Monday, December 6, 2010

Dark Chocolate Holiday Bark

Looking for a holiday gift but tired of the same old snowman mug, candy cane scented candle or bottle of wine? Here's an easy, no fail recipe that will help you give thanks to all the important people in your life without breaking the bank. This Dark Chocolate Holiday Bark is my go-to recipe this year, replacing some very memorable seasons of homemade granola, spiced nuts and creatively decorated sugar cookies. It is a delicious and decadent treat, but it has some reedeeming qualities since it is light on the sugar and fat, which can be the evil weight gain combination, especially during the holiday season. Since my recipe contains antioxidant rich dark chocolate, heart healthy pecans and cancer fighting cranberries, it is something that you can feel ok indulging in, just at long as you do it in moderation and don't go crazy. Starting around mid December I try to keep a supply of my homemade treats in a basket on my counter just in case I need to instantly reciprocate with a neighbor who may be standing at my front door delivering freshly baked fruitcake.

One of things that I love about gifting homemade treats is picking out cute containers to store them in. You can showcase your creations on a pretty holiday plate or arrange it in festively decorated take out containers, gift bags or tins and use last years' holiday cards to create cute little gift tags. No need to get elaborate, just have fun with the presentation, even involving your kids in the process - especially if you are preparing gifts for your awesome sitter, Susie's unbelievably patient teacher, and the school bus driver, who is thankfully always running a few minutes late. Check out Target, Walmart and even online sites like Oriental Trading Company for container ideas.

Dark Chocolate Holiday Bark

12 Ounces Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Morsels

3/4 C chopped, toasted pecans

3/4 C dried cranberries

  • Melt chocoate in microwave in a large Pyrex measuring cup for 1 minute and stir.
  • Microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating until chocolate is melted and smooth.
  • Mix half of the pecans and half of the cranberries into the melted chocolate and stir.
  • Spread mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper, using a spatula to spread it out, careful not to make it too thin.
  • Sprinkle remaining pecans and cranberries onto the chocolate, pressing them down with a spatula.
  • Put tray in freezer for 1 hour to harden chocolate. Then peel from wax paper and break into pieces. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Mindful Eating During the Holidays

The average American gains 10-15 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years - not surprising since so much of the holidays are centered around food. Going to parties, cookie swaps, work and school functions, big, elaborate meals - you can gain weight just thinking about all the soirees you might possibly attend! For many it is a joyful time to be around friends and family, celebrating with good cheer and decadent food, but for others it can be a highly emotional time. Some may be suffering a loss of a loved one or perhaps they are not able to be with family during the holidays due to work or other committments. It is possible during this time that some turn to food for comfort and to relieve some of the stress that the holiday time often brings. Unfortunately, most of the comfort food that we often turn to, to soothe our soul can wreak havoc on our waistlines, tends to heighten depression and may bring on craving for more sugary, starchy food. All the cookies, pies and decadent desserts that are so abundant during this time of year, along with Holiday stuffing and mashed potatoes can send us into a spiral soon after the feast ends. So often, we indulge to the point of having to unbutton our pants, shortly going back to the kitchen for round two and then feel disgusting and mad at ourselves for overindulging at yet another function. So, what can one do so that we can still enjoy and partake in all the delicious food options, but still like ourselves the next morning?
  1. Be mindful of what you are eating. Scan the buffet table before you actually start to dig in. Pick a few items that really make your mouth water and take reasonable amounts of each. Savor, relish and actually enjoy what you are eating, instead of trying to scarf it down and get to the next buffet item. After you are done put your plate down, grab a beverage and mingle. Chat it up with friends without worrying about the possibility that there may be spinach stuck in your teeth or you may be stuck with a too big bite in your mouth when someone is trying to converse with you.
  2. Take the focus off of food and be grateful for your blessings. Think about all the wonderful positives in your life and be thankful.
  3. Bring an item to a party or if you are entertaining at home, make a few dishes that you know that you can indulge in without regret. My favorite is mashed cauliflower that is a great stand-in for mashed potatoes. It has all the creamy richness, but without all the heavy calories and starch that potatoes have, plus it will help keep cravings for more starch at bay. Here's the recipe...

