Build your Confidence

Saturday, March 31, 2012  at 9:00 AM
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Sometimes you feel a little down and forget how important you really are...Follow these ten tips for boosting your self-esteem and remembering that YOU are IMPORTANT!

Fitness Friday {Full Body Workout}

Friday, March 30, 2012  at 6:06 PM
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Doing a simple search of fitness on Pinterest, you'll find an array of ideas of how to get your butt in shape...They are all inspiring and motivating. I wanted to create my own Friday Workout, a combination of some great moves to get you sweating. These exercises require NO equipment, so you can do them anywhere: outside, inside, at a hotel, in the break room (ok, maybe not there) but you get the idea!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor/nutritionist/dietitian/personal trainer. This post is basically my opinion and NOT what you should base your own healthy living decisions off of. I recommend you contact a qualified professional if you are planning to change your exercise or eating habits. They can be invaluable and help you safely start a weight loss or exercise program.

Featured on Bliss.com!

  at 6:52 AM
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Good news, you can now find me blogging on Bliss.com as a Contributor. If you haven't already checked it out, now's the time...They have amazing bloggers and valuable information on Beauty, Health, Fitness, Do Good and so much more...

Charge through your day with these Superfoods

Thursday, March 29, 2012  at 6:00 PM
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Everyone is probably trying to convince you that they have the secret of health and wellness capsulated inside a tiny pill. Imagine, just by digesting that tiny-huge pill you can get all the antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are known to mankind...You're skin will glow, your waist line will drop, your hair will grow, you name it and you got it.

I admit, I used to be a supplement junkie, believing everything that was printed on a label and sold by Health and Nutrition stores...I've learned from experience nothing beats WHOLE foods better than what comes in a pill form. By the time the pills even hit the shelves, how do you know exactly what is in that tiny bottle or if it it even does anything....Fresh food on the other hand, it's there in front of you, looking you in the eye, there's no better proof than that seeing real food with real nutrients.

I've compiled a list of MY favorite foods that I've seen satisfy my appetite, keep colds afar, fuel my body and leave me feeling rejuvenated....

1. Avocados - Full of healthy fats and high in lycopene and beta-carotene, this fruit provides you with benefits like Cancer Prevention, Blood Sugar Regulation, and Anti-Inflammatory. Avocados can be used in Salads, as a dip for your favorite veggie sticks, or even a face mask for a healthy glow.




2. Macadamia Nuts - These nuts have become my favorite, they have a creamy texture, unlike any other nuts. Highest in Omega 3 among all nuts, these are great for complex carbs (not all carbs are bad), source of protein, high in MUFAs which are good for heart health, and contain calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium which are essential for your overall health. You could eat these scrumptious nuts alone, or turn it into a fun recipe - like a Nut Cheese...

3. Spinach - Although all leafy greens are good for you, one of my personal favorites is spinach. It's widely available and so good for you I don't know where to start. Spinach protect one of your most important organs - Your EYES... It’s has minerals and vitamins that are good for preventing cancer, strokes, and dementia. You would also be surprised to know that Spinach good for bone health, so eliminating dairy shouldn't be a problem if you're worried about your bone health. Spinach has an amazing array of nutrients, including high amounts of vitamin K, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and iron. Pair spinach with your favorite fruit/vegetables/herbs for a morning smoothie that will keep you energized through your day.

4. Coconut - I might be biased, but this is my favorite oil to cook with. Some may be turned off by the subtle coconut taste in the beginning, but it is just too good for you that you can't not eat it. Coconut water is a great post-workout drink since it replenishes electrolytes and give you a healthy post-carb if you need it. Coconut cream is great for curries and high in good fats which leave you feeling satisfied...

5. and 6. Garlic and Ginger...this one is a tie b/c I equally like them both. Found in a lot of indian recipes I grew up eating this every day. Garlic can be used to keep vampires away, but it also is packed with antioxidants to help your body fight the free radicals that lead to sickness. Garlic is a natural anti-inflammatory, as well. Add some to your next stir-fry or create a garlic aioli for your "paleo" wraps. Ginger can be used to prevent certain cancers, decrease nausea, and boost the immune system. Ginger is a also good source of Potassium, Magnesium and Vitamin B6. Add some to your "sparkling water" for a DIY Ginger Ale...



So next time your at the store, keep an eye out for these healthy foods to promote an overall wellbeing...


Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor/nutritionist/dietitian/personal trainer. This post is basically my opinion and NOT what you should base your own healthy living decisions off of. I recommend you contact a qualified professional if you are planning to change your exercise or eating habits. They can be invaluable and help you safely start a weight loss or exercise program.

Another Spritzer for your tastebuds

Wednesday, March 28, 2012  at 3:30 PM
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Last week I posted a great recipe for a Grapefruit Spritzer which had a distint grapefruit taste. Unfortunately, not everyone loves grapefruit as much as I do, especially their first time trying it. It can be bitter depending on the type of grapefruit. So for a more diversatile recipe, one that can be served to guests without worrying if the like grapefruit, I made a more simple non-alcoholic cocktail... Orange Lemon Spritzer...

This drink has a more subtle taste to it, similar to flavored water, which is nice b/c you can drink more without having a sugar rush from all the fruit. You can also add a shot of vodka or white rum if you're feeling in the mood for a cocktail...

Orange Lemon Spritzer

  • 1 large navel orange, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 medium lemon, peeled and sectioned
  • 1 medium lemon, sliced
  • water
  • ice
  • club soda or seltzer water
  • sprigs of mint
In a blender, combine peeled orange, peeled lemon, and water. Blend on high until pureeded. If you have a non-power blender, you can strain it to remove pulp.

