• 30Jan
    Thanks to BCBS of Georgia for the pedometers!

    Is your New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get fit losing momentum?  Why not join us in our Wellness @ Work Get Fit Challenge?

    Launching today, each participating employee (including yours truly) will track how many steps we walk daily and report them to our assigned health coach on campus each Friday.  Prizes will be given throughout the challenge to motivate us to keep moving.

    Why participate?  For me personally, I’m taking an unplanned running hiatus, so I’m actually trying to compensate by boosting my low impact activity!  Aside from my personal goals, I already love the competitive spirit and creativity that our challenge has started around campus (as in Excel spreadsheets with graphs and a proposal to bring dogs to work to promote walking).

    No matter what your fitness level, walking is something everyone can participate in doing.    We hope to see more walk & talk meetings, walking groups at lunch time and walking to and from each others’ work spaces.

    How many steps should you take per day?  For good health, 10,000 steps per day is recommended, or the equivalent of walking 5 miles.   Even if you don’t have time to schedule a five mile walk, anyone can make time for short walking breaks throughout the day that total 10,000 steps!

    Want to join us?   Here are the steps to get started!

    Buy a pedometer. Pedometers come in all sizes and pricetags.  If you have a smartphone, you can download a pedometer app as well.  Find one that works for you, attach it to your waist every day, and write down your results each night.

    Know your baseline.  If you haven’t been active lately, 10,000 steps per day may not be a realistic goal just yet.  Wear the pedometer for a day or two while doing your usual actitivites to get an idea of your baseline activity level.

    Set small goals. If you normally walk between 2000-3000 steps per day, set a goal to walk 3500-4000 steps per day for the first week.  For week 2, step it up a notch and aim for 4000-5000 steps per day.  Adjust as you are able to without overdoing it or injuring yourself until you reach 10,000 steps per day!

    Reward yourself. For each day you achieve your steps goal, put 50 cents or $1.00 in a jar.  At the end of the eight week challenge, go buy yourself a “prize” with the money you saved.   Choose something fitness related – maybe upgrade your pedometer, buy a meditation CD to listen to after your walks, or a new pair of walking shoes!

  • 26Jan
    Ashley Ritchie, RD, talks about how to prepare leeks.

    This week, Ashley and I are venturing out to the Cancer Support Community of Atlanta for our monthly cooking demos.  Our topic this month?  Winter soups & stews.

    Unfortunately, the weather has not quite been ideal soup and stew weather; however, if my Weather.com app is correct, it looks like Sunday will bring a low of 27 degrees  – perfect for soups and stews!

    What do I love most about soups and stews?  Well, for starters, a soup or stew is one pot meal.  You  have one pot to clean, less mess and enough food for a few meals, assuming you aren’t feeding 10+ guests at once.

    Our recipes this month included a very simple white bean soup and a delicious mushroom and barley with kale.   Both are packed full of fiber and phytonutrients from the vegetables and garlic.    Check out the bean recipe below and give it a try this weekend.  Looking for a side?  Top off the meal with a salad or homemade garlic toast.


    Quick Creamy Bean & Sage Soup

    3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    3 cups chopped onions (about 2 large onions)

    3 garlic cloves, minced

    1 cup water

    1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

    1 tsp fresh sage, minced

    1/2 tsp salt

    1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

    4 c low-sodium broth

    2 (15oz) cans cannellini beans, rinsed

    2 (150z) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed

    1/4 c freshly grated parmesan cheese

    Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté until golden, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add rosemary, sage, salt and pepper; satue for 1 minute. Add the water, broth, 1 can cannellini beans, and 1 can garbanzo beans. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 10 minutes or until flavors blend. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, until smooth. Or allow the soup to cool and transfer to a blender in batches; puree until smooth. Add the remaining cans of beans. Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle each with freshly grated parmesan cheese.


  • 18Jan

    by Fatema Bandukwala, an Atlanta resident who has volunteered with Open Hand & Good Measure Meals.  She is in the process of applying to a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian.

    Getting tired of rice and pasta? Curious about quinoa?

    Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is a whole grain that makes a good substitute for rice, or pasta.  Quinoa is a nutritious South American grown crop, and in comparison to other grains, is high in protein, rich in vitamins and minerals, and delicious with vegetables, beans, or berries.

    One-fourth of a cup of cooked quinoa yields only 55 calories, but is packed with protein and fiber (1.3 g and 2 g respectively!). Quinoa contains the most protein in comparison to any other grain.  For six to eight people, try cooking one cup of dry quinoa. Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare. (see below for a recipe and directions).

