North Carolina

Just got back from a fun, short trip to North Carolina to visit my sister. Was hoping to get away from the cold here in Michigan but it ended up actually being colder there than here.  Oh well, what can you do, at least they didn’t have snow! Just a lot of rain. Fortunately we were still able to make the best of the trip and we were able to get some good hiking in, which was of course, my favorite part of the trip.

DSC00286

Hiking is a great way to workout, mostly because it doesn’t feel like working out. You’re still working hard and breaking a sweat but it’s just so invigorating. There is something about being out in nature that energizes you.  Sometimes, especially in the winter, I find myself getting stuck in a rut. I get sick of going to the gym all the time and working out becomes less enjoyable and seems more like a chore than something I should be enjoying. Hiking is a relaxing way to get a good workout in. It can be as difficult or as easy as you want it to be depending on the difficulty of the trail you choose and how quick of a pace you go. Our hike was to Rainbow Falls in North Carolina. Even though it was only a total of 3 miles my fitbit tracked that we climbed almost 80 flights of stairs in that short hike!

DSC00287

Unfortunately, hiking is not something that can be done everywhere. Here in Michigan you’ll be pretty hard pressed to find trails of that difficulty. However, you can find some that are less strenuous and it can still be a great way to get outside and get moving to break up your workout routine. Weather can make hiking difficult (it’s a lot less fun when it’s snowing and cold) so it’s good to have other options to get outside. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are two great options for a good cardiovascular workout.

Basically the point of this is, don’t let the winter blues get to your workout routine. Take advantage of the terrain and weather where you live and get outside and move!🙂

DSC00292

DSC00309

DSC00315

Tagged , , , , ,

HIIT Training

IMG_2100

HIIT training, have you heard of it? Well, according to ACSM its one of 2014 top fitness trends. HIIT training or high intensity interval training has become quite popular in the last year and for good reasons. But before I get started on that, if you don’t know what HIIT training is, this is how it works. HIIT training is a type of cardiovascular based workout, but instead of biking or swimming or running for 30 minutes or more at a moderate intensity, it alternates between sprinting and resting. The high intensity intervals are generally performed anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes, with a recovery interval that is equal to or longer than the high intensity interval (“High intensity interval,” ).

In the last year HIIT training has gained popularity for its many benefits. Here are just a few:

  • Significantly increased aerobic and anaerobic fitness.
  • Decreased fasting insulin and increase insulin sensitivity.
  • Reduced abdominal and subcutaneous (just under the skin) fat.

HIIT training is also an incredibly efficient way to workout. Just 15 minutes 3 times a week can burn more calories and fat than running for an hour at a moderate intensity (“High intensity interval,” ). Participants in a study were compared in a 20-week endurance training program vs. a 15-week HIIT training program. Despite the lower energy costs and the shorter program, participants in the HIIT training showed greater reductions in body fat (Tremblay, Simoneau & Bourchard, 1994). No wonder it’s so popular!

Another great thing about HIIT training is that it’s not only efficient but adaptable as well! You don’t need any equipment to do it. Just get your heart racing, you can adapt it to whatever space and time constraints you have. It can be high knees in place or jumping rope or sprints down the sidewalk. Make it what you want and make it fun!

If you are looking at trying HIIT training it can be difficult to decide where to start. There are so many variations that there is not really a set protocol (which is what makes it such a flexible routine). The best thing to do is experiment with shorter and longer periods of speed and recovery times to find what works best with you. To avoid injury it is suggested to do HIIT training only 1-2 times per week and as always if you are thinking of starting something new, make sure you consult with you doctor to make sure this type of exercise is okay for you. So, there you have it, a great way to get the full benefit of your workout even in a time crunch.