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, rinsed and trimmed

1 T butter

1/8 tsp sea salt

Splash of 1/2 & 1/2

Steam cauliflower in a pot with water and a steamer basket for 20-30 minutes, until tender. Remove cauliflower from steamer basket, drain water from pot and place cauliflower back into pot. Add butter, salt and 1/2 & 1/2 and use a hand held immersion blender to puree, using quick pulses. Can also use a blender or food processor instead of an immersion blender. Serves four as a side dish.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Apple Sauce 101

Perhaps you decided to embark on an outdoorsy, family adventure this month and have already headed out to the nearest orchard, enjoyed the beautiful fall weather and picked some delicious apples. If that was the case, you have probably exhausted yourself baking a bunch of pies and are still wondering what do with the seemingly endless bounty of apples that have been sitting on your kitchen counter for the past week. If you are looking for a simple recipe with minimal fuss, consider making your own applesauce. Seriously, if you can peel apples and boil water, you can master homemade apple sauce. First, either go to the grocery store or pick your own naturally sweet apples, such as Gala, Fuji, MacIntosh or Honeycrisp to name a few. This year I used a mixture of Fuji and McIntosh and these two varieties combined made my applesauce so sweet that I didn't need to add any sugar at all.

Here's what to do to create some heavenly sauce in your own kitchen...

Apple Sauce 101

  • Wash, peel, core and chunk as many apples that will fit into a large, thick bottomed pot.
  • Add 1/2 cup of water, put the lid on and turn the burner on high heat.
  • When the water begins to boil and things really start to get going, turn down the heat to medium low, so the apples are at a simmer.
  • Keep the pot covered and stir every 15 minutes or so. It's important to stir well from the bottom so the apples cook down evenly.
  • Let the apples cook for an hour or more, depending on whether you like your applesauce on the chunky side or smooth.
  • At this point you can add some cinnamon to taste and remove from the burner to cool a bit.
  • Serve & place the remainder in a container and store for up to a week in the fridge .
  • You can also freeze leftovers and take out to thaw a day before you plan on eating. Applesauce freezes really well.

I guarantee this homemade applesauce will taste way better and be alot healthier than anything you have ever had from a store and by selecting the right apples, it will be so naturally sweet that you won't need to add any sugar at all.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jump Start Your Morning

Since school has been in full swing now for a few weeks, I have heard from many frustrated parents saying that it has been a bit of a challenge getting their kids to eat anything resembling breakfast, let alone trying to get something nourishing, satisfying and somewhat healthy into their bellies. Teens especially, tell their 'rents that they are just not in the mood for food, as they bolt out the door to catch the 6:45am bus, checking their look one last time before they depart. You want to do the right thing, though and feed them well so they are better able to focus, concentrate, perform well in school and have enough energy to get through the day. You know that breakfast is an essential start to the morning, whether you are a kid heading off to school or an adult headed to spin class or a staff meeting, but how can you whip up something quick nourishing and satisfying and get out the door in record time? I have a few suggestions to ensure that you and your brood are getting a good balance of quality protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates without having to sit down for a three course meal.
  1. Eggs - The perfect brainfood to get your morning started on the right track. Make a few harboiled the night before and just peel and eat in the a.m. Pair with a slice of whole grain toast or fresh fruit and you are good to go! Eggs are super versatile - fried, scrambled with some fresh spinach or even incorporated into a crustless quiche (click for recipe).
  2. Protein Shake - My fave is a scoop of chocolate protein powder blended with half a banana, one cup of skim milk and a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Currently, I'm loving Jay Robb's protein powder because it is smartly sweetened and mixes without clumping or tasting chalky. This shake takes just seconds to make and will certainly get you out the door in record time, not to mention keep you satiated for hours.
  3. Steel Cut Oats - Top with sliced almonds for some heart healthy fat and blueberries to get some great antioxidants and you've got yourself a meal that will keep you going without spiking your blood sugar, thanks to low glycemic, slow releasing carbohydrates. Prepping in the crock pot the night before makes for a quick and effortless morning meal.

