/> Clean Convenient Cuisine: August 2010

Clean Convenient Cuisine

Reset your tastebuds!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

5 Things To Do With Fresh Corn!

The end of summer is approaching, and what better way to say goodbye than with fresh corn? Cheap and flavorful, this vegetable often gets a bad rap, but not only is it an American staple, it has been known to help control diabetes, prevent heart ailments, lower hypertension and is also rich in A, B and E vitamins, as well as lutein, a compound that helps keep your eyes healthy as you age. Also, one ear of corn sports 4 grams of fiber. When shopping, look for husks with moist silks. Feel through the husks for plump kernels.

Here are 5 healthy, easy recipes to try with fresh corn.

Corn and Basil Cakes

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup low-fat milk (or soy, hemp, almond, etc.)
2 large eggs (or egg whites)
2 tbs. canola oil, divided
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 large ears)
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Whisk flour, milk, eggs, 1 tbs. oil, baking powder and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir in corn and basil. Brush a large nonstick skillet lightly with some of the remaining oil. Heat over medium until hot (but not too hot). Use about 1/4 cup batter for each cake. Cook until the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side, 1 to 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining oil and batter, making around 10 cakes. (Reduce heat as you continue cooking to reduce burning). Each cake (around 3 inches wide) has only 180 calories and 7 grams of protein!

Chilled Cilantro Corn Soup

4 ears sweet corn
1 tsp. olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup organic sour cream (or nonfat greek yogurt)
2 tbs. minced fresh cilantro
2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled and chopped (optional)
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Cut the corn from the cobs. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the cut corn. Simmer until tender, around 7 minutes. Stir to prevent sticking. Let it cool. In a blender or food processor, blend the corn with its cooking liquid, then press through a strainer (to remove the tough parts). Set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and saute until soft. Return the corn to the blender or food processor. Add onion and sour cream (or yogurt). Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and stir in chopped peppers. Chill the soup (or eat warm). Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Creamed Corn Soup

1 cup low-fat milk
2 cups corn kernels
1 tbs. honey or agave nectar
pepper, to taste
pinch of cayenne
minced parsley or sunflower seeds (for garnish)

Combine 1 cup of milk, 1 cup of corn and 1 tbs. honey in a blender. Add pepper and blend on medium for 1 minute. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining 1 cup of corn kernels with the corn puree. Transfer to a soup pot and heat on medium heat for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley or toasted sunflower seeds.

Avocado-Corn Salsa

1 medium avocado, diced
3/4 cup fresh corn
1/2 cup quartered grape tomatoes
1 tbs. fresh cilantro
2 tsp. lime juice

Toss avocado, corn, tomatoes, cilantro and lime juice in a medium bowl.

Mexican Grilled Corn

4 ears corn, husked
2 tbs. vegenaise (egg-free mayo)
2 tbs. nonfat greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. chili powder
4 tbs. parmesan cheese (or shredded queso)
1 lime

Preheat grill to medium-high (if you don't have a grill, cook corn on griddle, in foil in the oven or on gas stovetop). Combine vegenaise, yogurt and chili powder in a small bowl. Grill corn, turning until marked and tender, about 10 minutes. Spread wtih 1 tbs. of the sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Squeeze with lime before serving.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Truth About Bread

It's no surprise there are many opinions (and options) when it comes to the "b" word. Don't eat it, eat it in moderation, eat whole grain, whole wheat, multi-grain, flax bread, hemp bread, gluten free bread. Eat no bread. Eat a lot of bread. The lists continue. I recently had a client email me, explaining how overwhelmed he became when he approached the bread aisle. There, endless, packaged loaves stared back at him, screaming out whole grains, multi-grain, 12-grain, whole wheat, health nut, healthy grains. It was endless. Funny, how when you're in Europe, you grab a baguette, a wedge of soft cheese, a bottle of wine, and you never think about what you're eating, because you know it's fresh. It was made with care.

Here, you can grab something that looks healthy and fresh, but much to your disappointment, it is as processed and full of "bad" ingredients as candy. Just to be clear, bread isn't bad. Sure, there are other "carbs" you would be better off eating: cruciferous vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, barley, oatmeal and sweet potatoes, to name a few. But, let's face it: bread tastes good and more likely than not, you are going to engage in a sandwich, a baguette or an english muffin (or, as I did this weekend, a thick, sesame bagel slathered with light cream cheese, peanut butter and honey. Pair that with a steaming cup of coffee and you will be in heaven. I promise.) Here are some tips when shopping for bread:

The first thing you should always do is read the ingredient list. That first ingredient should say 100% whole wheat, or something comparable. Steer clear of words like NATURAL WHOLE GRAIN or MADE WITH WHOLE GRAINS. This is just another way of saying that WHITE FLOUR is an active ingredient.

Enriched wheat flour actually means "white" flour. Quite simply, most of the nutrients and minerals are milled out of the wheat kernel, and the manufacturer attempts to "enrich" the bread with those stripped nutrients by putting them back in.

A bread can say "multi-grain, "9 grain," or "12 grain," and most of those grains can still be unhealthy. Study the ingredient list. A short list is a better list.

A healthy slice of bread should be low in sodium and sugar, and have at least 2-3 grams of fiber per slice.

The most important thing is to READ THE INGREDIENT LIST. Period.

Despite the regular brand name breads, there are others, like Ezekial, which is healthier, as it's made from sprouted grains (such as barley, spelt and wheat) and aren't slammed with fillers. You can get gluten free versions as well.

What about Hemp? Though this has been pulled off shelves from time to time, the health effects of the hemp seed are obvious. Full of amino acids, fiber, protein, and omega-3s, it's a great pick. In addition, there are no pesticides, yeast or sweeteners.

So, the next time you are in the store, branch out. Look for breads with flax or pumpkin seeds, high fiber, more protein and less ingredients. Or, if you really want to branch out, substitute a healthier grain entirely and notice the difference.

Want to make your own? Try this great, easy recipe:

Pumpkin Oat Bread

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup quick cooking rolled oats
1 cup organic sugar (for those of you who use sugar substitutes, you can use splenda for baking)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup egg whites or egg substitute
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pie mix)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a medium sized loaf pan with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, oats, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg). Add applesauce, egg whites, and pumpkin and mix until just combined. Pour into bread pan and bake for 40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Have A Picnic!

The weather is cooling off, and what better way to celebrate than having a picnic? Don't fret if you don't have a basket - as long as you have glass containers and a cooler, you are set. Come up with a theme. Feeling French? Italian? Mexican? For us, we decided on easy Mediterranean cuisine.

First, decide on dishes that will be portable and easy to eat. Obviously, sandwiches and fruit are obvious choices (and if this is the easiest thing, then by all means, do it). But, sometimes it's fun to get a little creative and fancy, even if it's in your own backyard.

For our picnic, we decided to make dishes that have a lot of the same ingredients, so our shopping trip can be simplified (see master grocery list at end). We are making the following:

Parsley Tabbouleh
Chopped Greek Salad With Chicken
Baked Falafel
Hummus and Pita

Parsley Tabbouleh

1 cup water
1/2 cup bulgar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 tomatoes, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Combine water and bulgur in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let stand until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender (about 20 minutes or according to directions). After it is ready, transfer to a large bowl and let cool for 15 minutes.

Combine lemon juice, oil, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Add parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber and  scallions to the bulgur. Add the dressing and toss. You can serve at room temperature or chill for an hour before serving.

Greek Salad With Chicken

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbs. chopped fresh dill (or oregano)
1 tsp. garlic powder
6 cups chopped romaine
2 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken (or buy a rotisserie chicken and save some time)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup olives (optional)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (or avocado if you don't want the cheese)

Whisk vinegar, oil, dill and garlic powder in a large bowl. Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, olives and feta. Toss to coat.

Baked Falafel

1 19 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and washed
1 small onion, finally chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tbs.. fresh parsley, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbs. wheat gluten
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. olive oil

Drizzle oil evenly in shallow baking dish. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While oven is preheating, mash chickpeas in food processor or with hands. Add onions and garlic and blend together. Add remaining ingredients. (It should be a nice, thick paste.) Shape into ping pong sized balls and place in preheated baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Hummus and Pita
(If you want to save time, just purchase hummus at the store)

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tbs. lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 tsp paprika
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped

Combine everything in blender and process until smooth. If you need more liquid, add more yogurt. Chill.

You can layer your pita by stuffing some of the salad, hummus and falafel with a side of tabbouleh. Don't forget a blanket, plastic utensils, napkins, bottled water and some wine!!

