Healthy Recipe, Coconut-Oat Truffles

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  1. Healthy Recipe, Coconut-Oat Truffles

    If you’re scrambling for a token of affection to share with your loved one that won’t knock them off with their healthy-eating regimen, consider blending up a batch of this no-bake, power-packed treats. The recipe, adapted from “A Return to Ireland: A Culinary Journey from America to Ireland” by Judith McLoughlin (Hatherleigh Press, $30), is a healthy, gluten-free option. Makes about three dozen. – Susan Puckett


    • 2 cups gluten-free rolled oats
    • 2 ½ cups unsweetened coconut flakes divided
    • ¾ cup mini gluten-free dark chocolate chips
    • 1 cup natural nut butter (almond, cashew, peanut)
    • ¼ cup raw honey (plus a little more as needed)
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • Pinch of sea salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the oats on a large baking sheet and place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the oats are lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove from the oven and let cool.
    2. Place ½ cup coconut flakes in a small bowl; set aside. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a chopping blade, combine the remaining 2 cups of coconut flakes with the cooled oats, chocolate chips, nut butter, ¼ cup of honey, vanilla, and salt.
    3. Pulse until the mixture is well-blended. Pinch some of the mixtures off and squeeze them into a ball with your hands. If it’s too dry to hold together, add a little more honey and give it a few more pulses.
    4. Roll the mixture into 1 ½-inch ball, the roll each in reserved coconut to coat. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.

    Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

  2. Healthy Recipe, Spaghetti Squash

    Spaghetti squash is so named because its flesh forms long, tender strands when shredded with a fork after cooking. Its mild taste pairs easily with myriad ingredients. Plus, it’s low in carbs, gluten-free, and high in vitamin A and other essential nutrients—no wonder this pale-yellow, oblong-shaped squash is having a moment with fitness fans.

    This recipe, adapted from “Listen to Your Vegetables: Italian-Inspired Recipes for Every Season” (Harvest, $45), offers a handy trick for boosting its deliciousness in several notches. After the cut halves steam in the oven, the cooked strands are spread out on a baking sheet and returned to the stove, allowing the flavors to concentrate and caramelize as the moisture evaporates. Mixed with cheese and herbs and heaped back in its shell, run under the broiler until bubbly; it becomes your favorite spaghetti sauce’s new best friend. Sorry, pasta! Serves 4. RECIPE HERE. – Susan Puckett


    • 2 small spaghetti squash (2 to 2 ½ pounds each)
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for coating the foil
    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
    • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves or chopped oregano leaves, plus more for garnish
    • 4 ounces of burrata or fresh mozzarella torn into small pieces
    • Quick Marinara Sauce (recipe follows) or your favorite pasta sauce, optional


    1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Set the squash on a cutting board and nestle it in a folded kitchen towel to hold it in place while you cut it. With a heavy, sharp chef’s knife or serrated knife, carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, rocking the knife gently back and forth after you cut through the skin. (If you’re struggling, you can zap it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes to soften it before cutting.)
    2.  With a spoon, scoop out the seeds and discard them.
    3. Line a baking sheet with foil and brush it lightly with oil. Season the squash halves well with salt and pepper and drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    4. Set the squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the squash skins are tender to the touch.
    5.  Remove the pan from the oven, leaving the oven on. Let the cooked squash rest for about 10 minutes, allowing it to steam as it slowly cools, then flip. With a fork, gently pull and shred the squash from the skins, forming spaghetti-like strands. Spread the strands on the oiled baking sheet. Set aside two of the squash skins for later.
    6. Return the baking sheet with the shredded squash to the oven and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until caramelized (but not burned) in places and dried out a bit.
    7. Place the double-roasted squash in a bowl and toss with 1 cup of parmesan, thyme, oregano, and plenty of cracked black pepper. (Squash may be kept at room temperature for a couple of hours before broiling.) divide the mixture between the reserved squash skins and top with the burrata and remaining parmesan.
    8. Before serving, ensure a rack is set about 4 inches from the heat source and turn the broiler high. Place the squash under the broiler for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden and bubbling and the skins of the squash are slightly charred.
    9.  Remove from the oven, garnish with more herbs, cut in half, and serve with pasta sauce if desired.

    Quick Marinara Sauce
    Makes 2 cups

    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 cloves garlic (or more or less), minced
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes
    • ½ cup finely chopped parsley (leaves and stems)
    • 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
    • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste


    1. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and the red pepper flakes, if using, and sauté for a minute or until the garlic begins to turn golden. Stir in the parsley and sauté another minute.
    2. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, and oregano and lower the heat to a simmer, occasionally stirring, until slightly thickened, 15 or 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

  3. Working Out Brings Better Sleep

    Millions of people don’t get enough sleep every night, even if they know how important it is to their physical and mental health.