Not only are these ideas economical and way healthier than hitting the fast food drivethru - they will keep your energy up, your blood sugar stable and stave off hunger and headaches because they are all an optimal balance of quality protein, complex carbs and healthy fat. Give 'em a try and see how they can help jump start your morning!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred - My Review

So, you've finally made a commitment to get fit but you're not quite sure how to squeeze a workout into your already jam packed schedule. Sure, you might be able to fit in an occasional spin class or a quick circuit training at the gym but what about all the other days when you are really crunched for time but still need a little something to get your heart pumping? I say pop the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred into your DVD player and let the Biggest Loser trainer put you through a tough, no-nonsense, butt kicking workout that will let you return to the daily grind in less than 30 minutes.
Now, I'm not a huge Jillian fan, so I was a little hesitant when a friend recommended this DVD, but after hearing all the raves I decided to give it a try and I am so glad I did. Jillian definitely shows a softer side on this DVD, seems less militant than she appears on TV and even jokes around and lets her personality come through. Her workouts are butt - kickers though - absolutely no rest - not even for a sip of water! She bases her workouts on the 3-2-1 interval method: 3 minutes cardio, 2 minutes weights and 1 minute abs, using lots of compound moves, like side lunges with biceps curls and boxing moves while holding a squat position. Michaels explains that in order to "torch the body fat most effectively in the shortest amount of time you must combine cardio along with resistance training". I did these workouts throughout the summer when it was just too hot to cycle or power walk outside and even after a few workouts I noticed a difference in my body and am glad to say that this DVD helped me fit into a very fitted dress for a wedding I attended (I also was eating super clean, too).
So, if your looking for a quick but very effective total body workout I would definitely give this a try - can't beat the price - I picked it up at Target for $9.99!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Nothing screams SUMMER Like A Mojito

To me a mojito is the perfect summer drink - light and refreshing with a touch of lime and fresh mint. Unfortunately, the traditional way to make this drink is to use a simple syrup which makes this drink full of sugar. Too much sugar in one's diet can contribute to a whole host of problems - weight gain, cravings for more sugar, depression, fatigue and hormone imbalance, just to name a few. To make it possible to still enjoy a mojito without the added sugar, I created my own sugar free version that uses a natural, plant based sweetener called stevia. Stevia is available at most grocery stores, health food markets and online. I prefer pure SweetLeaf stevia from Wisdom foods that is available in packets as well as liquid, which is what I use in this recipe.
One thing to remember if you choose to add alcohol to this drink (it is still perfectly delicious and refreshing without the rum) is to have some safe snacks nearby, like nuts, veggies, hummus and guacamole as alcohol can trigger cravings in some people and make them more likely to scarf down something they may regret later. Always remember, too, to drink responsibly. The recipe below is for a pitcher of mojitos, which makes six drinks. It can be made just before your guests arrive and they can serve themselves. Pick up some fun glasses and get your summer party started - cheers!
Pitcher of Mojitos
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • A big handful of fresh mint
  • 6 shots of white rum (optional)
  • 2 droppers liquid stevia ( I use SweetLeaf stevia from Wisdom Foods)
  • 1 liter lime seltzer
  • ice

In a glass pitcher crush mint, lime juice, rum and stevia with a long spoon or muddler (click here to see a muddler). Add ice and selter and garnish with a lime wedge if desired.

Image credit to Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tabata Training - An Intense, Quick and Effective Way to Workout

I'm always looking for ways to decrease my gym time, without sacrificing my workout quality. I love the feeling of a challenging workout, when I'm dripping sweat and really give it my all, but I don't have the time or desire to spend hours at the gym on a daily basis. So, when I heard about a way to workout that was quick, intense and effective, I was definitely interested in learning more. Tabata training is high intensity interval training developed by Japanese researcher, Dr. Izumi Tabata. Each Tabata consists of 20 seconds of high intensity exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. This is repeated for eight rounds, totaling four minutes time. You can then rest for a few minutes and start another four minute cycle with another exercise.
Tabatas are great for both fat loss and muscle conditioning and also offer flexibility and variety to workouts. You can use either two different exercises performed four times each or four different exercises performed two times each or eight different exercises each performed once. You can also do one exercise for the entire four minute Tabata cycle, but if fatigue sets in and you begin to slow down you can switch to a different exercise to help maintain the same high level intensity in each round.
I have been incorporating Tabata training into my workouts for a few weeks now and I really love them because they are intense and depending on how much time I have, I can decide how many four minute cycles I want to perform. To give you an idea of what I have been doing, here is one sample workout. I start with a two minute warm-up on a stationary bike on the lowest level. I then bump up the level one notch and start my Tabata cycle. Using the digital clock on the bike, I go all out for 20 seconds and then slow down or stop for 10 seconds. I continue this "20 seconds on/10 seconds" off for a total of four minutes and then rest for two minutes. Then I may do a bicep/tricep cycle, 20 seconds of bicep curls with a challenging weight and then rest for 10 seconds. Grab the dumbells again and do tricep kickbacks for 20 seconds and rest for 10, alternating these two exercises for four minutes and then rest for two minutes. Then I'll switch to a shoulder and back cycle for four minutes and then do a two minute rest. I'll finish with an abdominal/chest cycle, doing full crunches and pushups for four minutes and then I'm done. I stretch out for a few minutes and then go about my day with an extra burst of energy and the great feeling that I got in an awesome workout and only spent about 30 minutes, which included warm-up, rest time and some stretching. I can do this workout at home, at the gym or even outside on the beach with my kids doing sprints- the only extra piece of equipment that you really need is a second hand on a clock or watch to time your intervals and you are good to go. Give Tabata training a try and combined with a sound nutrition program you should be on your way to feeling and looking great!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Frozen Yogurt Fruit Popsicles

Popsicles - the perfect treat on a hot, summer day. Their sweetness and icy coldness may be refreshing but if you take a minute to check the ingredients on the package you may be in for a surprise. Most popsicles contain a whole bunch of sugar, corn syrup, food dyes, and artificial sweeteners which may contribute to weight gain, cravings, energy slumps, behavior problems and attention/focus/concentration difficulties. You are much better off forgoing the boxed variety and making your own homemade treats, feeling confident that you are giving yourself and your family a healthy alternative. Whipping up some delicious homemade creations is alot easier than you may think and only requires a few ingredients and either a food processor or a blender, some popsicle molds and you are good to go!
Frozen Yogurt Fruit Popsicles
  • 1 container (17.6 ounces) full fat plain Greek yogurt (I use Fage brand)
  • 12 ounce bag organic frozen raspberries or any fruit of your choice
  • 7 stevia packets I use SweetLeaf Stevia Plus by Wisdom Foods)
  • 1/2 Cup organic 1/2 & 1/2

Let frozen fruit sit out on counter for an hour or so to thaw a bit. Then add fruit and yogurt to food processor or blender and combine well. Add each stevia packet one at a time, blending well after each packet. Slowly add 1/2 & 1/2 and blend well. Consistency should be thick but pourable. Carefully pour mixture into popsicle molds and freeze. Run popsicle mold under warm water to release frozen pop when ready to eat. Makes 8-12 popsicles, depending on mold used.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Study: Link Between ADHD & Pesticides

A recent study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, indicates a link between pesticides and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). According to the study, which was conducted by Harvard University and the University of Montreal, urine samples were studied for over 1,000 children, ages 8 to 15, for traces of organophosphate pesticide, a common pesticide found on fruits and vegetables. Children with the highest pesticide levels were more than ninety percent more likely than kids with no pesticide traces to have been diagnosed with ADHD.
So, how can we minimize exposure to pesticides and help protect our families from not only ADHD, but hormonal and developmental problems as well? Here are some tips to keep in mind when shopping.
  • Consider organic - Especially for produce that contains the most pesticide residue. Typically, strawberries, peaches, blueberries, broccoli, celery and apples are the biggest culprits.
  • Thoroughly wash produce - Even taking the time to peel certain fruits that you're not able to buy organic will help reduce exposure.
  • Check out farmers market - Local farmstands usually only use the bare minimum and will be happy to let you know what chemicals they do use, if any.