Master Grocery List:

1 bottle extra-virgin olive oil
1 bottle red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic
lemon juice
3 cups flat-leaf parsley
fresh dill
fresh mint
4 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion
2 cucumbers
4 scallions
avocado (optional)
feta cheese
garlic powder
wheat gluten
baking powder
2 19 oz. can of chickpeas, drained and washed
plain greek yogurt

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Week's Worth of Snacks

Snacking is a tricky subject. In Europe, they stick to 3 meals per day, all composed of wine, cheese, meat, bread and decadent desserts. They do not snack and yet they manage to stay slim. Their food is also grown to be eaten and not shipped, and they take pleasure in their meals, spreading afternoon and evening meals over hours with friends and family.

Here, we eat on the run, in our cars, stopping for fast food, eating while standing up or hurrying between meetings. We need to learn to love our food again, to eat because it's good for us, because we enjoy it, because we want to pay attention to our health.

One of our biggest downfalls is timing. People will "forget" to eat or go six or seven hours between meals. This wreaks havoc on the body and sets us up for failure later in the day. It's incredibly important to eat every 3.5 hours - to keep the blood sugar stabilized and to give the body the fuel that it needs. When we go long hours without food, our bodies kick into fat storage mode (a mechanism we can thank our ancestors for; also a mechanism that we, as a population don't need, because we are rarely without food). Having a mid-morning snack and an afternoon snack should do the trick. These snacks should be relatively low in calories, high in fiber, protein and good, complex carbs. When you think of "snacks," try to steer clear from packaged, processed food. Healthy snacks should be mostly comprised of whole foods. Try and make whole foods the staples of your diets and snack.

Figure out what you crave and when. Do you crave salty or crunchy in the morning and sweet in the afternoon? Look for lower fat popcorn and crunchy veggies, and fruits and dark chocolate to quell a sweet tooth. Have suggestions or favorite snacks? Send them our way!

Mid-morning: 1/4 cup hummus, carrot sticks
Mid-afternoon: tuna and avocado with 1% cottage cheese

Mid-morning: 1 granny smith apple, 1 handful roasted and unsalted almonds (around 12)
Mid-afternoon: 1 protein bar (Luna or Mojo)

Mid-morning: grapefruit, string cheese
Mid-afternoon: egg white and spinach muffins (baked in a muffin tin - see post about egg poppers)

Mid-morning: protein shake made with whey, water, ice, banana (greek yogurt optional)
Mid-afternoon: 1 chicken breast, 1 oz. cashews

Mid-morning: 1 banana rolled in 1 tbs. frozen dark chocolate chips
Mid-afternoon: healthy trail mix (composed of unsalted nuts, granola, dark chocolate, dried fruit)

Mid-morning: 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1 orange
Mid-afternoon: 1 carton greek yogurt topped with chopped walnuts and 1 teaspoon cocoa powder

Mid-morning: 1 mini bag smart pop popcorn
Mid-afternoon: chocolate shake (mix 1 scoop whey, organic chocolate milk, ice and a banana in blender)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's For Breakfast, Lunch or Dinner: Sweet Potato Pancakes

I was flipping through Real Simple and stumbled upon a wonderful article about sweet potatoes. Since I am one of sweet potatoes' biggest fans, I was happy to see a magazine actually writing about them. And then one of my favorite dishes appeared - sweet potato pancakes. I love anything with the word pancake in it (as seen by my previous posts) and instantly remembered how much I love these.

Though you can make them with flour, eggs, oatmeal, etc., this recipe is a healthier version with no flour or extra starch - a pancake made almost entirely from the sweet potato itself. When you purchase sweet potatoes, look for smooth, unblemished potatoes (the darker the color, the more antioxidants). They are a great source of A and B vitamins, potassium and iron. These pancakes are a bit more savory, so top with yogurt, fruit, pecans, or eggs, or eat with salmon for a tasty lunch or dinner option.

Sweet Potato Pancakes


1 pound sweet potatoes
1 medium onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. sage (optional)
3 tbs. corn starch (you can also use self-rising flour)

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until they are tender. Remove and transfer to a mixing bowl. Mash until nearly smooth. Add the remaining ingredients. Heat a large skillet with cooking spray or a little olive oil. With your hands, form the batter into small discs. Cook pancakes 2 to 3 minutes per side, until a light brown. Blot with paper towels before serving. Top with chives.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A Week's Worth of Lunches

Sometimes, lunch is tricky. Meetings, skipped meals, heavy lunches at fancy restaurants (or crappy lunches at cheap restaurants) can affect your overall bottom line when it comes to health. While it's okay to be a bit more lenient during the day in terms of what you're eating - as you are likely to burn it off before the end of the day - but let's try this. For one week, bring your lunch to work. If you like to get out of the office for lunch, take a walk instead. Or go to a park and eat it. But, all of these lunches take just a few minutes of prep. All of these lunches can be eaten cold. If you don't have a refrigerator at work, invest in a small cooler.


1 package lean ground turkey
2 ears corn
red bell pepper

You can use any variety of veggie. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and scramble turkey until done. Add washed and chopped veggies on top (saving the tomatoes for last) and cover skillet to let veggies steam on medium heat. Cook until veggies are crisp, let the meal cool and then put it in a container and pop in the fridge. (Meal can be eaten hot or cold at work and leftovers can be thrown into an omelet the next day.) If you are craving carbs, add 1/2 cup of brown rice to the meal and rinsed black beans.


1 can albacore tuna
1/2 ripe avocado
1 tbs. greek yogurt
paprika, garlic powder, cayenee
1/2 cup pineapple
1 slice ezekial toast (optional)

In a bowl, combine tuna, avocado, yogurt and spices and mix until smooth. Spread on a piece of ezekial bread and eat with 1/2 cup pineapple. Watching carbs? Cut the bread and serve with 1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese instead.


2 tbs. natural peanut butter
1 sliced banana
1 tsp. agave nectar
2 slices ezekial bread
1 sliced granny smith apple

On two slices bread (toasted or plain), spread peanut butter and layer with sliced banana. Add thin slices of granny smith apple on top. Drizzle with agave and enjoy. Still hungry? Add some organic chocolate milk or yogurt as a side.


1/2 cup baby spinach
shredded rotisserie chicken
chopped pecans
red onion
2 tbs. vegenaise or greek yogurt
paprika, curry powder

Dice or shred chicken and mix all ingredients together until smooth. Pop in a container over baby spinach and bring to work.


1 tortilla or pita
3 tbs. hummus
shredded chicken (optional)

Take one tortilla or pita and spread with hummus and then stuff with veggies. Take leftover rotisserie chicken and place inside wrap.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Week's Worth of Delicious Protein Shakes

Sometimes, people get the wrong idea about protein shakes. They assume they are only for bodybuilders, or they taste like chalk. Both assumptions are wrong. Sure, bodybuilders can use them as an extra dose of protein and some brands DO taste rather chalky, but if you do your homework (or see our former post on whey protein powders), you can find a whey protein powder that's right for you.

Though our favorite is Optimum Nutrition's Hydrowhey in chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, you can use any version of whey (or soy) protein powder in these recipes. Feel free to incorporate these shakes for breakfast, lunch, dinner or as nutritious pre and post workout snacks. All recipes are made for one person, so if you want to make enough for two people, use 2 scoops whey protein and increase ice (to 8 or 9 ice cubes) and add a bit more water or milk.


2 tbs. natural peanut butter
1 square dark chocolate or 1 tsp. cocoa powder
1 banana
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla (or chocolate) whey protein
5 ice cubes
1/2 cup water (or milk)

In a blender, combine ice, water (or milk) and banana. Blend, and then gradually add yogurt, whey, 2 tbs. natural peanut butter, chocolate and cinnamon. Blend until well combined.


3-4 strawberries
1/3 c. oatmeal
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 scoop strawberry whey (vanilla is fine too)
1/2 banana
5 ice cubes
1/3 c. water

In a blender, combine ice, water, banana, strawberries and blend. Gradually add cinnamon, nutmeg, oatmeal, and whey.


1/2 cup fresh spinach
1/2 avocado
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
5 ice cubes
1 cup almond milk (soy or skim is acceptable as well)

Blend milk and spinach first, then add ice, avocado and protein powder.


1/2 cup can pure pumpkin
1 banana
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 scoop vanilla whey protein
5 ice cubes
1/3 c. water (or milk)

In a blender, combine ice, water (or milk) and banana. Blend, and then gradually add pumpkin, cinnamon, yogurt, and whey.


