Monday, January 30, 2012

For the Win

I’ve talked about my big little brother several times on the blog. You see, he is a growing boy who spends 5 hours a day playing basketball. That translates to lots of FOOD. In an effort to give him more healthy snack options, I’ve been trying to find a granola bar recipe he will really like. I’ve made a variety of different kinds using quinoa, pumpkin or just oats. But this time I tried to make it a bit more brother-friendly.

I found the original recipe over at Peas and Thank You. She was going for a home made version of the Clif Kid Z Bar. And as much as I appreciate Clif Bars being made without high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oil or artificial colors, I still thought the nutrition facts could use a face lift.


So with a little direction from Peas and Thank You and some of my own ideas, I created the new “Z Bar”.
The New “Z” Barmakes about 10 bars
1/2 c. oats
3/4 c. wheat flour
1/4 c. protein powder (or flour if you don’t have any)
1/2 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
1/2 c. + 2 T. applesauce
1/2 c. + 2 T. almond milk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. honey
1/4 c. chocolate chips

In one bowl mix the flour, oats, protein powder, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and brown sugar. In a separate bowl mix the applesauce, milk, vanilla and honey. Combine both mixtures. I chose to just sprinkle the chocolate chips on top, but if you’d like to mix them in you can at this point.
Spray an 8x8 pan and fill with the mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. At that point it will look a bit golden and the edges will pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool for 10 minutes or so, then cut into your bars. Enjoy!
Here are the nutrition stats:
“Z” Bar: 120 calories, 3 grams protein, 11 grams sugar
The New “Z” Bar: 150 calories, 8 grams protein, 3 grams sugar
I think that’s definitely a win!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Reason to Smile

Not so long ago I posted about the importance of being grateful and how much that can benefit our health.

Well, today I’m here to tell you another simple yet important way to better your health: SMILE.


According to this article there are several personal benefits to smiling.

*Be Happy, Fight Illness Better: People who are optimistic (and these are the people who are out there smiling!) have stronger immune systems and are actually able to fight off illness better than pessimists. “There is a link between optimistic attitudes and good health. It has been measured in a variety of ways. Overall, we have found that optimistic people are healthier. Their biological makeup is different. They have a more robust immune system." Another indication is that happy people tend to take care of themselves more, which often leads to good health.


*Smile: You’ll Live Longer: According to a study published in the November 2004 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, elderly optimistic people, those who expected good things to happen (rather than bad things), were less likely to die than pessimists. In fact, among the 65- to 85-year-old study participants, those who were most optimistic were 55 percent less likely to die from all causes than the most pessimistic people.


*Smiling Feels Like Eating 2,000 Chocolate Bars: According to The British Dental Health Foundation, a smile gives the same level of stimulation as eating 2,000 chocolate bars. The results were found after researchers measured brain and heart activity in volunteers as they were shown pictures of smiling people and given money and chocolate. Dr. Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Foundation, pointed out, "We have long been drawing attention to the fact that smiling increases happiness both in yourself and those around you, so it is good to receive the backing of this scientific research…”


*Smiling is Contagious: What's even better is that the more you smile, the more others will too. Says psychologist Dr. David Lewis, "Seeing a smile creates what is termed as a 'halo' effect, helping us to remember other happy events more vividly, feel more optimistic, more positive and more motivated."

So give it a try…make an effort to smile a little more today!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Interval Circuit

I first saw this workout through a few other blogs, and it originally comes from the magazine Men’s Health. But that doesn’t mean only men can do it! Because I tried it.

It is called the Spartacus Workout and it is intense, but doable. The basis of the workout is to go through a series of 10 exercises for 1 minute each with 15 seconds of rest between each workout. Then after completing the 10 exercises, you get a 2 minute rest before starting again. You go through it 3 times.

I started out with a 10 minutes warm-up on the treadmill to get my body warm and ready to work, then moved on in. Through the magazine they give you the 10 workouts to do. However, you can TOTALLY make them your own and to fit your own needs. They can be completely body weight exercises too, so you can do them at home. My list looked like this:


In order to make this even easier for you so you don’t have to keep looking at the clock while exercising, there is a website where you can download a playlist to iTunes that goes through the whole workout, telling you when to work and when to rest.


It really is fantastic, and completely free! You can find the download here.
So when I head to the workout room, I just take my laptop and my note card and I am good to start working.


I used weights for several of the exercises, and also a treadmill to warm-up on. So I decided to re-vamp the program with a no equipment spin. That way, everyone can do it at their home or gym, any time!

