True happiness comes from the joy of deeds well done,
the zest of creating things new. — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Lately, I’ve been motivated to find ways to get healthier. I already consider myself a healthy person—I eat well, exercise and limit my intake of processed and high fat foods—but I think I can take it up a notch or two. A couple of things I’ve decided to do is make it a priority to increase my intake of nutrient-dense (mainly plants) foods, following a plant-based diet. I also want to find ways to be more active.
I recently purchased a new generation digital pedometer called a Fitbit. It tracks my steps, distance, calories burned, and number of stairs I’ve climbed during the day. It supposedly can also measure my sleep quality, help me to learn how to sleep better, and wake me in the morning (but my toddler has that covered as he likes to wake up before 6am!). I haven’t yet taken advantage of all the features of my new gadget, I’ve been most interested in tracking the amount of steps I take everyday. My daily goal is to reach at least 10,000 steps.
The American Heart Association recommends we take 10,000 steps everyday to maintain good health. This translates to walking about five miles or about 90 minutes everyday. Studies have shown that as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day results in a dramatic increase in health benefits. By walking just 30 minutes a day your chances of a premature death can drop by as much as 20 percent.
Steps are cumulative, starting from the time you get out of bed in the morning to when you rest your head on your pillow at night. With a pedometer, I like to see my progress throughout the day, encouraging me to gather more steps when I have the opportunity. A little here, a little there, and at the end of the day it all adds up. The real-time feedback is quite motivating to find ways to keep moving! I’ve found that my Fitbit not only acts like a compass to let me know where I am, in terms of reaching my daily goal, but it also encourages me to be more active. I oftentimes find myself taking the stairs instead of the elevator, going for a quick walk when I can, and parking in the space farthest from where I need to go. I also find that I don’t normally reach 10,000 steps without some thought and effort. However, my greatest challenge is not only reaching 10,000 steps a day, it’s actually remembering to wear my pedometer…. When I do remember, the other challenge for me is trying to get it back from my little one who, like most toddlers, loves to hold small things, especially when they have a button and numbers that light up when pressed.
With my plans in place to be more active and walk more, I was also motivated and inspired to make this nutrient dense and delicious salad made with kamut, an ancient grain. A nutritious and rich source of protein, iron and fiber, kamut berries are a tasty addition to this very colorful and nutrient-packed salad.
How about you, what keeps you motivated to be more active and eat nutritious foods? Have you ever worn a pedometer? I’d love to know.
French Lentil, Kamut and Avocado Salad with Basil Dressing
1/2 cup French lentils
1/2 cup kamut berries, soaked overnight and drained
3-4 cups water or vegetable broth
4-5 cups (5 ounces) arugula and other mixed greens
1 fennel bulb, sliced
3 carrots, peeled in strips
3 radishes, julienned
3 mini or 1 large cucumber, julienned
1 tomato, diced
3 green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh basil
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
Boil lentils in water or vegetable broth in a medium saucepan until slightly tender. Drain and allow to cool.
In a medium saucepan, bring kamut berries to boil in 1 1/2 cups water or vegetable broth. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the kamut berries are tender, but still slightly chewy, 50 to 60 minutes. Remove from heat. Drain any remaining liquid and allow to cool.
Meanwhile, toast pumpkin seeds in a small skillet over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. In a mini food processor blend the oil, garlic, fresh basil and salt.
Once the lentils and kamut have cooled, make the salad. In a large bowl, add greens, fennel, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, green onions, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds. Gradually add basil dressing, keeping in mind you may no use all of it. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust for salt. Let salad sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to allow the flavors to come together. Toss again before serving; sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds, and serve with 1/4 or 1/2 avocado.
When using kamut, don’t forget to soak overnight in advance. If you have difficulty finding kamut, you can substitute it with farro, spelt, or wheat berries.
For another salad using kamut, look here.