Friday, May 25, 2012

Healthy Memorial Day Weekend (Yummy Treats)

It is time for Memorial Day Weekend and all the festivities that come along with it; and that typically means time with friends, family, and a whole lot of food.  Although this weekend tends to bring so many temptations for eating, eating, eating…and typically not the healthy choices we should be going for, how can we help ourselves stay on track?  With these nutrient-rich, delicious, and exotic recipes! 
To Drink – Blueberry Lemonade (with basil)
3 Cups blueberries
2 Cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
Several 4 inch strips lemon zest
2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Cup boiled water
5 Cups water
½ Cup frozen blueberries
1 thinly sliced lemon
Basil or mint

Combine blueberry puree, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, sugar, and hot water in a blender or food processor; mix until it is a smooth consistency.  Pour mixture and remaining water into your pitcher.  Add additional blueberries and lemon slices as a garnish.  If desired, add basil or mint.

To Munch – Sweet Potato ‘Fries’
4 large sweet potatoes – peeled
4 egg whites – beaten
2 Tablespoon olive oil – sprayed onto baking sheet
Parmesan Cheese
1 teaspoon truffle oil - sprayed
1 Tablespoon cinnamon – ground
1 Tablespoon thyme
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
Cajun spice mix 
(serves 8-12)

Heat oven to 450F (500F for your fries to get crispier) and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray (I use a gadget that allows me to spray olive oil…very neat).  Cut your sweet potatoes into ½ inch ‘french fries’.  Toss sweet potatoes in your egg white mixture until all are coated; strain off excess mixture.  (NOTE:  for this step you can also use olive oil).  Place fries in a single layer on your baking sheet and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and parmesan.  Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, turning the fries over at least once during the cooking time (to add more crunch).  When your fries are slightly browned on the outside, yet soft in the inside, take out and enjoy! 

To add even more excitement to your yummy sweet potato fries, once you take your fries out of the oven try spritzing with truffle oil (use the gadget I mentioned above) or sprinkle with your cinnamon, thyme and brown sugar mix.

For Dessert – Banana ‘Ice Cream’
4 Bananas
4 Tablespoons organic peanut butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Slice bananas.  Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet or plate and freeze (only takes about 15 minutes).  Puree until smooth.  Serve and enjoy!  (You can also try adding the peanut butter, cinnamon, or both!)

For some more healthy Memorial Day recipies, go to:

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!  Cheers to Vibrant Health!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Your Calorie Intake (and Extra Smoothie Tips)

As I recently expressed, I love having my Power, Sunrise Smoothie every day.  But how do you add it in when you’re trying to lose weight?  Or just maintain your weight? 
This brings us to the topic of calorie intake.  As the experts say, your weight is determined by the about of calories you take in compared to the amount of calories your burn throughout the day.  If you are trying to lose weight, you need to burn more than you take in; if you want to maintain your current weight, you need to take in and burn the same number of calories.  Now, I personally find counting calories to be stressful and I have known people that have obsessed about it.  Therefore, I recommend finding out what your daily intake of food should look like, on average, and make adjustments from there.  If you are overweight, then you need to cut back a bit, plain and simple.

Being healthy at maintaining a healthy weight takes 2 things:  eating right and exercising.

To find out how what your daily intake of food should look like, go to:  You input information about your height, weight, and activity level and it shows you how many calories a day you should consume.  Then, and this is what I think is the best part, it shows you how many servings (expressed in easy to understand amounts such as ‘cups’ and ‘ounces’) of fruits, vegetables, protein, fat, and dairy should make up your calorie intake.  This is what you can use as a guideline for what to eat throughout the day; count your servings of fruits, vegetables, etc. (instead of every calorie). 

And now we’re back to the smoothie.  Each 20 oz. glass of my Power, Sunrise Smoothie has:

ü  1-1.5 Cups of vegetables
ü  2 Cups of fruit
ü  ½ Cup of dairy
ü  .5-1.5 oz. of protein

Although each 20 oz. smoothie will be between 450 and 600 calories, you have to remember that everything in the smoothie is like a super-charged dose of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, healthy fats and antioxidants…all that your body needs to function optimally.  I am a firm believer that it is the quality of calories that you take in that matters.  For example, sure you could drink something that is ‘sugar-free’ and ‘fat-free’ but all you’d be left consuming is artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, etc., none of which your body can use to create it’s optimal health (this is an important subject that I will go over in more detail the future).  If you want or need for the smoothie to be fewer calories, you could make them smaller (or….that other end of the teeter totter – you could increase the exercise you enjoy! J

