Wednesday, December 29, 2010's cold out there!!!

Winter weather got you hibernating indoors???  Believe me, I completely understand the affects of the cold weather on my outdoor fitness activities....I am not a fan of being chilly.

But here's a fact that can help motivate you to put on that beanie and face the bitter chill: working out in the cold actually BURNS MORE CALORIES!!!  Yep, yep :)....when your body is cold it actually has to work harder to keep it functioning at an optimum internal temperature....which equals a higher metabolism just to keep you warm :).  So that normal summer speed walk/jog/hike/biking adventure actually burns more during the winter time since your body is working extra hard just to get warm!!
Make sure to bundle up...I recommend layers (jackets that can be tied around your waist) because you will heat up.  Plus getting outside the gym and house actually has positive psychological affects (freedom, fresh air, tranquility, and natural beauty). 

Now be careful with the rains...I recommend staying indoors for this type of weather.  No one wants to risk getting stuck in the mud on a hike or slipping and spraining or straining something on a pavement walk!  No fun!!  However I do recommend snow hikes (snow shoeing) with the proper gear of course :).

This outdoor adventure is great for man's best friend that's probably been sleeping all winter.  And also great for the kids to get away from the TV and video games...burning some energy and having some fun quality family time.

Have fun.  Be creative.  And stay healthy in any sort of weather. =)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holiday Bruschetta...yum!

How about a healthy festive flavorful holiday appetizer for your next gathering??

  • 1 whole wheat loaf (cut into 1" cubes)
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped cherry tomatoes
  • 5 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (or dried if not available)
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  1. In a large bowl, mix chopped tomatoes, salt, pepper, basil, and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Let rest in fridge for 1-2 hrs to allow flavors to blend.
  2. After tomato mixture has fully rested. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. Toss chopped bread in 3 tbsp of olive oil. Spread bread evenly on a cookie sheet.
  4. Cook in oven for 10-15 minutes until bread is crispy.
  5. Serve bread warm and bruschetta cold.  Enjoy!
This is a good size appetizer for 6-8 people.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holidays Got You Feelin' Cramped For Time?

With the parties, cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, traveling, shopping, and wrapping most of us have a difficult time keeping up.  This results in removing a few things for a standard schedule; for most of us this means the gym and sleep.

So on those days that you can't make it to the gym or find a solid hour for a good workout I've created something just for you!  Try this:

15min AM abs (best right when you wake up):
  • 1 min standard crunch (Knees bent, eyes up)
  • 30 sec plank hold (on elbows)
  • 1 min reverse crunch (bent knees)
  • 30 sec plank hold
  • 1min marches (lay on back similar to crunch with knees bent 90 degrees to ground, take turns tapping each foot to the floor)
  • 30 sec plank hold
  • 1 min heel ins (lay on back, knees bent, heels on the ground, push heels out still skimming the ground keeps the lower back on the floor with belly button pulled into the spine until legs are straight, then pull heels back in skimming the floor until meeting the glutes
  • 30 sec plank hold
  • 1 min butt ups (lay on back, feet on the ground, knees bent, raise hips to the ceiling, hold 1 sec)
  • 30 sec plank hold
30 min cardio (afternoon, lunch break):
  • speed walking, light jog, biking, elliptical
  • use interval training with 1 min bursts (high intensity), 2 min medium intensity, 1 min recovery
15 min arms and legs (after dinner or before bed):
  • 1 min walking lunges (or standing switching legs if you don't have enough floor space)
  • 1 min push ups (on knees or feet)
  • 1 min standing squats (make sure knees are over the toes, back is not arched, pull belly button into the spine)
  • 1 min triceps dips (use a step, chair, or bench)
  • 1 min calf raises
  • 1 min bicep curls (free weights 8-10lbs)
  • 1 min side lunges
  • 1 min rest
And you just completed an hour workout!!!

All you need is: free weights (8-10lbs) and a stop watch! No more excuses :) Time Management.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A healthy twist on the old 7 layer dip!

So the end of the year usually means parties, football games, and holiday gathering...all that come with lots of fun appetizers.  So why not make your guests some healthy me their waistline will thank you!

Here's one I just created last Sunday with my friend Nicole, perfect for football festivides! 

A healthy twist on the old favorite, 7 layer dip.

  • 1 can vegetarian refriend beans
  • 1 can Trader Joe's Cajun whole black beans
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sliced jalapenos
  • 2 whole avocados, chopped
  • 1-2 cups fresh salsa
  • 2  tablespoons of minced garlic
  • 2-4 pieces of chicken breast
  • salt
  • pepper
  • basil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 bag whole wheat, blue corn, or organic yellow corn tortilla chips
  1. Have all ingredients chopped and ready.
  2. Chop chicken and toss in salt, pepper, and basil.
  3. Warm refried beans and whole cajun black beans on medium low, stirring occassionally.
  4. Add olive oil to a large fry pan, cook chicken on medium high, stirring occassionally.
  5. In a large pyrex dish (9x9x3 or larger), warm spread refried, garlic, and onions.
  6. Next spread warmed whole cajun black beans, onion, tomatoes.
  7. Next layer salsa, chopped avocadoes, cilantro.
  8. Finally top with cooked chicken breast.
  9. And enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!!