1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1 scoop chocolate protein powder
5 ice cubes
2 sprigs fresh mint (or a dash of peppermint extract)

Blend all ingredients until smooth.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Week's Worth of Salads

It's summer, and salads are an easy option to dress up with meat, seeds, healthy fats, beans, fruit, etc.  They make great sides to larger dinners, or can be used as the main ingredient. Eating a salad a day can up your amount of raw vegetables, fiber, protein and overall vitamins and minerals. But, sometimes it's hard to keep salads from getting boring. Try versions of these five salads, and mix it up day by day!

Sunday - Romaine Salad

1 head romaine
1 roma tomato
1/2 red bell pepper
1/3 cup broccoli
2 stalks celery
2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup blueberries
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/2 avocado
1 large scoop 1% cottage cheese
1 pound whitefish
1 cup brown rice (or other healthy grain)

Purchase a pound of whitefish (or any fish) and bake, grill or saute. Cook a cup of brown rice, quinoa or barley to accompany it.

Chop and rinse fresh romaine. Add 1 chopped roma tomato, red bell pepper, broccoli, celery, carrots, blueberries, slivered almonds and sliced avocado.

Put the salad down first, add a hot scoop of rice directly on the greens and then place the cooked fish on top. Drizzle your own salad dressing (or a lower sodium version of balsamic vinaigrette), add a dollop of cottage cheese and enjoy!

Monday - Spinach Salad

1 package fresh baby spinach
1 small red onion
1 package white button mushrooms
1 package turkey bacon
3-4 eggs

In a pot, hardboil 3-4 eggs. Once they are done, turn off the heat and let them sit in water while you prepare the other ingredients. In a frying pan, cook your turkey bacon (with a little olive oil) until they are crispy but still chewy. Set aside (and save 3 tbs. of the liquid for dressing). Cut a red onion in half, cut off the top of each half and peel off the skin. Store one half and cut the other half into thin strips. If you like the onions raw (which I do), you can just toss them directly on the salad. If you want to carmelize them, pop them into a frying pan with a dollop of oil and cook them until they are nice and browned. You can do the same thing with the mushrooms. Toss them in raw or cook the mushrooms for a bit more flavor. Plop them into the same pan as the onions and cook them on low until nice and brown.

Meanwhile, pour the water out of the pot with the eggs and cover them in ice to cool them down. Peel and slice thinly, getting rid of some of the yolk, so you are serving mostly egg whites. Chop the bacon, and set everything aside.

Warm Bacon Salad Dressing (optional)

If you want to make your own dressing, here's a quick, healthy retake on a popular classic.

3 tbs. bacon liquid
2 tsp. organic sugar
4 tbs. red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard

In a small pan, pour in the bacon liquid from earlier. Add a couple teaspoons of organic sugar and whisk together. Add 4 tbs. red wine or apple cider vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard and whisk all together. Let warm on low heat while you get the salad together.

Time to put it all together! Place your baby spinach on a plate or bowl and top with bacons, onions and mushrooms. Pour the dressing on top. Gently toss and then add the eggs!

Tuesday - Arugula Salad

1 package arugula
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 tbs. olive oil
1 tbs. rice vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1 large avocado
2 cooked chicken breasts (optional)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except avocado and chicken and toss. Divide salad onto plate and top with sliced avocado and chopped chicken.

Wednesday - Mixed Greens Salad

1 package mixed greens
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup sliced pineapple
1/2 cup walnut halves
1 sliced granny smith apple
2 fillets salmon (optional)
1 tbs. raspberry vinaigrette
1 tbs. white vinegar
1 tsp. olive oil

If you are adding salmon to this dish, prepare either on stove top or in oven. In a small skillet, add walnut halves and sliced pineapple, cooking over medium heat. Once warm, remove from heat. Add mixed greens, cranberries and apple and toss with vinaigrette, vinegar and oil. Spread on a plate or bowl, add warm walnuts, pineapple and place fish directly on top.

Thursday - Butter Lettuce Salad

1 head of butter lettuce
1 avocado, diced
2 oranges, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup pre-roasted pistachios
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Combine olive oil, lemon juice and pepper into a bowl and whisk. Tear the lettuces into bite size pieces and toss with the dressing. Place on a dish and add avocado, oranges and pistachios.

Friday - Radicchio Salad

1 medium shallot
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup nonfat greek yogurt
1/3 c. parmesan
2 tbs. grapeseed oil
2 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tbs. dried oregano
1 medium head escarole, trimmed and cut into 1 inche pieces
1/2 small head radicchio
chopped tomatoes, avocado, green onions

Combine the shallot, garlic, yogurt and 1/3 cup of parmesan, oil, lime juice and oregano in blender. Pulse until well combined. Wash the lettuce and put in a large bowl. Toss dressing with lettuce, add additional toppings and serve!

So, as you can see, there are endless options when it comes to salads. Try and think about using fresh ingredients everyday, or using the extra veggies in your fridge to throw raw onto a salad. Leftover veggies from the night before go great as well, slightly warmed, on top of cool lettuce. Serve with lean proteins. Think outside of the box and start using your fresh produce. Chop up fruit and throw on top of a salad. If you're eating a burger and some asparagus, add a small side salad.

On Sundays, make two or three big salads and divide into individual containers to eat over the next few days. They are filling, often low-calorie (if you are careful with the cheese and dressings) and will add a great dose of fiber to your daily diet.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Best Pre And Post Workout Food!

"What should I eat before I workout? What about after? Does it matter when I eat?" The answers to all of these questions hold many different benefits (or drawbacks) to your overall health. What you eat before and after you exercise should be some of your most important meals of the day.

Morning Cardio (Pre)
If you are waking up to do a spin class, go for a run or engage in something more cardio based, you can get away with a piece of fruit, like a banana. It is full of simple sugars, which you will burn first, a tiny bit of fat, good carbs and a little bit of protein. A little coconut water can also do the trick, or a piece of dry toast and some melon. But what if you just get up and go? Still put something in the tank. You need to build in a little bit of time (but choose something like a simple piece of fruit that is easy to digest) so that you can put something in your body. When you sleep, your body fasts. If you wake up and immediately ask it to perform without any fuel, it will begin to use the good stuff - like muscle - and hold onto the bad stuff - like fat.

Morning Lift (Pre)
If you are lifting weights, you need to fuel up a bit more. A good mix of carbs, protein and a little fat should get you through the workout. If you are a serious lifter, you are fine to make a whey protein shake, with a banana and a little bit of natural peanut butter. A piece of Ezekial toast or a vegan waffle with a little agave nectar and a thin spread of almond butter will also do the trick. Though fat is the last thing you burn, if your workout is intense enough, it will give you the extra fuel you need to get through it.

Afternoon or Night Workout (Pre)
If you workout in the afternoon, you have a few more options. A piece of fruit with some nuts, a protein shake, a protein bar, some greek yogurt with granola, egg white muffins, half an English muffin... the list goes on. Think about something that you will be able to digest easily, but has good carboyhdrates to get you through your workout. Good carbs = energy.

Post Workout Morning
A bowl of oatmeal, some egg whites or a protein shake are all great options. A good mix of carbs, protein and a little fat will do the trick. Also be sure to rehydrate and replenish with electrolytes if you are a heavy sweater. Chocolate milk is also a great recovery drink, much better than Gatorade or other sugary drinks.

Post Workout Night
Down a whey protein shake (in a shaker bottle with water) the moment you leave the gym. This will immediately begin the replenishing process, supplying the necessary vitamins and minerals to your muscles. Within an hour, have a sensible dinner of lean protein, veggies and a complex carb, like wild or brown rice, sweet potatoes or whole wheat pasta.

A few things to remember:

1. You might want to skip the dairy in your pre-workout meal. Milk often feels sour in the stomach when you exercise. While a bowl of cereal might seem like an easy option, sometimes it doesn't work.

2. Avoid really acidic juices before your workout and processed, sugary drinks after.

3. Don't go overboard on the fat you ingest before a workout, as it's the last thing you burn off.

4. Pay attention to portion size. Eat according to your activity level. There's a large difference between the needs of a cyclist going 50 miles versus someone who is just going to the gym and lifting or doing cardio for 45 minutes. Supply yourself with enough calories to fuel your body, but don't go overboard.

5. Eat 40 minutes to 2 hours before you workout and within 1 hour after you workout. Always eat before and after.

Got questions? Send them our way!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Healthy Frozen Dinners?

Let's face it. Sometimes, despite all of our good intentions, we don't feel like cooking and we don't want to go out. We just need something quick and easy. That "quick and easy" in many cases is a frozen dinner. The good news is frozen dinners have come a long way from the slimy cubes of salisbury steak, gritty mashed potatoes and carrots. There are a few rules when looking for "TV" dinners.

1. Look for healthier, organic brands such as Kashi, Healthy Choice, Amy's, Smart Ones and Lean Cuisine.
2. Look at the ingredient list. You want whole, natural ingredients whenever possible and the lowest amount of preservatives.
3. Look for lower sodium (as this is the culprit of almost all frozen dinners). If it has over 500mg of salt per serving, steer clear!
4. Make sure the dinner has enough calories so you won't become ravenous. If a dinner has 200 calories, it's probably not enough. Make sure it has at least 350 calories, to ensure a satisfying meal.
5. Don't serve from plastic container. Empty food on a plate, and make it seem like a fresh meal.
6. Pair the frozen dinner with a fresh salad or soup. Adding some whole foods will go a long way in providing satiety and making the dinner a bit more enjoyable.

So, the next time you are in the frozen food section, pay attention to what they have. Look for lean meats and veggies, or simple pasta dishes. Make a small salad and voila! An easy, healthy dinner that redefines the classic frozen dinner.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oatmeal Pizza

Perusing the latest Oxygen magazine, I stopped on an article entitled "Oats for Pizza?" A beautiful oat crust stared back at me, loaded with veggies and cheese. Could this actually taste... good? The answer? Absolutely. Of course, it doesn't taste like the delectable deep dish pizzas sprinkled around Chicago, but it has a satisfying crunch that is more filling than pizza dough. You can dress it up anyway you like and it's done in just 20 minutes. It's a healthy treat the whole family can enjoy!

Oatmeal Pizza

1/2 cup oats
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground flaxseed
2 oz extra-lean ground turkey
1 cup chopped spinach
1/4 cup unsalted tomato paste
1/4 cup 1% cottage cheese
2 tbsp red onion, chopped
2 tbsp red bell pepper, chopped
1 roma tomato, sliced
1/4 cup sliced mushrooms

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a bowl, mix together first 4 ingredients. Flatten this oatmeal crust into a disc shape on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, flip over and bake for another 5.

3. In a mixing bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spread out on top of the oatmeal cake. Bake until cheese melts. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan (optional) when it comes out of the oven.

With 36 grams of protein, 4 mg iron and only 5 grams of fat in the entire serving, this pizza also packs a nutritional punch. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Myths About Fruit

There's no doubt that fruit is a super food. Full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, these wonderful, fresh foods are important for any diet. So, how did there come to be so many myths surrounding fruit? Which fruits are "good" to eat, which have too much sugar, which are higher on the glycemic index, which have healing properties, which should be combined with protein or healthy fats, which should be eaten before, during or after a meal, when should you cut back on fruit... the list goes on and on. It's about as confusing as water: ice cold water helps "up" your metabolism according to some, while others say room temperature water is best for getting the digestive system going. And the craziest I've heard? That ice cold water can solidify fats in your system and actually cause cancer! Who knows what to believe?

After much research, I have found the following: fruits are nutritionally dense, low calorie foods that pack a vitamin punch. They can help curb cravings and are often more filling than processed snacks. And while most fruits are great, there ARE healthier fruits than others, just as there are healthier veggies than others (for instance, eating asparagus and broccoli are better than carrots and peas).


1. Try to incorporate at least 3 fruits per day (and at least 5 veggies). If you can, make sure your produce is ORGANIC and free of pesticides. You may pay more, but you are not ingesting harmful chemicals. Buy a natural fruit and veggie spray and douse your produce before ingesting.

2. Berries top the list, in terms of packing an antioxidant punch. Blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, mostly any berries will do. Throw a handful on top of your oatmeal in the morning.

3. Don't forget about lemons and limes. Low in sugar and full of detox powers, squeeze some lemon or lime in your tea or water for an extra health boost and to get the digestive system moving.

4. Eat fruits, like everything, in moderation. While they are super foods, they do contain sugar. And though the sugar is natural and not what you would find in cookies, an excess of anything will be stored as fat. Realize, however, fruit is often a great pre-workout food, as sugar is the first thing you burn off in exercise.

5. Fruit juices are not the same as fresh fruits. The same goes for dried fruits. Though they aren't "bad" by any means, they are packed with more sugar. You are better off picking fresh.




Most dried fruits

One of the most interesting articles I've ever read (produced by Dr. Herbert Shelton) talked about WHEN to eat fruits. I've always fallen into the camp of eating them either as a snack with nuts (which is acceptable, according to this article) or after a meal to stave off sweet cravings. According to research, fruits should be eaten on an empty stomach ONLY, as it will detoxify the system, supplying energy and weight loss.

This research states that when you eat fruits after (or with) other foods, the entire meal rots and ferments in your system, turning to acid the minute the fruit comes into contact with food in the stomach. Since fruits are made to go directly through the system, when you eat an apple with a sandwich, the food essentially begins to spoil because the fruit mixes with the bread and meat. This is the purported cause of burping or bloating when eating fruits. In addition, eating fruits on their own can supposedly prevent graying hair, balding, nervous outbursts and dark under eye circles.

So, can it be that simple? Eat fruits BEFORE meals or on an empty stomach and you will have the keys to longevity? I am not sure about that, but I have noticed that when I eat fruits on an empty stomach, there is no bloating, and I feel more energetic. Psychosomatic? Perhaps, but it certainly can't hurt to try. Regardless, the next time you are shopping, stock up on colorful produce and aim for at least 3 servings per day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

What's For Breakfast: Egg-White French Toast!

The best french toast I've ever had was not healthy and it wasn't made with egg whites. It was croissant french toast, doused in powdered sugar. The batter literally melted in your mouth, bringing a crisp outer layer with your first bite to the absolute warm, buttery perfection that awaited in the center. Needless to say, that was a rare but fantastic indulgence.

However, the first time I found egg-white french toast at a restaurant, I was ecstatic. Made with big, thick slices of greek bread, egg whites and cooking spray instead of oil or butter, it was surprisingly delicious.

Play around with this recipe. Don't want entirely egg white french toast? Use one or two whole eggs and the rest egg whites. Choose a multi-grain bread or brioche for a thick, indulgent slice. Add cinnamon or nutmeg for spice and instead of syrup, use honey or agave nectar. Skip the powdered sugar.

Egg-White French Toast


1/2 cup milk (lowfat, skim, whole or soy; though milk is traditionally used, you can also make french toast with just egg whites)
8 slices bread (play with different types of bread: french, greek, multigrain, ezekial, honey wheat, etc.)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In large bowl, beat the egg whites. Add milk, cinnamon and vanilla to egg whites and continue to beat. Dip the bread into the batter, until coated on both sides. Place bread in greased (with oil or cooking spray - skip the butter) and heated skillet. Let brown on each side. Turn often.  

Serve with fresh berries, or slather with natural peanut butter and sliced bananas for a delicious start to your day! 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Healthy Movie Theater Snacks

It's no surprise that movie theaters are devoid of healthy snacks. Even those soft pretzels - which might seem like a safe choice - pack almost 500 calories and over 2008 milligrams of salt! There's something about being in a darkened theater that seems to not only inflate one's appetite but makes all conscience for healthy eating go right out the window. But, there are options. All it requires is a big handbag to stash your own snacks (or some kind of backpack if you're a guy), as some theaters are strict on their no outside food or drink policy.

If you like POPCORN, try: NEWMAN'S OWN ORGANIC MICROWAVE POPCORN (unsalted). Look for store bought brands with the most natural ingredients and pop before you head out to the movie. You might also like STACY'S PITA CHIPS for that slight buttery flavor and constant crunch. Steer clear of the movie theater varieties, as a large buttered popcorn packs a whopping 1640 calories and 126 grams of fat. The medium is not much better with 900 calories and 50 grams of fat!

If you like RAISINETS, try: ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED RAISINS. Made with fresh raisins and organic dark chocolate, these are a much healthier pick than the movie theater counterparts.

If you like WHOPPERS or GOOBERS, try: ORGANIC DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED PRETZEL BALLS. Sold in most grocery stores in the organic section, these are a healthier option to the nutritionally devoid candy and taste even better than the movie theater varieties.

If you like NACHOS, try: FETA CHEESE AND KASHI TLC CRACKERS. Making a healthy snack of cheese and crackers can often quell the craving for stale chips and gooey movie theater cheese. Soft feta is made from ewe's and goat's milk, so if you are lactose-intolerant, it is easier on the system.

