, Mind Body Spirit Connection, Whole Body Wellness

Health and Whole Body Wellness

 

Maintaining our health is always important, but it is increasingly so as we age. While there are many things we can do to improve and maintain our physical appearance, taking care of what’s on the inside is the key to looking and feeling good.

Taking Care of Your Body

Over the past five years, more people are investing in home fitness equipment that comes with personal trainers for different types of workouts. Peloton is at the front of the pack. Fun fact about the word peloton. In a road bicycle race, the peloton (from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’) is the main group or pack of riders. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) to (particularly behind) other riders.

Peloton is just one of a number of in-home streaming workouts. There are others that may be more suited to what you like such as:

  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Barre (ballet-based)
  • Cardio
  • Cycling

Look for a program that fits your budget. Many of these services offer trial periods before your commit to the either monthly or yearly expense of the service. Some workout platforms like Fit-On, have free basic memberships. However, it’s important to remember that if you want more variety, the price of a pro-plan could be worth it for you.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is another key to maintaining balance in our lives. It’s important not to focus on calories, carbs, and fat. Rather, approach your diet by putting the best food or fuel into it. Vegetables, fruit, whole grain, lean proteins, and plenty of water are the basis for keeping your body running at peak condition. Treats are okay and don’t need to be measured and weighed if you partake in moderation.

There is a vicious cycle that results from denial. When you feel like some ice cream, chocolate, or whatever your preferred indulgence is, it’s best to go ahead and eat it.  You are more likely to indulge moderately. Conversely, it’s the denial of what your body is craving that leads to overindulgence, binging, and guilt. Allow yourself a treat. When you want to snack, pick something that hits your flavor profile whether it’s sweet and crunchy, sweet and salty, or salty and crunchy. This way you snack smarter.

Read labels. Even light or healthy food products have hidden things in them like salt. Google all the alternative names used for salt and sugar. You would be surprised at how many healthy alternatives are filled with sugar, salt, and preservatives. Also, if you are looking into one of the many meal services available, research their ingredients too. The meals and components have to travel, which means preservatives and more. If this is something that would work for your lifestyle, make sure you pick one that benefits your health too.

Relax and get some rest

Powering down our bodies is as essential as powering them up. Most of us lead incredibly busy lives and spend oodles of time on the go. Find time to disconnect from your schedule to reconnect with relaxation and rest.

  1. Spend time with hobbies- Whether it’s model airplanes or cars, sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, or drawing, hobbies relax our minds to focus on something we enjoy.
  2. Read- Turn the television off and put down the smartphone to pick up a book or magazine.
  3. Watch television- Put on your favorite program. Watch a nature show or binge a series. There’s nothing like watching a guilty pleasure.
  4. Get all the electronics (phone, television, computer, laptop) out of your bedroom. Make your bedroom a real place of rest. This will allow you to turn off the distractions so you can get the 7 to 8 hours your body needs.

 

Keep your mind clear and centered

Our mental and emotional health plays a big role in the health of our physical body. To keep everything balanced, we need to find ways to deal with the biggest enemy of good mental and emotional health, stress.

Stress, anger, and sadness, are three things that can wear us down. Therefore, it’s important to deal with the issues that cause them.

  • Talk to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist or psychologist for talk therapy. It’s a safe space to let our emotions out and to figure what’s a healthy way to deal with them.
  • Friends, family, spouse, or partners. Talking to the people we love can help us feel supported and loved. However, there’s a difference between unburdening ourselves and offloading our problems onto someone else’s shoulders. The latter is something to avoid doing for the sake of your relationship.
  • Worship If you’re a religious or spiritual person connecting with God through a church, synagogue, or mosque can provide a sense of being grounded and having a greater purpose in life.
  • Meditation – This allows you to connect with yourself. It also helps you learn how to quiet your mind, which keeps stressful thoughts at bay.

 

If you can find a way to implement some of these tips, you will be on your way to whole-body wellness as a woman who is north of forty plus shining brightly for years to come.

Health and Wellness Keys to Balanced Body

Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Summer Salad Edition

It’s hard to believe that we are already more than halfway through the month of July. With summertime temperatures rising across the country, light, refreshing, and easy-to-prepare recipes are the order of the day.

In our search to find the best of light, healthy, and tasty, this recipe from Simply Recipes for Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing fits the bill. Moreover, we were able to adapt it to add protein to fit with vegetarian and vegan diets too.

This recipe fits the dietary requirements for:

  • Gluten-free diets
  • Low Sugar or No Sugar diets
  • Low-Carb
  • Keto-Friendly (don’t add corn or tortilla chips)

Tex-Mex Chopped Chicken Salad by Simply Recipes adapted by Chamein Canton

PREP TIME25 mins
COOK TIME10 mins
TOTAL TIME35 mins
SERVINGS4 servings

Ingredients

  • For the salad
  • 6 cups Romaine lettuce, chopped and packed
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 cup English or Persian cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon plus1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (2 medium ears) or frozen and thawed
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained or 1 package seitan)
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix (low-sodium taco seasoning or your favorite taco seasoning in the packet or homemade)
  • 12 corn tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Cotija cheese (Feta cheese or Cheddar cheese can be substituted)  (For Vegans mozzarella or cheddar shreds are a good choice)
  • For the dressing
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Combine salad ingredients:

    Combine the lettuce, red pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, and scallions in a large serving bowl. Set aside.

  2. Char the corn:

    Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a medium or large heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the corn.

    Season corn with 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until blackened in spots and tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

  3. Season the chicken:

    Sprinkle the taco seasoning and 1/2 teaspoon salt over the surface of the chicken, rubbing it in and coating it so the chicken is fully seasoned.

  4. Cook the chicken:

    In the same skillet used to cook the corn add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and cook until deeply brown along the bottom and the flesh turns opaque about halfway up the side, 4 to 5 minutes.

    Flip the chicken and continue cooking, until brown on the second side and fully cooked through another 3 to 5 minutes.

  5. Cut the chicken:

    Transfer the cooked chicken to a cutting board. Once it is cool enough to handle, cut it into bite-sized pieces.

  6. Make the salad dressing:

    Place the lime juice, vinegar, honey, cumin, salt, pepper, cilantro, and olive oil into a blender and blend until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of water, if needed, to get the blender going.

    Alternatively, make this dressing by hand. Finely chop the cilantro and place it in a medium bowl. Combine all salad dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth.

  7. Finish and serve the salad:

    Add the corn and chicken into the bowl with the salad ingredients. Crumble the tortilla chips over the top.

    Add about two-thirds of the dressing and toss to lightly coat. Add more dressing and toss again, if needed. Divide salad into 4 bowls, top with crumbled Cotija cheese, and serve.

Notes for Vegan and Vegetarians

  • To replace the chicken, you can use extra-firm tofu or seitan instead. Prepare it as you would the chicken, being mindful not to crowd the pan when sauteing in the pan. To keep it from steaming, cook the tofu or seitan in batches.

For those who don’t like Cilantro

  • You can use parsley to make the dressing in the same proportions.

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Skin Care

Good skincare through the ages

Aging in today’s society no longer has the same dark stigma it once had. Breakthroughs in medicine and advancements made in technology have paved the way for us to live longer, healthier lives while looking amazing. The first tenant of maintaining a youthful look is good skincare.

There’s an endless sea of skin care products marketed to women. You can’t turn on the television, or go online and not find ads for must-have facial and body skincare products.  However, it’s important to do our research so that we can make sense of the claims and determine which products will work for us individually.

In the Health Coach section of Real Simple, This Is What Skin Concerns Look Like at Every Age (20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, and Beyond) by Kristin Korpuz relays some of the things we can expect. To help us understand, she has experts, Dr. Doris Day, Dr. Jeanine Downie, Dr. Sabrina Fabi, Dr. Ava Shamban, and Dr. Ruth Tedaldi, dermatologists and hosts of THE GIST, a YouTube channel about the beauty industry.

Skincare in your forties

We really begin to see a change in our skin beginning in our forties. There is a loss of firmness and skin may appear to lose volume and firmness. Wrinkles can become more pronounced and we’ve got to be more careful about sun damage.  There a lot of topical and injectable treatments like Botox and Restylane that address wrinkles and loss of volume, which can be administered in-office. Nevertheless, it’s important to maintain a good skin routine at home.  

According to Dr. Robinson, you may need to use two different cleansers to address different issues- a mild exfoliating cleanser and a creamier lotion-like cleanser. The reason for this is to hydrate your skin and to deal with cell turnover, which becomes more apparent as we age.

Hyaluronic acid is a word that we begin to see more of once we’re over forty. It’s a natural molecule found in our skin as well as the connective tissue in our bodies. The main benefit of it is keeping our skin moist and lubricated. It can draw moisture from the air and allow your skin to hold almost 1000 times its own weight in water. For ultimate moisture retention, Dr. Robinson also recommends incorporating hyaluronic acid  (can be used both day and night), as well as a rich night cream that contains glycerin, ceramics, and or fatty lipids to help encourage skin barrier repair.

Skincare in your fifties

Cleanse, exfoliate, and moisturize to keep your tone bright

Women in their fifties are beginning to experience changes due to hormonal fluctuations just as they did at the onset of menses, According to Dr. Robinson, “Post menopause, our bodies experience a hormone shift with declining levels of estrogen and increased levels of androgens and this can affect the skin”. Moreover, she explained that skin will be thinner and less elastic. B bone resorption is the process by which osteoclasts break down the tissue in bones and release the minerals, resulting in a transfer of calcium from bone tissue to the blood. This process also presents as a loss occurs of volume. Dryness is another factor, and to add insult to injury, many women see a return of acne and breakouts we haven’t had since the teen years. Many women also experience excess pigment and signs of sun damage (i.e., brown spots and photoaging also become more prominent. 

First, we have to focus on maintaining our skin’s moisture. Dr. Robinson says that few skin types can endure the roughness caused by an exfoliating cleanser at this point in their skin, and instead emphasizes the importance of a milder, milky cleanser that doesn’t get too sudsy. “These types of cleansers are effective at removing dirt and debris without removing important oils produced by the skin that the skin needs,” she says. To deal with a loss of collagen, you can opt for in-office treatments like lasers, microneedling, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), and chemical peels to encourage skin cell turnover and boost skin repair in a more controlled setting. 

The sixties and beyond

Enjoy life and the skin you’re in

It’s important to note that it’s not too late to begin anti-aging treatments in your sixties. Dr. Robinson says that the main concern with patients in their 60s and beyond is lack of hydration and moisture retention. 

“The emphasis in our 60s shifts from skincare to procedures,” she says. “I recommend keeping skincare very simple, hydrating, and gentle at this age and focusing on procedures such as lasers that can be performed once or twice a year for improvement and maintenance.”

Source

https://www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/skincare/anti-aging/aging-skin-concerns
Learn more about skincare with renowned dermatologists

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Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Chronic Illness- Old-fashioned advice for what you can do to manage and thrive in spite of the pain to continue to live your best and healthiest life.

Like women, fine wines get better with time. Wines become more nuanced and complex with age, also like women. Our value increases as we age and come into our own. We are powerful. However, we’re vulnerable too. Many women who are north of forty have found themselves facing a chronic illness. It can put a damper on our health and affect our mind, body, and soul. The key is to take ownership of it, so we have the condition, but it doesn’t have us.

What is a chronic illness?

Chronic illnesses are defined broadly as conditions that last 1 year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both. Chronic diseases can include heart disease and autoimmune diseases like MS, Lupus, Epilepsy, and Diabetes. It also encompasses injuries sustained that affect your knees, back, or hips.

According to the CDC, six in ten adults are living with a chronic illness. Four in ten adults have two or more chronic conditions. The leading causes of death and disability are heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. The key risks for these diseases are tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and excessive alcohol use (CDC 2020)

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/chronic-diseases.htm

Ben Franklin wisely stated that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Many women who are north of forty and fifty-plus, are used to being the person who is counted on. Whether as a wife, mother, daughter, or sister, women tend to be natural caretakers and nurturers. All of us have a role we play in our families, and it’s something we take to heart. Nevertheless, we must realize that if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one else will do it for us. We are our own best resource. So, find the time to take care and deal with your chronic condition.