    A common brand is Ancient Harvest Quinoa, usually found in grocery stores in the ethnic foods aisle. If not there, or in the pasta aisle, quinoa may be found in the gluten-free section.

    There’s an endless variety of items to prepare with quinoa! For a tasty alternative to breakfast oatmeal, try whole grain quinoa with berries, sliced almonds, cinnamon, honey and yogurt.

    A favorite of mine, and a delicious nutritious dinner option is Quinoa with sweet potatoes. Paired with the health benefits of quinoa, sweet potatoes also bring a healthy serving to the table. Sweet potatoes are full of potassium plus eye boosting Vitamin A and beta carotene.

    ps -These dishes save well as leftovers!

    2  cups cooked quinoa or (1 cup raw)
    1 large or 2 medium sweet potatoes
    1/4 cup minced onion
    1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

    1. Cook the quinoa. Combine 1 cup dry quinoa with 2 cups water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat on medium-low, cover and cook for 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, peel the sweet potato and dice it into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces. Cook in boiling salted water to cover until tender, about 15 minutes; drain well.

    OR a quicker alternative, cook the sweet potato in the microwave on high for 5 minutes, then peel and dice.

    2. Fluff together the potato, quinoa, and onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the oil and toss the salad. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with a cinnamon stick.

    Want to try quinoa without cooking yourself?  Check out our Good Measure Meals Vegetarian meal plan that uses quinoa as one of many protein sources!

  • 10Jan

    by Fatema Bandukwala, an Atlanta resident who has volunteered with Open Hand & Good Measure Meals.  She is in the process of applying to a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian.

    When I was younger the thought of living in Florida was ideal. I thought how wonderful it would be to live in South Florida and have fresh ripe oranges available year long. The desire to move ceased, as I learned when to look out for ripe oranges. That time, is now!

    Every winter season I anticipate the juicy, sweet, citrus taste of the Florida orange! Peak season is November to February, as these months marks the height of ripeness for this citrus fruit.

    Navel oranges from Florida, California Valencia oranges, clementines, tangerines, and grapefruits can all be eaten as a snack on the go, during breakfast, or used in many recipes. The next time you are in the fruit section at the grocery store, pick up a net of oranges, a box of Clementine cuties, or a few firm citrus fruits for your diet!

    Personally, I think the most satisfying way to eat this fruit is simple : rinse, peel and cut.

    This ripe fruit is beneficial to the body in multiple ways. Besides the juicy flavor, oranges offer a burst of nutritional value. The orange is high in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and folate, but low in calories.  One orange delivers 116% of  the daily value for vitamin C, 3 grams ( 13%)  of fiber and only 60 calories per serving of 1 fruit.  There is no reason to miss out on this in-season fruit!

    Looking for orange inspired dressings or salsas?  Try Good Measure Meals that uses a tangy Dijon orange sauce as a topping in a few menu items, or try this orange salsa below as a dressing on grilled chicken strips for tacos.

    Orange Salsa


    2 large oranges, peeled and cubed.
    1 tomato, seeded and cubed.
    ½ jalapeno chili, minced.
    ½ cup of red onion, minced.
    1 tablespoon of fresh cilantro.
    1 teaspoon orange peel, grated.
    1 teaspoon ginger root, minced.
    1 teaspoon garlic, minced.
    Pinch of salt.


    Combine all of the ingredients, except the cilantro, in a suitably sized bowl.  Place in a refrigerator for about 30 minutes, until chilled.  Stir in the cilantro and serve as desired.

  • 04Jan

    What are your resolutions? Or do you even make any? According to Wiki, a study in 2007 by a man named Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol (UK) showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail.

    This statistic should not surprise anyone – as most of us have been part of the 78% at least one time.

    This year, I’m resolving to continue my 2011 adventure with new foods – a resolution I know I can keep. I’m exploring foods I’ve never tried, and preparing foods I thought I didn’t like in new ways.

    How did this all start?

    As some of you may know, my colleague Ashley and I do cooking demos for the Cancer Support Community here in Atlanta.  Ashley – a self-described “foodie” – has broadened my horizons immensely in the very brief six month period that I’ve been working with her.

    In my short time with Good Measure Meals, I’ve been amazed to learn how many foods existed that I had never tasted or thought I didn’t like- and I mean REAL,WHOLE foods – not foods manufactured in factories that you buy in a box (although there are many of those I have yet to taste as well).