You get the idea. Make the concession stand off limits and bring in an array of items: crunchy veggies and healthy dip, grapes, nuts, granola bars, sliced apples and peanut butter. The list goes on and on. Often, we like snacks we can keep dipping our hands into, so foods like grapes or nuts are a good option. Also, chewing some sugar free gum can do the trick, since you are consistently chewing. Don't forget to pack bottled water. Not only will you save money, but you will save your waistline!

Friday, August 13, 2010

What's For Dinner: Healthy Turkey Pasta!

I love pasta. Thick mounds of noodles, rich, creamy sauces, crispy bread dipped in olive oil and garlic. Endless glasses of red wine... what's not to love? Traveling in Italy gave new meaning to what I know as Italian food. When I had my first Italian pizza, topped with eggplant and mounds of fresh cheese, I knew that American interpretations would never taste the same.

But, through much trial and error, I have created a sauce that is healthy, light and tastes wonderful (and reminds me of my time in Italy). Made with all organic ingredients, lean, ground turkey instead of beef, organic pasta and just a sprinkling of parmesan cheese, this dish has a lighter quality where guilt does not follow in the morning.


1 medium can low-sodium tomato paste
1 jar organic tomato and basil sauce
1 roma tomato
1 package fresh basil
1 package spinach
dried onions
dried garlic
olive oil
1 bottle red wine
1 package organic linguine
1 package 93/7 lean ground turkey

In a large saucepan, pour 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/3 cup water, dried onions and garlic. Let brown and then add package of turkey, seasoning as you like (oregano, paprika, cayenne, etc.). Cook until browned and then add can of tomato paste, mixing with the meat. Pour 1/3 cup more water, a little red wine, and cover, cooking for 5 minutes. Add in 1/2 to full jar of pasta sauce and cook on low to medium heat.

Boil water in separate pan and add pasta. While pasta is cooking, add spinach, 1 chopped tomato and basil to the sauce, cooking on low heat. Add a dash of parmesan, and once pasta is cooked, instead of draining the noodles into a strainer, collect a single scoop of pasta straight from the water and drop into sauce pan, mixing pasta and allowing water from the pasta to absorb with the sauce. Heap serving onto bowl or plate and repeat for other servings.

As an optional side, serve a fresh french baguette with a bowl of olive oil, chopped fresh garlic and parmesan for dipping. Want to skip the bread? Make a healthy salad instead.

Buon appetito!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Which Milk To Drink?

Whole milk, skim milk, soy milk, rice milk... the list goes on and on. There are many choices when it comes to getting your daily dose of liquid calcium. So, which type of milk is right for you and will give you the biggest dose of vitamins and minerals?

Raw milk: Raw milk comes straight from the cow, and was used for an array of medicinal purposes in the early 20th century. Raw milk contains 20 amino acids, composed of casein and whey protein. Lactose is the primary carb in cow's milk. However, most of the fat in raw milk is saturated fat (which some believe can actually stave off certain diseases). Raw milk contains numerous vitamins, minerals, enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Raw milk isn't legal in all areas, so do some research and see if this might be a right fit for you.

Whole milk: Though high in fat, many people prefer real dairy products as compared to the lower fat versions. Many sources believe you can't digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat. Whole milk is naturally full of vitamins A and D (two vitamins that have to be pumped back in to the lower fat counterparts). A more "natural" food, whole milk undergoes less processing than its lower fat counterparts.

Skim milk: For those who are fat conscious, this would be the obvious choice, though there have been mixed reviews about the nutritional value of skim milk. Skim milk is devoid of natural sources of vitamin A and D. Dried concentrated milk protein is added to skim milk to give it bulk (as it would be too watery once the fat is removed). Although pasteurization is deemed necessary for health safety, heating milk destroys the live enzymes and destroys the milk protein structure. So, while it seems like the obvious healthy choice, it's actually the least whole, natural product and has even been linked to certain diseases, such as heart disease (due to the extreme heating process).

Soy milk: For those who can't process dairy, soy is a good alternative. Soy milk is more natural than skim, in that it is made straight from the soybean. It contains amino acids, is low in saturated fat and is cholesterol free. Look for the "plain" flavor for lower sugar and substitute for dairy to see how your body reacts.

Rice milk: Rice milk is a grain milk made from brown rice. Compared to cow's milk, rice milk is higher in carbohydrates, lower in protein and calcium and has no cholesterol or lactose. Many brands are fortified with vitamins, including calcium, vitamin B12 and iron. A nice alternative to soy, if you are looking for something different.

Almond milk: Made from ground almonds, this milk contains no cholesterol or lactose. It can replace cow's milk in most recipes and is completely vegan. You can even make your own by combining ground almonds and water in a blender. Sometimes, vanilla or sweeteners are added. This is a good bet for people with milk allergies.

Cashew milk: Cashew milk, made from cashews and water, is high in B vitamins, magnesium and copper. Compared to other nuts, cashews are lower in fat. The majority of the monounsaturated fats found in cashews is oleic acid, a heart healthy fat found in olive oil. A good alternative to soy, rice and almond milk (and one of the tastiest).

Lactose free milk: For those who have an intolerance to lactose (and it is reported that a vast majority of the population cannot digest lactose), this is a safer option. Almost identical to milk, it is infused with a lactase enzyme that breaks the lactose down for you. Always read labels of other products if you are lactose intolerant, especially in in processed foods. Look for ingredients such as milk, lactose, whey, curds, milk by-products, dry milk solids, or non-fat dry milk powder.

Goat milk: Many people prefer goat's milk to cow's milk as it is more easily digestible and less allergenic. Though slightly higher in fat, the protein is more easily digestible and contains lower levels of lactose. It also contains around 13% more calcium, 25% more vitamin B6, 47% more vitamin A and 134% more potassium.

Whatever brand you choose, really look at the ingredients and do your research. See what your body likes best, and don't be afraid to try new products!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Chocolate is one of the world's favorite foods. While eating a decadent dessert or buying a bar of chocolate at the market is enjoyable, there's nothing like strolling through the streets of Europe, dipping into shops designed entirely around chocolate. The senses are awakened. The mouth waters. The eyes widen. Display cases drip with the possibilities of dark, light, white, caramel, or fudge. Chocolate fountains pool the creamy concoction into basins, swirling thickly.

I had just this sort of experience when I stepped into a little shop in Switzerland and took my first creamy bite of a small, nameless morsel. I moaned - loudly - and the shopkeeper smiled at me and suggested I try another. I left with my white waxy bag full of small, perfect chocolates, just beginning to melt as my fingers plucked at them. I wandered the cobblestone streets, breathing in the September air and wondered if there'd ever be a more perfect moment. Later, I grabbed bars of chocolate in a gas station to take back with me. Not surprisingly, they were better than any chocolate I've had here. Chocolate is not just a food; it is an experience to be shared and enjoyed, and surprisingly, it can be sneaked into your dishes throughout the day for an extra dose of antioxidants.

Since chocolate is made from plants, it offers some of the health benefits of dark vegetables. Chocolate contains flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent aging, help lower blood pressure and can even balance certain hormones in the body. When picking chocolate, dark is best. Look for 65%-85% dark chocolate when baking or eating. Do you crave chocolate on an ongoing basis? A little goes a long way. Here are some clever ways to incorporate chocolate at every meal.

1. SPRINKLE COCOA INTO YOUR BREAKFAST FOODS - Purchase some organic cocoa powder and add it to your savory breakfast items. Blend it with your peanut butter and spread it on an English muffin, sprinkle some in your oatmeal or oatmeal pancakes for a sweet, indulgent start to your day.

2. DRINK CHOCOLATE MILK AFTER A WORKOUT - Chocolate milk is one of the most perfect post-workout foods. It has double the carbohydrate and protein content of milk or sports drinks, and is perfect for replenishing tired muscles. Its high water content replaces lost fluids, and it also has calcium, sodium and sugar - additives that help recovering athletes hydrate and regain energy. Look for healthier, organic options at the grocery store.

3. CHOCOLATE IN CHILI - One of my favorite chili recipes has a secret ingredient: two squares of dark chocolate. The next time you are making homemade chili, add a few bars to bring out the spice and the sweetness in your chili dish.

4. MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE - The perfect antidote to a sweet craving after dinner, make a cup of this thick hot chocolate to stave off any sweet craving. Below are two recipes: traditional and a healthier version.

Traditional Mexican Hot Chocolate

6 cups milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 ounces unsweetened Mexican Chocolatecoarsely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a large saucepan, combine milk, sugar, chocolate and ground cinnamon. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the milk is very hot. (Don't let the milk come to a boil.)