Your Medical A-Team


The right doctor, nurse, or physician’s assistant is an essential part of your healthcare team. A doctor who is knowledgeable and has your full health history is an important asset in determining the measures taken to mitigate any issues of pain and discomfort that arise from your condition. Talk to them if you’re on medication and would like to add vitamin supplements to boost your health. Vitamins, like over-the-counter medications, can interact with doctor-prescribed medications. Also, if you’re on medication, and you lose weight, be sure to see the doctor particularly if you’re taking something for a condition like hypertension. Your doctor takes your weight and height into consideration when figuring out the dosage. If you lose a significant amount of weight, he or she may want to reevaluate it. The same goes for pain medication.

While your doctor has a lot to do with your well-being, you are always in control. Try to find activities that relieve stress. Low-impact exercises like walking and swimming, provide a workout that lessens stress on your joints if you have issues with your legs, knees, or back. Many things like yoga, pilates, and Tai-Chi, can be modified to accommodate your level of fitness and disability. If you don’t want to join a gym, you can go on YouTube where they have channels dedicated to different types of workouts. Fitbit, Peleton, and more have apps to assist you with finding an exercise program suited to your needs. Find a physical activity you can commit to. You’re more likely to keep up with it when it’s something you enjoy.

Design a diet that works for you

Healthy Food Choices

Moderation is the way

Think about your diet. No need to subscribe to any diet program with pre-measured food that comes in a box. Create a diet that works for you. Drastic changes like veganism or no-carb can be a shock to the body. Eating a healthy diet filled with vegetables, lean protein, fruits, and lots of water is a great way to go. Limit processed foods, salt, and too much sugar. That doesn’t mean you are going to graze and eat tofu for dessert for the rest of your life. The key is moderation. Before there were Weight Watchers, Nutri-System, Jenny Craig, or Keto-anything, there was moderation and portion control. Portions in the United States are larger than most countries. In France, they consume butter, cream, and cheese, but they have a low rate of heart disease. By eating smaller portions throughout the day, the French keep their bodies fueled efficiently. It makes a difference.

Focus on your likes and dislikes to come up with a diet that works for you and your lifestyle. If you can afford it, try a pre-made meal service that delivers weekly. If that doesn’t fit your budget, but you’re not crazy about cooking, keep it simple with recipes that require a minimal amount of ingredients and don’t take much time. Eating healthy is possible on a budget. Shop around to find the best deals and sales. Also, change things up with different cuisines. Or try new food. Variety is the spice of life, and it keeps mealtime interesting.

Lean on family, friends, or call a professional for support

We all need a support system. Many of us are used to being the one who is there for others. There are days when even the toughest and strongest of us need an ear and a shoulder to lean on. Allow your friends and family to be there for you. Moreover, feel free to talk to a professional about your feelings. A little talk therapy goes a long way. Then again when all else fails, try chocolate. This one-bowl chocolate cake recipe from King Arthur is low-fat, dairy-free, and a snap to make.

https://anchor.fm/chamein-stillachicklit
Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

The Key to Health North of 40 & 50-plus: The Mind, Body, and Spirit Connection

How are you?

When asked those three little words, we have a choice to make. If the person asking the question is a loved one, family member, or a good friend, we might tell them how we’re really feeling. It’s more likely we’ll say fine or good. However, for most women, the person we should ask is in the mirror. There are a plethora of articles in magazines, books, websites, and shows devoted to talking about women’s issues. Now that it’s March and Women’s History Month, the volume is already getting turned up. There are PSAs on television and online touting women’s accomplishments in areas like astronomy, writing, exploration, education, and more. So, it seems like this is the perfect month to look inward to see what is happening inside of our heads and hearts, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