Thanksgiving aka "National Eating Olympics" aka "National Diet Destruction"

Don't worry I am not going to advise you to have celery for dinner!  It is National Eating Day and of course you want to somewhat participate; and realistically you will be ingesting more calories than your normal days.  So I'm here to give you a few pointers to use and still enjoy your day!

  1. Start the day off with some sort of cardio at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour!  Now this can be a brisk walk with the family, jumping jacks and crunches inside, elyptical, bicycle, treadmill, or even a jog....just get up and get that metabolism ready!!!
  2. Eat a healthy satisfying breakfast.  Something that will stick with you so you are not starving when you arrive at the Diet Graveyard, but also something low in fat and high in fiber.  Try a homemade fresh fruit protein smoothie or my fav steal cut oats with some berries.
  3. Once you arrive, you probably will be faced with a variety of snacks....yes I could advise you to have a healthy nutritional bar in your bag ready when snack time strikes...but of course you want to dig in.  So when you feel that hunger strike, decide what you would like to try place them on a small plate and enjoy slowly.  Now before getting any more sit and let you food digest....if you are not hungry DO NOT GO BACK and one of my pitfalls DO NOT STAND NEXT TO THE FOOD TABLE!!!....horrid mistake by many!
  4. So if you are the chef for this belly enlarging feast make sure to keep your hands OFF THE FOOD!! Yes if a taste test is required for proper seasoning okay...but no more!!!  You can double your calorie intake just by snacking while you cook.  If you get hungry ask one of your lovely guests to take over for 5 minutes and grab a healthy snack...sit down enjoy and get back to work people are hungry! :)
  5. Okay feasting time!!! Now be are in the danger zone!!!  Try to fill your plate with as much fresh veggies that are on the table.  Stay away from salting your food (there is probably enough already in it from the chef, try pepper if needed), buttering the food (unless its something healthy like Smart Balance...I'm sure the chef cooked enough butter into it), and away from that gravy....ain't nothing healthy about that stuff...and if the food is dry then don't eat it...sign you need a new chef for next year!  Once you are done with plate 1 wait at least 15 minutes before grabbing seconds...if you are satisfied put that fork down!
  6. And as far as drinks...yes it is celebration time and yes you should enjoy...but watch those calories!  Grab a light beer, a glass of red wine or something hard with a bit of seltzer.  Keep it to two drinks...I know I know...but there are kids around!!
  7. Oh jeez now dessert arrives.  And I am sure there will be tons of choices.  Again grab that small plate....and yes tons of choices....if you must try a few be sure to get a few slivers of pie, small scoop of ice cream, small amount of ice cream....key word here SMALL....keeps your waistline SMALL!!
  8. Now conclude your feast with some more cardio!!! I recommend a nice family walk!!! Everyone can use it!  After your walk be done! No more food!
Hope these tips help.

I want to wish everyone a happy, safe, and HEALTHY holiday!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Killing yourself on that elyptical trying to drop a few pounds??? Well you may be stuck because of elevevated cortisol levels!

I took a NASM Sports Performance Training workshop this weekend and the instructor brought up the topic of excess cortisol effects on the body.  Cortisol is a regulator of the immune response.  This is what the body releases under stress...emotional, mental and physical stress.  High cortisol levels result in a catabolic effect on the body's tissue, muscle breakdown.  Basically if you are working out over 15 minutes at a high heart rate you are beginning to produce too much cortisol and instead of your body breaking down fat it is now breaking down lean muscle tissue; what you have been working for!!!  This is where interval training is vital, especially for endurance athletes. 

High levels of cortisol not only lead to chronic muscle break down but also injury, illness, mood swings, body composition, and of course body performance. 

Signs that your workouts are harming and not helping your body:
  • mood swings
  • lack of motivation to train
  • loss of muscle
  • increase in body fat
  • loss of appetite
  • exhaustion and fatigue after every workout
How to avoid the accumulation of your cortisol:

Purchase a heart rate monitor and find your maximum heart rate, your target heart rate and your various workout training zones.  Be sure to recover adequately after a 10-15 minute cardio burst, before beginning your next.  Interval training is great for this.  Also go slow and pay attention to your body,  build up to higher endurance and cardio PATIENT!!! 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Red Red Wine... :)

"Nothing more excellent or valuable than wine was ever granted by the Gods to man." - Plato

Yum drink of choice by far.  Wine is not only great for a little treat and some relaxation, but also has quite a few health benefits.  The key to keeping wine as a health benefit and not a diet destroyer is moderation.  Moderation means one glass per day for women and two glasses per day for men.

Medical Benefits of Red Wine:
  • lowers the risk of heart attack
  • lowers the risk of heart disease
  • positive effects of cholesterol levels and blood pressure
  • protection against certain cancers (breast, colon, leukemia, melanoma, prostate)
What makes wine beneficial to our health?
  • Reveratrol; found in grape seeds.  Reveratrol promotes the formation of HDL (good cholesterol) and prevents the formation of artery blocking LDL (bad cholesterol).  Reveratrol has also been shown to lower DNA mutations, kick start cell death in cancerous cells, prevent the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors, and neutralize the formation of free-radicals (these damage our healthy cells); which is why red wine has protection capabilities from different cancers.
  • Flavonoid phenolics; antioxidant.  Flavanoids prevent blood clots; this is important in the small vital vessels of the heart and oxygen to these parts of the body=body failure!
Remember the key to keeping red wine beneficial and not harmful to the body is MODERATION!!!!

**More information can be found on the following sites:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Runyon Canyon

We are actually having some wonderful weather this fall!! Get outside and take advantage of it before we are stuck in the gym with cold rainy weather.

I hiked Runyon Canyon last week with some friends and was surprised at the difficulty and the amazing views of downtown LA, Hollywood, and Santa Monica.  Seriously something you have to check out!

The hike is about three miles round trip and ranges in difficulty on your choice of trail steepness. 

Get to Runyon Canyon Park between 8 and 11am and catch one of their free outdoor yoga classes before.

This is a very popular hike and people do bring their dogs.  But believe me you will be inspired by some of these fitness gurus!!

Here's the location:

2000 N Fuller Ave
Fuller and Franklin
Los Angeles, CA 90189

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Candy candy candy....Halloween is in 5 days!

With Halloween right around the corner we need some healthy diet reminders; it is so easy to get caught up with all the festivities!  And this holiday is our first test.  Soon we will be faced with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years....the most frustrating times to keep on the diet train!

Things to watch out for:

Halloween Parties-
Be sure to eat a well balanced high protein and high fiber meal before arriving to keep you full and satisfied and away from the chips and dip, cupcakes, candy, and other high calorie low nutrition snacks!  Allow yourself one to two treats then STEP AWAY FROM THE SNACK AREA!!!  As far as drinking, try to keep it to some blood red wine (high in antioxidants and low in added crappy sugars) or a vodka/rum/gin/whiskey on the rocks with a splash of diet soda, lime, or fresh juice....steer clear of the fun mixed mystery punch; loaded in sugar, calories, and various types of alcohol...usually leaving you with a terrible hangover the next day.  Be smart and have fun!

Hey parents go out with your kids!!  This activity is great to get the heart rate up and the legs moving.  But remember this is an added bonus exercise....not a reason why you can ravage through your kid's candy....listen to them "No Mom/Dad that's mine!!"...and thank them for the reminder.  Yes it is Halloween and in life we deserve little treats.  So once home, pick 2-3 SNACK SIZE pieces to sit and savor. 

Good luck!! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Vitamin-Packed Sweet/Spicy Stir Fry!

Looking for a healthy lunch or dinner that’s low in fat, calories and high in vitamins??? Try this tasty combo:

Servings: 2

  • 1 bunch of kale
  • 4 bunches of baby bok choy
  • 1 c chopped mushrooms
  • 1 c chopped tomatoes
  • ½ c chopped onions
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp trader joes soyaki sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder (if desired)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Olive oil

1. Coat a large fry pan with olive oil, heat to medium high. Add garlic and chopped onions, sauté for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add mushrooms, tomatoes, baby bok choy, kaleand water. Cover and let simmer for 2 minutes.

3. Add chili powder, soykai sauce and sesame seeds. Stir evenly. Cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes.

4. Plate and serve.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cooking Oils….get the DL…

Why are there so many different types of oils? And which oils are best for your health and taste buds?? How do different oils vary?

Well besides where the oils come from, which is obvious by the label; here’s what defines them:

1. Smoke point: this is the temperature when the oil begins to smoke. When the oil starts smoking it begins to break down and loses it’s nutritional components. Here’s some good stuff to go by:
  • Oils great for high heat cooking (searing or frying):
          -Grapeseed oil: 420
          -Refined sunflower oil: 450
          -Olive oil, virgin: 420
          -Coconut oil, refined: 450
          -Canola oil, expeller press: 464
          -Avocado oil: 520
          -Almond oil: 420
          -Corn oil, refined: 450
          -Hazelnut oil: 430
          -Macadamia oil: 413
          -Sunflower oil, refined: 450
          -Peanut oil, refined: 450
  • Oils great for light stir-frying:
          -Olive oil, extra virgin: 375
          -Unrefined walnut oil: 320
          -Coconut oil, unrefined: 350
          -Corn oil, unrefined: 320
          -Peanut oil, unrefined: 320
          -Sunflower oil, unrefined: 225
          -Walnut oil, unrefined: 320

2. Refined/ Unrefined: unrefined oils have not been changed and still contains all pre-existing     nutritional facts. Unrefined oils also have a much lower smoke point than refined.

3. Extraction methods: oils originate either from a seed or a plant. Conventional oils are extracted thru a chemical process. Natural oils are expeller pressed or cold pressed (NO CHEMICALS!).