    And as we age, some people have extra trouble getting the right amount of rest (which varies for each individual, of course).

    But here’s one thing everyone should know: Exercise will help you get more and better sleep. Studies show that regular, moderately intense exercise improves sleep length and quality. Whether it’s walking, running, weightlifting, yoga…

    “Sleep quality and quantity are two important aspects of reducing stress, improving mood, and providing lots of energy,” the Functional Aging Institute says. “Lack of sleep and stress go hand in hand.”

    The National Sleep Foundation adds, “Not only will getting your zzzs help you perform on a test, learn a new skill or help you stay on task, but it may also be a critical factor in your health, weight, and energy level.”

    After 65, sleep issues can increase accidents, falls, cognitive decline, depression, and more.

    Here are a few tips for restful nights.

    • Don’t exercise too close to bedtime since it can stimulate your brain and raise your body temperature, changes that can keep you up.
    • Maintain bedtime routines and schedules.
    • Get some sunlight every day.
    • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and free of electronics.
    • Avoid caffeine after noon and too much alcohol close to bedtime.
    • Don’t drink much of anything as bedtime approaches; it could make you need to get out of bed.
    • Talk to your doctor about chronic issues. You could have sleep apnea or another serious but treatable disorder.

    When you’re not sleeping, train with us at Your Personal Best Training Studio, where our functional aging experts can assist you with your health and fitness goals. Try our 21-Day Strength and Longevity Program to restore your strength and improve your balance. Guaranteed results.

  4. Healthy Recipe, Chinese-Style Hand-Shredded Chicken

    Boneless skinless chicken breasts are versatile, high-protein, low-fat, and convenient to use, but they can quickly turn dry and tasteless if overcooked. This recipe, slightly adapted from one in “The Walks of Life,” relies on a simple poaching method that ensures tender, juicy, aromatic results. Once cooled, the chicken is shredded and dressed in a light soy-based dressing loaded with garlic and ginger (chilies if you like heat), then tossed with red onion slices, cilantro leaves, and toasted sesame seeds — a delightful, low-fuss way to ring in the Chinese New Year (January 22) or to whip up for a healthy entree any day or night. Serves 4. RECIPE HERE. – Susan Puckett

    For the chicken: 

    • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (brought to room temperature 1-2 hours before cooking)
    • 6 cups water
    • 3 thin slices of ginger
    • 1 scallion, halved crosswise

    For the sauce: 

    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white parts only)
    • 1 heaping tablespoon garlic (3-4 cloves)
    • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
    • 1 or 2 fresh Thai bird’s-eye chilies or a pinch of dried chile flakes (optional)
    • 3 tablespoons neutral oil
    • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
    • 2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or white rice vinegar or rice wine vinegar)
    • 1 ½ teaspoons oyster sauce
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
    • ½ teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
    • ½ teaspoon granulated sugar

    For serving:

    • ½ cup thinly sliced red onion
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
    • Fine sea salt to taste


    1. Prepare the chicken: In a medium pot, combine the water, ginger, and halved scallion and bring it to a boil.
    2. Completely submerge the chicken into the water and allow it to return to a boil. Then immediately reduce the heat to its lowest setting, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
    3. Turn off the heat and allow it to continue to steep in the hot liquid, untouched, for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath in a large bowl and set it beside the sink.
    4.   Check the chicken for doneness by piercing the thickest part of the meat with a sharp skewer to see if the juices run clear. If not, leave it in the water for 5 more minutes, then check again.
    5. Transfer the chicken to the ice bath for about 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle, then shred the meat and transfer it to a serving plate. (Reserve the flavorful broth, if desired, for cooking jasmine rice or other uses.)
    6. Make the sauce: In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chilies (if using). Mix in the soy sauce, vinegar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorns, and sugar. Heat the neutral oil in a wok or small saucepan until shimmering, and carefully pour the aromatics into the bowl.
    7. To serve: Toss the chicken in the sauce, along with the onion, cilantro, and sesame seeds. Season to taste with salt. Serve cold or at room temperature.

    Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at

  5. Experts Rank Mediterranean Diet as the Best

    For the sixth year, the Mediterranean diet has been ranked as the best for health and well-being, according to U.S. News & World Report.

    Concerns about healthy aging came into play this time, the magazine said – including bone and joint health and increasing quality of life.

    The phrase “Mediterranean diet” has been around for a while now, and it’s based on the eating habits of the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, including Greece and Italy. It features simple, plant-based cooking, a lot of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil.

    It encourages the consumption of fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids while calling for less chicken and dairy than the usual Western diet Americans favor. Red meat is used very little.