Sources:

High intensity interval training . (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.acefitness.org/fitness-fact-

article/3317/high-intensity-interval-training/

Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J., & Bourchard, C. (1994). Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and

skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism , 43(7), 814-818. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed  /8028502

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Sweet Potato Flour Tortillas (adapted from gf and me)

I miss flour tortillas. I mean, I love corn tortillas and everything but sometimes I just want a good old quesadilla with a crispy flour tortilla. A quesadilla is just not the same with corn shells. IMG_4871

I have tried the store bought GF tortillas and still have not found one I love. Then I stumbled across THIS recipe from gf and me (if you are gluten free and haven’t check out gf and me yet…you’re missing out, they have some pretty awesome stuff) I made them twice and loved the chewy texture and the taste. The only problem I had was rolling out the dough, I found it to be very elastic and I couldn’t get them as thin as I wanted. Don’t get me wrong they were still amazingly delicious, I just wanted them thinner.

IMG_4844

I never really thought about trying to adapt the recipe till one day I was sitting on the couch with some Trader Joe’s Sweet potato corn chips and hummus and I thought to myself, “ Hey! I love these so much I bet sweet potatoes would be good in flour tortillas too!” So, naturally I used the best flour tortillas recipe I had and added some sweet potatoes. When I originally thought to add the sweet potato I was going for flavor. I wanted to be able to taste that sweet potato flavor like I could with the corn chips.

IMG_4856

Well, they don’t really taste like sweet potatoes, not even a little. So I failed there BUT what did end up happening was a slight change in the texture of the dough (not to mention they are now a really pretty orange color). The sweet potatoes made it so I was able to roll the dough out really thin, without tearing! Plus they still kept that great chewy texture and taste I loved from the original recipe.

IMG_4865

So, I am officially in love with these tortillas. I was so excited I even made chicken quesadillas that night for dinner and they were AMAZING. They are also awesome dipped in hummus or wrapped up with some peanut butter. If you don’t like sweet potatoes or just don’t have any on hand try out the original recipe, either way you will end up with some pretty fantastic GF tortillas. Now I just need to figure out how to make that sweet potato flavor come out more. I’ll let you know if I do. Till then, enjoy!

Ingredients:

2/3 cup corn starch
2/3 cup tapioca flour/starch
¼ cup + 3 tablespoons of potato flour
3 ½ tablespoons sorghum flour
½ cup mashed sweet potato
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup + 3 tablespoons water

Directions:

With if fork poke some holes in the sweet potato, wrap it in a damp paper towel and microwave for 5-6 minutes depending on the size you can bake it too, but for the sake of time I just microwaved it).

While potato is cooking mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Peel off the skin of the cooked sweet potato and discard, mash the insides and add to the flour mixture. Using a fork mix as well as you can, mixture will be crumbly. Add the water starting with just the ¾ of a cup. This is when you will just need to use your hands to mix it. Once you mix it as much as you can add the 3 tablespoons one at a time. If the mixture is too dry you can add more water or if it seems good after just one or two of the tablespoons, stop there. The mixture should be stretchy and slightly sticky but able to hold form in a ball. You don’t want it too wet or you won’t be able to work with it. Some sweet potatoes contain more moisture than others that is why the amounts of water can change.

Once the dough is formed cover with a damp paper towel while you prepare your rolling surface. Dust the counter or baking mat with some cornstarch. Rip off a golf ball sized chunk of dough and roll out as thing as you can with a rolling pin. If you have a tortilla press that is even better. I had a hard time getting mine perfectly round but it can be done if you rotate it a lot when rolling. If it starts to stick make sure you are keeping it lightly dusted with cornstarch. Once you have rolled out all the dough. Heat a nonstick pan to medium high. Cook the tortillas about 20-30 seconds on each side. Or when the dough puffs slightly and gets some nice brown spots.

Place on cooling rack to for a few minutes. They will cool quickly then you can stack them. If you just place them on the counter or stack them when they are hot they can get soggy from the steam.

Tagged , , , ,

Importance of Strength Training

IMG_4821

I’m sure you have all heard this before, but I’m going to say it again. Strength training is so important! Working in the health industry I can’t tell you how many people I come across who are trying to lose weight and trying to be more fit but they refuse to pick up the weights. I see this with women especially. They are too worried about bulking up and looking too manly. I promise, if you are a woman and you start lifting weights you will not end up looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. First of all, our bodies have too much estrogen and not enough testosterone for that so, unless you are taking hormones that won’t happen. Secondly, you need to be doing some seriously crazy training to bulk up like that.

So pick up the weights! Strength training has some really great benefits for men and women; it’s not just for bodybuilding. Women in particular generally have less lean body mass than men, as we age we tend to lose even more of the lean body mass. Weight training is a great way to be proactive and help maintain that muscle mass to combat frailty as we age. Weight training also reduces bone loss and can help prevent osteoporosis (“Strength training for,” 2011). Not only will it help you in the long run as you age but it will just make you stronger and more confident, and will make everyday activities a little easier.

Contrary to what many people believe, weight training is also a great tool for weight loss for men and women. I remember when I was growing up, hearing that if you wanted to slim down you just had to do cardio at a low intensity for a long time (now we know that isn’t the best method but that’s for another post) and NEVER EVER lift weights if you want to lose weight.  Well, that’s wrong. Studies have shown that regular resistance training can increase your resting energy expenditure 7% or more. That means if you have a resting metabolic rate of 1500 calories per day, that’s an extra 100 calories every day! It is thought that the increase in energy expenditure from resistance training is largely due to the energy requirements necessary to repair the muscle tissues after a strength training session. Assuming you do weight training 2-3 days per week it is likely that the increased metabolic rate will remain elevated as long as the resistance training continues (“Resting energy expenditure ,” 2010). Therefore, in combination with cardiovascular training, regular weight training c.n help you lose body fat, increase strength and be more toned and fit and not leave you looking huge and bulky, unless you want to be huge and bulky then in that case well, your workout will be a little different.

For strength training American College of Sport Medicine (ACSM) recommends 1-3 sets of 8-12 repetitions with a load that is 60-70% of your 1 rep max (RM), the max amount you can lift for a single repetition ( if you are trying to find your one rep max, please make sure you are being safe and have a spotter). For endurance training ACSM recommends 2-4 sets of 10-25 repetitions with a load lower than 70% your 1RM (“Strength training for,” 2011).

So, if burning more calories as rest, looking toned and fit, and being stronger and more confident doesn’t convince you that lifting weights is awesome. Well, then I say just give it a try for a few weeks. It doesn’t have to be an hour long session. If you aren’t comfotable lifting weights at the gym or are too intimidated by the big lifters, see if your gym has a resistance based group class, the instructors there will be able to teach you proper form and help you modify moves if necessary. Don’t have a gym? Try a resistance based, home workout video. Even just doing push-ups and squats while you are watching tv is a great place to start.

Sources:

Resting energy expenditure (2010, March 20). ACSM news , twenty (one ), 10-10. Retrieved from http://certification.acsm.org/files/file/ACSM_CNEWS_20-1.pdf

Strength training for women (2011, October 04). ACSM public articles, Retrieved from http://www.acsm.org/access-public-information/articles/2011/10/04/strength-training-for-women

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

I might have a new dark chocolate obsession with this recipe. Not like I wasn’t already obsessed with dark chocolate in general but this, this one is really awesome.

IMG_4810

This is a truly decedent dessert that is also really healthy! If I didn’t know any better I would have assumed it was made with loads of cream and mounds of rich buttery goodness…fortunately that is not true and it still tastes just as sinfully delicious.

IMG_4815
As far as dessert goes this chocolate pudding is packed with healthy fats like omega-3’s and full of antioxidants. To start, avocados are an amazing fruit. If you haven’t added it to you diet yet, you will want to after hearing this. Not only are avocados incredibly versatile and delicious but they also pack quite the nutritional punch. Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, they are rich in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (such as omega-3 fatty acids), vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6, vitamin B-12 and folate) — as well as potassium and fiber. Avocados have been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular disease, regulating high blood pressure, high blood sugar. They have also been shown to aid weight loss (Bergh).

