Healthy Recipe, Charred Zucchini and Scallion Pasta 

Functional Aging

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  1. Healthy Recipe, Charred Zucchini and Scallion Pasta 

    It’s amazing how much depth of flavor can be achieved from basic ingredients with a few tweaks in the cooking, as Yasmin Fahr demonstrates in this recipe from “Cook Simply, Live Fully.” Here, summer squash, which tends to be bland, is charred first in a dry skillet with thin slivers of lemon and scallions. Olive oil, grated Parmesan, and the starchy water from the cooked pasta transform into a creamy sauce rich with umami rather than fat. Not only is it healthy, delicious, and filling, but it’s also easy on the wallet and a snap to make. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


    • Salt
    • 2 large or 3 medium zucchini or other summer squash
    • 1 lemon
    • 2 scallions
    • ¾ pound rigatoni, fusilli, ziti, or other short tubular dried pasta
    • 1 cup reserved pasta water
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, or more, as needed
    • Red pepper flakes (optional) 


    1. Bring a large pot of water seasoned with about a tablespoon of salt to a boil. Meanwhile, halve the zucchini or squash lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and cut into ½-inch-thick half-moons, setting aside. 
    2. Cut the lemon in half. Leave one half whole for squeezing. Slice the other half into thin rounds, poke the seeds out, and cut the slices into ¼-inch-thick matchsticks. Set aside. Then trim the roots and thinly slice the scallions. 
    3. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions until slightly underdone by a minute or two. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta.
    4. While the pasta is cooking, heat a dry 12-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat until very hot, about 2 minutes. 
    5. Add the zucchini to the dry pan, season lightly with salt, spread out in an even layer, and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Then, flip with a spatula, scooting some of the slices up to rest on the sides of the pan if it looks crowded. Allow the slices to cook again, undisturbed, for 2 more minutes. Repeat this flipping process in 2-minute increments until the zucchini is browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes total.
    6. Add the sliced lemon and scallions to the zucchini and cook until softened, about 3 minutes longer. Stir in the olive oil and season lightly with salt.
    7. Lower the heat to medium. Add the cooked pasta, ½ cup of the pasta water, and ¾ cup of the Parmesan, stirring well to form a creamy sauce. Add more water if the sauce looks too dry or more cheese if the sauce looks too watery.
    8. Remove from the heat, squeeze in the reserved lemon half, and stir. Season to taste with salt and red pepper flakes, if desired.

    Interested in changing your life for the better? Join our 21-Day Strength and Balance program to rediscover everything you’re still capable of! Learn more here:

  2. Healthy Recipe, Spiced Meatballs

    Here’s a fun idea for your next outdoor get-together that’s more exciting than burgers and hot dogs and has more nutritional value. It’s adapted from a recipe inspired by a Moroccan chef on the French Riviera in Rosa Jackson’s “Nicoise: Market-Inspired Cooking from France’s Sunniest City.”

    Made with ground lamb or beef, the cumin-spiced meatballs are loaded with vitamin-rich herbs and can be cooked on the grill or stovetop. A drizzle of paprika-spiked yogurt and a lemony chickpea salad eliminates the need for mayo or a bun. A simple lettuce and tomato salad tossed in a light vinaigrette adds the right touch of color and crunch to round out the meal while controlling the fat and carbs. Serves 4-6. RECIPE HERE – Susan Puckett

    Chickpea Salad:

    • 2 (14-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
    • ½ cup thinly sliced cilantro leaves
    • ¼ cup thinly sliced flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and pale green parts only
    • ¼ to 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (plus more
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


    • 2 ounces day-old sourdough bread or baguette
    • ½ cup milk
    • 16 to 18 ounces ground lamb (or beef)
    • ½ cup finely minced red onion
    • 2 finely minced garlic cloves
    • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
    • ¼ cup finely chopped mint leaves
    • ¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
    • 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • ¼ cup neutral oil (if pan-frying) 


    • ½ cup plain yogurt
    • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika or chili powder


    1. Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, cilantro, parsley, scallions, ¼ cup of the lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if desired. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 hours. 
    2. Make the meatballs: Break the bread into chunks, place in a small bowl and cover with milk. Set aside for at least 15 minutes or until milk is well absorbed.
    3. Place the meat in a large bowl, Add the onion, garlic, cilantro, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, and egg. Squeeze the milk out of the bread and add the bread to the mixture, discarding any pieces of crust that haven’t softened. Knead the mixture with your hands for up to a minute, until all the ingredients are well mixed.

    If pan-frying, shape the meat into 1-inch balls. Heat the oil over medium-low heat and add enough meatballs to fill the pan without crowding. Flatten slightly with a spatula and cook, turning once, for 6 to 7 minutes on each side, or until browned and cooked through. (Take care not to use higher heat so the onion will have a chance to soften.)

    1. Make the sauce: Mix the yogurt, paprika, or chili powder in a small bowl.
    2. To serve: Arrange the meatballs on a platter alongside the chickpeas and sauce bowls. Drizzle the meatballs with the sauce or dip them into the sauce bowl. 

    If you’re ready to create a personalized plan that’s meaningful enough to stick to… especially when the going gets tough, we’re here to help.

    In our 21-Day Longevity and Strength Program, we’ll work together to ensure you’re not just “going through the motions” to hit your goals but living a life that aligns with your values.

  3. BMI: What’s In a Number?

    Have you heard about Body Mass Index (BMI) and wondered what it means? Maybe you used an online calculator to learn your BMI and were shocked that it defined you as obese.

    You’re not alone! Action star Sylvester Stallone is still famously buff in his 70s, but according to his BMI, he’s obese. 

    It’s a common measuring tool, a quick assessment to determine if someone might be overweight. But it’s not a diagnostic tool and shouldn’t be relied on as the sole indicator.

    To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in pounds by your height in inches, and then multiply that number by 703. Or use a simple online calculator. If the result is over 25, you’re considered overweight by BMI standards. If it’s over 30, that means you’re obese.

    Your doctor might have measured your BMI. She can confirm it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution (pun intended). It doesn’t consider all kinds of factors, even gender and age. Athletic people might weigh more than the BMI says they should. BMI also can underestimate body fat among older people because we naturally lose muscle mass as we age.

    You might want to measure your waist with a simple tape measure. “Start at the top of your hip bone, then bring the tape measure around your body, level with your belly button,” says WebMD. Check the measurement after you exhale.

    WebMD says men should be less than 40 inches around and women less than 35. Talk to your doctor if it’s more. Medical professionals and some gyms and studios have more precise tools to measure body fat, which is much more important than body weight.

    To lose fat, you know what you need to do: Eat less and move more.

    If you’re ready to create a personalized plan that’s meaningful enough to stick to… especially when the going gets tough, we’re here to help.

    In our 21-Day Longevity and Strength Program, we’ll work together to ensure that you’re not just “going through the motions” to hit your goals but that you’re living a life that aligns with your values.

  4. Healthy Recipe, Indian Okra

    Okra is a staple of the American South: fried, pickled, and stirred into gumbos. It’s also the primary component of a popular North Indian dish called bhindi (okra) masala, the inspiration behind this recipe lightly adapted from William Stark Dissen’s “Thoughtful Cooking: Recipes in the New South.” Bursting with bright curry spices and fresh herbs, it also contains nutrients and fiber. Pair it with rice and a yogurt-based sauce to make a quick vegetarian meal in a bowl. Serves 4. RECIPE HERE — Susan Puckett

    Cucumber Raita: 

    • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
    • ½ medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced small (about 1 cup)
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
    • 2 teaspoons chopped mint leaves
    • 1 ½ teaspoons lime juice
    • ¼ teaspoons ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon garam masala
    • Pinch of cayenne pepper
    • Kosher salt to taste

    Okra and Tomato Stew:

    • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
    • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
    • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
    • 2 medium plum tomatoes, diced
    • 1 pound okra, stems trimmed and sliced crosswise ½ inch thick
    • ½ cup chopped cilantro
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • Jasmine or other white rice and lime wedges for serving  


    1. Make the raita: In a medium bowl, stir together the yogurt, cucumber, garlic, cilantro, mint, lime juice, cumin, garam masala, cayenne, and salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
    2. Make the stew: In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 7 minutes.
    3. Add the turmeric, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and a few grindings of black pepper. Cook and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes; cook and stir for a minute more. Add the okra; cook and stir for 2 minutes more.
    4. Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the okra is tender but not mushy, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in half the cilantro, lime juice, and garam masala.
    5. Divide the okra among serving bowls and garnish each with a dollop of raita and the remaining cilantro. Serve with rice and lime wedges.

    Contact us TODAY to discover more tasty, healthy recipes and learn about our Precision Nutrition counseling!

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

  5. Diet Is More Than What You Eat

    When someone asks about your diet, you naturally think about food, right? 
    But what if we expand our ideas about the word “diet” to include everything we consume in other aspects of healthy living? What would your exercise “diet” be? What would your emotional diet, your spiritual diet, etc.?
    It’s more than just an interesting way to look at things. This can be a helpful tool in assessing the various categories of your wellness – which, in turn, can help you see how to improve something here, tweak something there, and even applaud yourself for something else.
    “Diet” is just another word for choices we make habitually. So, let’s consider what we consume across the spectrum. What are some good, healthy choices, and how can we look out for pitfalls that can throw off four diets as surely as a giant slab of birthday cake with ice cream?
    Physical. Exercise and nutrition are essential to maintaining health and independence. You know this. So – move your body and eat right!
    Do This More: Resistance training. Stay strong to maintain muscle mass, balance, and everyday functional performance.
    Do This Less: Sitting. Go for a walk, take dance breaks during TV commercials, and stand during part of your computer time.
    Emotional. How well do you cope with the challenges of life? Are you trustworthy and respectful?
    Do This More: Meditate. Pause throughout the day to focus solely on your breathing, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
    Do This Less: Avoid consuming news and social media. They can be overwhelming and depressing. Limit yourself so that you stay informed and in touch without falling into dark rabbit holes.
    Intellectual. Engage in creative pursuits and things that stimulate your brain.
    Do This More: Read and write. That means reading good books, not snippets off screens, and writing in longhand, not on the computer – poetry, fiction, or letters to loved ones.
    Do This Less: Consume sugary drinks. You already know they contribute to physical problems like obesity and diabetes. However, consuming too much sugar also raises your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
    Professional/Vocational. Even if you are retired, you can still gain satisfaction using your skills as a mentor, volunteer, or caregiver.
    Do This More: Volunteer with a community organization that needs help in your area of expertise.
    Do This Less: Complain about how things aren’t as good as they used to be when you were in charge or coming up.
    Social. Our interactions with family and friends keep us connected, lowering stress and depression.
    Do This More: Call someone you’re thinking about. Go back to your house of worship, recovery program, or community center. Start dating again if it’s time.
    Do This Less: Complain.
    Spiritual. Let your personal values guide you to a life of meaning and purpose.
    Do This More: Say “Thank you” to whomever or whatever you believe in. Make a gratitude list. 
    Do This Less: Live in the past. Memories are nice, but we only have them right now, so enjoy your blessings and spread the bounty today.
    Environmental. Be aware of how different environments affect you and your effect on the environment.
    Do This More: Plan your next trip somewhere that makes you happy or fires your imagination.
    Do This Less: Avoid putting yourself in settings that cause you stress. Seriously, you can just say no to all kinds of things.
    Keep it simple. Remember, you are what you eat. But you’re also what you read, believe, tell yourself, do with others, and put into the world.
    Living well is a banquet. Enjoy!

    Contact us to learn more about dieting and making healthy choices!

  6. Healthy Recipe: Corn Salad with Cherry Tomatoes  

    At its height of freshness, local sweet corn is delicious straight off the cob. Here, those kernels are tossed together with other summery ingredients and a simple dressing of olive oil and lime juice for a colorful, refreshing salad that’s portable for picnics and potlucks and infinitely adaptable. This recipe is lightly adapted from one in “Pizza Night,” while it would indeed go well with your favorite slice, it also makes a nutrition-packed meal on its own when embellished with protein-rich edamame and feta cheese. It’s also good with chips. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


    1. 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame 
    2. Kernels from 4 ears of corn
    3. 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
    4. ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt, plus more, to taste
    5. Freshly ground black pepper
    6. ¼ cup extra virgin-olive oil, plus more, to taste
    7. 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more, to taste
    8. 1 cup torn fresh basil leaves 
    9. ¼ cup torn fresh mint leaves, finely chopped chives, or finely chopped green onions
    10. 1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and diced
    11. 4 ounces feta cheese, preferably in brine, cut in 1/8-inch-thick slabs


    1. Blanch the edamame for 15 seconds in a small pot of boiling water. Drain and rinse under cold water; pat dry. 
    2. In a large bowl, combine the corn, tomatoes, edamame, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Add the olive oil and lime juice and toss. 
    3. Taste and adjust seasonings, lime juice, and olive oil as desired.
    4. Add the basil, mint, avocado, and feta. Toss gently and serve immediately.

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

  7. Healthy Recipe, Chicken Thighs with Limes 

    Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a low-fat, low-cost protein source that’s convenient to have on hand. But without the skin and bones to keep them moist and hold them together, they can use some extra TLC in the prep. Here’s one fast and easy idea worth keeping in your back pocket, adapted from a recipe in Yasmin Fahr’s “Cook Simply, Live Fully. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


    • 2 tablespoons full-fat Greek yogurt
    • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
    • 1 teaspoon ground sumac (optional)
    • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more, as needed
    • 2 limes, zested and thinly sliced into rounds
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into 2-inch pieces
    • 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, or mint
    • Rice and green salad for serving (optional)


    1.  Heat a broiler with a rack 6 inches from the heat source to high.
    2. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, Parmesan, sumac (if using), cumin, 1 teaspoon of salt, lime zest, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chicken to the bowl and stir to coat.
    3. Arrange the lime rounds on a sheet pan (lined with parchment for easy clean-up if desired). Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and spread them out. Arrange the chicken pieces on the pan.
    4. Set the pan under the broiler and broil until the tops of the chicken pieces are lightly browned, 6 to 7 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and broil for 4 or 5 minutes or until the chicken darkens. (To test for doneness, cut through a thick piece with a knife to see if the juices run clear.) If the chicken is charring too quickly, move the pan down a rack to finish cooking.
    5. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chicken and limes (which you can eat) with the herbs.  Serve with rice and salad, if desired.

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

  8. Healthy Recipe, Vegan Four-Bean Chili

    It’s hard to believe a pot of chili could be filling and flavorful without a speck of meat or added fat. But this recipe, lightly adapted from one in Toriano Gordon’s “Vegan Mob,” proves it can be done! Just toss everything in the pot and crank up the burner while you assemble some bowls of your favorite toppings — vegan or non-vegan. Crack open a bag of chips, invite some friends over, and you’ve got a party! Serves 8-10. – Susan Puckett 


    • 1 (15-ounce) can each of pinto, kidney, black, and cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 medium zucchini, diced
    • 1 medium summer squash, diced
    • 1 medium red onion, diced
    • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
    • 2 or 3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • 2 (15-ounce) cans of tomato sauce
    • 1 cup vegetable broth (plus more, if needed)
    • ¼ cup chili powder (plus more, to taste)
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt (plus more, to taste)
    • 1 dried chipotle pepper (or 1 teaspoon powdered or diced chile in adobe sauce)

    Optional: Cooked rice, diced tomato, diced green onions, shredded vegan cheese


    1. Combine beans, vegetables, garlic, tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, 1 tbsp salt, and chipotle in a heavy stockpot. Stir to blend well. 
    2. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until steam rises from the pot and the ingredients are heated through, about 10 minutes. Cover and cook for 30 minutes more. 
    3. Remove the lid and taste for seasonings, adding more salt and chili powder if desired.
    4. Ladle in bowls. Add rice if desired and serve with tortilla chips and accompaniments of choice on the side. 
  9. Eye of the Tiger: Keep Your Drive at Any Age

    Studies show that having a purpose is key to overall optimal aging and success in fitness at any age.
    You won’t doubt that again once you meet 80-year-old track-and-field champion Howard Booth.
    It’s Howard’s commitment that keeps him going in life and sports.

    “So much of it is the psychology,” says Howard, a retired professor. “I know that doing this stuff is good for me. There is a little bit of self-brainwashing involved,” he says, describing what others might call motivation.
    Before the pandemic, he worked in gyms and built a home gym with a stair stepper, treadmills, chin bars, free weights – and a pole-vaulting pit in the backyard. He likes to lift weights, perform bodyweight exercises like pushups, and practice dynamic balance moves.
    Howard has won three gold medals in pole vaulting at the World Masters Athletics championships. He’ll compete in Sweden this summer in pole vault, hurdles, and a relay team.
    His speed and strength training make him a competitor. Vaulting alone requires you to race down the track and hoist yourself over a bar 7 feet high.
    “Drive is why I got a PhD, and that’s why I had a great career as a professor,” said Howard. “It is paying attention to the details of what you’re doing at that time.”
    Determination Is Key
    You don’t have to be a retired professor, a pole vaulter, or as dedicated as Howard is. You need a purpose to keep you moving. Experts say we need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity cardio exercise, plus two weekly strength training sessions, to stay healthy.
    Many active agers benefit from focusing on a main “why.” They can return to it like a mantra for ongoing inspiration… Maybe they want to walk a granddaughter down the aisle, enjoy a summer working the backyard, or follow doctor’s orders to treat symptoms of chronic health conditions.
    It doesn’t matter “what” your “why” is just that you have one.  
    Optimal aging requires the strength, stamina, and agility to live life on your terms for as long as possible. It takes effort and determination, but you’re no stranger to putting in work to enjoy rewards later.
    As Howard shows daily, it’s fun to move your body and challenge and reward yourself.
    He enjoys hiking with his wife, a painter, and they visit museums together when traveling for his track meets. Howard has a mountain bike and likes to paddleboard.
    Howard has some simple advice for anyone who is not quite as advanced—or, well, determined—as he is.
    “Start simple and easy,” he says. “You get better and learn to do new things, which is better than sitting there watching some stupid TV program with no merit. When you’re done, give yourself kudos: You did it.”
    Let us show you how to get that sparkle of drive back in your eye. Call or come see us today.

  10. Healthy Recipe: Coconut Cream Oats

    If you’re a fan of coconut cream pie, you’ll love this genius make-ahead breakfast idea lightly adapted from a recipe in Kat Ashmore’s “Big Bites.” Thickened with tiny, antioxidant-rich chia seeds, these grab-and-go treats are creamy, filling, refreshing, and packed with nutrients and fiber. A sprinkling of toasted coconut adds crunch. Serves 4. – Susan Puckett


    • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
    • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
    • ¼ cup maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
    • 1/3 cup chia seeds
    • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • Optional toppings: toasted shredded unsweetened coconut, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, mango, banana, toasted sliced almonds 


    1. Have four 12- to 16-ounce lidded wide-mouthed glass jars or other containers ready.
    2.  Shake or stir the coconut milk to blend if the cream and water have separated, then pour 1 cup of the blended coconut milk into a large bowl. 
    3. Add the almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, oats, chia seeds, salt, and cinnamon. Whisk until thoroughly combined. 
    4. Divide among the jars, cover with lids, and refrigerate overnight. (The oats will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.)
    5. Serve with coconut or fruit of choice.

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

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