    Various studies have said it helps lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, dementia, depression, and breast cancer. It has been linked to better bones, heart health, and longevity.

    And, since it’s more of a style than a “don’t eat this” diet, the Mediterranean approach is straightforward for many to follow.

    Which diet landed at the bottom? The “raw foods” diet was cited as lacking nutritional completeness and being difficult to follow.

    The report ranks 24 eating plans in various categories, such as the best “family-friendly” diet. Be sure to scroll through the list to learn more about healthy eating options.

  6. 10 Ways to Move More Every Day

    You can still get plenty of intentional movement even when you can’t work out.

    Heck, it’s even more important on those days.

    If you think about how you can move more, even in little doses, throughout a typical day, it all adds up before you even realize it. Exercise is still important, but don’t overlook simply MOVING your body daily, no matter what.

    Here are ten easy ways to move it (so you don’t lose it).

    1. Stretch for a few minutes each morning.
    2. Walk to the mailbox every day.
    3. Park at the far end of lots, so you’ll have to walk farther to the building entrance.
    4. Take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
    5. Invite someone on a walk to catch up rather than meeting for lunch or coffee.
    6. Stand up when making phone calls or checking emails.
    7. Set a timer to get up and move around every 30 minutes.
    8. Dance during every commercial break when you’re watching TV.
    9. Wear a fitness tracker and set goals for steps, calories, or minutes spent in motion.
    10. Walk to run errands or shop whenever possible.

    What else can you think of?

    Incorporate moves like this into your daily lifestyle – plus regular visits to exercise with us. Give our 21-Day Strength and Longevity Program a try, and you’ll be on your way to a fitter, healthier, and happier you.

  7. Healthy Recipe, Roast Chicken Thighs with Spiced Cauliflower, Cranberries, and Herbs

    Roast chicken seems to cry for potatoes, rice, or some other starchy side. But cauliflower can stand in as a hearty nutrient-packed companion for a fraction of the calories and carbs. In this recipe adapted from Ruby Tandoh’s “Cook as You Are” (Knopf, $35), the florets roast in a pan with skin-on thighs rubbed with bold spices, which are then tossed in a simple tangy dressing and showered with herbs and dried cranberries. Serves 4. RECIPE HERE. –Susan Puckett


    ·         1 ½ tablespoon olive oil

    ·         1 teaspoon smoked paprika

    ·         1 teaspoon ground coriander

    ·         1 teaspoon chili powder

    ·         1 teaspoon dried oregano

    ·         Kosher salt

    ·         4 large or 8 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 ½ pounds)

    ·         Florets from 1 medium head of cauliflower

    ·         3 tablespoons pine nuts

    Dressing and garnish:

    ·         1 garlic clove, crushed or finely grated

    ·         1 ½ tablespoon olive oil

    ·         1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

    ·         2 teaspoons honey or maple syrup

    ·         Kosher salt and black pepper

    ·         ½ cup chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, mint, or a combination

    ·         Several handfuls of arugula or spring mix leaves, optional

    ·         Yogurt and flatbreads for serving, optional


    1.      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, paprika, coriander, chili powder, oregano, and a half teaspoon of salt to make a paste.

    2.      Place the chicken thighs in a roasting pan, at least 9-by-13 inches or larger. Rub the thighs all over and under the skin with the spice paste.

    3.      Roast the chicken for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven, add the cauliflower and pine nuts, and toss well so that everything is evenly coated with the drippings and seasoning.

    4.      Return the pan to the oven for 20-25 minutes longer until the cauliflower is tender and mottled brown, and the chicken is crispy and cooked through (the juices should run clear when pierced with a knife.)

    5.      Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, olive oil, honey, or maple syrup, and a ¼ teaspoon of each salt and black pepper to taste until emulsified.

    6.       When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the oven, drizzle with the dressing, and toss to coat. Scatter with the chopped herbs and cranberries and serve, if desired, atop a handful of arugula or spring mix lettuce, with some of the juices spooned over. Yogurt and flatbread could be served on the side.

    Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.