As we dive into the summer bounty of fruits and vegetables, please keep the above in mind and don't be discouraged from enjoying all the delicious produce that nature provides - just be diligent with washing and try to shop organic for those foods with the highest pesticide levels.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Family Reunion & My Favorite Salad

This weekend we celebrated birthdays and Mother's Day at our Merritt Reunion BBQ that my husband, two daughters and I hosted at our home. We had a blast catching up with family that flew in from all over the country and enjoyed some delicious food, too :) On the menu were slow-roasted ribs, grilled chicken, guacamole and veggies, creamy coleslaw (click for recipe), and the surprising favorite dish...Barley, Beet and Feta Salad. I say surprising because when most people hear that this fabulous salad contains beets, many say - uh, no thanks. I'm not a huge fan of beets, but in this salad, with all the different ingredients, the combination of everything makes for a really unique and flavorful dish and the beets help to make this recipe stand out. Not to mention the fiber, protein and vegetable content makes this super nourishing, too! This salad can be enjoyed hot or cold and the leftovers keep for days in the fridge and can be a real bonus for a busy week when you don't feel like cooking, as this hearty creation can really take the place of a meal. Hope you enjoy it as much as my family did!

Barley, Beet & Feta Salad

  • 1 pound beets
  • 4 Cups organic chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 Cups uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 Cups trimmed arugula ( 1 bunch)
  • 3/4 Cup chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 8 ounce package crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 Cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  1. Leave root and 1 inch stem on beets and scrub with a brush. Place in a medium saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer 60 minutes or until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water and cool. Trim off beet roots and rub off skins. Cut beets into 1/4 inch wide wedges.
  2. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the barley, cover, reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes until all the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Combine the barley, arugula, walnuts, beets and cheese in a large bowl. Combine vinegar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour the vinegar mixture over the barley mixture, tossing to coat.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New Study: Added Sugar, Not Just Fat, Bad For Cholesterol

I was away on vacation, relaxing in sunny Florida, when I opened the USA Today and saw the headline, "Study: Added Sugar, Not Just Fat, Bad For Cholesterol". I thought I'd better take a look at the article as many of my nutrition clients suffer from high cholesterol. I was also sitting next to my father, who at 68 years young is extremely fit, yet has elevated cholesterol levels, so I was definitely interested in the results of the study. Sugar is responsible for a myriad of health problems, such as obesity, depression, ADD/ADHD, headaches, fatigue and hormonal issues and now it has been linked to cholesterol levels. Researchers at Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta took a look at the sugar intake and blood fat levels in more than 6,100 adults and their discoveries appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, a highly cited weekly medical journal that publishes peer-reviewed medical research findings. The participants consumed on average, 21.4 teaspoons of added sugars a day from prepared and processed food such as candy, pastries, cookies, canned fruit and soft drinks. Not included in the study were the sugars in fresh fruit, 100% juice and other whole foods. The study showed that the people with the greatest intake of added sugars were more likely to have higher levels of triglycerides (blood fats) and lower levels of good cholesterol (HDL). Senior author Miriam Vos, an assistant professor at Emory University said, "People have been so focused on fat that we haven't been focused on sugar, and it's gotten away from us. This data shows we can't let either one or the other get too high. We need to get used to consuming foods and drinks that are less sweet".
So, what can we do to reduce added sugars in our diet without total depriving ourselves from the joy of eating? We can replace the added sugar in soda, lemonade and coffee drinks with an all natural, plant based sweetener from Paraguay called stevia. Many companies are using this sugar alternative in products such as Zevia beverages and SoBe Zero Lifewater. We can also be more aware of food labels and added sugar in certain items such as salad dressings, sauces, and even yogurt. Making the switch from regular yogurt to Greek yogurt can cut sugars by more than 50% - now that is significant!
Are you trying to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet for health reasons? Would love to hear some of the ways that you have been successful - please post a comment and share your discoveries!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Little Rub For Your Grub

I'm so excited to share a great new find with you - Nantucket Off-Shore Seasonings, a high quality line of all natural spice rubs. So versatile and easy to use, these spices can be sprinkled on roasted vegetables or potatoes, tossed in soups or stews, used for grilling, baking and creating flavorful marinades. These rubs are crafted from the finest, all natural herbs in the world, free of salt and sugar and come in cute little stay fresh tins. Available in eleven different varieties, I am particularly fond of the Mt. Olympus Rub, which is, according to the package description, "a savory Aegean blend of flowering herbs, garlic and lemon". I find it ideal for roast chicken or lamb and I'm thinking that I will be using this on Easter Sunday when I cook up a delicious boneless lamb roast. Here's the recipe I'll be making this weekend - be sure to check out for their recipe of the month and a store locator.
Lamb Roast
1 2 1/2 - 3 pound boneless lamb roast
4 cloves of garlic, halved
2 T olive oil
3-4 T Mt. Olympus Rub
1 T Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Using a small paring knife, make 8 small slits in the lamb and insert a half a glove of garlic into each slit. Combine all the above ingredients to form a paste(adjusting quantities as necessary) and using your hands or a small spatula, rub the mixture all over the lamb. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes. Lower heat to 375 degrees and roast 1 1/4- 1 1/2 hours more, basting several times. After 1 hour check for doneness with a meat thermometer, bringing the temperature to 130 degrees for rare and 140 degrees for medium. Let roast sit a few minutes before carving and enjoy. Serve with sweet potatoes and roasted vegetables.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Apple Cider Vinegar Cure - Relieved My Allergies & Lowered My Cholesterol