It is important to have various oils in your home; for different preparations and flavors. Here are a few examples:

1. Olive oil: a great all purpose cooking oil, with a smoke point of 375 (extra virgin) or 420 (virgin). Olive oil is also great to use as a salad dressing or a dipping oil (balsamic and olive oil).

2. Sesame oil: great for stir fries and baking vegetables….the full nut flavor adds a punch to your veggies!

3. Coconut oil: this oil has a high smoke point and a long shelf life. This oil is a great replacement for butter in baking. It can also be used for those Thai inspired stir frys. Refined coconut oil is great for roasting and frying.

4. Walnut oil: strong nutty flavor and full of omega-3 fatty acids. This oil can be used for high heat cooking, but does loose that strong nutty flavor so be sure to try it as a finishing oil for salads, soups, grains, or pasta.

5. Grapeseed oil: is very light and clean with a high smoke point. This can be used for a variety of cooking since it doesn’t have much flavor.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sweet Grilled Squash

It's fall time!!!  What better way to kick it off then creating a healthy side dish or appetizer for your family to enjoy!!  Try this delectable treat!

Servings: 2

  • 2 yellow squash
  • 2 zucchini squash
  • 5 mushrooms
  • 1 eggplant
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cumin
  • ¼ c herbed goat cheese

1. Slice squash and eggplant about 1/4” thick.

2. Heat barbecue or Forman grill to medium high.

3. Marinate squash, mushrooms and egg plant in olive oil and balsamic. Season with salt pepper and cumin evenly on both sides.

4. Place marinated and seasoned veggies on grill. Cook until softened. Approximately 4 minutes per side (on grill) or 8 minutes in Forman.

5. Plate veggies and top with crumbled goat cheese.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Temescal Canyon Hike

This has quickly become my new favorite hike!! This hike poses some steep climbs and various choices of trail lengths. Best of all the views from the top are breath taking; Santa Monica coastline, beautiful mansions, and on a clear day downtown LA. In the spring and winter hikers can cross the tranquil waterfall. Best of all is the location of this hike, only 10 minutes from Santa Monica….makes it for a perfect morning work-out before enjoying a day at the beach, shopping on 3rd street, or chowing down at one of Santa Monica’s healthy eateries!

Location: Pacific Palisades, Temescal Gateway Park. 15601 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Watch the Nutrition Halo Effect!

What is this??? It is the feeling we get of making a good food choice. But watch yourself, companies use this as a marketing ploy. The “low-fat” or “fat-free” labels on yummy snack foods, make us think we are making the right decision; but often times these snacks can be higher in sodium, sugar in calories. My advice go for the higher fat (sticking with mono and poly unsaturated fats) and lower sodium, calories, and if you can SUGAR!!

Also watch labels like “organic”, sometimes these treats contain more sugar than the standard versions and more calories.

Be sure to focus on food labels and ingredients instead of the colorful box with exciting claims! Be smart, companies are out there to make money and have hired marketing teams to trick you into buying something that may not be all that great for you. So when you pick up something off the shelf really read into that food label, ignore all the bright distracting colors and sayings.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Food Around the World Part #10; Thai:

Thai food is a type of cuisine that is becoming much more popular in the US. However with the Americanized versions watch your portion size! Also be careful of those coconut curries! These are high in saturated fat and calories.

A great dish to try next time you go Thai is Tom Yung Gung. Yes strange name, something I have not heard of until doing this research. This dish is composed of shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and a few other fresh herbs and spices. This dish is full of antioxidants which inhibit cancerous-tumor growth and boost the immune system. Ginger aids in digestion, turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory, and lemongrass is great for cold and tummy troubles.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food Around the World Part #9; South American:

The traditional South American diet relies on fresh fruits and vegetables (legumes) and complex carbohydrates (quinoa).

Be careful when you do some areas of South American to steer clear of the large steak dishes; as well as the fried sausage, yams, and bananas. Stick with the light fish dishes, like ceviche, and the lightly prepared fruits and veggies!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Food Around the World Part #8; Mexican:

The Americans version of Mexican food: fried chips, fried sugar churros, fatty cheese enchiladas, cheese quesadillas, and lard baked beans. Terrible for your health and your pant size!!! Well true authentic Mexican food is comprised of freshly cooked beans, soups, and tomato based sauces. Real Mexican food actually does the reverse of the American creation; it actually lowers women’s risk of breast cancer!! The main ingredients of this type of cuisine actually slow digestion (beans and corn) and also may protect the body from type 2 diabetes.

So next time you hit up your favorite Mexican restaurant skip on all the rich queso dip and cheese laden dishes!! Instead go for ceviche, grilled vegetable salad or tomato based soup. And keep the fresh salsa as the main topping!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Food Around the World Part #7; Spain:

Traditionally when eating out in Spain food is served in tapas, which are small portions to share with guests. This is much similar to traditional Greece food consumption. Eating small portions of various types of food fulfills your pallet and slows you down from inhaling an entire plate of food, this allows you to notice the full feeling and know to stop eating.

Spain cuisine consists mainly of seafood, vegetables, and olive oil. All great for your health and waist line!

Next time you are at your favorite Spanish restaurant go for the cancer-fighting, antioxidant and lycoene rich gazpacho or the paella (seafood, rice and veggies). Just watch the American extra large portion. Be sure to avoid sausage dishes and fried items (even if they are in small portions)!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Food Around the World Part #6; Italy:

Okay so when you think of the “American Italian” cuisine most of us think cheesy fatty super high calorie, diet destruction, lasagna! And yes a lot of Italian food is high in refined foods, heavy creamy sauces, and rich fatty cheese. But in true Italian cuisine this are all served in much smaller portions and without so much cheese and refined carbohydrates.

So what makes this type of cuisine good for us? Well the main true Italian ingredients are tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, parsley and basil. Tomatoes contain lycopene, which helps protect women against breast cancer. Garlic and the fresh Italian herbs are full of Vitamin A and C! Plus we all know how amazing olive oil is at lowering cholesterol, fighting heart disease, and burning belly fat.

Most true Italian cuisine is not based around fatty cheese. Yes, Italians do use Parmesan, but it is used more as a garnish and harder cheeses are much better for you in general. So make sure to stay away from the American-Italian extra cheese pizza or the fatty lasagna!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Food Around the World Part #5; Indian:

The traditional Indian cuisine revolves around fresh spices, like turmeric, ginger, red chilies, and garam masala (cumin, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander). These spices more than just add amazing flavor, they protect you against some cancers. Furthermore, turmeric and ginger can also help fight Alzheimer’s. Tumeric also has anti-inflammatory and healing properties.

Most Indian food also contains yogurt and lentils, which are high in fiber and fat burning Resistant Starch. Yogurt and lentils also contain high amounts of folate and magnesium, which help maintain blood sugar.

Next time you venture into an Indian restaurant go for the vegetable curry with dal! But be sure to avoid any of the heavy fried foods, like samosas. Also stay away from any of the curries made with heavy cream or butter.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Food Around the World Part #4; Japanese:

The traditional Japanese diet is rich in cancer-fighting fruits and vegetables. Also, in preparation they are not deep fried or cooked in fatty animal by-products, instead they are lightly steamed or stir-fried.

Furthermore, the Japanese culture focuses on eating until 80% full not 100%. Eating this way is much easier on the digestive system and allows them to easily function without those uncomfortable stuffed feelings.

Traditional Japanese foods are rich in antioxidants (yams and green tea), cruciferous and calcium veggies (bok choy), iodine (seaweed..which is also great for the thyroid), omega-3 (seafood), iron, potassium, zinc, copper, and folate (shiitake mushrooms), and whole soy foods.

A great healthy choice for your next Japanese outing is Miso soup or a simple veggie and tofu stir fry. Be sure to avoid white rice (which spikes blood sugar) and instead choose brown rice (rich in fat burning Resistant Starch).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Around the World Part #3; Vietnamese:

Vietnamese dishes use mainly fresh herbs, lots of vegetables, and seafood. All these ingredients are low in calories and fat, plus rich in vitamins and minerals.

Vietnamese do not use deep fryers or cook dishes in lots of animal fat or butter. Instead, they use water or broths, which are both very low or free of calories.

These dishes also uses natural flavorings like cilantro, mint, Thai basil, star anise, and red chili; which have been used for various alternative remedies for various health problems. For example, cilantro and anise help aid in digestion and fight disease causing inflammation.

One great dish to try is pho, which is a broth based soup full of antioxidant packed spices. One thing to avoid at Vietnamese restaurants are the fatty short ribs.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Food Around the World Part #2; Cali

The West Coast is full of groves and gardens of fresh fruits and vegetables. These ingredients when prepared correctly are full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Furthermore, these ingredients are naturally low in calories.
The great thing about eating foods grown locally is that they not only taste much better but also are still rich in vitamin C and folate (when produce is shipped they lose some of these nutrients).

With the wide selection of fresh fruits, grains and vegetables it is fairly easy to eat a vegetarian diet. Although when eating out vegetarian be sure to avoid high fat cheeses. Be sure to request vegetables grilled or sautéed in garlic and olive oil and to hold the cheese or go light on the cheese.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Food Around the World Part #1; Greece:

Cuisines from other cultural backgrounds have some incredible health benefits; however a lot of the “Americanized versions” are full of unhealthy fats, salt, and/or unhealthy carbohydrates.

Traditional Greek foods are composed of dark leafy veggies, fresh fruit, high-fiber beans, lentils, grains, olive oil, and omega 3 rich fish. These ingredients provide lots of immune-boosting and cancer fighting properties that cuts your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related ailments. Consuming the traditional Mediterranean diet results in a 25% reduced risk of death from heart disease and cancer.

Greeks also often share small plates at dinner called meze. Eating several types of food in small amounts in more satisfying because you get a taste of everything and it forces you to eat much slower, noticing when you are hungry. Furthermore, when Greeks eat meat is eaten in very small amounts with local calorie items (seafood), slowly digested carbohydrates (beans, eggplant, or whole-grain breads) and small portions of foods with good fats (olives and nuts).

When eating Greek be sure to order all fish and meats grilled and vegetables sautéed in olive oil and garlic. The combination of greens and olive oil has beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and the garlic helps to lower blood pressure.

Be sure to avoid heavy buttered dishes as well as the oh so yummy Spanakopita (spinach pie), which can be high in calories and fat as bacon cheeseburger.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Nachos!! Yumm….

Football season has began and there is nothing better than sharing a plate of nachos with a group of friends while watching the game! But we all know those standard nachos have no nutrients and are full of unhealthy carbohydrates and fat.
Well I could not see my life without that yummy cheesy snack food!! So I decided to put a healthy flavorful twist on the all time favorite:

  • One bag of blue corn or baked yellow corn tortilla chips
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 chopped orange bell pepper
  • 4 chopped green onions (greens included)
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large Hass avocadoes, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped black olives
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat pepper jack
  • 1 cup shredded reduced fat sharp cheddar
  • ¼ cup jalapenos, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded chicken breast (optional)
  • 1 jar/ container of fresh salsa
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of garlic
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Bring a large fry pan to medium high, add olive oil and garlic. Heat for 2 minutes. Add chopped onion, cook for 4 minutes. Finally add bell peppers, mix evenly, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes or until softened.
  3. On a large cookie sheet, spread the bag of chips followed by the black beans, black olives, tomatoes, green onion, and chicken breast (if desired). Once bell pepper mixture is finished spread evenly on top of cookie sheet. Finally sprinkle shredded cheese and put in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Once cheese is melted pull out of oven and add salsa and avocados.
  5. Serve and enjoy!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make Portion Control Easier, wherever you may be!

When cooking at home, serve from the kitchen (do not put large dishes of food on the dining table, it sitting there will make it much easier to over eat). If you do have leftovers after the food is plated, put it in Tupperware containers before sitting down. Keeping the extra food out of sight and out of reach, really does keep it out of mind.

When dining at a restaurant, most portions are two to four times the actual serving size! When first starting to learn proper portions start by asking the waiter/waitress to box up half of the dish when it comes to the table, or ask he/she to bring a box with your meal. This may make you feel uncomfortable with the people you are with, but trust me your waist line will thank you! And once your stomach is used to the smaller portions and your mind is used to visualize exactly how much you should eat, you will be able to just leave half of your food on your plate (and follow the normal after eating boxing techniques).

When at a dinner/ appetizer party, this can be the worst especially with all the yummy options. Make sure to eat a small snack (such as an apple, high in dietary fiber) so you are not ravenous when you get there. Check out the food and decide what you would like to eat. Take a few small appetizers to start, when finished wait 15 minutes before getting more to rank you “fullness.” Be careful with drinks as well, not only can they add tons of sugar and calories, but they also do increase your appetite. When filling your plate for the dinner be sure ½ of the plate is filled with fresh veggies (not laden in oil, butter, or fat dressing!!), ¼ with carbohydrates, and ¼ with lean protein. And do not go back for seconds!

Biggest deal with portion control is listening to your body! Some days you may find yourself needing more food, whereas other days you may be full much more quickly. And remember it takes at least 15-20 minutes to feel that full feeling.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Short on time?? Interval training is the answer!

Interval training (circuit training) is a great way to accomplish cardio and weight training at the same time. Interval training requires burst of high intensity activity (increasing the heart rate) with short recovery periods (heart rate never comes to a full resting rate).

This type of exercise can burn much more fat and calories than a leisure workout twice as long.

Try vertical loading:
  1. 1 set total body weights (such as stepping lunge into a shoulder press)
  2. 10 jumping jacks
  3. 1 set chest (chest press on yoga ball)
  4. 10 jumping jacks
  5. 1 set back (lie supine, stomach on, yoga ball complete back row)
  6. 10 jumping jacks
  7. 1 set shoulders (seated yoga ball shoulder press)
  8. 10 jumping jacks
  9. 1 set Biceps (seated yoga ball on bicep curls)
  10. 10 jumping jacks
  11. 1 set triceps (lie prone, back on, yoga ball complete tricep overhead extensions)
  12. 10 jumping jacks
  13. 1 set legs (squat with yoga ball between back and wall)
  14. 10 jumping jacks
  15. Rest for 2 minutes and repeat 2-3 times
**Be sure to have adequate amount of floor space, yoga ball and a set of hand weights within your reach before you begin this workout to not waste any time.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Going Nutz!!

Everyone knows how good nuts are for us….but why? And which ones do what? It’s always good to know what you are putting in your body! Just be careful these little snacks are too easy to eat and they are loaded with calories! Stay in portion size!

Also nuts have the most nutrients when eaten raw.  This also keeps you away from eating all the extra salt and perservatives...yes I know chipotle flavored pistacios can taste so yummy...but not nearly the same health benefits!

  • 14 halves=185 calories
  • Good source of protein, fiber, magnesium, high levels of alpha-linolenic acid (brain boosting omega 3)
  • 23 nuts=163 calories
  • Help lower cholesterol
  • More calcium and fiber than most other nuts
  • Vitamin E
Macadamia Nuts:
  • 10-12 nuts=204 calories
  • High in monounsaturated fat
  • Thiamine (helps nervous system)
  • 49 nuts=162 calories
  • Lower in calories then most nuts
  • Rich in lutein (antioxidant good for vision and skin)
  • One serving= potassium in one banana
  • 18 nuts= 163 calories
  • 10% daily value of iron
  • Folate and vitamin K (keeps bones strong and blood clotting normally)
Brazil Nuts:
  • 6 nuts=186 calories
  • Selenium (thyroid health)
  • 19 halves=196 calories
  • Rich in beta-sitosterol (lower cholesterol and prostate health)
Pine Nuts:
  • 167 nuts=191 calories
  • Manganese (maintain proper blood sugar levels and metabolize carbohydrates and protein)
  • Fatty acids (boost satiety hormones)

Monday, August 30, 2010


Take a few minutes to stop close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Think about the ocean waves, beautiful mountains, or a lush forest. Amazing how this will slow your heart rate and relax your mind.

Also try carrying some peppermint oil. Peppermint oil will help liven you up, feeling fresh and reenergized.

Whatever you do avoid stress eating!!!  Yes this is an impulse of many and yes as shown in the picture above "Stressed" does spell "Desserts" backwards...strange huh?  When you are stressed make sure you are eating because your tummy is hungry not because you are looking to fill that empty feeling/sad feeling/confused feeling with some "feel good" chocolate cake!!!  Best idea: if you are stressed stay away from the kitchen, hands off the fridge...try a walk or the gym.  Pushing yourself thru a sweat sess will calm the mind, activate those feel good endorphins, and give you a confidence good as it tastes chocolate cake won't do that, plus you will most likely regret it later.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Great BBQ Side Dish: Red Quinoa Salad

A new healthy take on pasta salad!! Great for these hot summer days…

  • ½ cup quinoa
  • ½ cup chopped baby tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 chopped scallion
  1. Bring 1 cup of water and ½ cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Let quinoa cool.
  3. Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for one hour.
  4. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Whether you are a runner, hiker, swimmer or weight lifter start tracking your progress! Tracking your progress electronically and putting you stats into a graph will help motivate you to keep going. Keeping a track record also shows you how far you have come. Think of each line on the chart as your road to your goal!

General Stats to Track:
  • Weight
  • Circumference measurements
  • Blood pressure
  • Mentality/Anxiety levels
  • BMI
Runners/Swimmer/Hikers/Walkers Track:

  • Distance
  • Time
  • Pace
Weight Lifters Track:
  • Weight lifted
  • Reps
  • Sets

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yum Yum Chocolate!

If you’re a fan of melty-rich oie gooie chocolate; you will love these!!

  • ½ cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp of cocoa nibs
  • 2 tbsp of coconut flakes
  1. Mix all ingredients together
  2. Line a ceramic dish with wax paper
  3. Put mix in the wax paper covered dish
  4. Put in fridge for 3 hours
  5. Enjoy!
NOTE: keep in the fridge or it will become liquid!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Honey Masks!

My girlfriend Christi got me hooked on this last year. Yes at first I was like “no way!! Sticky food on my face!.” But once I tried it I became a devout honey masker!

Honey is a great moisturizer, leaving your skin smooth as a baby’s booty! The hydroxyl acids also help to naturally exfoliate the skin, cleaning surface dirt from the pours. Furthermore the antibacterial properties of honey help fight any current infections on the skin (this is also great for healing any cuts on other areas of the body).

Be sure to purchase raw unprocessed honey (should be whiter in color than normal honey). The best is Manuka Honey, but is a little pricey. I usually just hit up Trader Joes or whole foods for one of their store brands and it does the job!

I usually just apply a light layer of the honey to my face and allow it to sit for approximately 20minutes then rinse with warm water. You can also get fancy and add some ground almonds (for a greater exfoliate) to the honey and apply it that way.

And guys this works great for you as well!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Coconut Oil….what is this stuff??

A health secret of the tropics!!

Many people say “No” to coconut oil because of it’s high content of saturated fat. Yes saturated fats from meat products are bad for you, but think about this is a plant source. Fats from plant sources are much easier for the body to digest. Check out this site for more information about the US campaign for unsaturated fats (look at what crops the US produces and why it makes sense for it to push for unsaturated fats). Check out this site for some detailed research:

Health benefits of coconut oil:
  • Hair care
  • Skin care
  • Increased immunity
  • Proper digestion
  • Proper metabolism
  • Bone strength
Why I decided to go with coconut oil: besides it’s amazing nutty taste, is it’s high content of lauric acid. The only other resource for this much lauric acid is human breast milk! When lauric acid is ingested the body converts it to monolaurin which actually breaks down the bi-lipid layers of bacteria and viruses in the body.

What’s in this stuff?

  • Saturated fatty acids: most are medium chain triglycerides, which assimilate well in the body (lauric acid, capric acid, caprylic acid, myristic acid, and palmitic)
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acid (linoleic acid)
  • Monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid)
  • Poly-phenols: responsible for the fragrance and taste
  • Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and minerals


  • Hair care: excellent conditioner for damaged hair and helps rid the hair of dandruff, lice, and lice eggs
  • Skin care: moisturizes dry skin; treats psoriasis, dermatitis, eczema and other skin infections
  • Digestion: the microbial properties help in dealing with bacteria, fungi, and parasites
  • Immunity: the lauric, capric, and caprylic acid have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties
  • Healing: helps repair damaged tissues, such a bruise. Treats such viruses that cause influenza, measles, hepatitis, herpes, and SARS. Also kills bacteria that cause ulcers, throat infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and gonorrhea. As well as fungi and yeast that cause candidiasis, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, and diaper rash.
  • Bones &Teeth : coconut oil helps the body absorb calcium and magnesium.

Coconut oil can be used in all types of food from ice cream to smoothies to bread or just as a butter replacement. Check out these recipes:

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


I was recently asked by a friend, “How do you get up every day and get to the gym, I was motivated at the beginning but now I’ve lost it.”

Most people struggle with this; why do you think there is a peak in gym memberships in January and the gym is packed? Suddenly February comes along and half the people are gone! Sticking with the gym is difficult because: we all have tight schedules, we all are tired with our normal life schedules, and well the gym is a lot of physical work!

Here are a few ground rules:
  1. Make going to the gym part of your life; just like brushing your teeth! Getting physically shape and keeping it is a lifestyle change!
  2. Make a schedule of the day and time you will go each week. Make sure it is a time that you can do; this is why first thing in the morning is sometimes the best, no other activities you do during the day can get in the way.
  3. At the beginning of the week create a workout plan for each day. This plan should detail the body part(s) that will be targeted, the exercises, reps, sets, and weight as well as the type and time of cardio training.
  4. Make playlists specific to the type of workout with your favorite motivational and powerful songs.
  5. Keep a log of your body changes. This log should be updated every few weeks and should include: weight, measurements, energy level, and maybe even a picture. Whatever works to make you see the benefits for your hard work
  6. If you can make a buddy that will stick with you at the gym. Just make sure this doesn’t become a social fest. Be sure this partner will help you with form, motivation, and fresh workout ideas!
Motivation is one of the biggest challenges we all face in life; so don’t feel bad! Trick is create a plan, think of it as a map leading you to your ultimate goal, and follow it!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Try this workout this week!!

Walking lunges! Yes most of us hate them; but after you start seeing what they do for your legs and glutes your mind will be quickly changed! Great thing about them you can do them virtually anywhere and most all levels of fitness can benefit from them! My girlfriend and I recently did them while walking uphill at the Santa Barbara zoo.

Ways to challenge the lunges:

  • Add hand weights, about 10lbs
  • Add a barbell
  • Add a medicine ball with a torso twist
  • Finish the lunge off with a back leg lift (great for stability, glutes, and hamstrings)..see below
  • Front leg lift (stand all weight on forward leg and finish with extended the back leg in front of you; this challenges your core, glutes, and standing leg stability
So get up off the couch and walk to your next destination with lunges!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

FoCuS. StReNgTh. DeToXiFy.

We are all aware of the benefits of yoga...that long slender figure right? Well yoga is more than just a way to elongate and lengthen those muscles; it is a great way to find an inner connection with every part of your body! The better connection you have with your body, the better you are able to take care of that body and ultimately lead a long healthy happy life.

Today I took a Hot Yoga class in the Santa Clarita Valley. I absolutely love this type of exercise.

The heated room allows your muscles to stretch to their maximum capacity without injury.

Hot Yoga is also a favorite of mine because the heated room actually helps me focus and center within myself; no more worries about the rest of my schedule, how I am going to complete a project, or any family/friend stresses; I could literally feel my heart beat, feel the blood pumping thru my veins to support my taxed muscles and frame, and sense the oxygen flowing thru my lungs filling my body with energy. The body is an amazing machine that is sometimes overlooked....have you checked in with yours today?

Another great benefit of hot yoga is the natural detoxification process your body endures while trying to cool itself. This is similar to the effects of a sauna but not nearly as drastic (because the room is much cooler); the slow constant sweating rids your body of toxins and other foreign elements.

Give it a try! Take it easy and be sure to bring plenty of water for throughout the class, along with your yoga mat and towel. After completing the class I recommend a serving of coconut water to replenish all the lost electrolytes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


How many of you feel like a piece of you is missing without that I-pod, MP3, or CD player??? Music has the power to energize us, motivate us, and get us thru times we didn’t think we would.

Trade CDs with friends, discover new music, and create some good playlists for the gym, the car, or just chillen’ at home. Nothing like an amazing playlist to get you thru that dreaded workout or that long drive home!!

Yes it takes time but trust me its worth it, it will change your mood!