Beat 2 eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir in one cup of the hot mixture into the eggs, then return this mixture to the saucepan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes more over low heat, stirring. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Beat with a rotary beater until it is very frothy. Pour into mugs.

Organic Vegan Mexican Hot Chocolate

1 cup organic dark or semi-sweet chocolate (or use sweetened cocoa powder)
4 cups organic soymilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon organic cinnamon

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Heat milk on medium-low heat and add chocolate to warm milk and whisk. Add in the spices and serve! Add a dash of cayenne for a little kick.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cereal - Not Just For Kids

Who doesn't love a big bowl of cereal with ice cold milk as a nighttime snack? As a teenager, I would open about six different boxes, pour them all into one giant bowl and snack for hours. No milk. All sugar. I could finish a box in a single sitting, so now, I know better than to buy more than one box at a time. I have one bowl, and I make Alex eat the rest. If you enjoy cereal, buy it sporadically, as it is usually hard to stop with just one serving.

And contrary to popular belief, there are healthier options out there. Look for the natural brands in the grocery store aisle (think Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Health Valley, etc.) Let's face it: no cereal is on the top of the health food list, but if you're going to indulge, pick from one of the following options:

1. If you like HONEY BUNCHES OF OATS, try Cascadian Farms Dark Chocolate Almond Granola. This savory cereal has bits of dark chocolate, healthy almond and granola. Since granola packs a high carb punch, sprinkle it on ice cream or spoon it into yogurt. You get that same sweetness and crunch as Honey Bunches of Oats, but with better ingredients.

2. If you like HONEY NUT CHEERIOS, try Cascadian Farms Honey Nut O's. Almost identical in flavor, the nutrition info is quite different. Made with organic whole grain oats, honey and almonds, this cereal is a great alternative (especially for kids).

3. If you like SUGAR SMACKS, try Kashi Honey Puffs. Made from red wheat, brown rice and evaporated cane juice, this light cereal only has 120 calories and 1 gram of fat per serving, with 2 grams of fiber, lower sugar and 3 grams of protein. The slight sweetness kills any craving. Top with fresh berries and soy milk for a perfect nighttime treat.

4. If you like FRUIT LOOPS, try Health Valley Organic Extreme Fruit Rings. This healthier version of the popular kid cereal has only 7 grams of sugar per serving, as compared to Fruit Loops' 13 grams. Made with organic ingredients, this is a better bet for your children (or your own fruity craving).

5. If you like COCOA PUFFS, try Health Valley Organic Chocolate Blast-Ems. Made with whole grains, infused with vitamin C, 6 B vitamins and iron, it also has 30% less sugar than Cocoa Puffs and tastes much better than the original.

6. If you like CORN FLAKES, try Health Valley Organic Blue Corn Flakes. Naturally fat-free, very low in sodium and a good source of fiber, this is a good alternative when you are craving a flake cereal. The flakes stay crunchy in milk, and a sliced banana makes a perfect topping.

You get the picture. Do a little research, try a few brands and see what you like. Oftentimes, if you have a small bowl a few hours before bed, the carbs help you sleep better without doing too much damage to your waistline.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Which Meat To Eat?

Walk into any grocery store and those glass display cases gleaming with fresh heaps of red, slaughtered animals can send you wheeling straight to the freezer section. But, guess what? There's a reason there are employees behind those counters. They really are there to help you, and if you're clueless about what to get, what's healthy or how to prepare it, they can lead you in the right direction.

There are just a few rules when picking meat (in terms of making the healthiest selections):

1. Always go for ORGANIC meat when possible. Though you will pay more, your body will thank you. Why is organic better than other industrial brands? Organic is congruent with nature. There are no synthetic hormones, pesticides or antibiotics, and the animals are usually fed 100% certified organic pasture and feed. In most cases, the animals are treated better too, and the meat is fresher and more flavorful. Eating normal meats that have been pumped full of hormones and pesticides means that you, too, are ingesting these harmful materials. Many health issues have been linked to non-organic meats. Even if you can't afford organic produce, splurge when it comes to your meat.

2. Look for lean cuts of meat. This includes turkey, bison, flank steak, most types of fish and chicken breasts. While chicken, turkey and bison are pretty self-explanatory, fish can be slightly overwhelming with all the different types. Recently, Alex went to the store in search of Pollock (a cheaper white fish, similar to tilapia). Instead, he came home with sole and white fish - a white fish that was beyond delicious, perfectly spiced and served hot over a giant salad. And a giant fillet (a pound) was only $9, as compared to $22 for two small salmon fillets.

3. When purchasing fresh meat, cook them within 24-48 hours. The quicker you can cook your meat, the better. Some people shy away from buying fresh, as they think it will go to waste. This is where having a "plan" comes into play. If you buy a big fillet of fish, cook it that night with veggies and make up some fish tacos for lunch the next day. Know what you are cooking. It's half the fun.

4. If you are looking at fillets, and the price is kind of high, ask the person behind the counter what a pound looks like. You usually get a better price per pound than per fillet.

5. Get cooking tips! Ask the people behind the counter what's the best way to prepare your purchased meats. Again, they are like encyclopedias of their products. Ask and you shall receive!

The same thing goes for the deli counter. Look for meats that haven't been made with a ton of salt and ask for your healthiest options.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Supplement Your Diet!

It's no surprise that while we have a plethora of choices when it comes to food, we don't always get the vitamins and minerals we need on a daily basis. Unlike our ancestors, we aren't eating mostly plant-based foods, exercising all day, sleeping well and then getting up to do the same thing all over again. We don't move enough and we certainly don't eat fresh foods like nature intended.

While you should try to get the majority of your vitamins and minerals from whole, natural foods, this isn't always possible. But, stepping into a supplement shop can be an overwhelming experience. Throughout the years, I have tried multiple supplements, studied how they affect the body and have tried numerous whole food, natural supplements myself.

Contrary to popular belief, if you want to get "shredded," you don't need to take fat burners or pick supplements that promise weight loss. These are packed with stimulants and cheap products that will end up doing more harm than good. The only stimulant I ever put in my body is coffee or green tea. Eating right and training hard can wield amazing results all on their own. So, picking vitamins that gently help supplement the diet is very important. But, which to choose? I love many different companies and their products, but my favorite by far is NEW CHAPTER. They are diligent about using organic ingredients and are careful when packaging supplements (all vitamins come in glass bottles and then in a cardboard box, so when they are scanned, frequencies do not compromise the vitamins). Solaray is another great brand, as well as Source Naturals.

Here's a list of my top 10 favorite supplements to be taken on a daily basis. And as with any vitamins, take 2 days off per week, to give the body a break and let it reset naturally:

1. BoneTone Advanced Bone and Teeth Formula (Solaray) It's said that the staple of someone's health can be directly related to the teeth. And, with constant acidity, lack of flossing and harmful bacteria, our teeth do need supplements. Bone Tone is just that supplement. Packed with vitamins C, D, K, folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium, copper, and calcium, it's like a full course meal for your bones and teeth. There's a noticeable difference in nail and hair growth, as well as stronger teeth when taking this supplement. A great everyday multivitamin.

2. Coral Calcium (Source Naturals) One of the best supplements I have ever found, coral calcium is a salt derived from fossilized coral reef. With magnesium and trace minerals, this supplement goes beyond the duties of regular calcium in promoting a wide array of health benefits, such as building strong bones, teeth, hair, and nails, as well as keeping your muscles, nerves and blood working properly. It also promotes healing, may help with weight loss and staves off many diseases.

3. Coenzyme B Food Complex (New Chapter) B vitamins are directly correlated to energy, and sometimes, we can become deficient (especially if you are a vegetarian or are pregnant). This supplement delivers 8 different probiotic vitamins as well as 11 stress-balancing, soothing and restorative herbs. This particular supplement has immune response support and many superfoods, such as spinach, blueberry and ginger. I notice an immediate surge in my energy level when I take this supplement.

4. Wellness Formula (Source Naturals) Perhaps my number one, all-time favorite supplement, this little vitamin has saved me from having so much as a cold for the last 3 years. An herbal defense complex, people can take this as their daily multi-vitamin as well, due to all the wonderful ingredients. With vitamin A, C, D, and zinc, as well as garlic clove, olive leaf extract, ginger root, and about 20 other natural herbs, this is a powerhouse of a supplement to prevent sickness from invading the body. It literally acts as a shield. At the first sign of sickness, pop 3 pills every 3 hours, or take 1 everyday as a "maintenance" vitamin.

