Pizza, Pizza, Pizza

Pizza is my weakness…I could not live without it, seriously. Unfortunately I can only allow myself to have it once per week (if I have met exercise and healthy eating goals for the week) because it doesn’t provide a ton of nutrients for the calories it contains. You can imagine the joy I felt when I discovered that you can use cauliflower (contains a ton of nutrients and not a ton of calories=SCORE!) as pizza crust!

If you claim to not like cauliflower, trust me…you will like it this way. I have made this for people that turn their nose at vegetables (without telling them it was cauliflower) and they LOVED it! The key is draining all the excess water from the cauliflower so that it is a similar texture to the pizza crust (instructions below).

I still don’t consider this kind of pizza something that one should eat every night because it still contains cheese, but it’s a MUCH healthier option for those wanting to limit carbohydrate intake.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
1.5 heads cauliflower
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 eggs
1 tbsp chopped basil
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1 can no sugar added marinara sauce
Fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into squares

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  1. Preheat oven to 450F.
  2. Boil cauliflower for approximately 20 minutes. Let cool. Place cauliflower florets into a food processor, or blender. Chop until it looks like mashed potatoes.

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3. Place mashed cauliflower into paper towels or clean dish rag and squeeze to drain any and all excess liquid.

4. In a bowl combine, the mashed cauliflower, cheese, eggs, basil, oregano, and salt. Mix well.

5. Place parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spray parchment paper with extra virgin olive oil.

6. Pour cauliflower mix onto parchment paper and press and shape into a pizza crust.

7. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned (about 15 minutes).

8. Once crust is browned, remove from oven and marinara and mozzarella cheese. Put back in oven for another 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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No Excuses Workout from Home

Life happens, and sometimes you just have those days that you can’t get to the gym (Or maybe you just don’t want to go). I will admit, getting in the car, driving to the gym, parking, and walking in the gym seems a bit overwhelming at times. I’m sure if you give yourself time, you can find a ton of reasons to talk yourself out of your workout. When getting to the gym becomes one of those reasons try working out at home…then you’ll have no excuse! Something is better than nothing.

I created an at home workout for a local Fit Kids fest and thought I would share for those ‘talking yourself out of working out’ kind of days. My goal was to create a workout for kids (and their parents) to do in their own back yard with no equipment needed (or using a common household item in place of dumb bells).

‘No equipment needed’ backyard workout

  1. Pretend jump rope: 30 seconds

  2. Run or walk (in place or around yard): 1 minute

  3. Lunges: 1 minute

  4. Seated side to side taps with legs raised and core activated: 30 seconds

  5. Step ups: using a step or chair: 1 minute

  6. Plank: 30 seconds

  7. Knee bends with overhead press: 1 minute

  8. Arm circles with side stepping: 30 seconds

  9. Jump rope: 30 seconds

  10. Run or walk (in place or around yard): 1 minute

  11. Side to side bends: 30 seconds 

*Perform steps 1-11, three times * If you can’t perform the steps 3 separate times, start with performing steps 1-11 once, then work your way up.

TOTAL WORKOUT TIME: 24 minutes

Want to increase the intensity? Use the following common household items as weights:
Soup can: weight varies
½ gallon of milk: 4.25 lbs
1 gallon of milk: 8.5 lbs
Laundry detergent: weight varies
Water bottle: (fill with rocks, water, or sand) weight varies

Earn your carbs!

Carbohydrates have a bad reputation. Think about it, all ‘diets’ (hate that word) make ‘low carb’ claims, making us all think carbs are bad.  But there is not a lot of logic behind these ‘carbs are bad’ claims. In fact, they aren’t bad at all! The types of carbs really makes a difference, they aren’t great if you are sedentary and they must be monitored closely if you are diabetic. Plus, if you dine out often it can become difficult to trust the carbs, but the bottom line is: WE NEED CARBS. A good rule to live by is you have to earn your carbs! If you exercise that day, have some carbs, if you don’t, try to limit. It’s as easy as that!

Do you ever just crave carbs?  Well I was today! So I picked up a few sweet potatoes to experiment. I like using sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes because they are higher in Vitamin A & C, and slightly higher in fiber. But, we need all the fiber we can get, so the 1g counts in my book!

These turned out delicious and hit the spot! Much better than a bag of potato chips or mashed potatoes in every way!

Baked Sweet Potato Fries w/ Balsamic & Honey
2 large sweet potatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp light agave or honey
Salt & pepper to taste

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Preheat oven to 425. Attempt to cut sweet potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Line baking sheet with sweet potatoes and bake for 20 minutes. Combine balsamic vinegar and honey. When sweet potatoes are complete, remove from oven and pour balsamic & honey mixture over fries. Set oven to broil.

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Put sweet potatoes back in oven to broil for 4-5 minutes. All ovens are different, so keep an eye on the fries when on broil. Once browned and crispy, remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

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Eat more veggies!

Do you know how many vegetables you should be eating every day? The answer is between 10-12. Shocking, I know! For the folks eating 1 meal per day, well, that’s going to be a reach, right? Even for those that eat 5-6 small meals/day, that’s a reach. Do you eat anywhere close to that? If so, I’m sure it’s because you take the necessary steps (planning and prepping).

If you aren’t meeting this requirement and are having less than 10-12 servings/day, it could be attributed to one of a few things. Maybe you were force-fed raw vegetables when younger and you’ve never recovered? Maybe the washing, and chopping process is too overwhelming for you with every meal…or even 1 meal? OR, maybe you don’t know how to cook them? For most of my clients, I can tell you their reason is often all of the above. No one craves raw broccoli, and if you say you do, you are lying. I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to eat raw vegetables, you don’t have to spend hours every day chopping vegetables, AND you can and will like some vegetables by simply cooking them another way than you are used to.

How? Here are a few tips:

  1. ROASTIIIIIIINNNNNNGGGGG! This has proven to be the easiest, most delicious way of having vegetables.
  2. Plan to make 2 grocery trips per week (1 large shopping trip and 1 to fill up on fresh produce).
  3. Prep your vegetables when you get home from the store. This means, wash and chop before they go in the fridge, when possible.
  4. Cook (ROAST) in bulk! Vegetables stay good for about 3-5 days after cooking.

This is the only way you will come close to reaching your daily vegetable intake goal. You can’t possibly come close to getting the appropriate servings by having a side of vegetables with dinner only (which is what most do). If you find you are really having trouble getting the appropriate amount of veggies because of your work/travel schedule or some other legitimate reason, you may want to consider adding a greens supplement (greensplus.com).

Here are some great recipes that take 20 minutes (at most), with rinsing and chopping. Pair these with a lean protein and there you go…2 servings down. I cook both every single week so that I can easily add a scoop and add to my daily veggie totals.

Cauliflower & mushroom roast
2 heads of cauliflower
1 lb mushrooms,sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tbsp. thyme
Black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with tin foil and spray with extra virgin olive oil spray. Line cauliflower and mushrooms on baking sheet. Add 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and toss to coat vegetables. Sprinkle thyme and black pepper evenly on vegetables. Bake for 18-20 minutes.

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Sesame-Roasted Broccoli & Green Beans
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs broccoli, trimmed and cut into florets
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp white sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Spray roasting pan with oil. Place all vegetables in the roasting pan. Mix, maple syrup and sesame oil in a small bowl. Pour over the vegetables. Toss gently to coat the vegetables.
  2. Place in the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Check regularly so they don’t burn. Remove pan from oven and turn the vegetables over. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

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Look beyond the label

How many times have you heard this: CARROTS ARE A GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN A? (Or maybe you have heard that another food is a great source of another particular vitamin). If you are mindful of which foods provide essential vitamins, great job! But there is more to it than just knowing that carrots are a great source of vitamin A….what exactly does vitamin A do for you? Why is it important?

I often find myself educating clients about which foods are rich in certain vitamins, but I forget to stress the importance of those vitamins…which is, after all, the most important piece of information, right? Well, this is somewhat new information for me too. One of the more interesting portions from my recent nutrition class was the chapter on vitamins and minerals. I learned more from that section because I, like most, had only been concerned with which foods that were rich in which vitamins. It encouraged me to look beyond a label, and educate myself on what vitamins (and minerals) did for my body, what I needed more of, less of and so on.  

I’ve also found this to be a great way to shift your focus from counting calories and/or fats (negative), to thinking about what the food is doing for you (positive). Since my focus has shifted to viewing foods in this way, I am more aware of what I’m eating, OR what I’m not eating, that I should be.  

Did you know that we are deficient in vitamins and minerals?

So, I thought I would help dissect this recipe rather than just giving you another quinoa recipe as promised. I’m only going to mention the vitamins included in this recipe because if I included every vitamin and mineral known to man, you would have no time to cook this deliciousness. But, I encourage you to dissect your meals in this way and think about what that food is doing for you as you eat!

Vitamin A (jalapenos, yellow peppers, red peppers): Vitamin A assists in forming visual pigments, synthesizes proteins, assists with immune function and wound healing, embryonic development, and red blood cell developement

Vitamin C (Jalapenos, chili peppers, green peppers, yellow pepper, red peppers, onions, garlic): Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, improves iron absorption, regenerates vitamin E supplies, develops collagen, synthesizes norepinephrine, synthesizes carnitine, assists in metabolism of cholesterol

Vitamin B6 (green peppers, yellow pepper, turkey sausage, garlic): Vitamin B6 is necessary for protein & carbohydrate metabolism, nervous and immune system function, red blood cell metabolism, and the breakdown of glycogen

Vitamin B9 (green peppers): Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) is important in the metabolism of amino acids, it assists in vitamin B12 and C use and breakdown, assist in formation of new proteins, and helps with red blood cell formation and circulation

Vitamin B12 (turkey sausage): Vitamin B12 acts as an enzyme co-factor in forming and maintaining healthy nerve cells, red blood cells, and DNA synthesis

Vitamin E (red peppers): Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant, cell signaling, helps immune and inflammatory cells

By the way, did you know that a green pepper contains twice the amount of an orange? This recipe is packed, I mean PACKED with vitamin C! Well, it’s packed with lots of goodness. And, do not be afraid of the spice….it didn’t come out as spicy as I had anticipated. Enjoy:)

Quinoa w/ Sausage and Peppers
1 cup quinoa
Extra virgin olive oil cooking spray
1 lb. low fat all natural chicken or turkey sausages in casings
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno, halved and sliced (remove seeds for less spicy dish)
1 red chili pepper, halved and sliced (remove seeds for less spicy dish)
½ green pepper, seeded and chopped
½ yellow or orange pepper, seeded and chopped
½ medium yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika, divided
1 tsp chili powder, divided
½ tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp oregano
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
1 large tomato, diced

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Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until all water is absorbed and quinoa is plump, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork, cover and set aside.
  2. In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add sausages in a single layer. Cook until browned on both sides turning at least once, about 4-5 minutes. Add ½ cup chicken stock, cover and reduce heat to simmer until sausages are cooked through and broth has almost completely evaporated, 5-10 minutes. Remove sausages to a cutting board and cut into ½ inch pieces.

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3. Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Add jalapenos, red chili, green and yellow peppers, and onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, ½ tsp paprika, ½ tsp chili powder, coriander, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato and remaining ½ cup broth, and using a sturdy spoon, scrape up any crusty bits from bottom of the skillet. Simmer until ale is reduced by half.

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4. Transfer quinoa to a large serving bowl and add remaining ½ tsp smoked paprika and ½ tsp chili powder. Add sliced sausages and pepper mixture, and toss to combine. Divide among plates and serve.

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Quinoa…A Pantry Staple

Quinoa (Keen-wah) is a grain with that is high in fiber and the high quality protein (similar to what is found in meat). It cooks like rice and has a mild flavor similar to couscous. It comes in red and white. (The red is slightly higher in calories and carbohydrates but not enough to stress over). I always use quinoa in place of brown rice because of its nutritional richness.  Oh, and did I mention it provides small amounts of omega-3’s… we all could use more of those! After knowing this, if you aren’t on the quinoa wagon yet, there are recent studies that are pointing toward quinoas anti-inflammatory benefits as well.

I don’t have a lot more to say about it, except it should be in your diet. Period. AND, remember the name game? ‘A my name is Annie and I like to eat apples!’ Well, now you have a food for ‘Q’…’Q my name is Quinn and I like to eat Quinoa! Bam!’

I’ve started making quinoa recipes for my husband’s lunches each week, so you’ll likely be seeing more. He always eats canned soup without a lot of nutrients or calories each day, so I figured these simple one dish recipes would be perfect!

*I saw this recipe in my latest issue of Oxygen Magazine. I didn’t use the dried cranberries because they have more sugar than I like. And, yes I am aware that this seems like a LOT of work, but surprisingly it’s not. This took me about 25 minutes to prepare. Note: if you aren’t a canned tuna fan (like me) you can certainly add grilled/baked chicken.

Quinoa Bean Salad

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 (5-ounce) cans water-packed white tuna, drained
1 (14oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
½ cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup dried cranberries
½ cup 100% carrot juice
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper 

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Heat a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa to the pan and toast it, shaking pan often, until fragrant and beginning to pop, about 4 minutes. Add 2 cups water and cover, simmering over medium-low heat until tender, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool and then fluff with a fork. Steam or boil asparagus until tender. In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, asparagus, tuna, black beans, yellow pepper, cherry tomatoes, parsley, scallions, walnuts and dried fruit. In a separate bowl, whisk together carrot juice, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour carrot juice mixture over quinoa mixture over quinoa mixture and toss. Serves 6.

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Calories: 387
Fat: 15g
Carbs: 44g
Fiber: 9g
Protein: 22g

Take a look at that fiber and protein content. That just makes me happy! I saw a quote today that is completely unrelated to quinoa, but I LOVE it and want to share:

‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.’

 

Get out of your workout rut!

Lately I have been in a workout rut, which happens to me about twice every year. I’m sure the weather has something to do with it. First, I’m not a workout maniac, like some people assume personal trainers to be. I usually workout 5 days per week, and give myself the weekends off, although I try to stay active on the weekends. I always do some cardio (25-40 min…40 min when I’m not doing a lot of strength training) and resistance/weight training. I try my best to keep in interesting and keep my body guessing, but I’ve found that lately I’m dragging for my 6:30am workout. My cardio hasn’t really been cardio training, it’s been more like ‘get on the elliptical and you have 30 minutes to wake up and surf the internet on the iPad.’ I’m not getting a lot out of my workouts. If you ever feel like this whether you are a beginner or advanced, you need to change up your routine! This doesn’t always mean add more time, sometimes it could mean less. Regardless, you should always feel ‘worked’ when you leave your workout. (Note: If you are having a ‘day’ then don’t be too hard on yourself to go above and beyond…if you can get in the gym that is good enough…just don’t make it a habit of always doing bare minimum).

So, how does one push themselves? I’ve found the best way I push myself is running intervals on the treadmill. First, I’m not a runner (see picture). So, this is a step outside of my comfort zone, which is a good thing. Interval training is defined as a series of low to high intensity exercises with relief periods. So, think back to understanding your heart rate….high intensity is about 85-90% of max heart rate, followed by low-intensity at 50-60%. Note, if you have a heart condition this type of interval training is not for you. Check with your doc before performing any aerobic exercise for that matter and be safe rather than sorry.

So far I have done 2 days of interval training and I feel so much more accomplished already! Even after the first day! Here is what I did:

-Walk 1 min @ 3.9mph (Low interval)

-Sprint 30 seconds @ 7.5-8 (high interval)

*Repeat until you have completed 25 minutes

 

To break it up even further… Today (because I was doing legs), I split the 25 minutes into 5 min increments and performed strength training exercises (relief period) between. So I would do 5 minutes of intervals on the treadmill, then 3 sets of squats & 3 sets of planks. Then it was back to the treadmill for another 5 minutes then 3 sets of walking lunges, 3 sets of push-ups. And so on. My heart rate was up the entire time (manageable, but higher than usual). To say that I felt beat up by the last set is an understatement. My final 30 seconds was spent with me yelling at myself (in my head) to ‘PICK YOUR LEGS UP.’ I survived and now I feel great!

 

If you are just in the beginning stages of exercising, don’t expect to run sprints on the treadmill, instead you can increase and decrease the incline where I listed ‘sprint’ or increase your walking speed where it says sprint. And you don’t have to do 25 minutes at first. Aim for 10 then try an additional 2 minutes every day until you get to 25 minutes. You may also choose to do this on a bike, stairs (at gym or house), elliptical, etc. Just remember the 30 seconds ‘sprint’ should be you going as hard as you can go on whatever apparatus you choose.

Challenge yourself to do something different!! I promise you will feel great about it!