First, it’s important to note that there is a difference between health and wellness. Health is a state of being/ Whereas wellness is the state of living a healthy lifestyle. Health refers to physical, mental, and social well-being; wellness aims to enhance well-being. According Status of Women Data (2018), in the United States overall, women’s health status has improved in some areas and declined in others. Women’s mortality rates from heart disease, lung cancer, and breast cancer have decreased since the publication of IWPR’s 2004 Status of Women in the States report, as has the incidence of AIDS among female adolescents and adults. Women’s incidence of chlamydia and diabetes, however, have increased. In addition, the average number of poor mental health days per month, suicide mortality rate, and average number of days per month of limited activities have also gone up for women. In 2014, the US Department of Health and Human Services found that one in four women in the United States dies from heart disease. Coronary heart disease—which is the most common form—is the leading cause of death among both women and men. In addition, women are at higher risk than men for other forms of heart disease, such as coronary microvascular disease (in which the walls of the heart’s tiny arteries are damaged or diseased) and stress-induced cardiomyopathy (in which emotional stress leads to severe—but often temporary—heart muscle failure. Women have higher incidences than men of certain mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and eating disorders Multiple factors may contribute to women’s greater likelihood of experiencing such conditions, including higher rates of poverty, greater responsibility in caring for disabled or ill family members, and trauma from gender-based violence.


For women north of forty and fifty-plus, their second-act looks different than what many of us planned. With the cost of living increasing and wages that aren’t high enough to allow for an easy retirement, a lot of women are finding themselves working past the age they planned on retiring. On the other hand, with fewer young adults being able to afford to move out of mom and dad’s house, life as a retiree isn’t what they expected when adult children move home with spouses and grandchildren in tow. On the plus side, they get to spend more time with and develop deeper connections to grandchildren, but they are also taking on the responsibilities of babysitting, helping with homework, preparing meals, and getting the kids around to activities. All of this, and we still have to block out time to spend on our relationship and ourselves so both remain whole, happy, and on track.

Keeping it All Together

It would take a lot more than one post to talk about the importance of the mind, body, and spirit connection. Nevertheless, it’s a subject worth talking and posting about regularly. The world is under stress and as women we suffer from it acutely,

. In order to handle both everyday and unexpected stresses, we must develop ways to deal with life’s little issues so we’re prepared to be able to deal with bigger challenges. This means dealing with every aspect of health head-on. We can do it by being in proactive in our doctor’s office, work lives, and at home. Clear communication is the key.

First, it’s critical comes to speak up in the doctor’s office. It seems odd to state something that seems so obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many women don’t pipe up. Doctors are generally thought of as being on a higher level. They’ve had a lot of education and training. Moreover, it’s something that was ingrained by previous generations that looked up to medical professionals.

However, they only assist you with your health. You’re still the pilot. Doctors are copilots. When there’s an issue, they help treat it, but you’re still in charge. They work with and for you. It might seem radical to point it out, but it’s true and important to keep in mind. Look at it this way, business owners want to employ the best people to help make them successful. However, savvy businesspeople continue to evaluate their team to make sure they’re performing. Those who are doing well are rewarded, and the people who aren’t are let go. Dead weight impedes progress. Why we don’t do that with doctors is beyond me. By the way, you should include their office staff in your evaluation. A staff says as much about a doctors practice as the physician. If communication isn’t great in the front office, it’s generally not good in the back. There’s nothing wrong with changing doctors if you’re not getting what you need. It’s imperative to your overall health to have a good doctor you can talk to.

If you have a doctor you love and you’re happy with him or her, that’s terrific. The only thing I’d advise is to keep talking. In almost all relationships there comes a time when we expect the other person to know what we are thinking. They never do. The only way the doctor will know anything is happening is you have to tell him or her.

If you are looking for a new doctor, it’s good to get referrals and read online reviews. Still, there’s more to do.

  • Set up interviews with potential doctors. After all, he or she is under consideration to be your doctor. Conduct a lot of interviews. I know people who have put potential several wedding/event planners through their paces in order to decide if they’d be hired. Just like making sure you have the best people watching your children, you need the best doctors so you can stay healthy and present in their lives.
  • Do a background check of their credentials. Most doctors don’t have a problem with you looking into their education, medical license, etc. This is essential for every specialty, but if you’re looking for a good cardiologist or plastic surgeon, do your due-diligence
  • Trust your gut. A physician might have a wall full of diplomas and is the top in his or her field, but it you don’t feel like you’re vibing with them, move on. It’s in your best interest to see a doctor that you’re comfortable with.

