Recipe of the Week: Cucumber and Black-Eyed Pea Salad
(from www.eatingwell.com)

This is an easy salad that can be served on a bed of greens for lunch or with grilled chicken for dinner. Also, if you wish you can substitute white beans or chickpeas for the black-eyed peas.

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low carbohydrate, low cholesterol, low sodium, gluten free, and healthy weight appropriate.

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

4 cups peeled and diced cucumbers

1 14-ounce can black-eyed peas, rinsed

2/3 cup diced red bell pepper

½ cup low fat or fat free feta cheese

¼ cup slivered red onion

2 tablespoons spoons chopped black olives

Directions:

1. Start by whisking oil, lemon juice, oregano and pepper in a large bow. l until combined.

2. Add cucumber, black-eyed peas, bell pepper, feta, onion and olives. Toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Nutrition:
Per serving (about 1 cup): 160 calories; 10g fat (3g sat 6g mono); 11 mg cholesterol; 12g carbohydrates; 5g protein; 3g fiber; 270 sodium; 273 mg potassium.

Fit Tip of the Week:
Low Back Pain? Pilates May Be The Answer!

Most Americans at one time or another have experienced low back pain, some chronically. Usually physicians and physical therapists recommend strengthening the abdominal muscles to fix the problem non-surgically. Traditional crunches do strengthen the outer layers of the abdominal muscles, but these omit the deeper supportive structures of the back. Targeting these muscles can help alleviate pain and Pilates can help. Pilates is a gentle, restorative exercise regime that suits most people in the recovery process in addition to building their bodies. Pilates’ focus is on core strength, precision and movement control and is quite successful. So much so that many physical therapists are using Pliates inspired exercise during corrective treatment of low back pain. So, here’s how Pilates can help.

Pilates helps to develop body awareness which is necessary in order to recruit and strengthen the deep stabilizing muscles. Being unaware of the use of your deep stabilizing muscles or not can leave you vulnerable to pain. Also, while building core strength you will learn to engage the deep pelvic floor, which works with the deep musculature and affects the positioning of other structures in the lower back that provide support. A qualified Pilates instructor can help you learn how to effectively use and strengthen your core stabilizers.

Effective breathing patterns are essential in Pilates, in addition effective breathing patterns can help relieve stress, which can be a major source of back pain. Conscious breathing promotes inner focus which will allow you to become more aware of your body and enable the recruitment of deep stabilizing muscles.

Inflexibility accompanies core weakness as a contributing factor in low back pain. Pilates helps to increase flexibility of the spine via the supporting structures. Also a lack of flexibility and muscle weakness can contribute to an exaggerated pelvic tilt which can also contribute to low back pain. Pilates can help to correct these issues and even improve your posture there while alleviating lower back pain.

If you’re suffering from low back pain and think Pilates may be the answer for you, first consult with your physician (as you always should when starting or changing an exercise routine or diet) for a proper diagnosis. Pilates videos can be helpful but to ensure you’re executing the techniques correctly I would recommend taking a plates class with a qualified instructor. If you’re looking to take Pilates classes to correct your lower back pain or as a form of exercise in general here are some questions you should consider asking pertaining to the instructor.

Was the instructor trained though a comprehensive training program? Did that training program require a written and practical test, lecture, observation, practice and apprentice hours? Does the instructor have any movement-related teaching experience? What is the instructor or studio’s philosophy and specialty? Are they able to handle special needs, injuries and rehabilitation? These questions help to ensure whatever instructor you choose will be knowledgeable and effective in instructing a safe workout and possibly relieve low back pain.

Until next week…

KinkySheaPT