5. Cell Food (Lumina Health Products) This super energized mineral concentrate provides high levels of oxygen and hydrogen to the body, aiming to improve endurance and promote overall health. Little drops that you can add to your water, cell food contains dissolved oxygen, trace minerals, plant source amino acids and enzymes to help boost energy and immunity.

6. Advantage (Wisdom of the Ages) Perhaps the powerhouse of all supplements, this little bottle of liquid is a potent antibacterial concentrate that can kill strep, staph, salmonella, e. coli, candida, herpes, influenza, cholera, parasites, fungi and diarrhea, just to name a few. A few drops a day in your water can ward you (or your pet or child) from all types of invaders. It can also be applied directly to rashes or skin disorders, help heal earaches and is said to kill over 800 bacteria and virus strains, 100 strains of fungi and numerous parasites. A mixture of distilled water, citrus seed extract, green tea and jasmine tea, it is one of the best and most useful supplements I've ever seen.

7. Unbounded Energy (New Chapter) Known as the multivitamin for power and performance, this supplement contains tons of vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics, herbal extracts and flower essences. Known to increase energy, the 22 essential vitamins and minerals are derived from natural sources.

8. Whole Mega (New Chapter) Most of us know how important omegas are, but now, there's one supplement to supply ALL the omegas - 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9, in one little pill. This supplement is made from 100% sustainably-caught wild salmon oil and has been shown to benefit cardiovascular, immune system, brain and digestive health.

9. Amino Vital Fast Charge (Ajinomoto) If you work out hard, you deplete your body. Period. You can become deficient in many vitamins and minerals, amino acids being a major one. Amino acids are the construction materials of muscles - they are vital for strength, performance and long-term conditioning; branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) for energy and repair plus arginine and glutamine for overall health. You can pop these little packets before, during and after exercise, as they provide 2400 mg of amino acids per packet, as well as many vitamins for energy, including B1, B6 and B12.

10. Shark Cartilage (Bell) Made from the dried and powdered cartilage of sharks, this little pill combats a number of diseases - most notably, cancer. There have been numerous articles about how sharks "don't get cancer," and soon, this supplement made its way into holistic health food stores. And, most notably, it has been known (in many cases) to have cured stage 4 breast cancer for $30/bottle instead of hundreds of thousands of dollars in chemo and radiation. It shrinks tumors in the body, and coupled with other forms of detox, can literally be a natural life saver.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beating The Weekend Mentality!

So many people have the mentality that if you eat pretty well during the week, the weekends are a free for all. Restaurant food, bread baskets, endless cocktails - all of it culminates in a 48 hour food fest that leaves you feeling bloated, tired, and mad at yourself for splurging. There's a way to avoid this, the easiest being don't blow it all on the weekends. Allot yourself one or two MEALS out - and that's it. Eat a sensible breakfast and lunch on Saturday, two good snacks and then go out to dinner. Have brunch on Sunday and then return to a healthy dinner that night.

Another issue on the weekends is that the timing gets off. If you're out and about, you don't have time to make a protein shake or make sure you are eating every 3 hours. So, bring snacks with you. Pack an apple, some almonds, even a protein bar if you have to. And drink plenty of water.

At restaurants, ask for no salt on your entrees, skip the bread and ask for salad dressings on the side. Stick to clear alcohols (or red wine) and limit yourself to just a few. Another way to combat this "weekend mentality" is to program in a cheat meal on Wednesday, so that when the weekend comes around, you aren't ravenous and dreaming of unhealthy food.

But, what about peer pressure? When you're out with your friends and they are ordering the unhealthiest things on the menu? Here are some tips when you're at various restaurants:

AMERICAN - Stick to lean meats, such as chicken, fish or turkey and find a big salad or veggies to go along with it. Ask the veggies to be steamed (no butter) and the dressings for salads to come on the side. Need a carb? Sweet potatoes or baked potatoes (but none of the cheese, butter or sour cream loaded on top).

ASIAN - Sushi is a healthy pick, but skip the soy sauce if possible. And did you know wasabi isn't naturally green? That's food coloring. Anything steamed is a safe bet. Opt for brown rice instead of white, and when ordering dishes with sauces, ask for them on the side and then gradually add it to your food as necessary. Most Asian sauces are laden with salt and sugar, so you're better off getting them on the side.

MEXICAN - Fajitas. When ordering, ask that they use no salt on your meat. Pile up your fajitas with fresh veggies. Ask for black beans instead of refried beans. Want guacamole? Make sure they don't make it with sour cream, which some restaurants add. Skip the chips and the big, salty margaritas.

ITALIAN - Fish and veggies are the best bet, or fish with some sort of pasta that doesn't have a cream sauce. Stick to red sauces if you are ordering pasta and ask that they add veggies. Skip the bread and olive oil and order a salad instead. Ask for no cheese and the dressing on the side. Have a glass of wine, but drink plenty of water.

These are just a few tips when dining out on the weekends. Really want something decadent? Aim to have it for lunch or even brunch instead, so you have a chance to burn through most of it before nightfall, when most people are sedentary. Happy weekend!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Revamp Your Kids' Food!

In my opinion, healthy eating starts as a child. If you are fed wholesome food, you will most likely enjoy those foods as an adult. If you grow up on fast food and processed snacks, it will be hard to kick the habit. As a parent, it is your responsibility to feed your child healthy foods, ones that will supply vitamins, minerals and be good for the whole family. But, what if your kid doesn't like healthy food? Here are a few alternatives to some of the most popular fare for children.


Take a whole grain tortilla (or pita bread) and top it with tomato paste or a lower sodium tomato sauce, a few veggies and sprinkle with lower fat cheese. Pop in the oven at 400 degrees until cheese starts to melt. Cut into little squares and serve!


Trick your kids with this delightful trick. Take a package of chicken tenders and dip them in a mixture of egg whites, then dip in panko bread crumbs, coating evenly on both sides. Line them up on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes (baking times may vary).


The easiest way is to buy these frozen, so you save time. However, if you want to make them yourself, peel and cut sweet potatoes to size, put in a bowl, sprinkle with a few spices, olive oil, pop on a lid and shake until evenly coated. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, spread on a cookie sheet coated with aluminum foil or parchment paper and bake for 30 minutes.


Though they still come in a package, these little crisps are a healthier alternative to goldfish crackers. They come in little rounds and are easily breakable if you need them in smaller pieces. They come in an assortment of flavors, are made with natural ingredients and pack 7 grams of protein per serving.

Start thinking of healthy alternatives for your children. If you serve healthier foods in a pleasing way or make it look like their fast food favorites, they might be more apt to try these foods and actually enjoy them.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Week's Worth of Breakfasts

It's been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It's vital to jump start your metabolism, as  when you sleep, your body fasts for 6-8 hours and needs fuel within an hour of waking (especially if you are going to lift weights in the morning). Breakfast sets the tone for the entire day.

I hear the excuse of "not having enough time" a lot, in terms of why people skip breakfast. Below are 7 breakfasts that can be made in 10 minutes or less. All of them are healthy, packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, good, complex carbs and tons of protein. You can rotate your breakfasts every couple of days, or try something new and easy every single day.

Here's a sample menu for a healthy week of breakfasts:

Sunday - breakfast burrito made with turkey, egg whites, black beans, tomatoes, peppers and cilantro
Monday - 3 egg whites, 1/2 cup steel cut oats with blueberries, walnuts and agave
Tuesday - 1 scoop whey protein, 1/2 cup greek yogurt, banana, pure pumpkin, ice and water
Wednesday - 2 oatmeal pancakes topped with fresh berries, yogurt and agave
Thursday - 1 English muffin w/ 2 tbs. natural peanut butter, banana, 3 hard boiled egg whites
Friday - 3 egg white omelet made with tomato and spinach, sweet potato hash browns
Saturday - 2 belgian waffles (Van's) with 1 tbs. peanut butter, 1 tsp. agave, cinnamon and walnuts

Grocery List:
1 dozen eggs
1 carton fage greek yogurt
1 package flour tortillas (Whole Foods hand makes their tortillas, and they are amazing)
1 can organic black beans
1 roma tomato
1 bag spinach
1 red bell pepper
2 sweet potatoes (or sweet potato hash browns in frozen section)
English muffins
natural peanut butter (store the jar upside down so the oil naturally mixes)
Van's belgian waffles
99% fat-free ground turkey


Brown the turkey. Once done, crack 2 or 3 egg whites on top of them and cook until well done. In a separate pot, heat the black beans (after they have been drained and rinsed in cold water). You can add diced cilantro to the beans for a little kick. Dice up tomatoes and peppers. Brown tortillas, either directly on a gas stove, turning with tongs every few seconds, or place them in a frying pan and heat up. Scoop the beans and meat onto the tortilla, throw in tomatoes and peppers, and enjoy.