As a chronic allergy sufferer for over fifteen years, having relied on expensive prescription medicine to control my symptoms, I was searching for something more natural to help alleviate all the itching, sneezing and stuffiness I was experiencing. I had read about the miracles of apple cider vinegar (ACV) and it's ability to help with seasonal and perrenial allergies and honestly, I was a bit skeptical, but willing to give it a try.
Apple cider vinegar has been highly regarded throughout history, dating back to 400 BC when Hippocrates used it for its amazing health qualities. ACV is rich in enzymes, supports a healthy immune system, helps control weight, promotes digestion, helps soothe sore throats and aids in removing toxins from the body.
I had learned from the research I had done that it is imperative to use the type of ACV that has a brown sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which is called "the mother". Only raw, organic, apple cider vinegar has "the mother of vinegar" that makes it so beneficial. The "mother" is made up of living nutrients and bacteria, so it is actually alive, compared to clear vinegar, which has gone through processing and distilling and is actually dead.
So, for the past year I have used the recommended daily dose of ACV, which is two tablespoons, mixed with 1/2 packet of steviaa and eight ounces of water. Since it is too strong to drink on its own, ACV should be mixed with a bit of juice and water or the water and stevia combo that I use. It took about a week of continuous use for my body to feel the effects, but I am proud to say that I am now naturally free from allergies, thanks to apple cider vinegar! I also noticed an added benefit to my new regime - my cholesterol dropped twenty five points without changing anything else in my diet or routine. If you would like to try ACV for whatever's ailing you, I would highly recommend the Bragg's brand, as it is made from organically grown apples, processed in accordance with USDA guidelines and is certified organic.
Would love to hear if you have experienced similar positive results - please let me know if you end up trying out apple cider vinegar and what conditions it has helped.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Finally, A Great New Pasta Alternative!

I am often asked by family, friends and clients, who are looking to reduce sugar and processed carbohydrates in their diets, what would be an alternative to to the high glycemic pasta that many eat in abundance. My answer was usually to have them try making zucchini noodles by peeling the raw vegetable, heating it in the microwave and topping with their favorite sauce. It's a great way to add more vegetables, fiber and vitamins, but for most it didn't quite scratch that pasta itch - up until now. I am so excited to have discovered this amazing pasta alternative called Shirataki Noodles, made by House Foods Corporation. Shirataki Noodles are made from blending the root of the Konnyaku (a member of the yam family) with non genetically modified soybeans. The result is a low carbohydrate, high fiber, low calorie, fat free noodle that takes on the flavor of whatever you decide to combine it with. Last week I topped the Shirataki with homemade meat sauce and fresh parmesan cheese, for a totally authentic Italian dish. Tonight I am combining the noodles with broccoli, chicken and cashews for an Asian stir-fry. These gluten free, vegan noodles come pre-cooked in 8 ounces bags and are packed in liquid, so all you need to do is give them a quick rinse and add to a hot sauce. They can be found in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores and you can see if they are available in your area by going to the House Foods site (click here). So, give Shirataki Noodles a try - would love to hear your comments!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Loving My Sketchers Shape Ups

Last week I went to the mall and picked up an early Valentine's Day gift for myself - a pair of Sketcher's Shape Ups. I had been eyeing these and the similarly designed MBT sneakers that promise firmer thighs and a shapelier backside just from wearing them while you walk. Although I do engage in a regular fitness routine that consists of power yoga, cycling and resistance training, I thought that these might be a welcome addition, just to make sure I don't succumb to the dreaded, "blogger butt", as my friend and fellow blogger, Dawn Sandomeno at lovingly refers to the affliction.
I had been comparing the Sketchers Shape Ups and the MBT sneakers, both of which are designed with a rolling sole, giving wearers the feeling of walking on sand. This revolutionary technology helps to strengthen muscles, improve posture, promote weight loss and reduce stress on knee and ankle joints. I decided to go with the Sketchers rather than the much higher priced MBT's after finding similar online reviews for both brands. I immediately felt comfortable in the lightweight shoe, which really cushioned both my bunions and flat feet and the rolling heel made me feel as if I was walking uphill even when on flat ground. I have been wearing my Sketchers Shape Ups daily for over a week now and feel a tightening in my thighs and backside, as I am probably working some different muscles, which is always a good thing. I will continue to wear these cute and functional sneakers and give you all a full report in a few months to see what changes, if any, I notice. Would love to hear any feedback from readers who have had experience with this funky fitness footwear.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Transforming the Morning Rush

Trying to get the kids ready for school and getting yourself out the door for work can be enough of a challenge, never mind making a healthy, satisfying breakfast to jump start your day. Most of us just end up grabbing a coffee drink at the local drive-thru window, which ends up wreaking havoc on our waistlines and hampers our ability to focus and concentrate because of the high amount of sugar most of these coffee concoctions contain. As I wrote about in last weeks post, "Fat Does Not Make You Fat", I discussed how controlling sugar intake can really be the driving force in weight control and many health issues. So, how can you create a quick, easy, good for you morning meal that will get you and your family out the door in record time? The solution - a delicious shake that contains protein, fruit, fiber and healthy fats to give you a natural energy boost from nutrients, not stimulants, keep you satiated and help keep blood sugar levels balanced - which is really the key to maintaining healthy body fat levels. So, here's one of my favorite adult and kid-friendly protein shake recipes that helps give me the energy to power through my morning workout and get myself, my husband and my kids going on a healthy note, really setting the tone for our day. You can either make this in a blender or use my favorite - The Cuisinart Smart Stick. Feel free to use this recipe as a base, coming up with your own favorite additions and creating your own unique signature shake. Would love to hear about what interesting combinations you come up with!

Chocolate-Banana Butter Shake

1/2 cup hormone free skim milk

1/2 cup water

1 packet SweetLeaf Stevia (optional)

1/3 piece of banana

1 scoop Colonix fiber powder ( - optional

1 tablespoon raw almond butter ( I use Trader Joe's brand)

1 scoop Jay Robb chocolate egg white protein powder

Mix all ingredients in blender or Cuisinart Smart Stick and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fat Does Not Make You Fat

Contrary to popular belief, it's not fat that makes us fat, it's actually sugar. We have been bombarded by fat free products for years - fat free ice cream, fat free cookies and more, making us all think it was okay to eat these foods because they didn't contain any fat, which we all thought was the culprit in our ever expanding waistlines. According to bestselling author, Jorge Cruise, as he writes in his new book, "The Belly Fat Cure", he has discovered, after more than 10 years of research that, "there is only one critical key to getting rid of fat forever, and that is to lower insulin, the scientifically proven hormone that pushes fat into cells. You can't get fat or stay overweight without insulin. This is a biological fact that was proven in multiple research studies over the past 60 years that have appeared in such respected publications as The British Journal of Nutrition and The Journal of the American Medical Association. Unfortunately, this critical idea that insulin is essential for storing fat - and lowering your insulin is essential for releasing fat - has been buried under the conventional medical community's message that it's all about calories in, calories out; that all you have to do is exercise more and eat less to lose weight. It's a broken theory". So, according to Cruise, in order to lose weight, it is essential to lower our consumption of sugar and processed carbohydrates (white flour products) to insure that our blood sugar levels remain balanced and insulin levels stay in check.
Cruise's discovery has been backed by some very well known and respected top docs - namely Andrew Weil and David Katz, both at the head of the list in the Integrative Medicine field. Katz, who wrote the foreward of Jorge's book, states that, "excess sugar in our diets is among the most important factors conspiring against our waistlines and our health. Too much sugar means increased risk of weight gain, obesity, hormonal imbalance, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer".
So, does this give us license to eat all fats with abandon and gorge on artifically sweetened foods and drinks? No, we need to be smart about what we are putting in our mouths. The best fats to consume are heart healthy omega 3 fats such as avocados, almonds, walnuts, olive oil and salmon to keep us satiated, help recapture radiance and aid us in keeping blood sugar at balanced levels, so that insulin stays in check. That means sticking with quality proteins such as eggs, lean meats and fish, unprocessed carbohydrates which include plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding artificially sweetened foods that could cause cancer and tumors and actually increase sugar craving and hinder weight loss.
This low sugar/low processed carbohydrate plan is one of the best, most delicious, very satisfying and healthful ways to eat to avoid disease and naturally manage your weight. You will soon discover that after adopting this lifestyle that sugar cravings will disappear, energy will soar, hormone fluctuations will cease, mood will be lifted and you will be living your best, most dynamic life imaginable. It has certainly worked for me - for the past 25 years of my life and I highly recommend it to you - you won't be disappointed!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Biggest Loser Northboro/Southboro