IMG_4807
Dark chocolate also contains some great health benefits (not like I needed any more convincing to eat it). Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are believed to help the body resist damage cause by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes. It also contains flavanols, which may have influence on cardiovascular health such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and making platelets less sticky and able to clot (“Health and prevention,” 2014).
So there you have it, a delicious, healthy, gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian (easily made vegan by replacing the honey with agave) dessert.

AVOCADO DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Ingredients:

1 avocado
3tbsp unsweetened almond milk
3-4tbsp Honey, depending on the size of the avocado and how sweet you like it.
2tbsp Dark chocolate coco powder
(optional) blueberries and pistachios for topping.

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor till smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate till chilled and serve topped with fresh fruit and nuts of your choice.
ENJOY! ☺

Sources:

Bergh, B. (n.d.). Health benefits of avocados . Retrieved from http://www.regenerativenutrition.com/content.asp?id=443

Health and prevention. (2014, January 12). Retrieved from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/food-choices/benefits-of-chocolate.aspx

Tagged , , , , , ,

Oatmeal Bites

These little oatmeal bites are maybe one of the best grab and go snacks or on the go breakfasts. IMG_4792

What so great about them? Well first of all there are super easy to make, secondly you can customize them with whatever fruit or nuts or spices you have available, they are filling, quick and easy to make, and most importantly they are healthy AND delicious.

IMG_4798

I love oatmeal for breakfast. It’s filling and packed with fiber to help keep me full all morning at work so I’m not starving by lunchtime. Not only is the fiber in oatmeal good for keeping you full, but it is also good for your heart. I am sure you have all seen those Cheerios commercials talking about how they can help lower your cholesterol. Well that’s because Cheerios are whole grain. Just like oatmeal! The soluble and insoluble fibers in oatmeal and other whole grains are associated with and increase in diet quality and a lower risk of heart disease. Soluble fiber is even shown to slightly reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) beyond what is achievable by a diet solely low in saturated and trans fats (“Whole grains and,” 2013).

IMG_4797

The one downside about eating oatmeal in the morning is that it’s not very portable, you have to eat it with a spoon and if you are like me, I like to add some fresh or frozen fruit to it too. So, sometimes when running late it’s hard to take those extra few minutes to warm up my oatmeal* then sit down and eat it before I leave for work at 6:50am. That is what is so wonderful about these oatmeal bites. I can just grab a few running out the door and bring them to work for breakfast or a midmorning snack.

IMG_4793

Don’t like oatmeal but still want the benefits of fiber? Here are a few other fiber packed foods:

  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Brown rice
  • Barely
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples with the skin
  • Strawberries
  • Whole wheat breads
  • Whole wheat cereal
  • Cabbage
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Brussels sprouts

 IMG_4800

* Quick tip: You don’t have to use instant oats for quick oatmeal. You can microwave old fashioned rolled oats just as fast.  Just add water and pop it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, depending on how done you like it. I only do 1 minute because I like them with a little more texture.

OATMEAL BITES

Ingredients:

2 medium mashed bananas
2 cup quick oats ( if you don’t have quick oats like I didn’t, just chopped old-fashioned oats in a food processor).
½ cup shredded carrots
½ cup raisins.
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger.
1/8 tsp ground clove.
1 Tbs honey.
Scant ¼ tsp salt.

Directions:
Mash the banana in a medium mixing bowl and all of the ingredients. Mix well, and spoon onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 375 deg. For 8 minutes, or until golden

ENJOY!🙂

Source:

Whole grains and fiber. (2013, January 14). Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Whole-Grains-and-Fiber_UCM_303249_Article.jsp

Tagged , , , , , ,

Reading Lables

Food labels can be difficult to understand and are at times misleading so it is important to be able decipher the nutrition facts and label claims to make sure you are getting the best nutrition from your food.

Common Misleading Labels

Multi-grain:  The term multi-grain is often used to describe breads or crackers that are made from multiple types of grain, this does not necessarily mean that they are whole-grains. The common misconception is that the terms multi-grain and whole-grain are interchangeable but they do not mean the same thing. Whole-grain means that all of the parts of the grain kernel are used making them a good source of fiber, vitamin B and minerals. Just because bread is multi-grain does not mean that they use whole-grains. To check if a bread or cracker that is multi-grain also uses whole-grains, look at the ingredients list and look for the first few ingredients to be “whole-oats,” “whole-wheat” or a similar type of “whole-grain.”

Zero trans fats: Trans-fats are fats that are made by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil, a process used to keep the food from spoiling. The reason why is not exactly understood, but studies show that adding hydrogen to the oil increases cholesterol levels more than other fats when consumed. It actually raises your “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lowers your “good” cholesterol (HDL) which increases your risk for heart disease. On the nutrition facts label, companies are allowed to claim that a product has 0g trans-fat if it less than 0.5g trans-fat per serving. So to know if a product really contains trans-fats you need to look at the ingredients list. If you see the words “partially hydrogenated” listed, the product contains trans-fats. “Fully” or “completely” hydrogenated oils are okay, unlike partially hydrogenated oils, the process to make these does not result in trans-fats.

Reduced or low fat: Reduced or low fat products can be very deceiving and are not always the better option. If a product claims to be reduced in fat that means that there is 25% less fat than the original product. If it is low fat that means there are less than 3g of fat per serving. The problem with low fat and reduced fat products is that there is often an increase in sodium and sugar to make up for missing fat. So make sure to read the rest of the nutrition facts and ingredients to see what the better option is. One product that it might be better to buy the full fat version of is peanut butter.

Tagged , , ,

Seattle

So I went to Seattle and fell in love. It was amazing there. Beautiful, hilly, healthy, great food it was pretty much anything I could even want. I wish I had been able to see more, in such a short trip it was hard but here is a little of what I saw.

IMG_1038Seattle really does have the best coffee.

IMG_1044.JPGWe made sushi!

IMG_1043.JPG

IMG_1045.JPG…lots of sushi.

IMG_1046.JPG

IMG_1064.JPGPikes Place Market!

IMG_1066Sorry for the blurry pics, these are all from my phone.

IMG_1068

IMG_1069

IMG_1070

IMG_1072A wall covered completely with gum…

IMG_1073It was gross and smelled.

IMG_1075

IMG_1077

IMG_1080Best clam chowder.

IMG_1083

IMG_1086

IMG_1088Strawberry balsamic ice cream with lemon curd topping. Ridiculously delicious.

IMG_1094.JPGGreen Lake

Tagged , ,

Gluten-Free Pesto Pizza

Sooooo pizza. Who doesn’t love pizza? Even better yet who doesn’t love gluten free pizza that is personal sized and might I even dare to say…healthy!? Pizza might be one of my biggest weaknesses. Well, that and ice cream maybe ice cream is my biggest weakness but pizza is right up there with it.

IMG_1502

Most people think that if you are eating pizza for dinner it’s a pretty unhealthy meal. But I disagree with that, because pizza can be healthy. Now, most of the pizzas you can buy at a say…Pizza Hut or Papa Johns are not going to be healthy. But it is really easy and fun to make your own pizza right at home and its just as delicious if not better.

IMG_1503

Personally, I am more of a thin crust pizza kind of girl myself. Which, I have found, that most chain pizza places don’t really carry. Most of them say they have a “thin crust” pizza. But they lie. It’s really not. It’s not thin crust if it’s still puffy and squishy with a gigantic crust. They don’t know what they are talking about. A good thin crust pizza is nice and thin and crispy with very little crust. So, since I cant just go out and buy my thin pizzas I make them, and now that I am gluten free there are very few gluten free pizza places anyway.