Here are a few additional smoothie tips:

·         If you are trying to lose weight, or if you are not very active, try eliminating the almond/peanut butter to take out some of the calories; keep the protein powder.
·         Use the smoothie as a meal replacement once or twice a day.
·         For a smooth consistency, add all fruit, vegetables and liquids and blend thoroughly.  Once smooth, add coconut oil, (almond butter), and protein powder.  Blend on low until just mixed.
·         Rotate which fruits and vegetables you use so that your body gets a wide vitamins and minerals.
·         Try a ‘raw and vegan’ protein powder.  All the protein will be from vegetables and grains such as sprouts and sprouted brown rice. (Right now I am using Garden of Life’s RAW Meal – you can pick it up at Whole Foods and other vitamin shops.
o   NOTE:  Whole Foods has RAW Meal on sale for ~ $20 off (until the end of May)

Friday, May 11, 2012

2 Minute Mini-workouts Does a Body Good

Do you ever feel like you can’t get in enough of a workout throughout the day?  You know you’re supposed to move your body every day, but time just seems to get away from you.  I know my day flies by, especially since I have a little one at home.  So, I’ve started multi-tasking my workout with other things; most notably, brushing my teeth.  Now I will preface this by saying what I am about to suggest might require a bit of coordination; please, listen to your body and adjust accordingly (I really don’t want to get an email from anyone saying they stuck their toothbrush up their nose). 

Now, I use a an electric toothbrush which probably makes the exercise quite a bit easier than trying to coordinate the movement while still brushing your teeth (kind of like an advanced version of rubbing your belly and patting your head).  Here is what I do each day while brushing my teeth to help keep my metabolism going and by body strong:
A.M. Brushing my teeth:  At least 50 squats (*see how to below) (2 minutes)

P.M. Brushing my teeth:  10 leg lifts to the back, back angle, side and front (* see how to below) (2 minutes)

But don’t stop there.  You can include other mini workouts throughout the day.  Some of these I do each day, others just when the opportunity arises. 

Throwing frisbee for dog:  Jog in place (if you are a fellow martial artist, you can also use this time to run through your material) (2-15 minutes)

Sitting (watching TV, kids, work, etc):  3-5 sets of tricep dips – 10/set (* see how to below) (2 minutes)

Cooking, shopping, or working:  3-5 sets of bicep curls – 10/set (* see how to below) (2 minutes

Chores or out-and-about:  briskly walk the stairs at least 2 times (if you see a set of stairs, great! Go up/down, up/down at least twice) (< 2 minutes)

These are really simple things you can add into your routine each day that can add up to a lot.  So, I challenge all of you go add at least 2 of these mini workouts into your day (the more, the better) and see how you feel after 2 weeks.  I know I feel good knowing that even if I didn’t get a full workout in, I still have done a little bit to help keep my body healthy and fit.  And for most of us, it’s all the little things that can add up to a whole lot.  Good luck and go get ‘em!

(If you like what you've read, pass it on!  Plus, you can subscribe and g+1 by clicking the buttons on the right.)

How To

Leg Lifts:  Stand with feet together, belly pulled in toward your spine and you head and chest lifting up toward the ceiling.  While holding on to something, flex your right foot and lift your straight leg up directly behind you.  Make sure you go high enough to flex your hamstrings and glutes.  Hold for 1-2 seconds and slowly return to starting position.  After 10 lifts, maintain the same position but now turn your foot out and lift your leg toward the back 45 degree angle.  Repeat to the side and directly in front of you, always maintaining a strong core (belly pulled in toward spine and head and chest lifting up toward the ceiling).  Once the right side is completed, go through all 4 exercises on your left leg. 

Squats:  Spread feet double your shoulder width apart.  Pull your belly button in toward your spine and lift your head and chest up toward the ceiling.  Slowly squat down, pushing your knees out while keeping your belly in and your head and chest up.  At the bottom, feel your hamstrings and glutes support your weight.  Then slowing press up, feeling the strength of your inner thighs.

Tricep dips:    Sit at the edge of the chair or sofa with your feet extended straight out in front of you.  Place hands on the edge of the chair with hands place firm against your sides.  Pull stomach in toward your spine and your head and chest up toward the ceiling.  Keeping your core strong, lower down until you are about an inch from the ground.  Making sure to keep your elbows pulled in, press back up to original position.  Breathe in as your drop down, exhale as you rise back up.