Women are well aware of what stress can do to your health. What must be addressed is making time for yourself. Add artistic outlets to your routine as a way of approaching stress relief in a well-rounded manner. Baking, cooking, painting, drawing, knitting, embroidering, and sewing are great hobbies. Moreover, if you’re the type of woman who likes to be in the garage, add car enthusiast, woodworker, or playing music. According to the New York Times and Wicked Local, whether you learn a new computer program, start scrapbooking or just start reading a good book, the act of engaging in a hobby has been found to increase your serotonin levels (the feel-good chemical that is made in your brain) and exercises your brain in a healthy way.

Finding a way to maintain our health and reduce stress levels is an ongoing fight. There are only so many hours in the day, and everyone you know want to lay claim to your time. But, as nice as it is to feel indispensable, our most important resource is ourselves. If we let other people’s needs come before ours constantly, we will wear out. Then what good would we be to anyone. Focusing inward regularly will allow us to be on top of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. When these needs are addressed, life feels lighter, brighter, and more fulfilling. It’s everything you could want in your second act as a north of forty and fifty-plus woman.

I still love to laminate dough when I feel stressed. I tried this recipe for rough puff pastry on My Recipe.

How to make your own rough puff

1. Prep the butter.

Start with a chilled, European-style butter  if possible. You can use Plugra or Kerrygold  which many bakeries use for their laminated doughs. It has a higher butterfat content than American butters, which will give you both a richer flavor and a more controlled puff, since there is less water in it.

To prepare, decide if you are going to grate or slice the butter. If you have a food processor with a thin slicing blade, I find that gives a really good result, but a large grating blade or the large side of your box grater will also work.

Take your chilled butter from the fridge and put it into your freezer for 20-30 minutes. This will firm it up but not freeze it solid. I use one 8-ounce brick of unsalted Plugra, but you can use 2 sticks of regular unsalted butter.

Put the butter through your slicer blade or grater blade, or grate by hand. The little chunk that will be left either on top of the blade or at the end of the sticks can be used for another purpose; you’ll end up with between 7-7½ ounces of sliced or grated butter.

Put the butter on a plate or in a bowl and return to the fridge while you make the dough.

2. Make the dough.

If you used the food processor, you don’t need to clean it; just swap out the slicer or grater blade for the regular blade. (Or you can mix by hand in a large bowl.)

Measure ½ cup super-cold water in a measuring cup. Set aside.

Put 1 1/3 cups of bread flour and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt (or ½ teaspoon table salt) in the processor, and pulse to combine. With the processor running, drizzle in the water until it just barely comes together in a ball.

Sprinkle more flour on your work surface, and remove the dough ball, and knead it just until it comes together and feels smooth and pliable, maybe 15-30 seconds. You don’t want to build up too much gluten or it will have trouble rolling.

3. Roll the dough.

Roll your dough on a floured surface to ¼-inch thick and about 8-10 inches wide. This will give you a long rectangle somewhere around 18 inches long. Using a soft brush, brush any excess flour off the surface of the dough. You want the short end of the dough facing you.

4. Layer the butter.

Get your chilled butter, and put it in an even layer, either shingling the slices so that their edges are barely touching or making an even layer of the grated butter. Leave about a 3-inch unbuttered section at the end closest to you.

5. Fold up.

Starting at the end closest to you, fold the 3-inch unbuttered section up over the butter. Brush any excess flour off the dough. Fold this up again and brush off. Keep folding up and over, brushing the excess flour off after each fold, until you have a flat rectangle. Place the seam side down.

6. Do one turn.

Turn the dough so that the short side is facing you and roll out again to about ¼ inch thickness. Repeat the same folding process as before, obviously this time with no butter, but still brushing off excess flour between each fold. Once it is folded up, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10 minutes just to rechill the butter. If your kitchen is warm, you might want to chill for 20-30 minutes before continuing.