  8. Healthy Recipe, Tuscan-Style Shrimp with White Beans

    This classic Mediterranean combo is as simple and healthy as it is delicious. A green salad and a loaf of crusty bread are all you need to turn this 30-minute one-skillet meal into a company feast. Variations abound; this one is adapted from “Milk Street: Cook What You Have” by Christopher Kimball (Voracious, $35). Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
    • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or ½ teaspoon dried
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
    • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
    • 2 (15 ½-ounce) cans cannellini or other white beans, drained and rinsed
    • ¾ cup dry white wine
    • 1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined (thawed or frozen)
    • 1 cup lightly packed fresh parsley or basil, or a combination, roughly chopped


    1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, occasionally stirring, until the onion is tender and translucent, 4 to 6 minutes.
    2. Stir in the beans, then add the wine and cook, uncovered, occasionally stirring, until the liquid has evaporated.
    3. Stir in the shrimp and spread out in an even layer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook for 4 to 6 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the shrimp are opaque throughout.
    4. Remove the pan from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and remove and discard the rosemary sprig if used.  Stir in the herbs, ladle onto plates, and drizzle with a little more oil if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  9. Healthy Recipe, Skillet Shrimp Scampi with Corn, Tomatoes, and Peas

    The classic sauce that makes shrimp scampi so sinfully delicious consists of butter, garlic, and wine, which meld in the pan with the juices from the shrimp while they cook. Quite often, it arrives on a platter in a mountain of pasta, with plenty of crusty bread for sopping up every buttery drop. This recipe fuses the best of those flavors with healthier ingredients to produce a colorful, lightning-fast, one-dish meal that won’t leave you feeling bloated afterward.

    Heart-healthy olive oil replaces half the butter. Other vegetables and herbs will work well in this dish, so long as they only require a minute or two to heat through. The most important key to this dish’s success is cooking the shrimp just until they’re opaque throughout but still tender. No one loves a rubbery overcooked shrimp. Serves 3-4. RECIPE HERE. – Susan Puckett


    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
    • 4 or 5 large cloves of garlic, minced
    • ½ cup dry white wine
    • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
    • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen peas
    • 1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
    • ½ cup chopped fresh basil, parsley, oregano, or a combination
    • Juice from ½ lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
    • Cooked rice or spaghetti noodles for serving (optional)


    1. In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant but not browned.
    2. Add the wine, a big pinch of salt, a few grindings of black pepper, and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. Let simmer until the wine is reduced by half, 2 or 3 minutes.
    3. Add the shrimp and sauté until they just begin to turn pink, about 2 minutes.
    4. Stir in the corn, peas, tomatoes, and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Season with another pinch of salt and cook for about 2 minutes longer, just to heat through.
    5. Stir in the herbs and lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired. Ladle into wide bowls or onto plates over rice or pasta, if using. Serve with lemon wedges on the side.

    Susan Puckett is an Atlanta-based food writer and cookbook author.

  10. Exercise Helps Your Brain, Too

    Remember in school when the health teacher warned you about drinking?

    She probably said something like: Alcohol kills brain cells, and YOU NEVER GET NEW BRAIN CELLS.

    Scary stuff.

    Well, guess what? It’s not true about never getting new brain cells – although your life choices affect your brain health and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

    Experts have identified five “modifiable risk factors” – or behaviors you can change – to protect and even grow your brain, says clinical psychologist Marie Stoner.

    She is also a director of programming and a co-founder at Activate Brain and Body, a new fitness facility in Cincinnati that’s part of the growing effort to promote the link between physical fitness and brain health.

    “You are getting new brain cells every day, especially in the hippocampus, which is your memory center,” she advises. “And you are in charge of whether those new neurons get brought on board and put into networks that help you defy the statistics or the family history you might be worried about.”

    She cites a Lancet study that says we could lower worldwide Alzheimer rates by 40 percent through these personal behaviors.

    What are they? Simple.

    1. Exercise
    2. Diet
    3. Brain stimulation
    4. Social interaction
    5. Stress management

    Stoner cites another large study from Great Britain showing that people who exercised the most had a 34 percent reduction in risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Even doing housework every day had a powerful effect.

    “Physical activity is the best thing you can do for your brain,” she says.

    The benefit grows even more, when novel physical activity – something new to you – is combined with brain stimulation.

    She and Activate’s CEO John Spencer say anyone can try out this theory. Just try a new physical movement – say, dance steps that you don’t know – with a cognitive task, like saying all the words you can think of that start with a certain letter.

    Some exercises – like dancing and boxing – strengthen the brain by requiring mental focus.

    The Journal of International Neuropsychological Society says just one exercise session can improve how our brains work and the part of memory that lets us recognize common information.

    “Exercise can have rapid effects on brain function and … lead to long-term improvements in how our brains operate, and we remember,” The New York Times wrote about the study. Science is finding that adult brains can be malleable, “rewiring and reshaping themselves in various ways, depending on our lifestyles.”

    The mind-body connection is powerful. And you already know that exercise is good for your heart, lungs, weight, diabetes, and countless other physical issues.

    In today’s stressful times, we need to take care of our whole selves – and physical exercise like you find in a gym or studio covers the gamut – body and brain alike.

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Your Personal Best Training Studio
Doddridge Plaza
3765 S. Alameda, Ste 102
Corpus Christi, TX 78411
(361) 857-5087