Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksiving and Holiday Nutrition Survival

But Why? 
This is my new favorite phrase this Holiday season:

'I am scared I will gain weight over Thanksgiving because I know I will overeat.'....But why?

'I have to make all the traditional thanksgiving foods'....But why?

'I always gain weight from Thanksgiving to New Years'...BUT WHY DO YOU HAVE TO?

You Don't.

Keep in mind, Thanksgiving is one meal.  Not 4 day's worth of overindulgence and inactivity parked in front of the couch watching football.  Am I saying you can't enjoy yourself?  Absolutely not.  But remember....the Holidays are not an excuse to ransack everything you have been working so hard towards!

The average American consumes 5,000-8,000 calories and 230 grams of fat on Thanksgiving in ONE SINGLE MEAL!  That's 4-6 days of calories and a whole week of fat for someone on a 1500 calorie a day nutrition plan!  Even scarier...the average American gains 7-10 pounds from November-January.  And with all the football game and parade watching that ensues, it all adds up to larger than normal amounts of inactivity and extra pounds on the scale.

If you recall from previous posts, I tell my clients to eat clean all week and allow themselves one cheat meal per week to look forward to, keep them sane, help keep their nutrition plan on track and help keep their metabolism fired up.  So - most people obviously will want to use Thanksgiving as their cheat day - GREAT!  But there is absolutely no reason to fill your body up with that many calories in one day.  Think about it:  3500 calories = 1 pound.  If you are in a 1,000 calorie deficit each day with a combination of calorie cutting and exercise, that adds up to 7,000 calories and 2 pounds lost in a week.  On the flip side, if you consume 7,000 calories or more in ONE DAY and are not being active...guess what happens?  Yup - fat is gained and stored!  Our bodies simply cannot process and digest this much food or calories at once - leaving much of it to turn into fat stores! This doesn't even take into consideration the 2-3 days of noshing on leftovers and continuing the calorie gorging.

What can you do?  So you are going to your Aunt Betty's for Thanksgiving and you know she will cook all the butter laden, gravy soaked fixin's....have some!  But eat normal portion sizes!  You don't need to pile you plate full.  Stock up on salads, vegetables and white meat turkey, stay away from the buttery potato's, rolls and desserts if they tempt you too badly - or just have small portions of them.  Pay attention to your body - when it says you are full, stop eating!

If you are cooking - why not try some new healthier recipes?  My family always makes traditional dishes like baked sweet potato slices with marshmallows, brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans and pineapple; mashed potato's and gravy and buttery rolls But last year, my Mom and I decided on a new menu: roasted turkey stuffed with herbs and spices and lemon juice; a roasted vegetable medley with red potatoes, sweet potato's, bell peppers, onions, parsnips, carrots and brussel sprouts; brown rice; salad; and baked apples with cinnamon, stevia and walnuts.  How delicious does that sound?  And it's all low cal, low fat and healthy!  Who says you have to follow all the 'old traditions' - make some new ones!

Get out and exercise - make it a family affair!  Like the Turkey Trot 5k race on Thanksgiving morning for you East Texans located in Tyler: http://www.premier-getfit.com/.  If you don't have a Thanksgiving day 5k in your neighborhood - get the family together for an after dinner walk, play a fun outdoor game like flag football, challenge each other to an obstacle course at the park - just get moving and make it fun and enjoyable with each other!

We have one body - be thankful for it and reward it with good and healthy choices this Thanksgiving

Monday, July 25, 2011

My new challenge - East Texas

Moving from Denver, the healthiest state in the US, has been a difficult transition.  No more trail running down mountains and hiking up old abandoned railways, no more amazing healthy little cafes and beautiful sunrises over the mountains....BUT - for everything, there is a reason.

Here I am in East Texas in the Piney Woods...and although it isn't the mountains, its gorgeous!  Beautiful sunsets, secada's so loud sometimes that's all you can hear, lightning bugs, the smell of horses in the morning - I love it.  But with East Texas comes new challenges.  Definitely for a nutritionista and especially for someone with celiac disease.

I was convinced moving here that I would never find others as devoted and passionate about fitness and nutrition than me - until I met my amazing team of trainers and fitness professionals.  They blow my mind with their knowledge, dedication and passion.  And even in the land of Whataburger and Ryans Steakhouse Buffet - they know and live their nutrition. 

Last week I saw on the news that every state in the US has an obesity rate above 20% except Colorado.  And while it was nice being in my little healthy bubble, I realize my knowledge and passion is needed elsewhere in this world.  And that's how I ended up here.

Together with my team, I am going to change the way East Texas thinks about nutrition.  Then we are going to tackle this entire state ....think I can't? OH YES I CAN!  And I will!  One day at a time, one meal at a time, one person at a time! 

This blog isn't about making people feel bad about their nutrition, about their bodies, about their lifestyle - it's about making a change to your nutrition, your body and your lifestyle - one day at a time. 

Why should you listen to me?  Well that's up to you ...But I grew up in the South, was overweight my entire life, ate grits and fried chicken and okra and yes....whataburger.  But I sought a healthier life.  I fell in love with fitness and nutrition and went on a personal mission and lost 72 lbs and am spreading that mission elsewhere - anywhere- everywhere!

I've heard it everyday since I've been here...'I just can't lose the weight', 'Ive been working so hard and am seeing no results'...so I ask the question, 'how is your nutrition?'....'well its awful because....xyz'

So here it is - my first lesson:
  • You absolutely positively CANNOT get healthy and fit with poor nutrition - nutrition is 80% of the battle!
  • You absolutely positively CANNOT get healthy and fit eating fast food, processed food and eating out consistently
Here are 10 simple rules to start with on a path to a healthily, fit life:

1.)  Follow the 3 P's: Plan, Prepare, Pack.....Plan you meals, Prepare your meals, Pack your meals...every day
2.)  Limit restaurant eating to once a week - think you are eating healthy at a restaurant by ordering grilled chicken fajitas?  Well at Applebees, grilled chicken fajitas pack a whopping 80g of fat, 1,200 calories and 1,100 mg of sodium!  Ugh!  Restaurants use oil, butter, lard and salt in excess and 9 times out of 10, nothing is safe.  Better to save your meal out for your weekly cheat meal
3.)  No Soda - none - not even diet.  Its all chemicals and the real stuff packs 3 days worth your daily limit of sugar.  What does sugar turn into?  Yup - fat stores.
4.)  Consume small meals often - every 3 hours - yup!  You get to eat more often!  You stay full all day eating 3 meals with 2 snacks in between and you fire up your metabolism and keep your blood sugar level to prohibit overeating
5.)  Stop eating 2 hours before bed time - in the evening, our metabolism slows and we burn calories at a slower rate.  If you consume food too soon before bed, your body cannot digest at a normal rate and will turn it into what?  Yup!  Good ol' fat stores
6.)  Calories In vs. Calories Out - the easiest equation in the world.  Consume LESS calories than you BURN in order to lose weight.  One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories.  Cut 3,500 calories from your diet a week and you drop a pound.  When I say cut 3,500 calories - this is a combination of exercise, which cuts calories, as well as cutting back your consumed calories.  Don't know how many calories you burn a day - ask me about investing in a Bodybugg or a Polar watch
7.)  Exercise - a combination of cardio and strength training.  No ladies, you will NOT get bulky lifting weights - you will lean and tone.  Muscle burns FAT! 
8.)  Consume fresh lean proteins, whole grains, fruits, veggies and healthy fats - you need lean proteins (lean turkey, fish, pork, chicken, egg whites) to build lean muscle.  You must have complex carbohydrates no matter what any ridiculous fad diet says in order to provide energy to power your workouts and breakdown proteins in your digestive system (oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potato's, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pasta).  You must have fruits (try to consume in the AM) and lots of veggies in order to breakdown proteins and carbohydrates and to give your body needed minerals, nutrients and antioxidants.  All fats consumed should be from lean proteins, low fat dairy products and healthy fat sources.  BUT (listen carefully) you should only consume 3 servings of healthy fats a day.  A serving of healthy fats is: 1 tsp olive oil, 1 ounce of almonds, 4 oz salmon, 1/4 of an avocado, 1 TBS all natural nut butter.  Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing so eat your healthy fats - but limit them
9.)  Stay away from processed foods - anything you buy in a box, that you have to heat in a microwave in cellophane wrap, anything pre cooked, pre marinated, etc.  Buy raw and prepare at home.  Processed foods are FULL of sodium, chemicals and un-needed calories and fats
10.)  Drink plenty of water - take your weight and divide by 2.  That's how many ounces you need a day.  Especially here is this heat!

That's simple right?

Eating healthy or 'clean' as I like to reference, doesn't mean giving up flavor.  The number one thing I have discovered in my nutrition education and quest is this:  People know what healthy foods are, they just don't have the creativity with food to put together tasty, healthy meal plans.

And that's what I am here for :-)

Browse my previous denvernutritionista blogs for recipes and awesome information and stay tuned each week for new recipes, info and motivation!

Happy and Healthy Eating!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gluten Free is NOT a diet if you do not have a gluten allergy

Ok let me just set the record straight ...I have heard over and over again 'I am on the gluten free diet.' - well why?  Do you have Celiac disease - a condition that damages the lining of the small intestine and prevents it from absorbing parts of food that are important for staying healthy due to a reaction to eating gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye?  'Well no'.  Do you have gluten intolerance - just like lactose intolerance but with symptoms similar to that of celiac disease without having the actual disease - vomiting, bloating, gas, diarrhea and in some cases, anaphylactic shock?  'Well no!'  Well then why are you eating a gluten free diet?  Because it is NOT a diet.

This is the most important thing to understand about 'gluten-free' THERE IS NO BENEFIT TO EATING GLUTEN FREE UNLESS YOU HAVE A GLUTEN ALLERGY OR INTOLERANCE. 

Gluten is a protein composite that appears in foods processed from wheat and related species, including barley and rye.  It gives elasticity to dough, helping it rise and keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.  Gluten is a stabilizing agent in foods like ketchup, ice cream, marinades and salad dressings. 

Because of celiac disease (which I have) and gluten intolerance, people have to give up wheat products: whole wheat bread, whole wheat pita, whole wheat tortillas, whole wheat pasta - all whole grains that are part of a healthy, low fat and low calorie lifestyle.  Whole grains are essential for anyone trying to shed pounds and stay energized through workouts due to their slow burn digestion in your body.  Cutting these out of the diet is extremely difficult....but not impossible.  But it is pointless for someone without an allergy to cut them out of their diet.

Many people think that 'gluten free' equals 'carb free' which is not the case.  And furthermore - one should NEVER cut carbs out of their diet as your body can go into ketosis putting strain on the liver and ...when you start eating carbohydrates again - you will put weight back on. 

There are scads of gluten free products out there - gluten free cereal, pasta, pizza, crackers, cookies, cakes...but they all still have to have some form of carbohydrate in them so alternatives are used.  The alternatives include tapioca flour, rice flour (both white and brown), coconut flour, corn  - to name a few.  Many of these forms of carbohydrates are higher in calories and fat content than wheat products.  Just pick up a gluten free pizza crust at the store and look at the label -it contains double the amount of calories and fat than a whole wheat crust. 

Many of my clients who have celiac or gluten intolerance ask me if it is ok to eat gluten free cookies, pizza, crackers, pretzels and snack foods.  Well NO if you are trying to lose weight, put on lean muscle and get healthy.  These are STILL junk foods - they just have a different source of carbohydrate in them and still contain sugar and even MORE fat than usual!  Gluten free does not equal healthy.

Those living with celiac and gluten intolerance can still live a healthy lifestyle, shed weight, put on muscle, compete in fitness shows, run marathons...etc.  The right  foods must be selected though.  Complex carbohydrates must come from whole grain sources such as brown rice, brown rice flour, brown rice pasta, quinoa, gluten-free oats, sweet potato's, etc.  Protein sources should be purchased raw as many pre-cooked meats and pre-marinated meats contain gluten (and too much sodium at that).  Lots of fruits and veggies and minimal if not any processed foods at all.  This is the same diet I would put a regular client on who wanted to lose weight however the whole grain sources would include wheat products.

So if you think going gluten free is the newest diet craze, and that because Oprah went gluten free as part of a cleanse recently means you should also go gluten free...please save yourself the trouble and the day to day hardship those of us with gluten allergies must deal with when we cannot have healthy, low cal, energy sustaining whole wheat products.  Keep eating your wheaties :-)

In health,

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Healthy Orange Chicken

I was inspired this past weekend while visiting my parents....they LOVE orange chicken from The Cheesecake Factory.  In their defense, they like to split the entree and have it as their cheat meal...perfectly ok for a once in a blue moon occurrence.  But at 1800 calories, over 50 grams of fat and triple your daily sodium needs - this dish is a big no no for a regular meal. 

So, of course, I had to research and create my own version.  And let me just say - there was not once ounce of food left on anyones plate!  With less than 400 calories per serving, less than 4g of fat and almost 2,500mg less sodium - it's ok to clean your plate with this meal!!

2 Whole oranges (juiced...I just squeeze them into the mixing bowl)
1/8 cup cider vinegar
1 TBS reduced sodium soy sauce (also comes in gluten free low sodium found at Whole Foods)
1/2 TBS Stevia (2 packets)
1 tsp corn starch
4 chicken breasts, sliced
1 garlic clove chopped
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2-3 chopped bell peppers (I like to use red, orange and yellow for color and a bit of sweetness)
1 TBS sesame seeds

Bake the chicken in a 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes (I like to use just a few drops of soy sauce on each piece for added moisture).  Once cooled, chop into small cubes or strips.

While chicken is baking, combine orange juice, vinegar, soy sauce, stevia and cornstarch in bowl until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
Spray a large pan with Pam Olive Oil cooking spray and add peppers and peas.  Cook until peppers soften (3-4 minutes).  Add dry mixture of garlic, ginger and pepper flakes and cook 1 minute longer.

Once chicken is cooked, add to pepper mixture in pan and pour juice mixture overtop, then add sesame seeds.  Cook on high heat 2-3 minutes.

Serve overtop brown rice (1/2 cup servings) or 2 ounces brown rice noodles or whole wheat noodles

Nutrition Info Per Serving (Makes 4 Servings)
1 Serving with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice

Friday, April 29, 2011

Low Fat and Sugar Free Homemade Granola - Mmmmmm!

I am a sucker for anything with crunch - mix that with the cold, creaminess of Unsweetened Almond Milk and I am in HEAVEN!  Which is why I don't buy cold cereals...they were and always will be a trigger for me for overeating and portion control. 

But that doesn't mean I cant enjoy my crunch!  My all time favorite was always granola.  But so many granola's are choc full of calories, fat and lots of SUGAR...mostly from the dried fruits and added sweetness that is not needed in this awesome healthy breakfast or snack.

I found a way to combat my portion control, do away with the sugar, and still get my crunch - homemade granola!  It's simple, delicious and takes 15 minutes total!  And the best part- NO SATURATED FATS OR SUGAR - it's all healthy fats that your body needs.  99% of women do not get enough healthy fats in their diet.  I tell all my clients to follow the 'Rule of 3' - put 3 healthy fats in your diet a day from sources like olive oil, flax, salmon, avocado, all natural nut butters, raw almonds - but use correct portions:
Olive Oil: 1 tsp
Avocado: 1/4 of avocado
Salmon: 3-4ounces
Flax Seed: 1 tsp
Almonds: 1 ounce (about 20 nuts)
Almond Butter: 1 TBS

Adding healthy fats to your diet will actually help to combat tummy fat and help you get lean!

Back to granola: I make an individual serving in the evening and store it in an air-tight container for the next morning.  This way, I can't eat 2 servings...I only have one!  If you want to make more than 1 serving, just multiply the recipe :-)

1/2 Cup Whole Rolled Oats
2 tsp sliced raw almonds
1 tsp flax seed
Cinnamon, nutmeg and clove spice to taste
1 egg white

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until moist.  Spray a 9x9 baking dish with cooking spray and spread the oat mixture onto the bottom of the pan.  Place in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes and checking to make sure mixture does not burn. 

Remove from the oven and let cool!

1 serving of dry granola:

Try it with 1 cup of Silk Unsweetened Almond milk, 1/2 cup raspberries, stevia to taste and a side of 4 egg whites with 1 c. spinach and 1 TBS of salsa and you have an AMAZING high protein/complex carb combo breakfast for less than 380 calories!

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You can't eat healthy when you eat out? Sure you can!

A client and friend of mine recently told me she didn't want to accompany her husband to his favorite restaurant, Outback, because she 'couldn't eat anything healthy there'.  To which I challenged her because I eat healthy there....and for that fact everywhere anytime I venture out for a meal.

I don't eat out often - for the simple fact that restaurants add a LOT of junk into food that doesn't need to be there:  butter, sugar, heavy cream, lard and sodium to name a few.  Most think they are eating 'healthy' by choosing chicken dishes and the like but more often than not, you aren't.

A fellow trainer said many of his clients say the same, 'but I can't eat healthy there so I just ordered something bad.'  Well never again.  You MUST become an educated consumer if you have a fitness goal you are trying to reach.  If you turn a blind eye to food labels and restaurant food - you will never get there.

I try to only eat out once every few weeks but when the occasion arises, I always check the restaurants website before going.  This is imperative if you want to make good choices.  Almost all restaurants have websites and nutrition information...and what you will find will shock you!  Grilled chicken sandwiches at Chili's for 1300 calories?  88 grams of fat in chicken fajitas at Applebee's?  Yessir!

So here is my biggest tip:  When eating out - DON'T ORDER OFF THE MENU!  What?  Yup....Order a dish and alter it.  For example: Outback.  Order the Atlantic Salmon dish - dry - no butter or oil just the salmon grilled.  Order steamed veggies (which they offer as a side dish) and a baked sweet potato dry and viola!  You have turned a 760 calorie and 51 gram of fat dish into a 415 calorie and 22 grams of fat (with no trans fat and only 2.5g of saturated). 

It's all in how and what you order.  With all the food allergies and intolerance out there these days, most chef's and cooks are accustomed to making changes.  You should never feel bad for making changes.  You are the consumer.

I am known to make up my own salads when nothing on the menu will suffice.  For example - recently at a sports bar, everything was calorie ladden and choc full of fat.  So I ordered grilled chicken on salad greens with tomatoes and a side of broccoli and side of salsa.  Combine it all and you have a nice, filling, healthy salad.

Your friends want to go out for Hibachi?  Perfect!  But you don't have to take part in the buttery fried rice with fried eggs and oil to boot - order steamed brown rice instead (they all offer it) and ask the Hibachi chef to please not add extra oil and sugary teryaki sauces to your meat and veggies. 

It's simple really - just order foods that you would cook at home for your healthy lifestyle.

Do I ever cheat?  Sure - but when I think about consuming 88 grams of fat (3 days worth), 1300 calories (almost a days worth) and quadruple the amount of FDA recommended sodium a day in ONE meal...it's just not worth it to me.  So I make different choices and still feel that satisfaction of eating something off my meal plan. 

Food for thought.

Happy Eating!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The BEST salad EVER

Salad: It can be both your best and worst enemy when striving towards good nutrition as a lifestyle.  So many people believe they are doing good by ordering the salad selection rather than a sandwich or other entree when in fact, the opposite is true in many restaurants.

Take for example the Bistro Chicken Salad at Einstein Brothers....a salad I used to frequent in my not-so healthy days....but I believed it was healthy.  Thus my lesson to everyone in becoming an informed consumer...don't just 'think' its healthy because it's choc full of greens, read and research.  My beloved Bistro salad from days past packs a whopping 940 calories and 71 grams of FAT!  71 grams!  Yikes!!  Then there is the Grilled Shrimp and Spinach Salad at Applebees - sounds harmless right?  WRONG: 1,050 calories!!  In a salad!  You are much better off making a salad at home and you can add a lot more fresh ingredients to your salad at home.

I have tons of great salad recipes - some I will save for later :-)  But today I am posting the mother of all salads that is so flavorful, nutrient rich and colorful it will make you crave it all day long!  The crunch is out of this world!  I created it as part of my raw foods cleanse, however, I will continue eating it and add proteins in once my cleanse is over.  I will include protein in this recipe:

1.5 cups of Spring Mix or Romaine mix
5 cherry tomatoes chopped
1/4 cup chopped zucchini
1/4 cup red bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup banana pepper chopped
1 individual cup Dole No Sugar Added Mandarin Oranges in own juices
1/4 of an avocado chopped
1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas
4 ounces rotisserie chicken
Italian Seasoning
Apple Cider Vinegar

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a medium size bowl and sprinkle with Italian Seasoning.  For Dressing, pour the juice from the mandarin orange cup into container and top with 1-2 TBS of apple cider vinegar.  Pour mixture over salad - ENJOY!

Nutritional Info:
Fat10.9g (All mono and poly - no saturated)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Salmon Stir Fry

Mmmmmm this is another new favorite (aren't they all?) :-)

This was a meal that was sort of thrown together tonight.  I had just finished baking up a tray of lemon pepper salmon fillets for my dinners the next few nights and opened the fridge to see what kind of veggies I had to throw a quick dinner together: fresh red bell pepper, fresh sugar snap peas and frozen edamame....that sounds perfect!

1 salmon fillet (baked in 375 degree oven for 20 minutes with fresh lemon juice and lemon pepper seasoning)
1 whole red bell pepper chopped
1 cup fresh Sugar Snap Peas
1/2 cup frozen edamame beans, steamed in the micro
1 TBS low sodium soy sauce (I use Gluten free, low sodium)

Spray large pan with olive oil cooking spray.  Add chopped red bell pepper and whole sugar snap peas and saute until the peppers start to become softer and both vegetables start to brown.  Toss in steamed edamame beans and saute another 2 minutes.  Cut salmon into small cubes and add into mix - cooking about 2 minutes longer.  Pour soy sauce over mixture and stir fry for about a minute.  Pour everything together on plate or bowl - YUM!

I have an affinity for any dish with a crunch and this one packs quite the crunch ...not to mention the flavor mingling of all the fresh veggies and salmon is out of this world!  This will become a regular dinner around here :-)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Deprived? No

I get a lot of questions from new people I meet as well as my fitness and nutrition clients about feeling deprived in my nutrition plan:

'Don't you just want to go tear up some Mexican food?'  'How do you handle the Holidays?' 'Doesn't it take away from your quality of life packing and prepping all the time?'

Absolutely not.

My health is my greatest wealth.  My body is my own and it's my responsibility to keep it healthy.  To me, life is better when I feel my best.  And I feel my best when I am eating wholesome, clean, healthy foods and exercising everyday.  It's a way of life - not a diet.

I preach day in and day out to my clients to ALWAYS allow a cheat meal once a week.  But just one meal - not an entire day.  This gives you something to look forward to and helps keep you on track with your nutrition plan.  I have a hard time even eating a cheat meal anymore because my digestive system is so used to eating clean that when I fill it with saturated fats, sodium and sugar - I get physically ill.  Your body should be fed clean most of the time - it is designed that way.  Who wants to fill themselves all the time with chemicals, bad fats and sugars that turn to fat stores and sodium that makes your body retain water?  Not me - I opt for feeling good inside and out. 

So what about the prepping and packing?  Doesn't that take too much time?  Nope.  Does showering or brushing your teeth take too much time to do so you just skip it?  Didn't think so.  Same thing with prepping and packing your food - it is a daily routine and habit that becomes part of your life just like brushing your teeth.  I cook on Sundays for the week while doing other house chores and store my cooked food in the fridge in ready to go containers.  Each night I make whatever I need fresh for the next day and it's done.  10 minutes out of my day.  10 minutes is a pretty small sacrifice for a fitness goal or a lifestyle change - wouldn't you agree? 

Someone said to me last week 'life is about enjoying and living freely and not worrying about all of those things like calories and fats and weight loss or muscle gain' - Sure.  It is about enjoying.  But how long can you enjoy your life if you don't feed your body with good things?  Not too long - heart conditions, diabetes and many other diseases can rear their ugly heads simply from the foods and beverages we consume.  Life is about living - and running outside with a mountain view on a clear sunny day, and being able to play with your kids for hours on end in the park, and being able to climb a 14er, dance with your wife on a night out, play sand volleyball at wash park - it's all about living...but you have to fuel your body with the right things in order to enjoy it. 

'Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat'

As Always - Happy and Healthy Eating!

Friday, March 11, 2011

In the Raw

I just finished a 5-day Raw Foods cleanse that I created…nothing crazy or super stringent – just clean, organic, raw foods 5x a day and lots of water, making sure to get proteins and healthy fats from nuts and all natural nut butters.
Why did I decide to cleanse?   I eat a LOT of protein….about 30-35% of my daily calories come from protein.  A diet in which protein makes up more than 30% of your caloric intake can cause buildup in your intestines as well as affect your kidneys if not carefully monitored.  So, in order to flush toxins from my body, buildup in my intestines and give my body an overall ‘diet shock’ so to speak, I decided to cleanse the natural way.  No cleanings pills, no cayenne pepper and water – just wholesome raw foods.
Why raw foods?  Raw foods are full of living enzymes that help your body in digestion, elimination and absorption, ensuring a thorough cleansing of your entire body as well as a supply of many vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Another advantage of being on a raw cleanse is that done properly, it tends to be an alkaline diet. If you remember from high school chemistry, you measure the pH of substances by comparing it to water. Some substances are acidic, like vinegar, and some are alkaline, like soap. The pH of your blood is slightly alkaline. When you eat a diet high in acid, you body must work to keep your blood pH constant or else you can get sick. It is just as important as your body temperature. The good news is that vegetables, sprouts and some low sugar fruits all add to the alkalinity of your blood. When you eat an uncooked diet, your body can naturally detoxify itself and keep you healthy.
After 5 days on my own version of the raw foods cleanse, I am 5lbs less on the scale (some is water, some is pounds lost), I am more lean, my digestive system is working full speed and I feel  overall healthy, clean and energetic.  I am sleeping better, my skin is phenomenal and I feel re-charged. 
Many have asked me if I felt at all deprived on my cleanse – NO!  That was very surprising for me.  But I found ways to keep some of my favorite and typical foods in the cleanse and made sure to eat every 3 hours as per usual to keep the metabolism moving.  I will keep lots of raw foods as part of my daily nutrition moving forwards as I truly believe in the benefits!  This won’t be my last 5 days on the cleanse….I will most likely revisit in a few months.
So what did I eat? (Please note this is not a specific diet to be followed- just something I experimented with)

Breakfast was a delicious bowl or raw oats with apple puree, cinnamon, sliced almonds, almond milk (I purchased a raw all natural, unsweetened brand for 35 calories a cup) and a banana.  YUMMMM!  How did I do it?  I took a cup of all natural whole grain oats, sprinkled them with cinnamon and sliced almonds then pureed an apple (leave the skin on for the best nutritional value) and poured the puree (juice pulp and all) over the oats.  I put the container in the fridge overnight and let it soak in.  In the morning the oats were an amazingly soft and flavorful breakfast!  I sliced banana overtop and topped with almond milk.
My AM snack was a pear with 1 ounce (20 almonds) of raw almonds.  Lunch time was my favorite – a big salad with loads of mixed greens, fresh clementine’s, broccoli, chopped cabbage, fresh beets, ¼ of an avocado for some good fats and topped with raw apple cider vinegar.  I made a big fruit salad at the beginning of the week with melon and berries that I had a small side of as well.
PM snack was another favorite – pureed greens!  I know it sounds odd but it actually was really good.  I used spinach, kale, bell peppers, cucumber and green onion for a yummy drink (water for the mixing and I also added ice and a little almond milk for some creamy texture). 

Dinner was either a large veggie salad or another shake but this time the shake was ¼ cup of oats, 1 TBS almond butter, almond milk, berries that I had frozen to make the shake creamy and cold, and cinnamon and was DELICIOUS!

I kept chopped peppers, broccoli and cucumber with me throughout the day whenever I needed a bite of something .
There are TONS of recipes online for raw foods – even raw pastas and pizzas made from veggies and sprouted beans and wheat.  I chose to keep mine fairly simple and quick for my on the go lifestyle and definitely enjoyed the cleanse and the results.  Keep in mind a cleanse shouldn’t last more than 5-7 days.  There are some people out there who choose to live the ‘raw lifestyle’ but tend to be highly deficient in a lot of nutrients…particularly proteins.  So while I highly recommend this is a cleanse, I would not chose it as a lifestyle given my goals in fitness and strength.
Overall…a worthwhile experience – happy eating!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Enchilada Meatballs - Oh this one's GOOOOOD!

From my kitchen to yours - this is one of my all time fave creations that I made tonight that did NOT last because they are soooooo good!  Just ask Justin!

Most meatballs are made with breadcrumbs.  Being that I have celiac disease, I mostly make meatballs with eggwhites and that's it.  Healthy, high in protein and delicious but they lack that moistness that traditional meatballs with bread crumbs have.  SO  - I improvised using cornbread.

My cornbread is gluten free, simple and super low cal/low fat. 

1 lb ground chicken (or lean ground turkey or extra lean ground beef)
Mrs. Dash Chipotle Spice Seasoning (sodium free)
Low Sodium Enchilada Sauce (1 can) ...I like organic brands
1 jar organic salsa
2% milk shredded cheddar (will not use much)
1 cup yellow corn meal
2 egg whites
1/4 cup silk unsweetened almond milk (or skim milk)
1 teaspoon stevia
1 tsp baking soda

Prep cornbread first:
Mix cornmeal, milk, stevia, egg whites abnd baking soda in bowl (if too runny, add more corn meal.) Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool.

Combine ground chicken, 1/2 can enchilada sauce, Chipotle spice seasoning in bowl.  Crumble cornbread into bowl and mix with hands.  Form golf ball size meatballs and place on sprayed baking sheet.  Bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

While meatballs are cooking, heat the other 1/2 of enchilada sauce over stove with 1 cup salsa.

Serve meatballs topped with sauce and sprinkle a little cheese on top - YUMMMMMM!!!

As a side dish, I like to chop red bell pepper and yellow squash and place on sprayed cookie sheet topped with Mrs. Dash Chipotle spice - throw in oven with meatballs and let roast.  Delicious and spicy!

Nutritional Info:
Per Serving (5 Meatballs topped with 1/2 cup sauce and sprinkled with 1 TBS cheese):

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sweet Treat

We all have a sweet tooth....so have your sweet and eat it too!  But you don't have to cheat to give in to that sweet craving.  Here are 3 great sweet treats that I like to make that won't cut into your daily caloric intake and have some great benefits like protein and fiber to boot!

Peanut Butter/Banana Cakes
2 Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes, Unsalted (find @ whole foods, king soopers)
1 TBS peanut butter (spread between both cakes)
1/2 banana sliced (Put slices distributed evenly on both cakes)

Nutrition Information for 2 cakes:

  • This is a great post workout snack with good complex carbohydrates, a little protein and good fats

Greek Yogurt Parfait
1 Cup Plain Greek Yogurt (Fage brand and Oikos brand both make individual 1 cup sizes)
1 packet Stevia
1/4 cup blueberries
1 crushed Lundberg brown rice cake, unsalted
* Scoop contents of yogurt into bowl and add stevia, mix well.  Top with crushed rice cake and blueberries!
  • Great low calorie/low fat snack that packs a lot of protein in a small serving!

Berries n' Cream
1 cup mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, black berries, strawberries - any combo)
1 cup Silk Plain Almond Milk
1 packet Stevia
*  Serve berries in a bowl and top with almond milk.  Sprinkle Stevia on top
  • Almond milk is so thick and creamy it feels like a big cheat but at only 60 calories per cup and a serving of good fats, it's definitely not! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Post Surgery Nutrition

Sorry about my recent hiatus!  I had a little surgery (which is why I am blogging about this very subject) and have been working on my recovery :-)

Many of my friends and colleagues have had to go in at some point for major and minor surgeries that prohibit them from taking part in normal activity for a while.  One concern they always have is weight gain post surgery due to lack of activity.  But this was not a concern for me and I will tell you why.

Workouts are not the only calorie burner - your food intake is of utmost importance (I always say it's 80% of the battle.)  As I have discussed before, weight loss or gain is simply calories in vs. calories out.  To lose, you must burn more than you take in.  Knowing I was going into surgery and would have decreased activity for a few days, I simply adjusted my diet.  I burn, on average, between 2800-3000 calories daily with my workouts and eat around 1600-1700 calories.  My resting metabolic rate is much lower - near 1900 (without workouts) so knowing this, I simply cut my calories back to make up for this.  I knew I would spend most of my days doing just that - resting- so I cut my calories back to 1200 daily for the first week after surgery.  If I am resting at 1900 calories a day being burned and intaking only 1200, then I will still be in a 700 calorie deficit each day.  Keep in mind you never want to drop below 1,000 calories (I tell my clients 1100) in order to keep your metabolism functioning at it's max capacity.  Below 1,000 will put your body in starvation mode thus causing it to hold on to fat stores.

With only 1200 calories, I still made sure to eat every 3 hours and consume 5 meals a day to keep my metabolism burning at it's highest speed.  It is also of utmost importance post-surgery (and all the time) to consume clean, wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to help your body heal faster.  Pain medications and IV fluids can cause intestinal problems and constipation post-surgery and high fiber foods such as whole grains, fruits and veggies, will help to combat this.  Consuming processed, sodium laden and sugary foods will only make this worse and lengthen your recovery time.

It's a good idea to prep and pack all of your post-surgery meals ahead of time to ensure you have the proper nutrition and to make it easy on you and your care taker.  I made sure to pack and load up my fridge with all of my pre-portioned meals to make it easier for everyone.  Most of the time when we are not feeling well, we reach for comfort foods - but try to stick with wholesome comfort foods (oatmeal, chicken and brown rice meals, etc) that will fuel your body with good nutrients.

If you want to know a guestimation of your resting metabolic rate (the calories your body burns on a typical day excluding exercise) check out http://my.apexfitness.com/vip/content/fitness_calculators.php and click on 'resting metabolic rate'

Here's to a healthy recovery! :-)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Crunchy Baked Chicken

Oh yes - the Southerner in me had to re-invent some sort of crunchy chicken...this one is baked, low fat, high protein and packs a good crunch - mmmmm!!

4-5 (4oz) chicken breasts
5 egg whites
2 tablespoons brown mustard
1/3 cup skim milk
1.5 cups crushed corn flakes (try to get organic brands - they don't add high fructose corn syrup!)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place corn flakes in a large plastic bag, seal and pound with fist until crushed.  Place crushed corn flakes in a bowl and add salt and pepper

In a separate bowl, add egg whites, milk and brown mustard.  Take chicken breasts and soak in egg mixture, turning over and over until coated.  Then dip in cornflake mixture.

Place chicken breasts on a sprayed cookie sheet and place in 375 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Nutrition Info Per Serving (One chicken breast):

Fat2 grams
Carbohydrates11 grams
Protein32 grams

Pairs perfectly with a side of mashed sweet potatoes (the only thing the sweet potatoes need is a pinch of cinnamon and cloves to make them taste amazing!) and some yummy steamed veggies on the side!


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

It's Work

Yup...it sure is.  Losing weight is work - it isn't always fun, glamorous, wonderful and feel good but damnit if it doesn't feel SO good to get to your goals!  And it's not just about aesthetics - it's about overall health and fitness. 

Weight loss, muscle gain, toning - it all takes work....and not just in the gym (as many people fail to realize) but also in the kitchen, at the restaurant, at the office party, at the baby shower - anywhere there is food.  And not just here either - at the computer logging your food or on that food log sheet your trainer so lovingly asks you to bring in each week.  It's all WORK. 

But isn't everything in life?  Aren't relationships work?  Isn't cooking work?  Taking your kids to school, doing the laundry....the list goes on and on.  But you still complete your tasks because there is an end goal.  To have a clean house, a happy marriage, a nice meal for dinner.  And there is an end goal to fitness and nutrition to: to be in shape, to lose weight, to gain muscle, to ward off diseases, to stay mobile, etc.

Everyone always tells me how much work it is to plan meals, go to the grocery store so often, pack and prepare and most of all....log food.  But it really isn't - not if you make it part of your daily life just like showering or brushing your teeth.  Every week I cook food for the week; every day I pack my food for the next day; every night I log my food I ate throughout the day.  Yes it takes some time and effort but how else would I ever reach my goals if I did not?  How else would your house ever be clean if you didn't take the time to clean it?

I challenge you to make these things part of your daily life this year in 2011 - make nutrition an everyday item from planning to packing and prepping and yes....logging.  You WILL reach your goal.... and your body, mind and spirit will take notice ....and also your Doctor, people on the street, your girlfriend, husband.......

;-)  Happy New Year 2011 - LET'S GET TO WORK!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

AMAZING (and super easy) Broccoli/Cauliflower Soup

Things you will need:  Magic Bullet (if you don't have one, invest in one...they are amazing for pureed soups, perfectly blended protein shakes, fresh homemade salsa, chopping veggies and more!), food processor or fine-blade blender.

1 and 1/2 cups fresh broccoli and cauliflower (I buy the organic bags in the produce isle at King Soopers - the broccoli and cauliflower are both in the same bag)
1/2 cup fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup milk
1 garlic clove
Spices to taste (I add pepper, a pinch of sea salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of smoked paprika - mmmm!)

-  Steam broccoli and cauliflower in microwave for 1 1/2-2 minutes.  Add to processor with garlic clove, spices and chicken broth.  Puree until vegetables are smooth.  Add milk and pulse to mix
-  Serve warm with smoked paprika sprinkled over top for added color (and awesome taste!)

Nutritional Info (Makes 2 small bowls....great to serve as an appetizer or as your veggie with a meal!)
Fat1 g