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Increase your Fruits & Veggies with an Everyday Cacao Valentine

Friday, February 15, 2013

This was yesterday's blog: 361 calories for a special, beautiful blossom of a valentine.

Now THIS is a Daily Cacao Valentine for your health:

I gave it to myself for breakfast this morning. 289 delicious and healthy calories. Start with a bed of 1 cup spinach. Mix 1/2 cup Chobani Nonfat Greek Yogurt with 1 teaspoon dry cocoa powder, sweetener packet, and vanilla if desired. Spoon on top of the spinach in a mound. Arrange 1 cup strawberries in blossom fashion as in the top picture, except the mound is smaller. Sprinkle with 1 Tablespoon cacao nibs and 1/2 ounce walnut pieces.

This is perfect for an everyday breakfast or lunch. If you can afford the calories, please substitute 1-2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup for the sweetener.

I supplemented my everyday Cacao Valentine with a smoothie of spinach, swiss chard, almond breeze, frozen banana, and frozen cherries. Add the Everyday Cacao Valentine and I totaled 6 Fruits and Veggies for breakfast. That's amazing! (542) calories for breakfast

See yesterday's blog for info about Cacao Nibs.

I make my Nutrition Tracker public if you are interested in how I am going to incorporate 15 servings of fruits and vegetables into today's meals:

Visit my team for more ideas for your health:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

POPSY190 2/16/2013 2:33AM

    Thank you. I just ordered some cacao nibs and I can't wait to try some of your ideas for using them.

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ANGEL1066 2/15/2013 10:44PM

    sounds yummy! i'll try it on my dh.

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LESLIELENORE 2/15/2013 1:59PM


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LAURAAT 2/15/2013 11:24AM

    Very intersting, spinach and strawberries and cacao - never would have thought of that combo! Thanks so much for sharing. I especially like the smoothie idea. :)

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CHRISTINASP 2/15/2013 10:07AM

    Looks nice! You MUST be in a warm climate to have frozen stuff for breakfast! :)

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Assignment: share your quick and easy list of meal ideas for future use.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Well, here are my quick and easy goto meals. They are quick because I chop, steam, or roast and store veggies when I come home from the store. I always roast a bunch of carrots, tomatoes, a winter squash, a small casserole of peeled garlic, and beets if they are available. I always have Josephs pita bread (60 calories) or xtreme Wellness Spinach tortillas. Lots of fiber in either one. I also bake rice a cup at a time for 4 servings and store for vegetable plates or salads. I prefer aromatic brown rice mixtures from Lundberg. Christmas, Weihani, Golden Rose Brown, Brown Jasmine and Black Japonica are favorites.

Then during the week, most things are already cooked and are combined into cold salads or warmed for vegetable plates.

1. Salad of greens, strawberries, onions, cacao nibs, white kidney beans or chick peas, colavita basalmic vinegar
2. Salad of greens, 2 clementine cuties, onions, almonds, mini sweet peppers sliced into wheels, brussels sprouts
3. Salad of steamed edamame out of shell, tomatoes, black olives, onion, artichoke leaves
4. Vegetable plate of roasted carrots, winter squash or sweet potato, steamed broccoli, beets and an aromatic rice or beans or nuts.
5. Rice salad: 1 c. aromatic rice, 1 c. halved grapes or sweet cherries, .5 cup chobani no fat Greek Yogurt, chopped celery, cinnamon, nutmeg, walnuts
6. Breakfast fruit bowl: 1 cup of 2 different fruits, 1 T ground flax or chia, .5 - 1 ounce almonds or walnuts. If I microwave a frozen berry or cherries, I mix the juice with .5 c. Chobani no fat yogurt and add cinnamon and nutmeg before topping the fruit.
7. Pita Pizzas
Savory: spread roasted garlic, then roasted tomato. Top with sweet pepper wheels, onion, olives, gouda or jarlsberg light. Heat 10 minutes.

Fruit: spread with laughing cow swiss or yogurt mixed with cinnamon. Top with blueberries, apples, cherries, or grapes and chopped walnuts. (no cooking) Another option here is caramelized sliced pears and onions on the pita spread with LC swiss.

8. Spaghetti: Do a stir fry of lentil sprouts, onions, pepper wheels, roasted garlic and tomatoes. Heat already cooked spaghetti squash. Top. sprinkle with grated parmesan if desired. Serve with sprouted barley bread.

Remember the tea and water glass.

Note: It might seem a lot of work to do all that prep when coming home from the grocery store. But I fill the oven and roast everything all at once.
All the peeling, chopping, cleaning up mess happens once a week. I only have to clean up the cutting board and food processor once, only rinsing between each new veggie getting chopped. Steaming each vegetable is a little more time consuming, but I line up 5 bowls with broccoli, brussels sprouts, edamame, and asparagus. I cover 1 with a plate and zap for 4 minutes. While the next one cooks, I'm packaging the first.

By the time the roasted veggies are done, I have the other veggies chopped and stored steamed or raw. Then I package the roasted veggies and meals are a breeze.

Have you ever roasted your own tomatoes and onions? The first time I did that, I was just about ready to eat the whole kitchen by the time it finished roasting. So I mixed 12 roasted tomatoes with about 24 cloves of roasted garlic and ate them all for supper. I still have to eat that on grocery night, but I usually just use 3 - 4 roma tomatoes with some garlic for the meal and eat it on spaghetti squash with steamed broccoli and some black olives. Absolutely to die for.

I even think that's the easiest dip for a party: roasted tomato, garlic, onion, and black olives. Serve with those baked crackers from the health food store. Choose those wisely and it's all anti-angiogenic.

Use the links in the resources forum at my team page to learn more about anti-angiogenic foods and their benefits to your health.

I have also been saving my recipes and also some written by others at SP recipes in my Anti-Angiogenic Recipe collection at

Hope you find some easy healthy choices that you can add to your "Goto" collection.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMONEKP 2/15/2013 2:14PM

    Easy to make and store recipes are the best

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CHRISTINASP 2/14/2013 3:14PM

    What a wonderful blog. I got hungry reading about your meals. I wish I could stay with you and learn for a week or so!
You could start food & cooking weekends / retreats for people wanting to learn 'Bravelutes's anti-angiogenic lifestyle'! :)

Comment edited on: 2/14/2013 3:15:12 PM

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LESLIELENORE 2/14/2013 2:49PM

    Wow! You are more ambitious than me.

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A Cacao Valentine for You

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snack
This special treat will keep you on TRACK!
361 calories, 48 carbs, 11 fats, 20 protein

Or share it with your special someone after your holiday meal.

And it is 100% anti-angiogenic. That's a good thing for you because food with anti-angiogenic properties help you defeat fat cells, cancer cells, heart disease, arthritis, and a whole lot more, according to Dr. William Li.

That sounds pretty amazing, but we tend to stay clear of food that older people tell us is good for us. I still remember spinach cooked beyond recognition.

So I'll tell you the other unbelievable part. This is a beautiful picture of chocolate goodness. And, at least for me, it does NOT launch a major attack of the chocolate binge monster!!

Want to know how to do it? You can just chop and combine everything. Or slice your strawberry hearts, mix yogurt with cocoa and honey, arrange in blossom fashion and sprinkle with cacao nibs. Serve with a cold glass of water and a pot of tea.

Slice 1 cup of Strawberries into lengthwise halves. (Hint: use your knife to cut off the cap leaving a "canal". Slice across the canal as you cut the berry in half so that it resembles a heart)

Mix well:
3/4 cup no-fat Chobani Greek Yogurt
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 Tablespoon plain cocoa powder

Place 3 strawberries on your serving plate. Mound the Yogurt mixture over the top. Create the blossom by sticking the pointed end of strawberry halves into the yogurt. Start at the plate level working around the mound. Move up about an inch and alternate placement creating an petal or artichoke look.

Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cacao nibs. Give it a try! Give yourself a delicious Cacao Valentine. Enjoy!!

What's that? What are cacao nibs?? Well, they are the cacao bean chopped up into little niblets. Cacao beans grow on the trunk of the cacao tree, are harvested, fermented and processed into the chocolate you know in your candy, the chocolate you know that awakens that chocolate binge monster.

Cacao nibs are the whole food before the manufacturers get hold of it. I find mine at my local health food store. They haven't found their way into any grocery I have available yet.

Cacao beans have more of those healthy things that fight off cancer than any other food. And you get ALL of that in cacao nibs. At least half is lost through processing on the way to your chocolate candy that you crave.

Want to know more about chocolate and caco beans?

If you'd like to learn more about anti-angiogenic foods and what they can do for YOU, we have a team her on Spark People: Eat to Defeat Fat Cells, Cancer Cells, and More . . .

You can find links to Dr. Li's video at, and also a link to the anti-angiogenic food list at And you are also welcome to join us as we learn more about how to prevent lots of health issues with WHAT we eat.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 2/14/2013 5:38PM

    Mmmmm, I love cacao nibs - I eat them straight!

I also make "brownie yogurt" - mix your nonfat Greek yogurt with cocoa powder and stevia, then add some chopped nuts - great snack or "dessert"!!!!

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BRAVELUTE 2/14/2013 5:18PM

    Christina, the 6 petal plate is mine. I own 4. I found them at a local department store. They also had bowls you could purchase, but I didn't. I like to use them with my new way of eating. Everything always looks so bright and cheerful on the plates. AND you have lots of opportunities to use the 6 petals creatively!!

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POPSY190 2/14/2013 4:58PM

    Looks wonderful.

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CHRISTINASP 2/14/2013 3:17PM

    PS Is that your crockery set? I think it must be 'cause it's the same plate as on the pic on your sparkpage. It looks lovely!

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LESLIELENORE 2/14/2013 2:47PM


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CHRISTINASP 2/14/2013 11:49AM

    Oh, that's a cute idea! For today it's too late for me but I'll save this and make it for my honey later!
Very creative. Thank you for sharing !