Pour juice halfway in glass full of ice. Top with club soda, (and/or liquor) garnish with mint and lemon slices.

Enjoy! 

Suggestions for liquor: Pineapple, Orange, or Lemon Vodka or Rum...or mix with some White Wine :)

Motivation Wednesday

  at 11:30 AM
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This past weekend I wrote about how my sister invited me for a run. She's a pretty avid runner and in great shape.  She really inspires me with her motivation to get that run in even if she's feeling a little loopy like I was...

I was a little anxious since I wasn't sure if I could keep up with her. Her usual runs are about 4 miles if not more. Sunday's run was from her place to Museum Campus...Looking at the trail, it can be a little intimating, since everything looks so close, but really its quite far ahead. It was sad that I almost let my fear of running get in the way. We hit the trail and I was surprised at the fact I could keep up with her. I kept telling myself a little farther and I distracted myself in conversation. As soon as we reached the halfway point, I kept thinking about how I made it thus far, and that I should keep going. In the end, I thought she really influenced me to do my best. I also realized its great to have a partner when you feel like you need a little nudge in the right direction....

With that, here's some motivation to keep pushing and never think you can't because....




First time for everything!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012  at 7:52 PM
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I don't usually ever do product reviews and but I do feel like if I come across something absolutely amazing, I can't resist not sharing. After reading about how harmful chemicals can be for your body, I've moved towards a more natural approach to everything, whether it's your skin, your body, or your home. It's really important that people recognize that your skin is the largest organ on/in your body and what you put on it matters more than anything. Toxins are everywhere, and if you can buy a product that doesn't have those harmful chemicals, you're saving yourself from damage that might occur in the future. After switching to more natural approaches, I've seen dramatic changes in my skin and a glow that I


I'm huge on saving money and trying to be cost conscience. I don't think it's practical spending $100 on makeup or creams because I've seen not so expensive products perform even better.


The product I wanted to give a shout out today is Terralina's Facial Cleanser and Scrub (no longer available). Since the Facial Cleanser is still available, I thought I'd give it more mention. When I buy a cleanser, I look to see how clean it gets my face. Combined with a washcloth, the cleanser removes all make up and leaves my skin like a natural glow. So, if you're looking for an alternative to your regular cleanser, I recommend giving Terralina's cleanser a try. At 99% natural, you can't go wrong with this.


I've also used the Scrub which seriously gets rid off all dead skins. It's comparable to a $50 facial you would get at a salon. I could feel the dead skin peel off as I rubbed my face in the circular motion. It was truly remarkable. I try not to use harsh abrasive things on my skin, but this was different. It almost felt like a mud mask and my skin felt smooth and baby soft afterwards.


Even if you don't try Terralina's products, I know there are so many other natural products out there, even ones that can be made at home. Just remember to avoid anything with parabans and sulfates because they can be detrimental for your health...


Please note this review is only an opinion and I'm not any way affiliated with Terralina. I bought the product after searching for an alternative cleanser not loaded with chemicals. I was not offered any compensation for this review.

Happy Monday! It's a long one...

Monday, March 26, 2012  at 9:14 PM
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I had a great weekend, which left me a little distracted and MIA. Everyone needs a break once in a while.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous yesterday morning, that my sister and I went for a run along the lake. It's been almost 4 months since I last run, and yesterday's run made me energized and craving for more. It's great having a partner to workout with, because they always motivate you to push yourself a little farther. I'm excited to do it again, once the weather warms up again.

Monday Dinners are usually something that's "Brown Bag Lunch-able," since Tuesdays I'm in the office. This recipe is great because its filling, but not too heavy for a lunch.

Traditional Enchiladas are made using meat/beans wrapped in tortillas and smothered with Enchilada Sauce and Cheese. Using only the "filling" to make this enchilada bake, and creating a rice pilaf underneath, still gave you the flavors of an enchilada without the guilt.

You could always use Pure Wraps but I like keeping things simple.

You can also adjust the spices to make this spicier. I sprinkled Chili Powder on mine for added heat. I topped it with a homemade Cilantro Salsa that I made since I had bought some in anticipation of making Guacamole...

Hopefully you don't get intimidated by all the directions/ingredients. I promise this recipe is really straight forward....

Spicy "Enchilada" Bake


for the Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 T onion powder
  • 2 tsp Chili powder
  • salt to taste
Bring all ingredients to simmer in medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Allow it to cook for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. With an immersion or blender, puree the mixture.

for the Cilantro salsa
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, rinsed and dried
  • 1 plum tomato, rinsed and chopped into quarters
  • 1 (4oz) can Diced Green Chilis
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Blend in blender or food processor until mixed and no longer chunky. Store in glass jar in fridge.

for the Shredded Chicken
  • 1 pound chicken cut into thick pieces
  • 1-2 cups Chicken stock
  • 1 plum tomato, rinsed and diced 
  • 1 T cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
Place chicken in slow cooker. Add enough chicken stock to cover chicken. Add spices and tomatoes. Cook on low for about 4-6 hours. Remove chicken from stock and shred with fork. Season with additional cumin and spices if needed. 

for the Cauliflower Rice
  • 1 medium head of  cauliflower, broken into florets
  • Coconut oil
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • salt to taste
Grate cauliflower in food processor to rice consistency. Heat coconut oil in skillet. Once melted add cauliflower and spices. Cook for about 10 minutes, mixing occasionally to avoid sticking. Remove from heat once browned.





For "Enchilada" Bake

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. In a casserole dish, layer cauliflower rice, shredded chicken and top with enchilada sauce. Bake for about 20 minutes. 

 Remove from oven and garnish with chopped green onions and Cilantro Sauce.


Happy Friday

Friday, March 23, 2012  at 7:30 AM
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I Googled "Happy Friday" and this is what came up....It couldn't make me smile any more! Enjoy <3


Parsley Basil Pesto

Thursday, March 22, 2012  at 7:46 PM
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Have you ever had a craving for something, but realized you don't have the ingredients on hand, and weren't in the mood to trek to the store to get those ingredients. Well that happened to me the other day, sorta.

I bought a pack of Basil from Trader Joe's. It can be a little pricey, so I try to buy it when I know I am going to use it fairly quickly, otherwise it can go bad pretty fast. So after about 1-2 days of sitting on my counter, I realized some of it started going bad, so I needed to make something asap. It didn't look like I had enough to make Basil Pesto, and I didn't want to run to the store to get more, so I decided to improvise. It worked out perfectly because I had a huge bunch of parsley in the fridge. Parsley only comes in these huge bunches, so I either have too much and don't know what to do with it, or don't have any and end up using dried parsley.

I rinsed out the parsley and dried it really good between two paper towels and used what little Basil I had to make Pesto. The end result was so much better than I could ever imagine. I don't have a picture, but that doesn't mean it wasn't amazing! It had a different zing to it, but it was maybe even better than my original Basil Pesto recipe. You can be the judge of that, but until then I think this recipe wins.


PARSLEY-BASIL PESTO

Ingredients
  • 1 big bunch of parsley
  • 1 oz of basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup of toasted pinenuts (roasted on a baking sheet in the oven for 3 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and fresh ground pepper(to taste)

Directions
Wash parsley and basil leaves. Dry with paper towel. Put basil, parsley, toasted pine nuts, garlic, and lemon juice into food processor and process until well pureed. You may need to take off the lid and scrape the sides with a rubber scraper if you have a hard time getting the basil all chopped.

Slowly incorporate oil into pureed basil mixture until consistency is to your liking.

Season to taste with salt and fresh ground black pepper and pulse a few times more.

Store basil pesto in the refrigerator in a glass container.


Grapefruit Spritzer

Wednesday, March 21, 2012  at 4:50 PM
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Can you believe the weather? My favorite season is late Spring or early Fall.  They both have beautiful colors of the trees and sounds of birds chirping. This has been hands down the mildest winter I can remember. I remember a few years ago, being stuck at home because of a huge winter storm. Well nothing to worry about this year. It's only March and it's hit the mid-80s. I'm grateful for this beautiful weather and this warmth.

I came up with a fun spritzer recipe to help cool down. It can get pretty hot mid-day and this was the perfect concoction for an afternoon non-alcoholic beverage. It quenched my thirst and provided me with a daily dose of antioxidants and vitamins. Grapefruit is one of my favorite citrus fruits. It's so big, that I usually have only a little bit and save the rest for later. There are so many benefits of eating grapefruit. It contains Vitamin C which helps keep colds afar. It also has potent flavonoids which help in Cancer prevention.

Since cucumbers are also high in water, it made a perfect combination for this summery drink. I used Persian Cucumbers since they are so tiny and flavorful. You can use either limes or lemons for an added citrus punch.


Grapefruit Spritzer

Ingredients
  • 1 large grapefruit, peeled and sectioned
  • 3 small cucumbers, peeled and deseeded
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • water for blending
  • Club Soda for Fizz


In a high speed blender add fruit and water and blend on high. Ensure you get it blended up really good so that there isn't any pulp.

Pour into glasses filled with ice and top with club soda for some fizz.





Motivation

  at 1:01 PM
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Do you TRUST yourself enough to succeed?

Detoxing

Tuesday, March 20, 2012  at 7:30 PM
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Nowadays, you are seeing so many advertisements for Detoxes and Cleanses, something that has become more of a hot topic in the last ten years. But how important are these detoxes and can they do more harm than good? Many of these cleanses boast weight loss and a cure for all illnesses. In my opinion, anything that has chemicals found in the ingredients in the detox/cleanse is something I would be weary of. You should also know that any type of cleanse that uses herbal ingredients, laxatives, enemas, colonics, and/or irrigation devices can possibly disrupt the normal functioning and balance of the large intestine, resulting in electrolyte imbalances, diarrhea, dehydration and damage to the protective bacteria in the large intestine.

What are toxins anyway?

Toxins are present all around us. They are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, foods we eat, soaps we use, and cleaners we use. Toxins can also enter our body through our skin, the largest organ in the human body.
Toxins can hang around our body for a long time and even be soluble in fat cells, accumulate in our major organs and glands like the thyroid and adrenal which are meant to regulate our body.

Our body was meant to naturally detoxify itself through perspiration, excretion of wastes, and other natural processes like breathing. The large intestine also contains good bacteria which also there to help reduce toxin activity. But with the increasing amount of toxins found all around us, its become harder and harder for our body to natural rid of these harmful chemicals.

So even though we know toxins are bad, what is the actual science of how toxins affect our body? Toxins can aggravate your normal hormonal functions and prevent your body from utilizing essential minerals that we are ingesting from the foods we eat. Eating too many toxins can lead to neurological diseases, hormonal disruption (too much estrogen), nutritional deficiencies, and in worst case scenarios auto-immune disorders and cancer.

How do we reduce toxins in our environments?

  1. Buy organic and avoid processed foods. Organics don't contain pesticides that can disrupt your hormonal balance.
  2. Avoid products containing BPA, which can be found in plastics, cans, food wrapping, clothes, etc.
  3. Avoid Parabans and Phylates which are found in most non-organic/mineral/unanatural cosmetics and beauty items. Check for products like make-up and cosmetic products approved by the environmental working group (www.ewg.org)
  4. Ensure you are getting enough Magnesium, which protects your cells from heavy metals.
  5. Take a Vitamin C supplement. I recommend Lipo-Spheric Vitamin C since it encapsulated in liposomes and as a result is able to cross the normal barriers to absorption into the bloodstream and into cells. Vitamin C is used to help detoxify the body and protect cells from toxic chemicals.
  6. Drink lots of filtered water. Staying hydrates is important for your body to function and perform processes. 
Hopefully this guide has helped you become more aware of the things you consume and how to mindfully create a less toxic environment for your body.

If you have any other suggestion for detoxing, I am always open to hearing new ideas :)


Monday Makeover: Mushroom Risotto and Scallops

Sunday, March 18, 2012  at 4:18 PM
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I'm sure our paleo ancestors didn't cook up a pot of Rissoto after hunting down their dinner. But we don't live in that era, so there's no excuse for not using the Paleothic background to create a flavorful dish, like Rissoto. Rissoto is an Italian dish cooked in a broth until it reaches a creamy consistency. It's made with a different type of rice from my understanding, considered "healthy," but who are we kidding? Although it can be made "healthier," its not the best choice for anyone following a Paleo Diet. Rice is a grain and unfortunately one of the no-no's of a Paleo Diet.  Instead, this dish uses Cauliflower as a substitute for Rice, and Coconut Milk for Heavy Cream.  Using real food in this recipe, will leave you feeling satisfied.


Mushroom Risotto and Scallops

Ingredients

for the Risotto Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
for the Cauliflower:
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 head cauliflower, processed into “rice”
  • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
for the Scallops:
  • 12 large scallops, thawed
  • 2 T butter
  • ½ white wine
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt

Directions

Remove leaves from cauliflower, and break into florets. Place pieces into a food processor and pulse until it looks like rice. Heat coconut oil on medium high and add garlic and diced onions, cooking until translucent. Add in cauliflower rice and toast for 5 minutes. Occasionally mix the cauliflower to avoid sticking to the pan. Add salt to season. Avoid cooking cauliflower to mush, since you will cook it in the sauce as well.

In a separate pan, heat butter. Once butter is melted, add in sliced mushrooms and saute until they are released their juices. Add in white wine to the pan. Once most of the liquid has evaporated, add in coconut milk and arrowroot powder. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for up to 5 minutes. Add in cauliflower and mix well. Allow this to cook for additional 5 minutes, until cauliflower is soft. Set aside.

For scallions: Thaw scallops in cold water. Rinse and pat dry. In a dish, mix spices. Heat butter in frying pan. Dip scallops into spice mix (both sides) and set aside on plate. Once butter is melted, add scallops with tongs one at a time. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, until opaque and scallop has a brown crust. Remove scallops from plate and place on Rissotto. Once all scallops are removed from pan, deglaze with white wine for a sauce to drizzle over scallops. Once liquid has thickened, remove from heat.

Weekend Topic - Fructose

  at 4:03 PM
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When you think of sugar, you might think of candy, soda, cakes, and what not. But sugars are hidden in many foods you eat, some being good and some off limits. Anything processed is automatically off-limits. Nutrients that are found in natural occurring foods are alsways going to be better anything found in a packaged plastic wrap. When you think about the Paleo diet, you try to achieve a balance with how you eat. You think back to how our Paleo ancestors ate, and try to be mindful of that type of eating. I doubt any caveman stocked up on ice cream, so its safe to assume that neither should you. However, we don't live in the pre-historic ages, and so we aren't bound by the same rules and limitations, and there are going to be lots of food that we may eat, that are not considered Paleo. The idea is to be as find a balance, as so that might mean being more Primal than Paleo.

One of the things I have been mindful of when becoming Paleo is my consumption of sugar. We all know sugar can be toxic on your body. It can wreck havoc on your immune system, making you more susceptible to diseases and illnesses. Too much sugar can also be a risk of insulin resistance. Sometimes its not enough to just avoid processed foods, you should be mindful of natural occurring sugars as well, which should be enjoyed in moderation. Fructose is a natural occurring sugar, mostly found in fruits, which is metabolized directly by the liver and stored as fat. Does that mean you should avoid all fruits?

Even though we may metabolize fructose for later storage like our ancestors in times of famine, others may benefit from the natural sugars as an energy boost for a glycogen depleting workout. I think fruit also has many benefits, like antioxidants which you may not be able to get elsewhere, so throwing out fruit from your diet, b/c of the fructose content alone might be a little too extreme. Anything that you eat in large quantities can have negative effects of your body, so eating fruit like berries in moderation can be beneficial for your health. If you have already eliminated grains and starchy vegetables from your diet, your insulin response may have already become sensitive, therefore you may become more tolerant of sugar.

Take away point from this, even though fructose in excess can reck havoc on your body, you shouldn't negate the benefits of fruit and completely cut it out from your diet. Moderation is the path where one can obtain balance.

If you want to read more about the negative effects of TOO much fructose, you can read more here.

Fitness Friday {Workout Review}

Friday, March 16, 2012  at 2:34 PM
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Workout Review

Summer is not too far away, and you probably want to get bikini or swim suit ready if you aren't already there. The key to torching fat, is challenging your body in a short period of time. Intervals are perfect for this since your body performs efficiently under Steady State. Suprisingly, you don't want your body to be efficient when doing "Cardio," because that means you're burning LESS calories for the exercise you are performing.

This workout below was taken from Muscle & Strength and is wonderful. I remember being sweating puddles when I was done. The website recommends this 3 days a week, between splits. The workout combines both Cardio and Weights, for a full-body burn.


Remember to always challenge yourself when you're working out. If you want to see results, you have to push yourself to the limit (without injuring yourself).

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor/nutritionist/dietitian/personal trainer. This post is basically my opinion and NOT what you should base your own healthy living decisions off of. I recommend you contact a qualified professional if you are planning to change your exercise or eating habits. They can be invaluable and help you safely start a weight loss or exercise program.

Red Sangria!

Thursday, March 15, 2012  at 2:27 PM
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Spring is just around the corner, and it already heating up outside. It's interesting that this has been one of the mildest winters in a long time! I remember being buried in snow and dreading the cold, but this season was ultimately tolerable. Since it feels great ouside, I decided to make some Sangria to go with the wonderful weather. You could always buy Sangria mix, but there's no fun in that. For this recipe, I used Beringer Sweet Red Moscato, since it caught my eye at the store. It even said "Serve Chilled" on the label, so I thought it was a perfect wine for Sangria, since you want a little bit of sweetness.

The great thing about this recipe, is that it doesn't have any artificial sugar. You don't need to use extra sugar either, since the wine and fruit makes this wine sweet enough. You can also make this one day prior and chill overnight, then add the seltzer water prior to serving.

Red Sangria

Ingredients
(makes 4 large servings)

  •  750 ml bottle of your favorite Red Wine
  • 1 orange, cut into small pieces, leave peel on
  • 1 lime, cut into small pieces, leave peel on
  • 1/2 cup Triple Sec or Brandy
  • 2 cups Lemon Seltzer Water
  • 2 cups Ice
Directions
In a large pitcher, mix together the Red wine, Triple Sec, Seltzer Water and Fruit. Mix well. Serve over glass filled with ice. Enjoy!

Chicken in Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

Wednesday, March 14, 2012  at 8:57 PM
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Need a new flavorful recipe in a jiffy? This recipe is a spin on a regular cream sauce since it uses Roasted Red Peppers.  It's super simple, and takes less time to make than carryout. This was my first time roasting bell peppers, so make sure you get them nice and black so the skin peels off really easily. If you have jarred roasted red bell peppers, that should work too.

Chicken with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

Ingredients
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 lb chicken breasts
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T dried Basil or fresh if you have it
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions
Preheat broiler. Lightly coat the red peppers with olive oil. Grill peppers under the broiler until the skin is blackened, and the flesh has softened slightly. Place peppers in a bowl wrapped with saran wrap to cool for approximately 45 minutes.

While peppers are cooling, cook chicken breasts in butter/olive oil. Cut into tender size pieces and set aside.

Once pepper has cooled down, remove the seeds and skin from the peppers. Cut peppers into small pieces.

In a skillet, cook and stir the garlic, onions, until caramelized. Add red pepper and continue to cook for 10 minutes or so. Add basil and salt and pepper.

Place mixture in blender (ensure to aerate), and add coconut milk. Puree to desired consistency. Return puree to skillet, and reheat to a boil.

Add the butter, and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add chicken to sauce and serve with your favorite Paleo Pasta.

Sherry Burger

Tuesday, March 13, 2012  at 9:11 PM
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I honestly had no idea where I was going with this recipe, but it turned out really good. When I was grocery shopping, I saw Trader Joe's starting carrying Grass-fed beef so I was really excited, since it wasn't outrageously priced and healthier than plain organic beef. Since cows are free to roam and graze on grass and bugs, they aren't high in Omega 6s, which is cause for inflammation. Also, after reading Pink Slime, I much rather eat local and organic. In terms of flavor, grass-fed beef makes a huge difference in my opinion. I didn't think the flavor would be much different, and surprisingly, it just tasted so much fresher. Even B commented that the burgers tasted great.

So here's the recipe for my sherry burger! Bon Appétit...

Sherry Burgers

Ingredients

  • 1 lb grass-fed beef
  • 6 oz bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • ½ medium onion diced finely
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup dry sherry

Directions
Saute bacon in skillet until browned (no oil necessary). Allow to cool and crumble/cut into small bite pieces.

Using the same oil, add onions and garlic. Saute until browned/caramelized. Add parsley and  then sherry to deglaze pan. Continue to cook until all the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, in a medium bowl combine ground meet, bacon, and onions. Mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper as needed. Form 4 small patties.

Preheat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle to medium-high heat. Cook the burgers for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for 4 minutes more.

Serve a top a green salad. Enjoy!


Kale Chips

Monday, March 12, 2012  at 1:47 PM
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A while back my sister made Spicy Kale Chips. They were delicious. I wanted to try making it at home as well, but never got around to it. The other day I saw Trader Joe's started carrying Pre-Cut Kale, so I decided to pick up a bag, since anything to avoid cutting it myself is a win. You should know my knife skills aren't the best and I always end up cutting myself, one time so bad I ended up in the ER....Moving on, the kale ended up sitting in my fridge for a while until I finally decided I would make those Kale Chips I had at my sisters. I didn't make it spicy this time, wanting to test it out first, making sure they are edible. They resembled the taste of Seaweed Snacks that are also available at Trader Joe's. They are thin and crispy. They crumble in your mouth and keep you going back for more.


Even if you aren't eating like a Primal Mate, no reason you can't enjoy a handful of Kale Chips. They make a great substitution for those carb loaded processed potato chips. My next adventure will use a little some different spices, but for now, this works!

Crunchy Kale Chips 

Ingredients

1 bunch kale
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp seasoned salt

Directions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

If using kale bunches, not previously de-stemmed, take a knife and carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner. Drizzle kale with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning salt.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove and store in airtight container. Make sure it is airtight otherwise you will have soggy chips, like I did.

Weekend Topic - Protein Shakes and BCAAs

Saturday, March 10, 2012  at 12:00 PM
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If you are lifting weights and working out vigorously, you've more than likely heard people tell you to make sure you take a protein shake after your workout. Maybe you've wondered "What's the deal with that?"

In my opinion, protein shakes are primarily marketed to convince people by consuming them they will become the best athlete ever. The supplement industry hypes the idea that in order to gain muscle you HAVE to consume a protein shake immediately after a workout, and if you don't, then your not going to get the best results. There is some accuracy to the claim, but protein shakes are necessary the only thing that will get you to your goals.

You can easily get your protein needs through your standard diet, and its not as processed. There are no added ingredients in your chicken, or tuna salad, unless YOU add it.

Protein shakes are either made low carb or high carb. Bodybuilders will consume high carb shakes after their workout to increase an insulin response and transport those carbs into your muscles to replenish glycogen stores. But if you're not depleting those stores, that excess glucose in your blood is not going into your muscles, rather they will be stored as fat. The protein in the shakes are tied to the insulin response so they can be also transported to muscles for repair. Hence the reason you should also note that protein shakes will not help you lose weight if you're using them as meal replacements or supplements to your diet.

Eating more than the recommended protein doesn't provide extra benefits, here more is not better. Too much protein can also cause an insulin response, so by combining it with fat, you can slow down the absorption. If you're looking to increase your muscle mass, you can definitely benefit from protein after a workout, which ties into my other topic of BCAAs.


BCAAs are Branched Chain Amino Acids that consist of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Most protein shakes have these BCAAs, that's why they are marketed as post-workout supplements. These amino acids are important for muscle building because they are stored in high concentrations within the muscle tissue. The release of BCAAs during intense workouts, signals the body to stop using muscle for energy and use fat stores, since the muscles are breaking down. By consuming BCAAs, you're doing two things. One your stimulating the production of insulin and two your tricking your body to think that muscles are being broken down, so the BCAAs are then taken up into the muscles from the insulin response to help build and repair your muscles, while simultaneously allowing for fat oxidation. BCAAs may reduce recovery time and aid in the repair and growth of muscle tissue, hence the reason why they are added to post-workout shakes.

You can sip on BCAAs prior to, during, and after workouts. Some studies show that BCAAs taken during fasted states can promote fat oxidation and muscle building, since they are readily taken in by muscles. While its not necessary to take this as a supplement, one could also obtain BCAAs from a variety of foods like fish and meats, vegetables, milk, eggs, nuts, seeds, chicken, etc.

Helpful hint if you are taking BCAAs powdered form, it helps mixing it with some lemons to help break it down for easier consumption.

Fitness Friday

Friday, March 09, 2012  at 5:04 PM
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Fitness Myths Debunked!

This topic is little different than my usual fitness posts. I decided to take a moment to go over some beliefs about fitness that are more common than not. I'd like to debunk some of the beliefs and set the story straight.

In order to lose weight, I have to do cardio. While cardio may be beneficial for weight loss, it shouldn't be your primary method for slimming down. More important than doing card is strength training. Speaking from experience, cardio can become a habit when going to the gym, and can lead to muscle loss, if you're not combining your aerobics workout with pumping iron. You could even do circuits with weights which can include a combination of cardio and weights, and lean out.

If I exercise, I should be able to eat anything I want. While you may want to indulge here and there it shouldn't become a habit. This type of behavior can become permanent behavior and cause a gain in weight if continued over a large period of time. While there are athletes who train extremely hard and require more caloric intake, others should not use as a food as a reward for hard work. What you eat and when you eat it makes a huge difference. Eating a meal in high carbohydrate content after an intense workout can help replenish glycogen stores, but eaten at other times, can cause an influx of insulin response and excess glucose if its not needed by your body.

I just want to tone up. In my opinion there is no sense to the word tone. Your muscles can become defined, but in order for them to do so, you better be lifting heavy weights. LIfting a 5 pound dumbbell over and over doesn't really make your muscles bigger. You need to challenge yourself. In order to gain muscle, you have to breakdown muscle, and grow and repair those muscles with proteins and carbs. Have you ever seen anyone get defined by lifting cans of soup or jugs of milk? Highly doubtful.

Lifting weights will make me manly. Unless you're taking excess testosterone and steroids, I doubt you will bulk up, while maintaining a normal diet. Bodybuilder usually eat in excess of up to 5,000 calories to bulk up, in addition to supplementing with hormones. Men naturally carry less body fat due to the higher testosterone, but women usually carry more estrogen and body fat.

If I want a six pack, I have to do 1000 ab exercises a day. If you can do 1000 ab exercises per night, good for you, but that's not going to get you a six pack. Abdominal fat is the hardest to get rid of and requires a lot of patience and hard work. A well defined six-pack is obtained with Sprinting and Clean eating. Your physique is determined 80% by diet, unless you have amazing genes. Also, there's no way to define one area without working other parts.

More is better. This is an important one, because I am guilty of believing this for the longest time until I took a break and actually saw improvements. Overtraining your body is not better and can cause a cascading effect of problems. One example is high cortisol levels which can do damage to both insulin sensitivity and adrenals. If you want to maintain your weight loss, the best way to do it is slowly. Losing weight or bulking up too quickly is harder to maintain, whereas gradual progress to your goals will help you keep your shape. Cortisol can also cause a catabolic effect on your muscles, so keep your cool and take your time. Eat right and train hard and you'll achieve your goals. 

And there you have it. Six fitness beliefs debunked. My motivation for this post was from the changes I've made this year. It's only been 3 months eating Paleo but I feel better and stronger than I ever felt in my life. I might not be a size zero or fit into those jeans from five years ago, but at least I know I'm doing things right and keeping with this I will achieve my dreams...How will you change your "bad" fitness habits?

Moroccan Inspired Chicken Bake

Thursday, March 08, 2012  at 11:30 AM
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Cauliflower is one of my favorite veggies. Even though it doesn't have much flavor, cooked with spices, or even roasted, the flavors pop. I'm used to making cauliflower in Indian recipes, but since I'm working out so much I wanted to add some protein to the dish. One could easily use lentils if they are vegetarian/non-paleo. My choice was chicken since it's really easy to make.

I put a spin on this recipe by using chipotle powder instead of the typical indian spices.


Moroccan Inspired Chicken Bake

Ingredients
  • 1 large head of cauliflower
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 cups chicken breast, grilled and chopped
  • 1 cup tomatoes, chopped
  • half cup green onion, chopped
  • Oil for sautéing

Directions
Cut cauliflower into florets. Steam over boiling water for about 12 minutes, until it florets are tender but not mushy. (Note: this is a good time to cook up your chicken and bacon if you haven’t already.)

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Cut cauliflower into ¾ inch chunks and place in a large mixing bowl.

Heat frying pan to medium high heat. Add oil and garlic. Once garlic starts to turn brown add tomatoes and Sauté for 3 minutes. Add red bell peppers, cauliflower, spices, and cook 10 minutes longer. Mix in chicken, and green onions.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased casserole dish, or leave in pan if oven safe. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until heated through and the top is golden brown.

Serve

Artichoke Chicken

Wednesday, March 07, 2012  at 6:15 PM
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I've been having fun in the kitchen and this recipe is something I just threw together. I'm using some old recipes for inspiration, and this a switch up on Garlic Chicken. I love the flavors of artichokes sautéed with white wine and tomatoes. It's a light but filling dinner. I think both B and I loved it, since it was gone the same day.  Hopefully you find is just as enjoyable...


Chicken with White Wine and Tomato Artichoke
ingredients
  • 1 pound thin chicken cutlets
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and quartered
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper
directions
Preheat oven to 200ºF. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add half of chicken cutlets and cook without moving until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook until firm and browned on both sides, another 3 minutes. Transfer to a baking pan or another skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets. Add to pan/skillet, cover and keep warm in oven.

Add 1 T oil, shallots, garlic to pan. Cook for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, salt and pepper to pan. Cook tomatoes until slightly browned. Add wine to skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan with a wooden spoon. Boil, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in artichokes and heat through, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately.









Blackened Salmon

Tuesday, March 06, 2012  at 1:00 PM
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I've only cooked salmon on the stove top a few times, and each time the flavor beats oven baked salmon. I decided to give it another try after seeing a recipe for Blackened Salmon. The salmon is cooked in a spicy rub over medium heat. The flavor was outstanding and beats the flavor of broiled salmon. It was moist and melts in your mouth. 

Blackened Salmon

ingredients:
  • 2 lbs of Salmon fillets
  • Oil for pan cooking
spice rub:
  • 2 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp dried thyme
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
directions:
In a small bowl, mix spices to blend. Put the mixture on a plate or other flat surface and coat the portions of salmon, one at a time, on the flesh side only.

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat, and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the salmon, 1 at a time, in a single layer, flesh side down, in the oil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the salmon to skin side. Cook the salmon over medium heat, until the skin becomes crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes.

Arrange salmon on plate with side of choice. Serve immediately.

 





Monday Makeover - Cheesecake

Monday, March 05, 2012  at 9:00 AM
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I've been experimenting with making a natural healthier cheesecake. It's almost an oxymoron, since how could Cheesecake be healthy or even Paleo? By eliminating the gluten crust and processed sugars, we can make the cheesecake a little more paleo/primal friendly.

My first attempt wasn't very good. I used too large of a pan and too little cream cheese that my cheesecake was more like a gigantic cheese cookie. It tasted good, but I am looking for a more dense cheesecake that would make the cut. 

For this recipe I used hazel nut meal, which can be found at Whole Foods. I love the taste of Nutella, so was hoping this would have a little essence of that flavor. 


Paleo Cheesecake

Ingredients

crust:
  • 1½ cup almond meal or hazelnut meal
  • ¼ cup KerryGold salted Butter
filling:
  • 3 (8 ounce) packages full fat cream cheese, softened or room temperature
  • 1 cup full fat sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp liquid stevia (or substitute honey)
  • 3 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Kazu Powder dissolved in 1 T water (or arrowroot powder)

Directions
In a food processor, pulse almond meal or hazelnut meal with butter. Cut butter into small pieces to ensure it gets combined evenly. Put into a 9 inch springform pan, or baking pan. Place in freezer while preparing filling.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla, stevia until fluffy. Taste for sweetness factor. Add more stevia for sweeter filling. Beat in eggs and Kazu Powder. Pour mixture over crust into springform pan.

Bake at 300°F until firm in center (45-60 minutes) and refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy with fresh fruit or your favorite sauce.

Weekend Topic - Leptin

Saturday, March 03, 2012  at 9:00 AM
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Recently I came across an interesting subject regarding Leptin and how overtime individuals can become Leptin Resistance, just like they do Insulin Resistance. For those who are unaware about the role of leptin, let me explain in brief what it does and how its regulated.

What is Leptin?

Leptin is a hormone that plays a vital role in regulating fat metabolism. It is released by fat cells and signals receptors in the hypothalamus to control apetite, specifically tell your body when you are full. Without leptin, your body cannot control its apetite and your eating behavior can become chaotic. The amount of leptin circulating in your bloodstream should be proportionate to your body fat. Women naturally have higher body fat, therefore have higher levels of leptin. This explains why when I was eating only low fat and had a very low body fat, I was always ravenous and my apetite felt out of balance. Individuals who eat a balanced diet and intake dietary fat with a balanced protein consumption should have normal leptin levels and be leptin sensitive, meaning an increase in leptin after a meal will signal your body that you ingesting energy for use and signal when you are full.

Another topic to ponder, is how to we become leptin resistance. Overtime as we unbalanced diets, overeat, or even eat high levels of carbs we are in danger of increased fat gain if excess glucose is not burned off by exercise. Overtime we accumulate more body fat, which results in less food being required, so leptin is secreted to suppress apetite. Overtime, if too much leptin is circulating in your bloodstream, your leptin receptors become resistance to the signals which leads to leptin resistance.

How do you know if you are leptin resistance?

Individuals suffering from leptin resistance most likely have difficulty in losing weight. As explained above, leptin is vital in signaling your brain that you are full. With more fat on your body, more will the leptin resist to tell your brain that you are satiated. Symptoms also include increased fatigue, hunger after meals, difficulty sleeping (insomnia), increased blood pressure levels, increasing waist line, weight gain, high body fat, excess abdominal fat, obesity, darkening of skin around the neck, armpits and folds, stretch marks, etc. (Leptin Resistance)

The Leptin Reset - Treatment Plan

Dr Kruse is very well known in regards to helping individuals resetting their leptin receptors to help the body become more leptin sensitive. So what is the protocol called for by Dr. Kruse? From reading his blog, he wants us to use a strict Paleo diet and eventually transition into a more Primal-like diet once you are Leptin Sensitive. I am not advising anyone to do this, but it might be in your best interest to take a look and decide if the program is right for you. It can possibly tweaked to meet your health needs.

Here are the guidelines outlined on his blog:
  1. Eat 50-75 grams of protein for breakfast within 30 minutes of rising. If you cannot get all the protein, you can eat the remaining calories in fat. A sample breakfast would be 4 eggs with one serving of meat. One egg has 6 grams, one serving of bacon also has 6 grams. Chicken breast has 25 g. You should also incorporate coconut oil into your breakfast.
  2. Do not eat again for 4-5 hours, NO SNACKING. If you're not hungry, don't be afraid to skip lunch. You should aim to eat 2-3 times a day. Eating a high-protein breakfast should keep you full until dinner.
  3. Do not eat after 7pm. Try to allow 4-5 hours after dinner before bed. (This may be a little difficult for most)
  4. During the first 6-8 weeks of the protocol, avoid exercise. He recommends this because your body does not efficiently use your food for energy. If you want to incorporate a workout, do it after 5 pm.
What can you eat on Dr. Kruse's Paleo Diet?
  1. All Meats, as always, wild and grass-fed are better than grain-fed. 
  2. Health fats like Coconut oil, Butter, Heavy Whipping Cream, Raw Cheese
  3. Non-starchy vegetables
Avoidances:
  1. Limit Omega 6s
  2. Limit carbs to less than 50g, or better 25g
  3. Grains, Legumes, Starchy Veggies, Vegetable oils
  4. Fruits
  5. Nuts
  6. Dairy - causes insulin spike, if not then you can enjoy it
Some other tidbits of information I read about Leptin resets that it can aid with Leaky Gut Syndrome. So if you're like me and have digestive issues, maybe this is a great challenge you might want to take. I am excited in trying it and hopefully can give my readers some feedback once I complete it.

Here is a great forum conversation on Paleo Hacks about success stories with Dr Kruse's protocol for Leptin Reset

OTHER RECOMMENDED READS:

Index of Dr. Kruse Leptin Reset http://bit.ly/zFUCuP 

Mark's Daily Apple: Leptin http://bit.ly/whZWkd


Fitness Friday {Treadmill Intervals}

Friday, March 02, 2012  at 8:00 AM
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I've been lifting heavy weights for about 3 months now, and I am in love. I can't believe I used to have my workouts revolve around cardio. While cardio can definitely be good for you, I believe it shouldn't be your primary exercises when you are working out.  In your daily life, you are constantly moving around and using your muscles for daily activities, so why shouldn't you strengthen those muscles? That's why I've realized that training muscles comes before cardio. 

When I do do some "cardio", I try to keep it moderately intense, so I still work up a sweat, but effectively work my body so I don't become accustomed to any same movement.  I really enjoy using inclined walking since it's extremely hard and gives me the same burn as if I were running. Why else do I like inclined walking? First its not a rough on your knees, which overtime get worn out if running on flat surfaces, since the foot impacts the ground with more energy running on a flatter terrain. It also gives you a challenge since your body is not used to walking up an incline, and you use muscles that are not normally used.  Inclines are a great way to give your body a break from chronic cardio while still benefiting from exercise.

Here is a sample of my intervals to give you a better idea of how you can switch it up.

Inclined Intervals 
Set speed to Level 15 or highest level available

1:00-2:00  Speed 2.0 mph
2:00-4:00  Speed 3.0 mph
4:00-5:00  Speed 6.0 mph

Repeat 6 times for a total of 30 minutes. Cool down for 5 minutes by decreasing incline every minute.

This workout might seem intense, or maybe it doesn't. I think it's the perfect level of intensity that it gets my heart rate elevated for a minute, but then recovery lasts for 4 minutes.

Good luck and as always, I'd love to hear feedback!

Bolognese Sauce

Thursday, March 01, 2012  at 10:00 AM
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I've been wanting to make this dish for some time now, but really wanted to wait for a day when I was craving a hearty meal. Since  yesterday was an extremely long day,  it was perfect since it had enough time to simmer by dinner.  I was a little nervous making this, since I never really experimented with ground beef as I had with ground chicken or turkey. This dish reminds me of an Italian version of Lamb Keema, which is curried ground lamb, something I enjoyed as a kid. That's probably why I enjoyed this recipe, its a twist on an old favorite. Hopefully you will too! Bon Appétit