Monthly Archives: October 2013

MySisterSaid Chickpea Falafel Burgers Are Healthy and Exotic


Served with a salad Chickpea Falafel Burgers make a tasty meat-free meal

Full of exotic aroma’s and flavor, these fiber-filled Chickpea Falafel Burgers are a favorite vegetarian alternative at our house. They’re packed with all the wonderful health benefits of chickpeas and rich, aromatic spices. They go together quickly and easily – and while you’re at it, you can make extras to freeze. Adapted from something we saw years ago on the BBC.
4 servings and take around 30 minutes.  You’ll need:

For the sandwich

  • 15-ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • ½ cup parsley (flat leaf, handful)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon harissa paste or chili sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour, or regular all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 whole wheat pita breads

For the sauce

  • ½ cup nonfat plain yogurt or nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)

To prepare sauce:

Combine yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, parsley and salt in medium bowl.

To prepare burgers:

Pat chickpeas dry with paper towel. Tip into a food processor along with the onion, garlic, parsley, spices, flour and a little salt. Blend until fairly smooth, and then shape into four patties with your hands. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan, add the burgers, then quickly fry for 3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. In the meantime, toast your pitas. Serve the Chickpea Falafel Burgers with toasted pitas, garnish and perhaps a green salad.


According to our calculations, each serving has about 400 calories and almost 8 grams of fiber.

MySisterSaid Life Lessons Can Be Learned at the Gym

gym gear

It doesn’t take much but gumption to head to the gym!

It’s not something I like to admit, but I’ve been intimidated all of my adult life by the thought of joining a gym. Yikes! I would never fit in with all those svelte young babes in designer sportswear and bronzed gods with bulging biceps pumping weights like they’re lifting pencils. In my mind’s eye, they’d be parading around in a glitzy torture chamber full of scary equipment with blaring music and banks of TV screens full of clashing programs. And laughing at me for not having a clue what to do.

But after my hip replacement surgery in June 2012, and in my quest to lose weight, the value of regular exercise has become very apparent. So when I got back from vacation and found a discount leaflet for a gym not far from home, I bit the bullet and signed up.

Much to my surprise, things at the gym are very different than I expected. Sure, the stereotypes are there, doing the stereotypical things. But there are plenty of us there in generic leggings and our favorite well-worn t-shirts breaking a sweat and getting on with it. And while I’m not the youngest on the elliptical trainer, I’m certainly not the oldest.

I’ve been crazy-busy for two weeks and yesterday was my first time at the gym for a week. I wasn’t looking forward to it because I knew it was going to be hard. And it was. But it was also amazing.

A woman my age suddenly said, “Keep up the good work.”

And so I remembered just how great it feels to make it through when you’re dreading it. And then things got even better!

One of the bronzed gods said, “I wish my mom could do what you’re doing.”

Now I wasn’t doing anything spectacular. Just some squats, stability ball crunches, bridges, stuff like that. He told me that he’s had his eye on me for a while and notices how I always work to get better. He said his mom needs to lose weight and get healthy – and that he’s worried about her. I told him that his mom could certainly do what I do if she started from scratch the way I did. I suggested that he share his concerns with her gently, and maybe offer to go walking together to get her started. Perhaps he will. But he made me feel great by seeing me (of all people!) as an example. So I also told him his mom might like to read our blog.

An elderly gentleman told me quite firmly, “You need to hear the compliment.”

I had been on the leg press machine – the source of today’s sore muscles – pressing 77 pounds with my arthritic left leg and 165 pounds with both legs. When I was coming off, the man told me that it was great, and that this could be a tough machine for women because of the pelvis/hip construction. He said a couple of times how impressed he was. I told him I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet, that I was still building things up, and blah, blah, blah. He took me very kindly by the shoulders and said, “You need to hear the compliment. We often don’t hear it when people praise us.” And of course he was absolutely right. It nearly brought me to tears, and I thanked him for the compliment – and for re-teaching me this lesson.

And then there was a bonus: Fly, heron, fly!

In a fluke of nature, and originally aided by humans, Amsterdam has become home to hundreds of rose-ringed parakeets. And as I stood by the window gathering my gear for the journey home I saw a whole flock of them chasing a heron across the sky. It was a mad, angry pursuit and it went on until they were out of view with the parakeets never giving up. It was a spectacular sight and made me realize I need to be a bit more persistent in working on my goals. Wonder if the heron learned any life lessons?

If the movie in your mind is keeping you out of the gym, I’d say switch to a different film. One that shows you doing your thing and feeling great about it!

