What is Bok Choy?

I must confess, leafy greens are my nemesis; I know they are among the healthiest foods available (superfoods anybody??), easy to find at the store and keep well in the fridge, but I just can’t get excited about kale (even fresh from our garden), spinach is only edible when cooked into a lasagna, and chard is just fancy spinach. With these unfounded biases firmly in my head as I perused this week’s box list, I saw bok Choy and immediately lumped it in with these other leafy greens. It took some coaxing and ridicule, but I was persuaded not to remove it from the list. Now, after using it for several different recipes this week, my initial apprehension has been upgraded to ‘this is pretty good…for a leafy green vegetable’ (just have to remember to say that last part).

I found it to be mild in flavor, although I don’t foresee myself eating it raw, as well as meaty enough to stand up to cooking while retaining some texture and flavor (unlike spinach, it is easy to pick out even when cooked along with other veggies). We got a single plant, which grows in a bunch, kind of like celery, but leafy, with stems wider than chard. Because the stems are wide and close together, a lot of dirt was caught on the inside of the lower stems, and definitely took some washing to avoid an extra crunchy meal.
Last week I made a sort of stir fry thing, combining it with other vegetables, then heaping over quinoa. I also added it to a tomato sauce used in an eggplant lasagna. Both dishes were well received at my house, so I am excited to add it to other dishes!

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Along with my recipe research, I have uncovered some other fun facts about this exotic vegetable:

1. Bok choy is in the Chinese cabbage family, which also includes Napa cabbage. It is sometimes referred to as white cabbage, but be sure not to be confused it with Napa cabbage (a serious faux pas in vegetarian circles I am sure).
2. There are many kinds of bok choy that vary in color, taste, and size, including tah tsai and joi choi. Bok choy can also be spelled pak choi, bok choi, or pak choy.
3. The Chinese have been cultivating it for more than 5,000 years.
4. Although the veggie hails from China and is still grown there, it is now also harvested in California and parts of Canada.
5. Just like for most fresh vegetables, don’t wash until you’re ready to use it (don’t ask me why, but my thoroughly unscientific testing has shown it to be true). Unused parts can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to 6 days.
6. Bok choi is packed with vitamins A and C. One cup of cooked bok choy provides more than 100% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of A, and close to two-thirds the RDA of C. This is a huge natural boost to the immune system, and I am a firm believer that consuming vitamins directly from vegetables are superior to taking a multi-vitamin, but that’s another blog post….
7. If you are thinking of growing your own, it takes about 2 months from planting to harvest, and thrives best in milder weather (shucks, not suited for the Reno climate).
8. Finally…..Bok choy is sometimes called a “soup spoon” because of the shape of its leaves.

The bottom line is I foresee more bok Choy on my families dinner table in the future, and recommend giving it a try as an alternative to the more common leafy greens.

Please share any bok choi recipes that I should try!


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Lifting Weights For Women

When I tell people about my workout scheme, most women have a negative comment about the weight lifting part. Something about not wanting to look like the Incredible Hulk in a bikini….just trying to picture that gives me the creeps. Trust me, I totally understand that no girl ever wants to look like the incredible hulk, least of all me. Trust me again when I say the choice of whether or not to lift weights isn’t a choice between bat wings and incredible hulk arms. There is a solid middle ground that means toned, beautiful arms as well as a healthy cardiovascular system and happy body. If for some reason you want incredible hulk arms, I hear steroids are the way to go.

With this weight lifting dilemma in mind, I found this interesting tidbit by Chalene Johnson (posted on her FaceBook like page this month), in one of the fitness groups I am a part of:

“How often? As little as 1x per week (lifting heavy) was shown to make a noticeable difference in body composition! With 3x a week, results were SIGNIFICANT!

Trying to lose weight and and reduce body fat-then lifting weights or body weight training may be your missing piece!

In a recent study, 10 weeks of strength training was shown to increase resting metabolic rate by 7 percent, and an average of 4 more pounds of fat loss in those who strength train 3x per week vs those who solely did cardio.

So if your goal is to get lean-you need to lift  it may be time to ditch the treadmill , and say hello to weights,”

Some BeachBody workouts that are great for reducing bat wings and building a little bit of muscle are: Chalene Extreme, Body Beast (yes, even women are doing this workout), P90X, P90X2, P90X3, and the newest BeachBody workout that was released in December Hammer and Chisel.

I am currently using Insanity: Max 30 workout, and have also completed cycles of P90X/3, while also using Body Beast: Lucky 7 and my arms aren’t ripping out of even my tightest shirts (even when I get REALLY MAD).

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These are my arm results back in January/Febraury 2013 while doing TurboFire and adding in Body Beast-Lucky 7 once a week.

The other, long term advantage of including weight lifting in a workout (especially as we get older) is fighting osteoporosis. The best way to fight osteoporosis is to be proactive (don’t wait until bones start breaking) and participate in regular weight bearing activity. Unless you are really good at hand stands, activities like lifting weights or yoga are the best way I know of to provide weight bearing activity for arms.

If anybody has any questions about lifting weights as part of an overall body workout, I would be happy to answer them!

Welcome 2016

It’s that time of year again where the Christmas tree and decorations come down, weight loss goals come into play and the gym is full of people wanting to lose weight for their New Years resolutions. Welcome 2016! Yes, I’m sounding cliche, but what can I say, it’s true about the beginning of the year.

I know how it goes, I’ve been there with the best of intentions, blowing dust off of long unused gym memberships, treadmills (even workout DVDs), eyes bright with resolutions and hope for the new year. Those extra few pounds didn’t stand a chance this year!

Then life steps in (or is it just the end of January that signals the end of motivation), and, like the Swallows leaving Capistrano, the gym empties….at least that’s how it looks when I would drive by, promising to go again tomorrow.

The last couple years I have been able to keep motivated through January, and I think it is mostly because I can work out at home when it is convenient and takes way less time than going to the gym.

So, if that list of standard cliches isn’t motivation enough, I will share my resolution with all my loyal readers in hopes that it will motivate me… It looks a lot like last year; workout regularly, but also make each workout count! No point in wasting time doing a half assed workout!

What are your New Year’s resolutions/goals for 2016?


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