7. Do two more turns.

Remove from fridge and repeat the process, rolling to ¼ inch thick, folding up while brushing off excess flour, then turn again and fold up. After the third turn you will have a piece of laminated rough puff pastry!

If you want to use it for a recipe within a couple of days, wrap it well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge. If you want to freeze it, wrap it well in plastic wrap then put into a zip-top bag and freeze: It will store for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Sources: Status of Women Data Org. Wicked Deal, New York Times, My Recipes

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

North of Forty & Fifty-plus Body Positivity and Health

The face of aging has changed in so many ways. Not only are people living longer, they are looking younger and more fit than ever. In the last decade, the top of the box office, Nielsen’s, and streaming music and television shows starred actors who were north of forty and fifty plus. Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Angela Bassett, Sandra Bullock, Halle Berry, and Jennifer Lopez were just a few of the names lighting the marquees. By the same token, the pressure was on for women who are north of forty and fifty to follow their footsteps with their own body beautiful.

All of the names in Hollywood have the big advantage that staying fit is a part of their job. They have access to personal trainers, gyms, chefs, and child care that the average working mother doesn’t have. Halle Berry deserves every accolade she receives for looking as wonderful as she does, she worked hard for it. Most of us are working hard to provide for our families while trying to carve out time to get a workout in.

Then came 2020. It was the year it seemed that Murphy’s Law came to life. Whatever could go wrong, or went left in a hurry. The pandemic changed our lives in an instant. As sections of industries around the country closed, those of us who were deemed non-essential workers found ourselves either working from home or furloughed and on unemployment through no fault of our own. Conversely, essential workers in healthcare, grocery stores, supermarkets, liquor stores, and communication/media company workers were put under enormous pressure. It wasn’t easy for anyone.

Life/work/school

With little known about the Covid-19 in the beginning, it became clear that we had to do all we could to protect ourselves, our families, and our communities. Many of us had a daily routine that included working out at a gym or in local parks. When those places weren’t available, we had to make a change to working out at home. Only now, not only did we have to try to get a workout in at home, those of us who were able to were now working from home. Moreover, if you were a parent, grandparent, or guardian of children in daycare, elementary, or secondary school, the kids were home. Schools were closed and you were faced with trying to figure out how to work from home, keep young kids busy, while trying to keep elementary and secondary school age children on task with remote learning.  It was going to be a long spring.

Then I noticed something I am sure you did too, people discovered their kitchens. I don’t think I have ever so many pictures of banana bread online in my life. I’m a lifelong baker and foodie, I can go through twenty-five pounds of flour and sugar like most people go through a five-pound bag. When I found myself finding staples like all-purpose flour, sugar, and yeast sold out in grocery stores and online, people were getting jiggy in the kitchen in record numbers.

There is definitely something calming about being in the kitchen that bakers and cooks have known all long. When life seems like it’s out of control, going into the kitchen and making something from a recipe or freestyling, it gives you a sense of control over something and it’s straightforward.  Personally, I enjoy knowing what is going into what I eat. I can adjust or adapt recipes to accommodate low-sugar, low-sodium, or gluten-free diets.  However, I suspect that many of the kitchens weren’t turning out diet food.  People turned to comfort food.

Soon not only did we have binge-worthy food, there was binge-worthy series on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO Max and more. There was a bit of cache in being a couch potato and it beat watching the news with endless reports or cases increasing, and uncertainty as the virus began to spread beyond the two coasts to the rest of the country. No one had seen anything like this in over one hundred years. So, if you needed a moment and some chips, that’s what you did.

Now, it’s 2021 and things are beginning to slowly get better. Many states have allowed gyms to open for socially distanced workouts. Some schools are back to in-person learning, and others seem to have gotten in the swing with hybrid and fully remote learning too.  All of that notwithstanding, many of us are still working from home and it’s time to figure out how we can carve out the time to take care of ourselves and like what we see in the mirror.

Make your workout personally

There’s no reason that you can’t maintain your curves, while eating properly, and trying an at-home exercise plan. If you didn’t belong to a gym, don’t fret. You don’t have to run out and join a gym. You have a choice.

