29 May 2008

It's All Greek to Me!!!

Greek Salad with Marinated Chicken
Summer is here to stay. This means barbeques... lazy, hazy days.. and trying to fit into those shorts after a long Canadian winter. I knew there had to be a catch in there somewhere.My good friend and blogging sister Ivy of Kopiaste and Ben of What's Cooking US are holding an event called Fat Chefs or Skinny Gourmets. These are two talented cooks from opposite ends of the earth. Ivy is cooking up a storm in Athens, Greece with fantastic Cypriot and Greek recipes; while Ben is living in the States and cooking from his homeland in Mexico City. Two very different cuisines which are both healthy and satisfying. If you haven't spent the time to visit each of their sites please do!!!!!

"Pan metron ariston" as Ben pointed out...means "everything in moderation". I have always believed in this philosophy, but it is not always as easy to adhere to. I do love my comfort foods and and do not do well in the fitness craze over the winter months. Ivy and Ben are co-hosting this event that is focused on diet food or low calorie food. This gives us the opportunity to share our health and fitness goals with our fellow bloggers and gain a list of healthy foods we can prepare to achieve these goals.

My own routine begins once the snow melts. I am lucky enough to live along a greenway. I walk out my door with my Nordic walking poles sometime during my day, depending on my schedule, and walk for an hour along the path to the conservation area. If I am feeling extra energetic I continue down towards the golf course and back again.

You don’t have to buy expensive exercise machines, join a health club or hire a personal trainer to achieve total fitness. Nordic walking poles turn walking into a fun and effective total body exercise with benefits similar to cross country or “Nordic” skiing. Now you can “work smarter, not harder” to build more fitness in less time!

Nordic walking uses two specially designed poles to work the upper body while walking. Like cross country skiing, the poles are used by the arms to match each step the person takes.
You get a better workout without feeling like you are working any harder. While you can get a similar heart rate effect by walking faster, there are many people who do not want to walk faster or are unable to walk fast. In my area I am seeing a lot of seniors using them. A lot of times they are not using them properly, but at least they are out walking!!!

Nordic walking works the arms, shoulders and upper chest and back muscles through a full range of motion, stretching and lengthening those muscles which are often tight. The motion works to overcome the hunching forward that many people adopt while working at desks, reading, watching TV or sitting at our computers blogging for hours on end...wink...wink.... Many people exhibit stress by tightening their neck and shoulder muscles. Nordic walking loosens up those knots. Of course it is nice to go and get a deep tissue massage too...but walking is free!!! I personally love to walk and go hiking so this is "easy peasy" for me!

On any surface, the poles provide more stability for walkers who have balance knee or leg problems through sport injuries or age issues. Proper use of the poles and arm motion encourages good posture. People who had given up walking for pleasure find that they can walk comfortably with the poles. For natural trails, the poles provide stability for walkers much like a hiking stick. I find that the walking poles will propel me along and enable me to walk further.

My poles were glued to my hands and came to Greece with me for 5 weeks. We walked along all ancient trails in Delphi; from monastery to monastery in Meteora; hiked along ancient donkey trails like the Skala in the Pindos Mountains and Zagorian villages; and walked the trails to ancient ruins and secluded beaches on the island of Kea.

According to researchers Nordic walking poles:

Strengthen abdominal, back, arm, shoulder, chest, leg and all “core” muscles (without separate weight or resistance training!)
Burn 25-50% (and up to 70%!) more calories with each step
Improve both “cardio” and vascular fitness
Increase overall stamina and muscle endurance
Improve lymph system function and boost your immune system
Reduce pain and injury-causing stress on hips, knees and feet.and help maintain overall bone density
Maintain joint health and range of motion and improve both your posture and balance
Enhance both your energy and mood.

And you can enjoy all of these additional benefits each and every time you walk!

Now if only I would continue this routine during the winter months it would be all good!!!!!!!

This is a salad that I eat often no matter what season of the year; you can find another delicious version here. It is especially good during the summer months though because it is light and refreshing. I chose to barbeque my chicken breasts but you can adopt any method you would like. I am offering this recipe for the event in honour of my blog sister Ivy and her Greek/Cypriot roots.