    I have been and continue to be genuinely surprised by the foods that I’ve (re-)discovered!   I thought I hated Brussels sprouts, but the truth is that I just hate them boiled (LOVE them roasted!).   I found that parsnips have a unique flavor all their own.

    Fresh ripe pears are crisp and sweet (I only ever ate canned pears as a child and wrote them off years ago).  And up until last weekend, I thought I didn’t like kale until a friend made it into a salad (wait, to quote her, “massaged” the kale) with goat cheese and pomegranate seeds for New Year’s Eve – yum!

    Are you ready to broaden your own food horizons but not sure where to start?  As a food explorer myself, here are my suggestions for 12 fruits and vegetables to try (or re-try) in honor of 2012!

    1.  Kumquats – I first had this tart citrusy fruit at the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle a few years ago.  They look like mini oval oranges.  Be sure to eat the entire fruit – skin and all.  I saw some at Kroger in Atlanta yesterday so know they are available locally.

    2.  Parsnips – I first tasted parsnips this fall in a roasted fall vegetable medley with carrots and winter squash.  At the local market, they look like large white carrots.  The taste?  They have a ‘bite’.  Try them and see for yourself!

    3.  Kale – If you’ve tried our Good Measure Meals Hearty Chicken Sausage Soup with Kale and White Cannellini Beans, then you have eaten kale!  If you want to prepare it in an entirely different way, try making kale chips or using it raw in a salad.  To learn more, check out my colleague Diana Dyer’s blog, 365 days of kale.

    4.  Star fruit – Star fruit (or carambola) is a juicy tropical fruit grown throughout Southeast Asia, Australia, South America, Hawaii and Florida.  It’s a good choice during the winter when they’re readily available.  Star fruit are low-cal (only 30 calories per fruit) and make a great conversation piece when added to a fruit salad.  The taste is difficult to describe, but the texture is sort of like a grape.

    5.  Turnips – The root of turnip greens is on my 2012 ’to do’ list.  Not knowing how to prepare them myself, I consulted Ashley, who suggests pan-sautéing them.  Check out the Vegan Coach to learn more on prep.

    6.  Anasazi Beans – Named after the cliff dwellers of the Southwestern US, this bean is believed to be 1500 years old.  If you ate this week’s Good Measure Meals dinner last night with Southwestern Chili Lime Tilapia aside Seasoned Anasazi Beans and Sweet Corn, then you’ve had Anasazi beans!

    7.  Broccolini – I first experience with broccolini was at Alligator Soul in Savannah this fall.  Due to my ongoing aversion to broccoli (long story), I asked the waitress if she could sub asparagus for broccolini, assuming it was ‘baby’ broccoli – same flavor, just smaller.  Thank God broccolini was my only option that night– it’s fantastic!  To me, it tasted much more like asparagus than broccoli.  Delish!

    8.  Arugula – Up until this fall, I had always had arugula as a part of a mixed greens salad – never alone – but I’m now an arugula salad lover.  My favorite way to enjoy is simply to toss the greens with a dash of olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, salt and freshly grated parmesan.  Sliced fresh pears make a nice addition as well (thanks Ashley!).   On Good Measure Meals right now?  Arugula pops up in next week’s menu (Chickpea Salad and Bulgur Salad with Golden Raisins, Arugula, Pecans, Herbs and Spices on Saturday).

    9.  Rutabagas – Like turnips, this one has been added my list to try in 2012.  Rutabagas are root vegetables that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip.  I think I’ll try mine sautéed with caramelized onions.

    10.  Persimmon – This fruit resembles a tomato, but tastes quite different.  Not sure how to eat?  Check out Five Ways to Eat Persimmons.

    11.  Figs – If you are like me, I wouldn’t know where to start with a fig.  I’ve tasted figs in recipes made by other people, but never ate a fresh or dried fig by itself.   Did you know figs are on the GMM menu?  If you’ve had our Provencal Chicken flavored with Lemon, Herbs, Sundried Tomatoes and Dried Figs, you’ve had figs!

    12.  Lentils – ohhh…my favorite bean.  Lentils require no soaking overnight, making them a quick and easy solution for meals.  Use them in stews, soups or add them to rice and vegetable dishes for more fiber and flavor or if you don’t want to cook them, try our Good Measure Meals lentil stuffing on the fall/winter menu!  As a bonus, lentils won’t hurt your wallet either.  Check out one of my favorite lentil dishes: Warm Lentil Salad (try substituting turkey or chicken sausage – it’s delish)!

    I hope my mom is sitting down when she reads this.  The girl who once only ate canned green beans, potatoes and corn now eats her vegetables, and can’t wait to try more.