Ugh. So annoying.

IMG_1504

But anyway, the greatest thing about making pizza at home is you can put any kind of topping you want on them. Its so much fun!  I have made a Thai chicken pizza (recipe coming soon), regular pizza, breakfast pizzas, Mediterranean pizzas and this really delicious pesto pizza. MMmmmmm so good. Have you ever put potatoes on a pizza? Because it might be the best thing ever. No joke, you really should try it. It will change your world.

Pizza dough:

1/3 cup Michelle’s gluten free flour mix

2 Tbs ground flax seed

pinch of salt

3 Tbs water.

Olive oil

Cornmeal for base (optional)

Toppings:

1/2 tsp pesto

2 slices dice Canadian bacon or lean ham

1 very small redskin potato cooked and sliced thinly (you can boil it or microwave it for 2-3 minutes in a wet towel).

2 Tbs diced onion

1 tsp Gorgonzola cheese

1 small handful baby mixed greens/arugala/spinach

1/4 low moisture part skin mozzarella shredded.

Directions:

  • Preheat over to 450 deg.F
  • Prepare a baking pan with tinfoil and cooking spray sprinkle with cornmeal if you would like
  • Mix the gf-flour and flax seed together add water and mix well with hands.
  • Flatten the dough onto the prepared pan. It works best if your hands are a little wet. It will keep the dough from sticking to you. Work the dough out till it is the thickness you would like.
  • Once flatted brush with olive oil and place In the oven for about 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, spread pesto on top, add ham, potato slices, gorgonzola, onion and greens then sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.
  • Place back into the over for another 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and starting to crisp.
  • Remove from oven, allow to cool for a few minutes then slice and serve!
Tagged , , ,

Warm Brussels Sprout and Sweet Potato Salad with Agave Ginger Dressing

I remember hearing once that if someone doesn’t like green vegetables it could be because they really do taste bad to them. There apparently are some people who taste things differently. In this case for some reason green vegetables taste soapy to them. I’m not sure of the specifics, but how horrible would that be? You would be missing out of so many delicious vegetables and so many nutrients that go along with green veggies.

IMG_4438

For example, brussels sprouts! Brussels sprouts get a bad rep and if, like many, when you think of brussels sprouts you think of stinky, mini, boiled cabbages…. you are totally missing out on how delicious these little bit size greens can be. Brussels sprouts are not only delicious (when cooked correctly) but also packed with fiber, vitamin c, potassium and are naturally low in calories.

IMG_4443

Well, today was one of those days that I didn’t feel like just having roasted brussels sprouts (my usual favorite way to cook them, a little olive oil salt, pepper and lemon…oven 400 deg F. till crispy ) I decided to get a little crazy and make a brussels sprout salad (much better than boiled…eww) So, with the exception of those with taste buds that make green veggies taste like soap, if you have the above opinion of brussels sprouts, hopefully this recipes will help to change that view!

IMG_4439

Ingredients:

1 small sweet potato diced

2 cups chopped brussels sprouts

1/4 cup apple diced

1/8 cup toasted slivered almonds

2 green onions diced

1/2 avocado diced

1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

1 tsp agave or honey

2 tbs apple cider or rice vingegar

1/8 tsp sesame seed oil

siracha

salt and pepper

chili powder

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 deg F. coat diced sweet potatoes in about 1 tsp olive oil and season to taste with salt, pepper and chili powder. Bake in oven till fork tender, remove and allow to cool.

While sweet potatoes are baking make the dressing. Combine ginger, honey, vinegar, and siracha to taste.

Once the sweet potatoes are done or close to done saute brussels sprouts in 1 tsp of olive oil till tender and starting to crisp. In a bowl combine sauteed brussels sprouts, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted-sliced almonds, diced apple, green onions, avocado, and dressing. Mix to combine and enjoy!

Tagged , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 30 other followers