I am so excited to be involved with the first ever, dual town "Biggest Loser Competition", sponsored by the Northboro and Southboro Massachusetts Rotary Clubs and UMASS Medical Center. This twelve week program starts this Wednesday, January 20 and runs through Wednesday, April 7. As a Certified Nutrition Consultant with my own private practice, I am able to provide my knowledge, support, guidance and encouragement to contestants looking to lose weight and reclaim their health and vitality. I understand the confusion and frustration many face as they try time and time again to lose weight once and for all, disappointed when they aren't able to maintain the lost pounds and eventually gain the weight back, sometimes ending up heavier than when they started. I personally struggled with weight issues and have been successful in maintaining my weight loss for more than twenty years. I'll be on hand every Wednesday night from 6-8pm at Algonquin Regional High School in Northboro, Massachusetts to share my tips for success, offer easy, family friendly recipes and provide individual and small group coaching. I will also be speaking about what to eat to generate weight loss, banish cravings, improve mood, lift depression, boost energy, balance hormones, sharpen focus, and help you look and feel fabulous. As host of "Dee-Lish Nutrish" Cooking Show, that airs on Northboro Cable Television, I'll also be demonstrating how to prepare healthy, delicious recipes and offering ideas for quick and easy snacks to help jump start your efforts and get you on your way to losing the weight for good! For more information about the Biggest Loser Northboro/Southboro Program go to - it's not too late to join! For more information about individual and small group nutrition coaching send me an email at You do not need to be a part of the Biggest Loser Program to be eligible for coaching. What are you waiting for - this is your chance to make your weight loss dreams a reality!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Nourishing Yourself First

The decorations are down, the house is back in order (somewhat) and the kids are back at school (woohoo) after a full twelve days of family togetherness. Our family togetherness primarily consisted of both kids getting sick, one right after the other, which resulted in an adult getaway weekend being sidelined. It did make for some good family bonding, though, with some relaxing movie days on the couch in our PJ's while the dog tried to eat used, stray tissues. I don't know about you, but I could use a vacation right about now. Since that is not possible, the next best thing is to get back to a routine and focus on nourishing from the inside out. Taking care of yourself first so that you can feel renewed and ready to nurture your family and those you care about. For me, that means starting the day with my favorite hot beverage (click to learn more), doing some writing on the computer, getting in a good workout, fixing a delicious protein shake (click for recipe) for a late morning breakfast, doing some errands and then creating a yummy salad for a nourishing lunch (pictured above). Good food really helps me get through the day. Tonight I'm planning a delicious meal, my "Zucchini Noodle and Turkey Meat Sauce"(click for recipe) and a green salad with avocado and cucumber. I'm looking forward to connecting with my family at the dinner table and hearing about their day. Now, some days don't always work out as planned, they end up being crazy and you're just trying to make it all work in the midst of the chaos and that's okay. For me, just getting in a quick workout helps me to recharge and be prepared for the day of dealing with teens, work and life's ups and downs. Taking just a little bit of guilt-free time for myself helps me to be the best mom, wife, daughter, sister, business owner, etc. that I can be. What nourishes you and helps you get through the day? Just leave a comment below - would love to hear from you!

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