Recipe of the Week:
Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad

Crisp pears meet with celery, cheddar cheese and pecans for a delicious side dish for dinner or lunch. You can shake up the flavors a bit by adding Parmesan cheese with pine nuts or crumbled Stilton with walnuts.

Nutrition Profile: Diabetes appropriate, low calorie, low cholesterol, low sodium, high calcium, high fiber, gluten free.

4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
1 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see Tip)
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce

Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for about 15 minutes. Drain, pat dry and cut into ½ inch pieces.

Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears and gently stir to coat. Add celery, cheese and pecans and combine by stirring. Season to with pepper. Divide lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

To toast chopped pecans, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until fragrant and lightly browned (about 2-4 minutes).

Nutrition Per Serving (1 cup):
215 calories; 13g fat (5g mono, 4g sat); 20 mg cholesterol; 20g carbohydrates; 5 g protein; 4 g fiber; 240 mg sodium.

Fit Tip of the Week:
Strength Training: The Basics

Strength training is an important part of any fitness routine and you don’t need to be a body builder to benefit from strength training. A well designed strength-training program can provide the following benefits:

Increased strength of bones, muscles and connective tissues, also leading to a decreased risk of injury. For women this also means a decreased risk of osteoporosis.

Increased muscle mass. Adults lose about ½ pound of muscle per year after the age of 25, mostly due to decreased activity. Muscle tissue is partly responsible for the number of calories burned at rest (aka your basal metabolic rate). As muscle mass increases, so does your basal metabolic rate, thus making maintaining a healthy body weight easier.

Enhanced quality of life. As strength increases, the performance of every day routines (carrying groceries, working out in the garden, playing with your children) will be less taxing.

To get started with a strength training routine I would recommend getting one-on-one help with a qualified fitness trainer who can help you meet your personal goals as well as address any limitations. A fitness trainer can also help ensure you’re using the proper form and technique to avoid injury as well as find equipment that you’re most comfortable with, be it strength training machines, free weights, weighted balls, or resistance tubes/bands or a combination of equipment. For starters usually one set of eight to 12 repetitions of a particular strength training exercise is usually sufficient for beginners. Good technique, not heavy lifting, should be the primary goal when starting a strength training program. Lifting the weight to a count of 2 and lowering it to a count of 3 or 4 is generally effective. When you’re able to perform 12 repetitions of an exercise correctly (without cheating that is) increase the amount of resistance by 5 to 10% to continue making a safe progression.

An encouraging aspect of strength training is the fact that typically you’ll experience rapid improvements in strength and muscle tone. However, don’t be discouraged if visible improvements begin to taper off after a few weeks. It’s only natural, as your fitness level improves improvements in strength and appearance will come slightly at a slower pace. If you’re having problems keeping your motivation up then you should look into getting a partner to train with you. You should aim to exercise each muscle group at least two times per week, with a minimum of two days of rest between workouts. Training more frequently or adding more sets may lead to slightly greater gains, but the benefit may not be worth the added risk of injury.

Free weights, machines, resistance tubes, and weighted balls are all effective tools for strength training and using a combination of equipment is often recommended. Utilizing two types of strength training equipment provides variety to your workout which is important for both psychological and physiological reasons. Variety helps to reduce boredom and provides subtle exercise differences that will in enhance progress.

Questions of the benefits of strength training have long been put to rest. Research continues to demonstrate the various benefits of adding strength training to a fitness program. A safe strength training program combined with cardiovascular training and flexibility training will give you the benefits of a well-rounded, total fitness program.

Until next week…