Monday, June 24, 2013

What Moves You??

Although eating a balance diet of real, whole food is crucial to your health, I have always believed that incorporating regular physical activity into your life is a must! We have become a progressively more and more sedentary society; whether it’s our desk jobs, our car culture or just the fact that many kids would rather sit playing video games rather than ride their bikes or play kickball. Many of us spend much of our day sitting. Our bodies were meant to move and studies have shown how not only has our sedentary lifestyle increased out waistlines, it also has other detrimental effects on our bodies.
I know for a lot of people the idea of “working out” is about as appealing as watching paint dry, but I think it’s our perception of what that means that is actually unappealing. A health coach gave me some wonderful advice not too long ago – she said to stop calling it “working out!” Who wants to do work? Particularly after a long day at your actual work! It just sounds so awful and unpleasant – who needs one more thing on their ever-growing list of things to do? And for a lot of people that is what exercise is…checking that box of 30 minutes a day so I don’t feel guilty eating that cookie.
She recommended calling it “movement” – to make sure you have daily movement...whatever that means for you and it’s different for everyone! Doesn’t movement sound so much more approachable, attainable and pleasant? Dancers “move.” So what moves you?? It may take some time to figure that out, but I am amazed at the things I have tried, thinking I would hate it and ended up loving it! The first spinning  class I ever took I was miserable – my butt killed me for days and I felt like I was dying the entire time. I completely abandoned it! Then years later I attempted it again and now I am addicted! It really took the right instructor and getting my bike set up correctly (and abandoning the idea that everyone in the class was more fit than I and they were all going to be staring at the loser newbie the entire time…new flash: even fit people are working their butts off and no one is paying any attention to anyone else!)
I also think we have to stop comparing ourselves to others and the vision of what fitness looks like. That you need to do 3 days of cardio and 2 days of strength training, with a couple sessions of yoga for rest days, etc. I have always been in awe of people who are runners. I love the idea of being outside and living in my hood there is this amazing jogging path right along the river. I have always wanted to be one of those people out there running on a cool crisp morning. Somehow no matter how hard I try (and I have tried..and tried…and tried…all the way to a freakin’ stress fracture in my foot that laid me up for months!), running for me is like putting a square peg in a round hole! I like the "idea" of running, but my body hates me for even trying; it takes about 2 miles before I feel like I don’t want to die, then I have about a good mile that I feel pretty good, then just as my breathing is settling in and am starting to feel that elusive “runner’s high” then my knees and ankles ache and I am done. For years I have tortured myself and wondered how this 70 year old man in my hood, who races by me every morning, is barely breaking a sweat and I can’t jog a few miles without wanting to die. What the hell is wrong with me??  I am good shape…how can't I not do this?? However, I have come to the conclusion (and this is very hard for my ultra type-A mentality to admit), but some things are just not meant to be and I am just not meant to be a runner. I have the occasional burst of energy when I am out doing a power walk and I have the urge to break into a sprint, so I go for it. Those moments are rare, but that makes my day!
I am a true believe that you need to really move and sweat - not just to maintain your weight, but because it is good for us! And getting those endorphins going is the best high ever. It decreases your stress, improves your mood and just makes you feel good about yourself. I still have days that I just want to go home and sit on my couch…it takes all the effort I can muster to get those sneakers on. And I can’t say I always love it, but I remember how amazing I always feel after and that is what always rallies me to go. There are plenty of ways to get your move on and luckily I have found several that I love! I encourage you to go find yours!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sweet Treats! Healthy Chocolate Chip Blondes

Looking for a sweet snack that won’t wreck your diet? Well I have a just the treat for you! And as an extra bonus, it’s a great way to get an added boost of healthy beans into your diet. I have been testing out some recipes for sweets that use beans, when I stumbled upon this recipe for Chocolate Chip Blondes made with chickpeas. They are super easy and super delicious – they will definitely satisfy that chocolate craving! 
1 ½ Cups or 1 Can (drained and rinsed) chickpeas (can use whites beans if you prefer)
¾ tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¾ Cups brown sugar (can use or other sugar substitute – I have used Splenda brown sugar blend (¼ Cup) which worked fine)
2 tsp vanilla extract
¼ Cup rolled oats
¼ Cup peanut butter or any nut butter
½ Cup chocolate chips
*I add in a TBSP of chia seeds for an added boost of antioxidants and omega-3. Add for those of you who like me have a dairy allergy, I use the non-dairy, non-soy Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips – YUM!

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Blend all (except the chips) until smooth
3. Mix chips into the batter
4. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan
5. Bake for 25-30 minutes.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

What The Hell Do You Do With A Sea Vegetable?!


I keep hearing a lot about all the benefits of sea vegetables. Although I do enjoying cooking and am slowly getting better at it, I am often stumped as to how to use sea vegetables in my day to day cooking. Most of them are not ones we would naturally be familiar with, but I have been trying to find simple uses for them.
Sea vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals and have long been a staple in Japanese diets. They are excellent sources of magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and various B vitamins. In addition, they are rich in iodine, which is great for a healthy thyroid. As someone who does have a thyroid deficiency, I have tried to incorporate sea vegetables into my diet. I have also read that sea vegetables contain fucans, which are carbohydrate-like substances that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Sea vegetables are only recommended in small qualities – a little goes a long way. Additionally, be sure you look at the source of the sea vegetables, as they are highly susceptible to ocean pollution.
The most familiar sea vegetable to most people is the nori used in sushi rolls, however I have used nori myself as alternative sandwich wrap. I will use hummus and vegetables – it’s delicious. Another simple thing I have recently started to do is to add a small amount of a sea vegetable (i.e. arame, wakame, etc.) in the water when I make beans or rice or I even added some to my pasta recently.
I also recently discovered dulse and kelp granules. You can find them in most health food stores or even some regular grocery stores. They come in a shaker like salt and I use them as a salt alternative (although I don’t use a lot of added salt in my food, however a good substitute for people who do like a little extra salt in their food). They are low in sodium and a great way to get your sea vegetables. Also make for a nice seasoning.
Additional info: