Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Even the most “fitness oriented” and “healthy minded” individual gives in from time to time. I truly believe that people can only follow the straight and narrow for so long before caving in just a little. And a little is okay. Really, I just said that. BUT don’t go all apeshit crazy now. That is NOT okay. 🙂

Oh, I have to add here that I HATE the word “cheat”! I work damn hard and once in awhile it is okay to eat a slice of pizza at a birthday party. That is not cheating in my book. It is living. It is the Yin and the Yang of life. I eat salad and chicken and Greek yogurt and all the good “non-cheating” stuff 80% of the time. And there are times that the Twizzlers and the rye bread and butter somehow make their way into my shopping cart. When I am at a birthday party I do not pack a “healthy” meal, I go ahead and indulge in a little lite festive fare. I don’t party every week, so it is okay. I do workout 6 times a week though. I challenge myself physically and I am always looking for a new workout to try. There is balance. There is an ebb and a flow and that is what matters.

Here are the “cheating” ground rules.

1. Make SMART choices when you cheat. If you are craving a piece of chocolate choose a dark, organic variety. If bread and butter are your cup of tea, choose a whole grain variety (toasted rye is my FAVORITE) and a healthy butter alternative like Earth Balance or Brummmel and Brown All Natural Yogurt Butter (also my favorite). And stop at one SLICE, not one loaf.

2. Only eat what you love. How many times have you eaten something just because it’s in front of you? How many times have you cleaned your plate and the meal wasn’t even that good? Save your cheat calories for only foods you absolutely love.

3. Make good choices and healthy tradeoffs. Think about what you like the most. Do you want the appetizer more, or the dessert more? Instead of having every course offered, narrow down the choices to what’s most important to you.

4. Plan to cheat. One of the best things you can do is plan your cheat meals out. If you are jonesing for your favorite cheat meal for dinner, eat healthy during the day or do an extra cardio. Save calories on other snacks and meals to allow more room to cheat. If you are actively trying to lose weight, planning ahead will help you keep to your daily caloric requirements for fat loss. Which leads me to….

5. Pick one: Overeat or Over indulge calorie wise. If your idea of splurging is overeating, then eat healthy. If your idea is eating a high calorie cheat meal, then eat less of an unhealthy meal.

6. When in doubt – GRAB AND GO! Sweets and other “cheat” foods mess with your head, literally. The sugar and preservatives cause chemical reactions in your little brains that drives you back to that candy bowl. From now on, grab your Kit Kat when you are headed out of the door, and also grab a piece of fruit with it. Eating the fruit will ease the crash after the sugar high and it will also add in some fiber to the mix. And being no where near the candy bowl will help a lot too. Genius right?

7. Lastly, remove the guilt from your day. We are all human and we all experience moments of weakness. Dwelling on the bad of today whether it be about food or something else completely won’t change what happened, nor will it enhance you in any way. No body is perfect and that is what makes the idea of tomorrow to be so full of hope and promise. Awe…. a ray of sunshine.


Well the crops are a-changin!

As you can see, I have a lot of veggies to prep this week! Four heads of lettuce, kale, garlic, turnips, beets, Russet potatoes, peas, and a ton of garlic scapes to cut and freeze. A friend just shared a garlic scape pesto recipe with me which I am very excited to try out. I definitely have enough to experiment with!

Here is the recipe if you would like to give it a try!

‎8oz of scapes cut in 1 inch pieces
Process them with 1 cup of olive oil
2 cups parmesan cheese, and
1/2 cup lemon juice

I’m going to try it out in the next couple of days. I will let you know how it turns out!

Anyone out there have a home garden they are tending to this summer? How are they coming? I picked my first four tomatoes from my tomato plants yesterday. They are so delicious!

So you just came home from a killer Bootcamp class. You are sweaty. You are tired. Most of all, you are hungry! Here is a yummy and easy recipe for one of my favorite after-workout snacks. These are protein bars, and they are homemade. Store bought protein bars are okay in a pinch, but not only are they are highly processed, they also are full of refined sugars and high in calories. This is a healthier (and tastier) alternative!

Dry ingredients
2 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1 cup chocolate whey protein powder (I use Pure Protein brand. It is low in sugars and calories and super yummy!)
1 cup cranberries
1 cup almonds slivered
1/4 cup cinnamon

Wet ingredients
1/4 cup applesauce unsweetened
1/4 cup dk choc chips unsweetened
1/2 cup pb (or almond butter)
1/4 c honey
1/4 c almond milk
2 tbsp vanilla extract

Combine and microwave wet ingredients in the microwave 30 seconds. Stir. If not combined completely, microwave again and stir.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Incorporate wet ingredients into the dry ones. Press into a lightly greased 8×12 baking dish. Freeze for 20 min. Cut into bars. Store in freezer.

After making this recipe a bunch of times I have perfected the method some. The mixture is very gooey when all complete and sticks to everything. I stick my hand in a ziplock baggie and spray it with oil. I use this to pat down the mixture into the pan.

You MUST freeze this for 20 minutes before cutting. It is just a bloody mess if you try to rush it. Also, if you happen to forget about the pan in the freezer before you cut them up for storage (this may or may not have happened to me a few times), just pull the pan out and let it sit on your counter for 5-10 minutes until it thaws out some.

I hope you try these! They really are good and they are fantastic for you too! Lots of protein to repair those muscles!!!!

I have written in previous posts about my veggie share at Thorpes Organic Family Farm.

Well, it has been three weeks of travels to the farm once a week to get my share of freshly picked (they pick the day of your pickup, can’t get fresher than that!), organically grown veggies. So far, I must report that I am in LOVE. The farm itself is so well organized for pickup. I literally am there for minutes gathering my goodies. To my delight I was able to pick an unlimited amount of peas from the fields myself twice already. I cannot wait until I am able to do this with veggies like tomatoes and squashes come fall! I have already frozen enough garlic to last my family quite awhile. I must say here how grateful I am that I scooped up a vacuum sealer back in December. It was a great deal and I figured it may come in handy some time, boy was that an understatement! My next scheduled purchase is a salad shooter – if you know me and knives, you know why this is a necessity 😉

I will take a picture of my goodies each week and post them for you to drool over. Right now, the variety is limited as it is still early in the season. I must say though that usually, I spend about $55 a week on veggies and fruits for my family at the grocery store. Some I buy organic and some I do not. Since the veggie share started I have been spending half that, which is great, and I hope that will only get better as time goes on.

First… here is a picture of my two boys. I talk about them from time to time. They are the loves of my little life. And really, how stinkin’ cute are they?

Now on to my veggies….

We picked over 15lbs of peas this week, no thanks to my youngest son. He ate more than he picked in the fields. But he is cute. So he can stay for another week 😉

And here is the pea field…

So far, I am Über happy with the farm… I can’t wait to see what I get to bring home this week! Stay tuned for the update!

Soda is bad! Here is why…

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Health, Nutrition

This is a fantastic article from Oxygen Magazine’s website that goes over the importance of exercise in all stages of life. It is never too late or too early to begin your quest to better your health and the overall quality of your life. It is a quick read, but a great one.

The Irrelevance Of Age In Fitness
By Kim Dolan Leto | Wednesday, May 23, 2012 | Comments: 1
I happened to catch a post by Tosca Reno, it was about her birthday. She is turning 53 and it got me thinking. Living this Oxygen lifestyle changes all the rules about aging. It isn’t just her body, or her skin, it’s everything.
I have been told, I look younger at 43 than I did in my 20’s. I never really worked out or understood the importance of eating clean until I was 30, and once I started; these are the changes I’ve noticed.

• Lower cholesterol, resting heart rate and lower blood pressure
• Clearer more youthful skin
• Fat loss
• Muscle gain
• Increased energy
• Great reduction in stress
• Inner peace
• Everything in my life runs more smoothly
• My days are more productive
• Better sleep
• The way I look at life is much more positive
• Confidence
• I’m so much happier

People think they don’t have time to exercise or cook clean meals, but the truth is they don’t have time not to. When you look at all the women over 40 that have graced the cover of Oxygen, you’ll be stunned, Francisca Dennis-mother of 6, Dara Torres, Elaine Goodlad and of course Tosca.

I don’t like to compare, but it’s hard not to notice the difference. When I think of women like Francisca, a mother of six, she motivates me and shows me, there is NO EXCUSE! I’m so grateful to have found fitness and to have adopted it as my lifestyle. I shutter to think how unhealthy I would be without it.

Some people reduce fitness to a look, and even find comfort thinking it’s all vanity, but the truth is when you take care of yourself from the inside out you gain an inner confidence and self-respect that helps you to continue on this fitness path. What you look like is only a small part of it.
May I ask you to consider the fact that you too will age? Don’t you want to do it the way these women have? You are worth the investment.

Just as the body heals itself from a skinned knee after a child falls off of his or her bicycle, it has the same capability to heal itself on the inside. We spray antiseptic and cover a wound with bandages to help the body do its job to heal in the case of a scrape or cut. In the case of internal illness, we have ability to help the body do its job by feeding it foods that work as fuel. Vegetables and fruits are full of vitamins and minerals that the body needs to repair and grow and improve. If you starve yourself of these very essential nutrients, your body cannot do what it needs to do to keep itself functioning properly. This is when diseases take over. Be in control of your own body!

Now that is a great title of a blog post if I ever heard one!

Ever wonder if it is safe to store your broccoli with your turnips? Will a green pepper butted up against an onion make it cry? I am always wondering about these things on grocery shopping day, I know, such problems I have, right? Anyway, here is a handy list you can refer to if you find yourself staring at a head of lettuce and haven’t a clue as to where to keep it.

Meats and Fish:
Store meats and fish on the bottom shelf of your fridge, separate from other foods to avoid any juices that could leak out from contaminating other foods like fresh produce.
Raw meats and poultry: Keep them in their original packaging, but also wrap it up in heavy plastic wrap or aluminum foil before storing it in the fridge to keep it fresh and prevent leaks.
Fish: Should be used within a couple days of purchase, but to store it in the fridge until then, remove it from the lightweight supermarket packaging and wrap airtight in heavy plastic wrap or in an airtight plastic freezer bag.

Fresh Fruits:
Fresh fruits with delicate skins (like berries and grapes): Don’t wash them before storing them in the fridge, as this will cause them to go bad quicker. Instead, store them in the fridge in their original package and wash just before use.

Apples, oranges and grapefruit: Store them in the crisper drawer of the fridge where it is cool and dark and they’ll last quite a while..

Tropical fruits (like mango and pineapple), pears, peaches: Leave them out at room temperature until they begin to ripen. When the texture becomes slightly soft to the touch (gives slightly when you press on the fruit), they should either be used right away or put in the fridge at that time.

Fresh Veggies:
Asparagus: Wrap a slightly damp paper towel around stems before storing in the fridge in a plastic zip-top bag.

Carrots, Bell Peppers, Broccoli, Celery: Store in plastic zip-top bags in the crisper drawer and don’t wash them until right before you use them.

Mushrooms: Keep in their original packaging and store in the fridge, and again, don’t wash them until right before cooking or eating.

Pre-bagged Veggies (including salads): Keep in their original bags in the fridge, and even after you open them, keep the rest in the original bag (these bags are specifically designed to help keep it fresh longer)–fold the top down and then double bag it in an airtight plastic bag.
Fresh Greens: If you are buying lettuce or other fresh greens and washing and chopping it yourself, you can wash and chop them before storing them in the fridge. Just make sure that after you wash them you dry them thoroughly with towels or in a salad spinner. Then you can store them in an airtight container with a dry paper towel to absorb any remaining moisture in order to keep the greens crisp.
Fresh Herbs: To keep fresh herbs fresh in the fridge, first snip off the bottom of the stems with kitchen shears. Then, rinse quickly and dry the leaves completely with paper towels. Next, fill a small glass or jar halfway full with water and place the cut side of the stems into the water as you would do when putting flowers in a vase. Finally, place a plastic bag over the top of the leaves and the glass and store in the fridge. Be sure to change the water every few days. You can except your fresh herbs to last two weeks or more if you take the time to store them this way.

Keep This Produce OUT of The Fridge:
Tomatoes, bananas, limes, and lemon: They’ll fare best if you store them on the counter top at room temperature (think fruit bowl).

Fresh garlic and onions: Should also be stored at room temperature in an area of your kitchen that has plenty of ventilation.

Potatoes: Store them in a cool, dry, dark place.

Melons: They’ll have the best flavor and texture when allowed to ripen at room temperature on the counter – ain’t that the truth 😉

More Tips: I personally recommend storing foods in clear plastic or glass containers or bags whenever possible and marking the with the date the day you first put them in the fridge so you can find things and determine their freshness quickly. Last, but not least, remember to pull older items to the front of the fridge whenever you put newer items in so that you will use the older items first before they go bad.

As you can see, taking a little time to store fresh foods properly will keep you enjoying them longer!

I found myself in a little rut in the lunch-making area. One day I caught myself making the same ol’ lunch for youngest, and least accepting offspring when it comes to trying out new foods. So, as a challenge to him and me I have begun documenting the lunches I make each day. It’s all about being accountable 😉

Day 1: PB&J “Sushi” rolls, cheese stick, carrots, grapes, chips, a homemade chocolate chip cookie and some sugary gummy thing from Easter.

Day 2: Homemade cranberry raisin bread and cream cheese, grapes and apples, chocolate covered raisins and yogurt covered raisins, chips and a homemade chocolate chip cookie.

Day 3: Tunafish sandwich sealed with my new sandwich sealer…. love this thing! Cheese stick, chocolate and yogurt covered raisins, broccoli and carrots with a little ranch dressing on top, chips, grapes, chocolate chip cookie.

Roasted chicken with honey mustard drizzled on top, grapes, chips, berries (yum!), cheese stick, homemade oatmeal cranberry cookie, craisins and yogurt covered raisins.

Day 4: PB&J sandwich made with sandwich sealer, apples, homemade chocolate chip cookie, goldfish crackers, french vanilla greek yogurt and blackberries with a little agave nectar for sweetness, chips, carrots and frozen peas.

Day 5: PB&J “Sushi” rolls, carrots and ranch, chocolate chip cookie, mandarin oranges, chips, raisins, yogurt raisins and some cereal – cuz I had an open box and thought why not throw it in, cheese stick.

Day 6: Tuna noodle salad with peas and broccoli, homemade honey whole wheat bread with butter, Gogurt, carrots, raisins, chocolate chip cookie, and apples.

Day 7: Homemade waffle and cream cheese “sandwich”, chips, chocolate chip cookie, carrots and frozen peas, apples, and granola bites.

So, the first full week is down and I am still going strong with ideas. I even have a few yet tucked up my sleeve 😉 If anyone has any unique lunch ideas for me I am all ears!

I didn’t get much of a chance to go over personal fitness goals during this weeks classes. I tend to get a lot of questions in the second half of my Bootcamp sessions in regards to weight loss, plateaus, and what foods are good foods to eat when you are working towards a particular goal. Today I want to address these questions and touch on a few other ideas.

First off, by signing up for my class, or any class for that matter, you have taken it upon yourself to take the first step towards a healthier lifestyle. You have made the decision to put yourself first; your physical health, your mental health, your overall well-being. That alone deserves praise. Joining a gym, signing up for a workout class, and purchasing organically grown produce, all of these things cost money. If you did not join my class, you most definitely would have saved some money. You may save a few dollars here and there by picking your produce from the non-organic section at the grocery store. You will save some money, and time by getting your meat from the grocery store cooler than driving to the farm and picking out your cuts of meat from a local organic farmer. These facts cannot be denied. Something else that cannot be denied is the fact that the choices we make today directly effect our future lives. If we make healthy choices today, though they may inconvenience us at times, or cost a few dollars more… ultimately we are saving ourselves money in the long run in form of prescription medications, doctors visits, and hospital stays. Pay a little now, or pay a lot later. Scary thing is, in the future you may be paying your health debts with your life, and not money. So I again, praise you for making the choice to be here, and make the investment in your future selves!

Secondly I say that good health does not have a starting point and an ending point. If you want to lose weight that is a great way to focus your goals and steer your efforts in your day-to-day life. Otherwise though, being healthy, physically fit, “skinny”… it’s a lifestyle. One of my favorite fitness sayings is “Don’t work out because you hate your body, work out because you love it”.

As for weight loss specifically, it is simple. To lose weight you need to consume less calories a day than you burn. Go to the Metabolic Rate Calculator here. Plug in all of your info and hit submit. You will then get a rough estimate as to how many calories your body requires to sustain itself during the day. To maintain your current weight you need to eat this amount of calories a day. To lose weight, you need to eat less calories. To gain weight, you will need to eat more calories than this number. It is that simple. Calories in calories out.

Lastly, I want to talk about what types of foods that you choose to put inside your bodies. I am a believer that eating less of a whole food is better than eating more of a processed food. For instance, let’s look at butter vs margarine. The stick of unsalted butter in my fridge has one ingredient, cream. In the popular brand named “Smart” Balance, the list of ingredients looks like this Natural oil blend (soybean, palm fruit, canola, and olive oils), water, contains less than 2% of whey (from milk), salt, natural and artificial flavor, vegetable monoglycerides and sorbitan ester of fatty acids (emulsifiers), soy lecithin, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, Vitamin D, dl-a-tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), lactic acid, beta carotene color, and potassium sorbate, and calcium disodium EDTA (to preserve freshness).

Looking at these ingredients further I can tell you that the soybean and canola oils are almost certainly genetically modified. The natural and artificial flavor is where that “buttery taste you crave” part comes in. The oy lecithin is yet another genetically modified ingredient. The vitamin A palmitate is a synthetic form of vitamin A and therefore fake. The beta carotene color – the normal color for factory produced margarine like Smart Balance is a very unappetizing grey, so color is definitely needed here to fool the masses. The potassium sorbate is a supposedly safe food preservative that inhibits microbial growth. Safe at least until they find it isn’t. The calcium disodium EDTA is an organic pollutant which breaks down in the environment into ethylenediamine triacetic acid and then diketopiperazine (try type that three times fast!). Diketopiperazine is a persistent organic pollutant, similar to PCBs and DDT. Not only does Smart Balance pollute the bodies of those who eat it, it pollutes the environment too! Who doesn’t want to spread some DDT on their toast???

Speaking of, check out this ad campaign from the 1960’s

All of the big words aside and looking beyond my butter vs margarine example, it is my philosophy that real food is better than fake food. sure you can find a margarine that has 40 calories per serving vs butters 100 calories. When you are counting calories it is important to be mindful of how much of a food you are eating. You will need to figure that 100 calories of butter into your daily calorie count if you choose to eat that toast with butter. You can eat less butter and save yourself some calories. You can opt for unsweetened (be wary of “sugar free” labels, more chemical madness there), jams or preserves. If you have high cholesterol, guess what, butter is not a good choice for you but neither are the chemicals that you will find in the alternatives. DDT was FDA approved for use as a pesticide until 1972 when it was proven to be a known carcinogen.

There is just so much we don’t know, so much that we don’t even KNOW that we don’t know about what we are feeding ourselves and our kids.

If you are at all interested in this topic I highly suggest reading In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan.

I am officially getting off of my soapbox now. I actually didn’t intend to go on about this today, but it just sort of happened. Oh well.

I do want to end on a positive note! We had a GREAT first week of the Spring session in Bootcamp. I will be working on a new plan for classes next week. Remember to bring some weights that you find challenging – don’t underestimate yourselves!!!