Here are a few pictures of some of the exercises that might be a bit confusing. If you have other questions, feel free to contact me!

3 – lunge with rotation (without the weight)
5 – Russian Twists (without the ball if you don’t have one, and to make it easier keep your feet on the ground)
7 – Chair Dips
8 – Wide Squat
I can’t find a decent picture of this, but you do a normal squat but with your toes pointed out and a little further a part, and keep your hands on your waist as you squat and come up.

Let me know if you try it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Blueberry Muffins

No creative title today. Just good ol’ blueberry muffins. A healthier version of a yummy snack or treat! Enjoy!


Blueberry Muffins

1 1/2 c. wheat flour
1/2 c. white flour
1/2 t. salt
1 T. baking powder
1/4 c. + 1 T. sugar
1 c. milk
1 egg
1/4 c. honey
1/2 c. applesauce
1 t. vanilla
1 1/2 c. blueberries


In one bowl, mix the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar.

In another bowl mix the remaining ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, vanilla, and honey.

Mix the wet and dry together until just mixed, then fold in blueberries. Pour into lined muffin tin and bake at 350 for about 20 minutes.


Some reads you might be interested in:

Roasted Garlic-Parmesan Cauliflower

Everything You Want to Know About Spin Class

Top Mistakes Made on the Elliptical Machine

30 Sugar Substitutes

Grain Free Raspberry Coconut Muffins

~Happy Monday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

For Your Benefit

In the last few weeks I’ve come across two websites that I think are pretty awesome. So I thought I would share them with you!

First up: RECIpage

You know those days you get bored with what you have been making for the past month and decide things need to change? Or you get something from your local co-op and don’t really know what to do with it? Well, this page is for you. RECIpage is a collection of hundreds of blogger recipes. You can type in anything from a specific blogger, to an ingredient, a method of cooking or a course of food. It is pretty much fantastic – and your eyes will be opened to so many new recipes you won’t know what to do with yourself!

For example, I typed in “blueberry muffins” since we just got some fresh blueberries from our co-op. Then 21 recipes came up on a page and I can browse until I find one I like!


Whole Wheat Blueberry Muffins


Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Or I just went more general with searching for “blueberries” and 225 recipes came up! A little overwhelming…but fun to look at.


Blueberry Poppy Seed Granola


Blueberry Pretzel Clusters

As you can see…I really like it.

Second up on the websites of note is Get Real 2012.


“This year-long series is for those who have had even the slightest desire to transition your family to whole foods. You may have started, you may have started and quit, you may be completely overwhelmed, not know where to start.”

There is a year long schedule of what to do each month to transition to eating a cleaner and preservative free. There are weekly posts on the months topics. January focuses on cleaning out the pantry and freezer and replacing the foods with better options.

I think this is an awesome idea – for everyone that wants to make small changes this year. You might choose to do it all or choose to do some of it, but it is worth looking in to. Because preservative free is the way to go! As much as you can, at least.

Hope you enjoy these websites as much as I do!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Take a Workout Break

Do you ever think of working out as a break from your every day life? Probably not. In fact, a lot of people find it to be just another thing on their list of things to do. Which really, if crossing something off a to-do list is what gets you to the gym – then keep at it. But here is a different approach for you.

Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital. This Doctor-Professor answers the old question "What is the single best thing we can do for our health" in a completely new way.

In the video clip, Dr. Evans goes on to talk about the various chronic illnesses that plague many American’s today, and how there is one simple thing that EVERYONE can do to help stop that: exercise.

He goes on to challenge people to only be sitting and/or sleeping for 23 1/2 hours a day. Really. That means 30 minutes of activity where your body is moving and you are sweating.

I might go on to add that in order to lose weight, more than 30 minutes is often necessary, and little more intense than walking is necessary. However, walking for 30 minutes is a fabulous place to start. And this is a fabulous way to think about it.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Dealer’s Workout

A lot of people find the treadmill to be quite boring. I will definitely be the first to say I would rather be pounding the pavement. However, that ideal running scenario of mine is frequently thwarted due to my being a serious wimp when it comes to running in the cold. I did get some sweet new cold running gear that I have been able to use a time or two since Christmas. But I’m still partial to the warm basement room with the treadmill.

That being said…I thought I’d bring a little spice to your next treadmill workout. It is a 40 minute workout including the warm-up and cool down, so it’s a nice quick “get-er-done” sort of workout. And all you need to do it are some index cards and markers. And a treadmill.