MySisterSaid Sometimes Living Longer and Stronger Isn’t About Fitness and Nutrition. Sometimes It’s Simply About Living.

Sometimes life is all about living

Life is really all about living

 A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours died. Suddenly. Unexpectedly. Heartbreakingly. At some point in all of our lives we lose someone we care about, and at that point we consider our own lives. The funeral service for this good man was remarkable, a true celebration of his life. Several friends spoke to their relationships with him and how he lived his life. It made me think…how am I living my life? How do I want to be living my life? In all of my pondering I’ve had three major thoughts:

Take care of yourself

Is it time for your annual exam? Go. Just do it! Due for a mammogram or colonoscopy? Ten years since your last cholesterol check? Time to get it done. Sometimes none of this makes any difference at all, and when it’s your time, it’s your time. But what if it’s not your time, yet you are hastening the end along? Your family and friends want you around for as long as possible – so help yourself! Quit procrastinating, quit worrying about what the results will be before you even have them, quit making excuses. Take the time to take care of your health.

Find the silver lining

Our friend found the simple joy in living. How great is that, and really, how easy? Sometimes a bad day is just a bad day and nothing can be done. However, the sun came up today and you woke up. That’s good, right? Aren’t your kids the cutest things ever? It’s good to have a job (even if you are furloughed)! In the midst of the worst, there’s always something good to be had. And as they say, it always gets better. Remember that, take a deep breath and enjoy the oxygen!

Love the good life

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life that we stop really living. We’re just doing. What about the friend you’ve been meaning to call and get caught up with? Call her. Call your mother, your sister, your kids – and tell them that you love them. Takes ten minutes – do it while you make dinner. Go visit if you can! Make dates and keep them. Take a class you’ve been thinking about. Write down those memories you’ve been meaning to keep for your kiddos. Make those first moves off the couch you’ve been talking about. Maybe you have 50 years more, maybe 5 years, maybe 5 days and maybe 5 minutes. Do what you can to live longer and stronger with what you have!

MySisterSaid Try These Ways to Cut Calorie Density

Soup with veggies--upping satisfaction while dropping calories!

Satisfy your hunger with veggie based soup!

I’m always on the lookout for little shifts in eating habits that might help me lose or maintain my weight.  Most of us know that reducing calories is an important component to any weight loss plan, but I hadn’t heard the term “calorie density” until recently.  Calorie density is defined as the number of calories a food has per ounce, and eating foods with lower calorie density can help us lose weight. Think about eating an apple, which weighs around 6 oz and has about 95 calories.  On the other hand, think about eating 6 oz of apple pie, which has about 450 calories.  That’s quite a big difference in calorie density–choosing the apple instead of the pie saves over 350 calories.

A recent article in Appetite (what a great name for a journal!) described how scientists designed studies to see the effects of decreasing calorie density.  One day a week for four weeks, researchers provided all the food for the volunteers.  On those days, they decreased calorie density by about 20 percent by either adding less fat, increasing fruits and vegetables or adding more water to the food (think soup vs casserole).

The results of making these relatively simple changes were pretty dramatic.  Volunteers ate about 400 fewer calories on days when their entrees had less fat, roughly 300 fewer calories on the days more fruits and vegetables were added to the entree, and nearly 230 fewer calories on days when the entrees had extra water.  Making one or more of those changes on most days could have a big impact on weight loss over time.

This is the perfect time of year to add more broth based soup with veggies to the menu–try this delicious Roasted Tomato-Bread Soup from Eating Well magazine .  My Sister Said…what ways will you find to become less dense when it comes to calories?


MySisterSaid There’s No Such Thing as a Diet Birthday Cake Recipe

Happy Birthday!

So today is Melinda’s birthday and she’s thousands of miles away. Didn’t stop me from wishing her the very best. And telling her to EAT CAKE! And then I didn’t know whether to feel guilty or not about telling someone I love to indulge in a tradition that has absolutely no redeeming nutritional value. But what My Sister Said is this:

‘Planned forays into the land of sweets are allowed. We have to eat what we love and love what we eat – in moderation.’

This is no diet birthday cake, but it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious!

And after all, it is a day for celebration.

Here’s a recipe we love for special occasions. It’s not a diet birthday cake recipe. It has sugar and cream, but it also has delicious fiber-rich fruits. And if you budget for the calories in this heavenly dessert, all will be fine: Pavlova to Die For

According to our calculations, a serving of Pavlova has about 180 calories, 2.4 grams of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates and 2.4 grams of fiber. Not bad for something so divine!