Comment edited on: 2/14/2013 11:51:16 AM

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SHARJOPAUL 2/14/2013 9:30AM

    Sounds wonderful

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Challenges are overwhelming at times

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

In January, 2012, it was a huge challenge to walk from the parking lot though the door of the YMCA for my first Livestrong session. To say nothing of the treadmill and strength training which followed. I've come a long way since that day.

I've taken on 2 challenges for spark coach this week and I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. One I've done before: 10 minute challenge. And the other, some boot camp challenge. I did the January jumpstart challenge when I was in NC. This new one has you do 30 minutes of cardio daily and a Nicole bootcamp video.

This was strictly my choice but I'm feeling overwhelmed right now. I had set my personal fitness activities to include at least 2 miles of walking and 45 - 60 minutes in the pool, depending upon the temperature.

I felt I needed to do the challenges
1. The 10 minute daily to have that to fall back on if I lose motivation or steam. I can do the 10 minute sessions with my eyes closed, sitting in a chair if I need to.
2. The Boot Camp to teach me what I need to know to learn where I need to take my fitness.

I like the feeling that I can do so much more now when I'm not carrying around the 45 pounds. But I have no clue what needs to happen next for the next 45 pounds.

So my 2 miles and swimming will give me the needed cardio and then some. I guess I'm just worried about the Boot Camp videos. The name makes them sound way beyond my current fitness level.

But I've done the first day, and I modified the jumping jacks, and one other. I wonder if I'll EVER be able to do THAT one?

Well. We'll see. If I'm doing it to learn, I can't expect that I can already do it all.

Well, I have a speaker to go listen to at the Y: Why Eat Raw Food? and I plan to get in some cardio while there. Maybe some treadmill, and the pool before the kids get out of school.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FISHER011 2/12/2013 5:55PM

    Wow! You are amazing & give me strength- thank you!
I did the boot camp 1 video today & I modified my arm movements, but I was out of breath & had to stop.
baby steps emoticon
You are doing great! emoticon

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QUERIDAANA 2/12/2013 2:15PM

    I can relate to being overwhelmed by challenges. I weighed the pros and cons of being on a challenge team and the pros won out, in my case. I will be a little less active on the computer and more active outside. I like your idea of walks and swims. You can do it, just cut back when your body tells you you need to.

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LESLIELENORE 2/12/2013 12:42PM

    emoticon but if you are feeling overwhelmed take a little break. You don't want to burn out.

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CHRISTINASP 2/12/2013 11:25AM

    Pardon me, double post.

Comment edited on: 2/12/2013 11:25:46 AM

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CHRISTINASP 2/12/2013 11:25AM

    Sue, my impression is that you are doing ONE wonderful job after the other. I admire you for keeping on with ETL and for starting to exercise the way you did! You are already doing so much and making so many changes in your lifestyle. Please don't ask too much of yourself. 'Overwhelm' is not a good place to be; you don't deserve that!
Maybe it's best to FIRST get the 10 minutes 'into your system' and allow that to become a habit, fitting it into your personal circumstances. THEN, after that, you could take on the next challenge and enter the bootcamp arena!
They say it takes at least 40 days to get used to a new habit / activity. Then it takes half a year, I hear, before you have truly integrated it into your life. So take your time. I feel it's more important to move in the right direction, which you definitely are doing, than too 'run too fast' and get discouraged because of overwhelm, or develop a complaint / injury.
Or, if you should feel up to it, I would still let the bootcamp challenge go for now, but see if you can do say, 10 or 15 minutes of the bootcamp video's, at your own level (adjusting exercises if they're too hard at first), twice a week. That way you may gradually work up to the desired level.

Comment edited on: 2/12/2013 11:30:06 AM

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No more quick fixes!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

In 1985 I finished with the Cambridge liquid diet and started gaining back the 35 pounds I had lost, plus some more.

So I am NOW working on getting rid of that fat. Layers and Layers melting away with the help of
getting 8 hours of sleep every night
anti-angiogenic food,

great science laid out by Dr. Fuhrman at ETL,

and wonderful tools at Sparkdom to manage all of it.

If you need a fantastic tracker to track your nutrition, your fitness activities, your weight, your measurements, or attitude. Spark People has them. If you need ideas for how to eat in a healthier way, or to exercise when you think you can't, or if you need motivation or support or a shoulder to cry on or a deaf ear to rant into, it's all there at

What are you waiting for?
Consider this your invitation.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FISHER011 2/13/2013 11:48PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LESLIELENORE 2/11/2013 5:49PM

    emoticon emoticon

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MAUITN 2/11/2013 4:53PM

    Keep on going!

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CHRISTINASP 2/11/2013 12:43PM

Hear, hear. Let's go for changing habits - for good.

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MIAJOEB 2/11/2013 12:29PM

    YOU are really going for the burn... Keep up the spark spirit.

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