Bicep curls:  Use whatever you can here: grocery bag, briefcase, laptop, book, etc.  Keep feet about shoulder width apart with knees slightly bent.  Keeping your stomach pulled in toward your spine and your chest and head up toward the ceiling, curl hands up toward your shoulders.  Keep triceps pulled in to your core as you slowly extend your arms back to starting position.  Make sure you do the full range of motion (slowly), stopping just short of your arms fully extending.  Breathe in as you pull in, out as you extend.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Power, Sunrise Smoothie

Do you ever feel like you’d LIKE to eat better and include all the foods you need in your diet but somehow, it just doesn’t happen – you’re just in too much of a hurry, other foods are presented that look good, or it’s  just hard to get them all in?  Well, the start of your morning helps set the tone for all else that will follow during that day.  And, what we eat in the morning sets the foundation for your body’s nutritional needs, energy and metabolism.  So….. why not make a point to start your day with a great, healthy, nutrition packed, balanced smoothie? 
This is what I eat in the morning: my Power, Sunrise Smoothie.  I love how it makes me feel, both physically and mentally.  I love knowing that no matter what else happens throughout the day, even if I don’t get in quite as many veggies as I’d like, or that caramel mocha just seems essential, I can still feel good knowing that I have already had the vitamins, minerals, protein, fruits, and veggies my body needs to function optimally.  I know what you’re thinking.... ‘veggies!’  Yes, veggies, and I promise that you won’t even notice they’re in your smoothie.
This recipe will make 3 large smoothies.  My husband and I each have one in the morning and then there is an extra smoothie for the evening or the next morning.

Power, Sunrise Smoothie

2 bananas
4 large organic kale leaves (more if the leaves are small – any type of kale will work, however, dinosaur kale is my favorite)
1 -2 cups veggies (see list below)*
½ - 1 cup fruit (see list below)**
1 cup organic keifer - with probiotics (if you’re watching your sugars get plain)
~16 oz. liquid (see list below) ***
2 T organic, extra-virgin coconut oil (organic will NOT hydrogenated)
 2-3 T organic almond butter (if on a budget you can use peanut butter instead)
1-2 t cinnamon
3 servings whey, vegetable, or egg protein (I recommend getting this from Whole Foods- each brand is a little different on what constitutes a serving so read the label and add accordingly)

 * Veggies (pick 1-2 – frozen or fresh)
Petite peas
Spinach (organic)
Carrots (3 large carrots, 4-5 small)  

** Fruit (pick 1-2 – frozen or fresh)
Strawberries (organic)
Blueberries (organic)
Peaches (organic)

*** Liquids  (pick 2-3 – amount will depend on how much frozen food you use, just experiment)
Unfiltered organic apple juice
Tart cherry juice
Coconut milk
Almond milk (unsweetened)

 I know some of the ingredients may seem a bit strange but everything in this smoothie has a purpose.  I will give a few general benefits for the more unique additions (coconut oil for example) but I recommend that you also look at the websites listed below.  In addition, I highly recommend buying organic for the items specified as organic above.  These items are some of the most highly sprayed for chemicals and pesticides and going organic for these (if not all food) will do your body good. 

Make a commitment to yourself to try this for at least a month and then see how you feel.  I’m sure there will be times that you are too tired, too rushed, don’t have the ingredients or plain just don’t feel like making the smoothie.  That’s ok.  I think once you get started you will come to crave these, in the morning or even during the day.  And, if you’re like me and my family, when you stop eating the smoothie for a few days, you just don’t feel as good and you can’t wait to get back to it.

Have fun with your Power, Sunrise Smoothie.  Mix it up.  And if you come up with some new ingredients that you love, share them with me. 

Cheers to health!
(Remember, if you like what you're reading, subscribe and hit the +1 button on the right)

Coconut oil –provides ‘healthy fats’; helps speed metabolism; moderate blood sugar levels
Almond/Peanut butter – protein and good fats
Cinnamon – helps regulate blood sugar levels
Tart cherry juice – good for muscle pain, gout, and arthritis; improved sleep; heart health
Bee pollen (extra) – protein and energy
Acai (extra) – liquid or frozen package – antioxidants

Why buy organic for at least the items listed organic above?

Coconut oil:

Almond butter:


Tart cherry juice:

Bee pollen: