Baked Pasta w. Pumpkin & Kale

Pumpkin is rich in vitamin A and potassium and is a good source of fiber and the antioxidant, beta-carotene.  Kale is rich in vitamin K, antioxidants and fiber. Combine the pumpkin and kale for a power food mixture that tastes great with your favorite whole grain pasta.

Pasta w. Pumpkin

Pasta w. Pumpkin

Ingredients:                                                               PRINT RECIPE

8 oz. rigatoni pasta

1 teaspoon olive oil

½ medium onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 pinched dried red pepper flakes

1 cup chopped cremini mushrooms (5-6 medium mushrooms)

½ bunch Lucinato kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

¼ cup dry white wine or low sodium vegetable broth

¼ cup fresh basil, chopped

Salt & pepper to taste

½ (15 oz.) can pumpkin (no sugar or spices added)

1 egg

1 cup low fat ricotta cheese

1 cup marinara sauce

½ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

¼ cup (1oz.) shredded Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.

2. Bring a large pot of to boil. Add salt and pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain and set aside in a colander.

3. In the meantime, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and kale; cook 5-6 minutes or until slightly cooked down. Add wine and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Stir in basil, season with salt and pepper and turn off heat.

4. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, egg, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce, kale mixture and cooked pasta. Stir until combined and season with salt and pepper

5. Coat an 8 X 8-inch glass pan with oil. Pour pasta-pumpkin mixture into pan. Spread evenly and top with Parmesan cheese.

6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25minutes, then remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve warm.

Makes 4 1-cup servings.                                                     PRINT RECIPE

Potassium-- Do You Get Enough?

No doubt you’ve heard many times that Americans get too much salt, too much sugar, and too much saturated fat in our diets. But what about those important nutrients women don’t get enough of? Calcium and vitamin D are commonly talked about, but one nutrient that doesn’t get as much attention is potassium. Many women ask, “Can’t I get that from my multivitamin?” The answer is no, it isn’t added to most multivitamins for women and the research shows we’re much better off getting it from food, not a supplement, because the form of potassium that’s in fruits and vegetables is different than what is in supplements (potassium chloride) and our bodies better utilize the potassium in food.

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark Leafy Greens

Potassium is a mineral found primarily in fruits, vegetables and dairy foods. It has been shown to help lower blood pressure in people who have hypertension and can help blunt the effects of a high sodium diet, which worsens high blood pressure. Potassium also makes blood vessels less stiff and helps decrease the risk of stroke and heart disease.

For athletes (adults and teens), potassium is important for fluid and electrolyte balance after a hard workout or sporting event and can help prevent muscle cramps and spasms. Since food works better than a supplement, skip the sports drink and instead combine a couple high potassium foods from my FREE list of high potassium foods* (see below for details).

Cantaloupe

Cantaloupe

A deficiency in potassium can cause fatigue, insomnia, depression, muscular weakness and heart and circulation problems. If you suffer from muscle cramps or those very painful, toe-crossing cramps in your feet, make sure you’re getting enough potassium and magnesium to help prevent cramping.

How much do I need?

Most adults need 4,700mg of potassium per day, according to the National Academy of Medicine (except if you have kidney problems, then you may need to avoid eating high potassium foods). However, women only get an average of 2300mg per day, or just about half of what they need. Citrus fruits, bananas, cantaloupe, and apricots are a good source of potassium, while dark leafy greens, beans, squash and tomatoes are some vegetables with a fair bit of potassium (potatoes too if you eat the skin).

*FREE* -- High Potassium Foods

For my complete list of potassium-rich foods showing the specific potassium content and including dairy and other foods high in potassium, send a request to Jill@jillwestrd.com and I’ll gladly send you a FREE copy!

5 Non-Diet Resolutions for Women

The start of a new year is cause for many women to resolve to get healthier in one form or another and losing weight is the #1 resolution each year. Resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep, given that 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% report being successful. Which begs the question: "How can we make resolutions to get healthier more successful?" My Answer:  Make a Non-Diet Resolution. Here are my top 5 Non-Diet Resolution Suggestions.

#1: Move more, Sit Less

Even for people who exercise regularly, this is really important. There's even a term for these people: Sedentary Exercisers. Yes, it's true. Those who go to the gym or walk or do other exercise, but spend the rest of their day sitting at work, in front of a computer, and in front of the TV at night. Sitting for long periods of time increases your risk for several medical conditions (obesity, diabetes, heart disease). The Solution: get up and move every hour, take 10-15 minutes after eating lunch to walk--a great strategy to lower blood sugar. When working at your computer, stand at least half of the time -- there are manystand up desks these days.

#2: Sleep More, Weigh Less

Many studies show a strong connection between lack of sleep and weight gain. Sleep-deprived adults eat about 300 calories more per day. Not surprising because lack of sleep decreases willpower, making you more likely to indulge on foods high in sugar and fat, trying to boost energy and/or mood. The Solution: Turn off all screens 30 minutes before bedtime, drink non-caffeinated drinks after 3pm, go to bed 30-60 minutes earlier. Aim for 7-8 hours of solid sleep per night.

#3: Eat More Vegetables, Especially from my Top 10 List

Vegetables(250pxl)_77801838.jpg

The average American eats less than 1 serving of vegetables daily. If you're a woman over 45, you need at least 5 servings (2 1/2 cups) of vegetables daily. I've helped many women gradually work up to this amount--it just takes a bit of planning and brainstorming to figure out the best strategies that work for you. Along with getting those 5 servings, get more nutrient-bang for your buck by choosing these Top 10 Veggies more frequently.

#4: Drink Up

More water, that is. I'm impressed by the number of women I work with who walk around dehydrated most of the time. Not getting enough water affects every organ and system in our body and makes exercising more difficult. Just like the vegetables, it takes some strategies and sometimes problem-solving to get 6-8 servings per day as a minimum, but it's doable!

#5: Have More Fun!

Research shows the more we laugh, the better our health --it's really true! Laughter decreases stress hormones and improves your resistance to infections by increasing immune cells and antibodies.  So go out and have more fun! Many of the women I work with set goals around having more fun as part of their Wellness Plan. With our very busy lives, we need to schedule in fun, just like you schedule a doctor's appointment, exercise or your child's soccer game.

Cheers to a FUN, Healthy, Happy 2016!