These are just a few of the most popular workout apps according to Techradar

  • Peloton. They are best known for its spin and sessions, led live by professional coaches, and these are all present and correct in the app. There’s also a lot more on offer though, including plenty of workouts you follow with minimal equipment or none at all. If you have a Peloton bike or any of their equipment, the app subscription comes with it.  You can take part in their workouts without the equipment, just check on the site to determine the price range and if it fits in your budget.
  • Fitbit: Workouts in Fitbit Coach are led by professional, enthusiastic instructors (you choose yours before beginning the fitness test), who guide you through each movement with clear video instructions. The first time you launch the app, you’ll be prompted to sign up for a Fitbit account (or log in with your existing one), then run through an eight-minute fitness test. After that, you’ll be able to get stuck in properly, and take your pick from a range of programs designed with different goals in mind. You can sign up for Fitbit Coach Premium, which offers more workouts.

If these types of workouts aren’t your style, there are a number of workouts that can be done from home anytime. There’s Beach Body, Jillian Michael’s and more. Check out the gallery for these apps on Prevention https://www.prevention.com/fitness/fitness-tips/g25357974/best-workout-apps/?slide=1

The next thing is something I am not going to push super hard. I know it’s better for us to weigh less to reduce our risk with Covid-19 and many other conditions like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and more. It’s easier to approach healthy eating day-by-day. Personally, I’ve always managed to fake myself out when I add planners and notebooks to the mix, which is sort of funny since I use both for my professional life as an agent and author. However, if it works for you, use whatever tools you need to stay on track.

As important as taking care of your physical body is, your emotional and spiritual health is also an essential part of being healthy and body positive.  Here’s a few easy things you can do

  • Stay in touch with family and friends, through Facetime, Zoom, or just go analog and give them a call. Talking, laughing, and even crying, helps to relieve stress and has even been shown to aid in lowering blood press pressure.
  • Enjoy a little me time. Go to a salon, get a massage or a mani-pedi. Check the guidelines at your favorite place, mask up, and get pampered.
Taking time for you

Do all you can to maintain a positive and healthy outlook on life. Aging is a part of life, but it doesn’t have to be rote, boring, or even too exciting for words. It just has to be authentic for you. If you’re the type who likes to sky dive and live on the edge, there are ways to keep your day exciting. If you prefer a laid-back life of reading, writing, and watching your favorite programs, then do that. There’s no right or wrong way. Enjoy your life.

It goes without saying that healthy eating is important, but taste is important, and so are occasional treats. As a bonus, I have included a recipe that I found from Half Baked Harvest’s Tieghan that I adapted for different dietary requirements. You will see the substitutions in parentheses for:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Low sugar
  • Sugar-free

Lemon Blueberry Scones with Lemon poppy seed glaze by Tieghan adapted by me

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend flour, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour) (For more fiber 2 cups all-purpose flour plus ½ cup white whole wheat flour) 

2 tablespoons granulated sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar, finely pulsed) 

1 tablespoon baking powder 

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 

8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, grated on a box grater just like cheese 1 stick (vegan butter)

1 egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or egg replacer)

3/4 cup buttermilk + more for brushing ( ¾ cup soy, rice, almond plus 2 teaspoons apple cider or lemon juice, let stand for 5 minutes)

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

zest of 1/2 a lemon

LEMON POPPY SEED GLAZE

1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more if needed (Organic confectioner’s sugar or Swerve confectioner’s sugar substitute)

2 tablespoons butter, melted (vegan butter)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice + reserve the zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla 

1-2 tablespoons poppy seeds

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the butter and toss with the flour. Add the egg, buttermilk, and vanilla. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Fold in the blueberries and lemon zest.

Turn the dough onto a floured surface and then pat into 1-inch-thick square. Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Place pieces, about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Brush each piece with buttermilk.

Bake until golden brown, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Let the scones cool slightly and then drizzle with the lemon poppy seed glaze (see below). Serve warm with butter.

LEMON POPPY SEED GLAZE

In a bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla, adding water if needed to thin slightly or more sugar if needed to thicken. Stir in the zest of 1/2 a lemon and the poppy seeds. Drizzle the glaze over the scones.