If you want to save time, either buy the old fashioned oats (which cook in about 10 minutes), or make a big batch of steel cut oats the night before, as they reheat well. Cook oats according to directions (with water). In a frying pan, spray with cooking spray, crack three eggs, use the whites and scramble well. Serve oats with blueberries, walnuts and 1 tbs. agave nectar. Add cinnamon for a little extra flavor. Dish up the eggs on a side dish for a healthy start to the day!


Put 5 ice cubes, 1/2 cup of water and 1 banana into a blender. Blend and then add 1/2 c. plain greek yogurt, cinnamon, 1/2 c. pure pumpkin (for a great dose of vitamins and flavor) and 1 scoop whey protein. Blend well. Pop in the freezer for a few minutes, or serve immediately.


Take 1/2 c. old-fashioned oats, 4 egg whites, 1/4 c. cottage cheese (optional), 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla and put in a blender. Blend for a few seconds and then heat a frying pan, spray with cooking spray and pour out a bit of the batter. Brown on one side for 1-2 minutes, then flip over. It should make 4 medium sized pancakes or 2 giant ones. Top with fresh berries, a dollop of yogurt and honey or agave nectar. (You can add whey protein powder to these for an extra dose of protein in the morning.)


Take one English muffin and pop in the toaster. On a small plate, portion out 2 tbs. natural peanut butter. Take 1/2 of a banana and mash with a fork on top of peanut butter. Pop mixture into the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Spread on English muffin, drizzle with agave (optional) and serve with 2 hard boiled egg whites (it's easier if you make the eggs the night before, so you can have them for snacks or to pop on salads).


Peel and grate sweet potatoes. Blanch quickly in boiling water (1-2 minutes). Drain them and dry them. In a frying pan, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and sweet potatoes. Cook on medium heat until desired crispiness. In another frying pan, begin the 3 egg white omelet, by pouring slightly beaten egg whites into a pan, and then adding chopped tomatoes and spinach. Cook with a lid, flip, and then serve on top of hash browns.


Pop waffles in the oven and let cook for a few minutes until browned. Top with 1 tbs. peanut butter, a dash of cinnamon, a sprinkling of walnuts and a drizzle of agave or honey, instead of syrup. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Easy Ratatouille!

Sometimes you have a fridge full of veggies but don't feel like steaming them. But, you don't want to throw them out either. So, what do you do? A healthy ratatouille to the rescue! Traditionally, ratatouille is a vegetable dish consisting of onions, zucchini, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers, fried and stewed in oil and sometimes served cold. However, to make a healthy ratatouille, skip the frying and use an assortment of veggies.

Healthy Ratatouille

2 medium sized sweet potatoes, cubed
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 carrots, cubed
1 leek, in rounds
1 roma tomato
1 red bell pepper
1 bunch asparagus
2 stalks celery
1/2 can low-sodium organic tomato paste (with a cup of water)

Cut all vegetables evenly. In a large saucepan, add a little olive oil and then start cooking the sweet potatoes, carrots and onions. Throw in the celery and 2 cloves of garlic. Add the rest of ingredients, pop a lid on and let cook for as long as desired (depending if you like your veggies crunchy or soft). Near the end of the cooking time, add tomato paste (already mixed with 1 cup water) and stir in, cooking for a few more minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve as a side dish or the main course. It's a cheap, tasty way to get in a daily serving of veggies. Serve it the next day as a leftover side with a baked chicken breast and a scoop of cottage cheese.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Week's Worth of Dinners

The biggest complaint I hear comes at the end of the day, when people are tired and walk through the door, only to ask that dreaded question: "What's for dinner?" If you don't already have a menu or some idea of what to eat, you are setting yourself up for failure. When you have nothing prepped, or you think it's going to take too long, it's too easy to order takeout or just eat something quick and unhealthy. 

Trust me: a little prep goes a long way. The first thing you'll need to do is look at your schedule and see when you can eat in. If you know you're going to eat out, plan around those meals, and if you do go out, remember to ask for NO SALT on dishes and to have food prepared "dry" or with cooking spray. No butter, no extra bread, etc.

We are going to assume that for this week, your eating out night will be Saturday. For shopping purposes, we are going to assume you want to make enough for two people (if it's for one, just reduce the amounts or make enough so you have leftovers).

So, a sample menu could look like the following:

Sunday - chicken stir fry w/ brown rice
Monday - chicken and veggie omelet
Tuesday - salmon/veggies
Wednesday - turkey scramble
Thursday - black bean burger/sweet potato fries
Friday - chicken/salad
Saturday - EAT OUT

Grocery List:
1 rotisserie chicken
1 package chicken breasts
2 6-oz. salmon fillets
1 package 93%-97% lean ground turkey

brown rice
black bean burger (frozen section - look for ones with low salt content)
sweet potatoes (or sweet potato fries in frozen section)
salad dressing (something healthy, organic with lower sodium and sugar - or, just make your own)

(Obviously you can choose your own veggies - enough for some to cook and some to throw on a salad)
romaine lettuce
red bell pepper
fresh corn (2-3 ears)
roma tomatoes
brussel sprouts
red onion
1% cottage cheese

If you know you won't stick to the plan and make dinner every night, only purchase 2-3 days of groceries, so no meat is going to waste. Vegetarian? Stock up on tofu or use black beans as a good source of protein. When you get your veggies, cut and wash them. If you can spend even 20 minutes doing this, arranging them into little containers for the week, you are saving yourself a TON of time. Even if you don't, all of the meals below can be made in 10-20 minutes.


Clean veggies and chop. You can use broccoli, red pepper, asparagus, carrots... the list goes on. Cut chicken breast into small pieces and put a bit of olive oil, water and chopped up garlic into a wok. Heat the oil and add chicken, cooking until done. Cook 10 minute rice in a separate pot. Once the chicken is done, add the veggies, spice them up accordingly and toss around, cooking until veggies are nice and crisp. Pile the rice into a bowl, add chicken and veggies and enjoy! Need some sort of sauce? Skip the soy sauce and go for Cholula instead.

Monday - OMELET

Use any leftovers from Sunday and pile into an omelet. Break 3-4 eggs, and use 3 egg whites and 1 yolk. Pour into a bowl, whisk briefly and pour into a heated omelet pan. Let eggs cook for about a minute and then add veggies, placing a lid on the pan. Let cook for a few minutes then attempt to flip the omelet over to cook evenly on the other side. If your omelet breaks, just serve as a nice scramble instead. Top with fresh avocado, cilantro and a small scoop of cottage cheese.


Peel corn and cut from the ear, along with brussel sprouts, a bell pepper, asparagus and broccoli. Pour 1 teaspoon oil and 1/2 cup water in a large pan, along with any spices you want. Let heat. In another pan, get the salmon going, after having spiced it up (try to avoid salt). Add a little olive oil and a few teaspoons of water in the pan. Cook skin side down first, about 4-5 minutes per side. At the same time, add your veggies to the large pan, tossing occasionally. Scoop veggies onto plate, and add fish once it is done.


Spray a large pan with cooking spray and add turkey. Season it up with spices and cook until brown. Add a few fresh tomatoes, asparagus, broccoli, kale (whatever veggies you want). Cook for a few minutes (with a lid) until veggies are done. Serve immediately. Got any leftover rice from Sunday? Heat up and toss it to the mixture. Black beans are a good addition as well.


Bake sweet potato fries according to directions, or make them fresh by peeling, cutting into wedges and placing them in a large container with spices and a little olive oil. Toss and spread on a baking sheet. Cook at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until crispy. Take black bean burger from freezer (or you can make one yourself) when potatoes have about 10 minutes to go and cook according to directions in pan. Serve fries with AlsoSalt ketchup (if you want ketchup) and top the burger with lettuce, tomato and avocado. No bun.


Use leftover chicken or a fresh rotisserie chicken to cut up and serve cold on a salad. Get a pre-made salad or rinse and cut lettuce and add carrots, celery, blueberries, broccoli, peppers and anything else you want (try and skip the cheese). Top with a lower-fat, lower-sodium dressing, a scoop of cottage cheese and fresh chicken.

All of these recipes take little time and little prep and give you a ton of veggies, fiber and protein for minimum fat and calories! If you know WHAT you're making, it makes it easier to stick to clean, healthy eating and treat yourself to a "cheat" meal or two on the weekend or during the middle of the week. Got questions? Send them our way!!