Did you know:
Half of the babies born in 2012 have the potential to live until they are 100 years old? How many of us know someone who is currently 100 years old? I can’t say that I do. Doing a little research for a presentation this week led me to some interesting ways to maximize our age, happiness and health. Whether we want to think about aging or not, it is something we all have in common, no matter how old we are right now. I hope this information inspires you and your family too.
According to Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zones, there are 9 things that the oldest living people have in common (only 20% is attributed to genes). I have chosen a few to highlight with my own acronym: HEALTHY.
H – Hunger. Fill your stomach to 80% fullness. Comfortable, not overstuffed.
E – Eat fruits and vegetables daily at each meal. This is the one food group found to benefit aging the most. Check out other posts in the United States of MyPlates Challenge for ideas on creating healthier plates at mealtimes.
A – Alcohol (for those 21 and older), one glass a day for women, two for men. Unless the doctor has told you not to.
L – Live an active lifestyle. The oldest and happiest people in the world don’t spend their days going to the gym, while that is a worthwhile endeavor. They instead incorporate activity into their daily living – like gardening, housework, taking walks.
T – Tribe. Who you surround yourself with influences your behavior. Smoking, obesity and happiness are all contagious whether we want them to be or not.
H – Happy hour – where you take the time to de-stress and get happy in the form of quiet time, a nap, reading or socializing.
Y – You – what can you and your family do today together to live longer and better?
I follow the White House Garden happenings – and have a goal of getting there with my family before 2016. And on Tuesday of this week, First Lady Michelle Obama had kids from various states help with one of the first harvests of the season. White House chefs created a meal that inspired this post. And the First State Dinner for kids inspired this United States of MyPlates Challenge. My kids are also eager to hear from the White House, as they each entered a recipe in the challenge with hopes of a win – which means a visit to the White House! They were excited to create a recipe that will be judged by White House chefs themselves. We should know the results in a month!
I wanted to create a mash-up between the Florida recipe posted in the Healthy Lunchtime Challenge Cookbook and the White House Garden Menu from this week. Instead of the meat casserole from Florida – it sounded a little more Midwestern than Southeastern United States – we combined the use of a new ingredient that we had not tried in our family – bulgur – with the Grilled Veggie Flatbreads created by the White House chefs. Bulgur is whole grain wheat and I have to say, the mild nutty flavor and meat-mimicking texture will be something we all want to enjoy again in pilaf, soups, stuffing and casseroles.
I was surprised by how fast it cooked up – literally in about 12 minutes, of course, we had the quick-cooking kind which I would recommend for busy families. You can even cook it up a day or two before you plan to use it. Add one cup bulgur to two cups of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. It will absorb most, if not all, the liquid.
To create the flatbreads, we made our own dough. This is a great activity for kids. Even my nine-year old loved squishing and mixing the dough.
The smell of yeast is such an experience!
While one was working on the dough, my daughter took over making the homemade dressing. I encouraged her to take a leaf of spinach and dunk it in after all the ingredients were mixed together to check the flavor. Of course she said it needed a little more honey, given her preference for all things sweet. But she was right, it did taste better with a little extra honey. We celebrated her first recipe adjustment – made on her own!
Another key step to make the cooking more fun with the family is to give them fun (yet safe) tools. “This is really easy actually” is what I heard with the apple/pear wedger.
Grilled Veggie Flatbread
Ingredients for Flatbread:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or whole wheat white flour)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for Toppings:
1/2 cup prepared pizza sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, minced (here is a safer way to chop this up for little hands)
1 cup broccoli, finely chopped
1/2 cup spinach leaves, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/2 cup bulgur
1 cup shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses (mixed)
1. For the flatbread, mix the yeast, sugar and water in a small mixing bowl. Let stand for a few minutes.
2. Sift flours and salt into a lasagna dish and make a well into the center. Pour yeast mixture and olive oil in the well. Using hands, gradually bring the flour around the side into the center of the well. Work the dough until ingredients combine and dough becomes smooth and springy.
3. Set the dough aside for 1 hour in an oiled bowl, covered in a warm place.
4. Punch the dough to let air out. Place dough on floured surface and roll out into 4 small pizza crusts. Place dough onto medium heat grill and grill for 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill. Top with pizza sauce.
5. Meanwhile, for the toppings, heat pan over medium heat. Add oil, shallot, broccoli, spinach, garlic and bulgur. Sauté for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat. Divide topping evenly between pizza crusts. Top with cheese. Carefully transfer back to the grill to melt cheese.
Sweet Apple Vinaigrette
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Stir all together, can keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Make it a MyPlate meal by adding a fresh salad from the garden, topped with pears, Parmesan cheese and Sweet Apple Vinaigrette, and served with a glass of milk.
MyCart Shopping Tip: Try looking for bulgur in the whole grain section of the supermarket, it is a great substitute for rice, has 7 grams fiber and 5 grams protein per serving. We will definitely be keeping this grain on hand.
Adventurous Son: 5!
Cautious Daughter: 5!
Dietitian Mom: 5 – What other number could I pick if my whole family loves this meal?