I used 4 cards ripped in half (who uses scissors these days) for a total of 8 workout cards. 5 have various running workouts, and 3 have various walking workouts.

Start with a 5 minute warm-up, such as an easy jog, jumping jacks, fast walk, etc.

Then comes 30 minutes of whatever the card deals you!


The running cards just tell you a speed and a time. The walking cards tell you the incline, time and speed.


I would shuffle the cards up, place them face down on the treadmill, and then get to work.


You won’t get bored…AND you’ll get a great workout.

Finish it off with a 5 minute cool down jog or walk.

This “technique” could also be used to strength training exercises, with each card saying an exercise, the rep, weight, or time.

Feel free to modify with speeds or you could make cards say to run or walk a certain distance in a certain amount of time. See how everyone can make this work? That’s the goal!

Let me know if you try it?

~How do you make the treadmill a bit more exciting?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Squashing It


I never really knew what to do with spaghetti squash. Which now, after realizing how delicious and easy it is, seems silly. But for those of you who are like me before squash, I am here to show you just how easy it is to implement into your meals. It could pretty much become a staple in your diet.


First things first, preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then get our your strongest knife and your biggest muscles, because you will need them to slice that baby in half (long ways).


Then imagine yourself carving a pumpkin as you scoop out the insides. I used a grapefruit spoon which worked quite nicely.


Next you’ll need to get out your ingredients: garlic, onion, and olive oil. For one side of the squash you will use about 1/4 of an onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and a tablespoon of olive oil.


Chop your onion and garlic (I’d recommend making the garlic pretty small), and then drizzle the olive oil over the whole squash. You could also use a pastry brush to make sure you get it everywhere. Then fill in with the onion and garlic and sprinkle with some sea salt and pepper.

Once the inside is filled, you can put the squash in a baking dish that holds about a cup of water in the bottom. You can bake both sides in the same dish, or just one if that is all you need. Pop in the oven for about 45 minutes. You will know when it is done because of the wonderful smell, and when you pull it out, the squash pulls away from the sides easily.


Let the squash sit for about 20 minutes. If you don’t you will probably burn your hands trying to scrape it out. Once it has cooled, using a fork just pull it all away from the edges. You should be able to scrape it clean!




Each half of the squash can feed 2 people, so a whole squash for 4. This squash with onion and garlic is yummy alone, but for a meal it is perfect as a base for grilled chicken, some brown rice, or a little pasta sauce.

Easy and delicious. Nothing better! Let me know if you try it.

~What do you like to use spaghetti squash for?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, Sister!

Another birthday. Another great sister. Somehow I got the two best ones.

Happy Birthday, sister!


I am so grateful for your friendship, your example, and your sincere kindness that is never failing. You have taught me what it is like to see the good in everyone, love the life you have been given, and be a pretty dang awesome mom to one super cute baby J. I hope you know my life is better because of having you as a sister.



Monday, January 9, 2012

30 Days

Before I tell you this story, you have to understand that I am a punctuality FREAK. That is probably even an understatement. It drives my family crazy at (most) times. So I try to only be anal when I have to be. But really…it is probably out of hand. See example:


My mom used to always tell me that it takes 21 days to make a habit. So if you are trying to start something new (like a new years resolution, eh?) you do it for 21 days straight and it will become a habit. Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school where one of my neighbors would give me a ride to school each morning. She was always late. To the point that she would drop me off outside the door closest to my classroom because there was approximately 30 seconds until the late bell rang. Which is a recipe for a heart attack for me.

So anyway, I decided to challenge my dear neighbor (who was a senior) to 21 days of picking me up on time. And I offered a reward. Seriously as I type this I realize I am totally weird…but I promise we were good friends and she was happy to try it, because she too wanted to be on time for once. So for 21 days she was on time, and it was glorious. Come day 22, and we are back at racing against the clock. I will say though, that from that point on, we were on time probably 75% more than we used to be.


Are you wondering why I am telling you this yet? Ya, I’m sure you are. Well I came across this video on trying something new for 30 days. I did something similar to this last January and I think it works out well. Some goals should last longer than 30 days, because they will take longer than 30 days. But small goals along the way, or maybe trying something new, or trying to break or start a habit – 30 days is perfect. So check out this video. And decide what changes you want to make for the next 30 days. Because you can do anything for 30 days!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Here, Fishy, Fishy

I don’t know if that is the proper way to spell fishy…but we will go with it.

One “resolution” or goal my family often has is to eat more fish. It doesn’t always turn out the best, but we give it a shot for a bit. So this year, we will probably try again. With fish on the brain, I realized it is something a lot of people hear about and know they should eat, but might not know why. Sort of like antioxidants. So…let’s talk fish.