Kali Orexia, "May you have a good appetite!"

**Greek Salad with Oregano Marinated Chicken**

For the chicken:

1 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
4 (6 to 7-ounce) boneless, skinless, chicken breasts

For the dressing:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 pinches salt
freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

mesclun (mixed salad) greens
1 English cucumber, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch chunks
3 tomatoes (about 3/4-pound), cored and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (half the fat if possible)

To marinate the chicken: In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper and mix together. Add the chicken breasts to the dish. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.

To make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before tossing salad.

Assemble the salad: Place salad greens in larg bowl. Add cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, and feta.

To cook the chicken: Heat a nonstick skillet or grill pan over high heat. ( I chose to barbeque my chicken) Add the chicken breasts and cook, turning once, until well browned, about 4 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Let the chicken rest on a cutting board for a few minutes before slicing it into thin strips.

Toss salad just before serving with dressing and fan chicken out on top.

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Good healthy post, Val. Thank you!

  2. I've never tried Nordic walking, but you have certainly piqued my curiosity. And your salad is fantastic--such wonderful colors and bold flavors. Healthy eating really can be delicious, can't it?

  3. The salad looks really awesome!

    I run on a regular basis (on my treadmill) but with the better weather I joined a walking program at work that has us using pedometers to count our steps. Yesterday I racked up over 16,500 steps! I love it!

  4. Great entry Val! I love a nice light dinner like that!

  5. Like Susan, I'[ve never tried Nordic walking, although I walk pretty regularly - wouldn't mind upping the bang for my buck. Thanks! I'll check it out! How did you get your poles on the airplane? Or do they collapse?

  6. Wonderful dish Vall! x Gloria

  7. You made me miss my time in Delphi watching the sunset over the sea of olive tree!
    Great recipe!

  8. Barbecuing gives such great flavor for no extra calories - great touch, Valli!

  9. Walking is my prime exercise now and I've not ever tried the Nordic sticks.
    The salad looks grand and I like the oregano with the chicken. Will need to remember that.

  10. nordic walking sounds crazy intense, but if that's what's required of me to earn a salad like that, i'd do it with gusto. :) looks scrumptious!

  11. I've never heard of Nordic walking, but it sounds like a great idea. I feel healthier just for having read your post :}

  12. I'm having that fitting-into-the-shorts problem.

    Nice salad. It sounds really delicious.

    I've never heard of Nordic walking poles. You've convinced me that I should look into them.

  13. What a great looking salad. Nordic walking is fun, but unfortunately it hasn't caught on in the UK yet. You get very funny looks here when walking along a level path or the street with sticks, unlike in Germany where it's really big.

  14. That looks like a lovely, healthy, tasty salad!

  15. I love this kind of salad..the more feta the betta! Especially after a cake so decadent as we all just posted.. I don't want to see sugar..for at least a few days! :)

  16. Thanks sis for participating. Your chicken salad is really both healthy and delicious. Like most of your readers I've never heard of Nordic walking before and I sure would like to try this as I am having knee problems. Thanks for all the useful information given about this. I wish you had a photo using them. I will search the internet to see what they look like.

  17. Nordic walking is quite new to me as well. Sounds like a smart way of exercising Val. A nice healthy salad is perfect after all that walking.

  18. great recipe and good info on the nordic walking.

  19. It sounds like a fantastic exercise Val! And with good company and good views... It's perfect for me, I love walking for fun :D If I ever get to your wonderful Valley I'll take a pair of Nordic poles with me ;-)

  20. My mom has the same moderation motto. I'm still trying to instill it in my husband who things a "serving" of ice cream = 1 pint.

  21. Great post Val. These types of salad are a real crank turner. I think I need some Nordic walking - might be tough on crutches but soon.

  22. Thanks for the information on the Nordic poles, Val, You are right about exercising smarter. There are so many ways to do that. You just have to put your heart into it.

    And that salad, oregano marinated chicken. WOW! I want some now :)

  23. A most wonderful dish Val and brilliant pics!!

    Rosie x


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