Photo Credit

Fish tops the list of heart-healthy foods, according to Susan Roberts, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Tufts University in Boston. While some nuts and green vegetables have heart-protecting properties, Roberts said they can't compare to fish in the heart-health sweepstakes.

Here are some main facts for you to know about why it’s pretty dang important to get some fish in your life this year:

- cold water fish (Salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, Atlantic halibut and sardines) have more omega-3 punch to them than other warm water fish
- unlike your four legged friends that supply you with beef, fish doesn’t have the artery clogging saturated fat we want to stay away from (just remember, the fewer the legs, the better)
- fish helps lower blood pressure and can help increase good cholesterol from the potassium, magnesium and niacin
- those lovely omega-3s found in fish are known to protect arteries, increase good cholesterol, lower blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and prevent heart arrhythmias.
- shrimp, unlike other types of fish, do have high amounts of artery clogging fat…so you might want to stay clear of that on most occasions when selecting your fish options
- broiling, grilling, poaching or baking are your best options for cooking fish…frying has been known to lower the effectiveness of the omega-3s
Here are some fish recipes that you might like to add to your dinner this week:

- Honey & Basil Walnut Crusted Salmon

- Orange Teriyaki Salmon

- Baked Halibut With Pesto, Zucchini, and Carrots

- Salmon Tacos

- Baked Fish Sticks

So, there you go! Let me know if you try one of those recipes.

By the way, remember my 1,000 mile goal for 2011? Well, you can my results posted on the 1,000 miles page. I’m pretty happy with the results. What’s on the menu for 2012? You’ll just have to wait and see.

~What’s your favorite way to eat fish?

~What goal did you accomplish in 2011 that you are proud of?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Antioxidants: What & Where

Last week my family took a trip down to Arizona to watch my brother in a basketball tournament. The weather was wonderful, the basketball was great, and I decided I will live there some day. This cold stuff in Utah does not work for me.

But while there, we headed to Trader Joe’s, since Utah hasn’t figured out what they are missing out on yet. There we found some pomegranate seeds out of the pomegranate and ready to eat. We bought them. Who wouldn’t?


While snacking on those in the car my dad started asking about antioxidants. This story is taking much longer than I thought. But anyway…I think antioxidants are one of those “if you eat them you are healthy” things that everyone hears about but isn’t sure exactly why they are or what they are. So I am here to tell you.
By definition, antioxidants are chemical substances that prevent or repair damage to cells caused by exposure to oxidizing agents such as oxygen, ozone, and smoke and to other oxidizing agents normally produced in the body.

Another version: Antioxidants are substances or nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. When our body cells use oxygen, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products) which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as "free radical scavengers" and hence prevent and repair damage done by these free radicals.  Health problems such as heart disease, macular degeneration, diabetes, cancer are all contributed by oxidative damage. Antioxidants may also enhance immune defense and therefore lower the risk of cancer and infection.

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Top sources of antioxidant-rich foods:
Pomegranate, blackberries, walnuts, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, artichokes, cranberries, red cabbage, pecans, cloves, grape juice, dark chocolate, guava nectar, mango nectar…to name a few

Here are (some of) the antioxidants themselves:
  • Vitamin A and Carotenoids
    Carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, kale, collards, cantaloupe, peaches and apricots (bright-colored fruits and vegetables!)
  • Vitamin C
    Citrus fruits like oranges and lime etc, green peppers, broccoli, green leafy vegetables, strawberries and tomatoes
  • Vitamin ENuts & seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil
  • Selenium
    Fish & shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken and garlic
  • Flavonoids / polyphenols red wine
    purple grapes
  • Lycopene
    Tomato and tomato products
    pink grapefruit
  • Lutein dark green vegetables such as kale, broccoli, kiwi, brussels sprout and spinach
  • Lignan flax seed

Antioxidants are found abundant in beans, grain products, fruits and vegetables. Look for fruits with bright color - lutein in some of the yellow pigments found in corn; orange in cantaloupe, butternut squash and mango; red from lycopene in tomatoes and watermelon, and purple and blue in berries. So enjoy eating a variety of these products. It is best to obtain these antioxidants from foods instead of supplements. In addition, minimize the exposure of oxidative stress such as smoking and sunburn.

So…maybe this year a goal could be getting a bit more color into your diet, and a little less of that color tan and brown. (Like chips, fries, candy bars, crackers)

There ya go, pops.
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