Sunday, September 28, 2014

What Your Best Friend and Dinner Plate have in Common

One of my sister-in-laws said in a text recently, "When are we gonna learn that fake is never the answer?" This was a very profound statement to me (coincidentally, she is writing on HONESTY this week). From relationships to food, fake is never healthy. At my MOPS group last week the topic was relationships and at the core of a deep relationship is honesty, not being fake. So many life-giving things happen when we are real with ourselves and each other. What happened in the Garden of Eden? Adam and Eve hid and were not honest with God. It even goes back to start of our humanity.

Kids are such great examples of being real. 

I don't think food is any different. We all know eating processed food isn't good for us, don't we? Why is it not? Because it's made up of fake ingredients. Sure, some things contain real food. An oreo has a teeny tiny amount of chocolate in it (the last ingredient on the list). Take a look at the first 15 ingredients, they all come from a lab. Ok, what's so bad about that? Well, every time we try to replace or make up our own ingredient to substitute a real one, we end up losing. It has never been proven to be healthier than the real deal. Why should we be surprised that God does a better job than us??

Fake food MAKEOVER! Taco Bell cheesy gordita crunch.....homemade version right there. Grass fed beef, real cheese sauce, homemade tortillas, seriously so good. 

Blood sugars stay completely level with every ingredient in this wrap having no sugar (fake or real) and not really registering on the glycemic index. 

The Wallstreet Journal recently posted an article about a new study on artificial (fake) sugars and how they acutally raise your blood glucose levels, rather than lower or remain the same. These sugars are found in diet foods, diet drinks/sodas, and most processed foods in general. Drink Diet Coke? Artificial sugar. Skinny Cow ice cream bars? Yup. Most diabetics use fake sugar because it's supposed to keep their insulin levels low (this is important) but if it actually increases those levels then we have a problem. Maybe this is part of the reason we have people dieting and gaining weight back rapidly, or not losing weight at all, or why diabetics have so much trouble controlling their insulin levels. We already know that drinking diet soda puts one at greater risk for obesity than regular soda. We know that the body gets confused when foreign invaders are presented to it, by transfering it to multiple organs and back into the blood stream, it gets deposited into our bodies and causes problems. 

So what's the solution? Honesty. Being real. 

The other day my husband bought some golden oreos. Not just goldens, but double stuffed. Yes. I kind of like those....honesty, here I go. So we sat down after our girls were in bed and I ate a few. They tasted good. But of course my tummy didn't feel so great the next morning (I have always had a sensitive stomach). Processed junk. I can't tell you the last time I ate those. Was it worth it? Debatable. Am I perfect with every ounce of food that enters my mouth? NO. 

Best friends always have a common factor. They are real! What best friend doesn't open up their heart? I always think of a best friend being the person you both tell people, "She knows pretty much everything about me." How about your spouse? My husband is the strongest human bond I have because he knows the most about me over anyone else! There's usually some mess but always the most reward.

Bonding with sisters. They are some of my best friends. 

This man. Love him. 

When I step into a life of honesty and being real (with people and my food), I cannot lose. It leaves me open for healthy change and going deeper. So when I share how I'm truly feeling with a friend, that creates an environment of bonding and health. When I put real ingredients into my body, I am doing basically the same thing. An environment is created for my body to thrive in the best way. 

What does this look like? It means that you ignore food packages with weight watcher points. At breakfast you put away the "sugar free" syrup and pull out the stuff that comes out of real trees, you eat real fruit rather than "artificial fruit flavoring" and you stop buying those diet drinks (please!). 

It also looks like starting your day with hearty protein and fat with fresh produce. It means drinking lots of water throughout your day. Those things ALONE will reduce your cravings, eliminate empty calories, and help you lose weight. If you want a sugary drink then make your own lemonde with real sugar and/or honey. If you're diabetic or hypoglycemic then it means you just eat foods with hardly any sugar or no sugar to keep insulin levels stable. Your health will dramatically improve. 

So let's continue on our journey of taking baby steps towards a fit life. It doesn't mean perfection but it does mean small changes, honesty, continually learning, and lots of grace. So keep going, it's worth it. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Spicy Sweet Chicken

Another awesome recipe I made this week, thanks to Pinterest (love Pinterest). But I tried this on the grill and I don't think I will do that again. These were coated with spices, which was yummy, yet cooking didn't go as great (catching fire, yeah no good). So I will do this in the oven or broiler, like the recipe recommends. They still turned out really yummy on the grill, it just seemed difficult to cook the inside without the outside burning too much and I ended up putting in the oven to finish cooking. Also, if you prefer breasts, instead of thighs, go for it! I did use thighs because we always have chicken breasts and I wanted a change. Here it is, such great flavor!

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
adapted from Cooking Light 3/07

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 shake of ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.
Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

I made green beans with bacon, onion, pepper, and little chunks of sweet potato and it was fantastic as well. It was a great compliment to this meal. Pineapple would be good with this too. There you have it. Put this on your meal schedule!

read pin here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Alright folks, this soup was awesome. I am kind of picky with soups but this was good. But I have to admit, I didn't make this up. It's a delicious pinterest recipe. I found it HERE.

But just for my own personal record, I am going to put it on here. I hope you enjoy it as well!


  • one bunch of fresh broccoli [enough for a few cups of chopped tops]
  • 2 cups vegetable [or chicken!] broth or stock
  • ½ cup of sharp cheddar cheese, plus plenty extra for topping [freshly grated]
  • 1 heaping cup of regular gouda cheese [freshly grated, rind removed]
  • 1 cup of shredded carrots [or a little extra!]
  • 1 small white onion [about ⅔ cup or 1 cup, chopped]
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 cup half and half [or heavy cream]
  • 3 TBSP all purpose flour
  • 3 TBSP butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ⅛ tsp allspice
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp dried basil
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ⅛ tsp salt [will vary based on salt content of your stock/broth]
  • a few cranks of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. First ze veggies: Chop em! Dice the onions super small, mince the garlic, and shred the carrots if you didn't buy pre-shredded. This can all be done ahead of time and stored in the fridge for later. For the broccoli, chop ⅔ of it into tiny florets [just cut off as much stem as you can and it'll fall apart in the pot] and then take the remaining ⅓ and give it a rough chop so you have a few large pieces to add to the soup. Totally optional!
  2. Add your veggie broth to a pot on medium-high heat, add your ⅔ of your broccoli [about 2 cups of florets] as well as your onion, garlic, carrots, and bay leaf. Simmer on medium, covered, for about 15-20 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
  3. Once the broth is done, start your roux: In a large pot, melt 3 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, whisking constantly (sub pureed poato for gluten free). Once melted, slowly add 3 tablespoons of flour as you continue to whisk.
  4. For a thicker soup, use an extra tablespoon of each. I skipped it. Remove from heat and slowly pour in the broth from your veggie mixture [its okay if some of the veggies jump in along side it!] and stir to incorporate.
  5. Next pour in the veggies and slowly stir in 1 cup of half and half. Return to the burner on very low heat, uncovered.
  6. Spoon out the bay leaf and season with the above herbs and spices, adding a little extra of whichever you like to taste. Depending on the saltiness of your broth, you might skip the salt entirely or prefer to add a bit more. Taste and tweak as needed after adding your cheese.
  7. Oh yes: the cheese! Once the soup has warmed back up, stir in the grated cheeses and remove from heat immediately. I won't tell if you sneak extra cheese in your soup =)
  8. That extra broccoli you left on the side? Blanch in boiling water, steam in your microwave, or basically cook it however you'd like and stir into your completed soup for great texture and an extra burst of broccoli.
  9. Garnish with a little extra grated cheddar and a sprinkle of parsley and eve spicy red pepper flakes if you'd like!
***I did not blanch the broccoli, I didn't have a bay leaf, and I added extra pepper, garlic salt, and all spice in mine. I also didn't try the gluten free option. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

6 Things Every Exercise Enthusiast Should Know

Weight loss and body tips to tone, tighten, and strengthen are the focus of so many articles, magazines, and blog posts. But what about people who enjoy (yay!) or are disciplined enough to exercise on a regular basis? Let's not neglect you! Injuries, plateaus, and boredom can set in wreaking havoc on your healthy lifestyle. I don't want to leave anyone out and I feel that my own experiences can help shed light on important matters that should not be neglected. 

#1 Switch it up
I've stated it before and I emphasize with my clients, changing your routine often is imperative to a healthy lifestyle. Your body is incredible at adapting quickly to what you throw at it. We sometimes don't give ourselves enough credit and hold back with what we can really do. So keep pushing by adding more weight, faster pace, extra sets, etc to improve. 
With that said, people who exercise several days a week have to be aware of preventing injuries. Doing repetitive movements can leave one susceptible to strains/sprains/injuries. Did you know that the sport with the most injuries is high school cross country (girls)? Why? Because there is the repetitive motion of running without enough variation. But studies done, showed that changing up their workouts and adding weight training in for 12 weeks had a huge reduction in injuries. Our bodies need change. 

#2 Stretch
Our bodies also need flexibility. The more pliable/flexible a muscle is, the more strength potential it has (up to 35% more). That's huge! Take time to stretch before and after each workout. This plays a major role in preventing injuries as well. Consider taking yoga, pilates, yogalates (mix), and Piyo (another mix). This gives your body a chance to heal and it proves many benefits on the nervous system. 

#3 Take a break
Every once in a while, it's good to take an extended break. This goes along with stretching. Our bodies need a break. So maybe you take a week off every 3 months, or you have a period of exercising only 2-3 days a week for a month with lots of extended stretching. 

#4 Eat to fuel your workouts
Just because you exercise doesn't mean food is "free game." It's actually more important to eat your fruits and vegetables because your body requires more of them. Think about how thirsty you get when you exercise. It's not just a need for more water, it's a need for more vital nutrients to keep your body working optimally (read my post HERE). If you continue on a poor diet, it will catch up in the form of ailments, and serious ones. No machine that is overworked and neglected, will continue without problems. Our bodies work the same way. Fuel yourself right. 

#5 It's all about the Core
Every movement we make is connected to the core, it is the body's foundation. If you want to maintain a healthy back, spine, flat tummy, improve balance, etc then focus on your core. Balance is vital as we age because it decreases, along with muscle, which is a huge problem for the elderly. All these things are connected. But when you work at strengthening the muscles in your abs and back, the rest of your body benefits and aging is no big deal! (; Athletes don't have a strong core for just the look, it's important for the health, speed, strength, and performance of their bodies. The ability to tie your shoes, trip and catch yourself, throw a ball farther, hit a golf ball straighter, and do things with more effectiveness is connected to your core. 
The core is not just the abs. It involves the entire middle of your body, from front to back and all the way around. How do you strengthen it? Planking variations (see posts I have HERE, HERE, HERE), ab exercises that work all ab muscles (look HERE), and back exercises. Incorporate these and you'll notice better posture, less back aches, better performance, balance and many other things. 

#6 Alignment and Muscle Care
Avid exercisers endure sore muscles, higher impact, and prolonged use of the body. This means along with stretching and taking breaks, there needs to be active care on the body. Things such as chiropractic, massage, hot baths, icing, foam roller, and muscle gel. I incorporate all these things into my routine. 
Chiropractic is essential for spine health. Kick box? All the twisiting, punching, and turning is bound to move a vertebrae out of place. Geesh, sleeping wrong gets vertebrae out of place. Chiropractic is great for the whole body and keeps one in optimal shape/health.
 Massage, who doesn't like a massage?! Overworked and tired muscles do great with a periodic massage. A foam roller is excellent for warming up muscles, get blood flowing in the body, and helps repair muscles like a massage. Incorporating everytime you exercise makes a huge difference in the health of your muscles. 
Muscle gel is great when you are tense and have some pain. Icing is great for injuries, pain, and tendonitis. Icing reduces inflammation and is an excellent way to care for the body. A hot bath can be great too, just for achiness and stiffness. So take advantage of these things to bring more healing and health to your body. 

If you love exercising, please be intentional about adding these things to your routine. Once you incorporate them into your life, you'll realize what you were missing and never go back! Is there anything else you do bring relaxation, recovery, and wholeness into your routine? 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Why I Don't Read Food Labels Anymore

After I became a Personal Trainer and Nutritionist, reading food labels was my job (literally speaking). I focused on the Nutrition Facts, such as fat, carbs, fiber, protein, etc. After a couple years, I continued to learn about looking below the box, to see what ingredients were making up the food I was consuming.

Currently, I don't read labels anymore and you don't have to either. Here's why, I don't buy food with labels! Ok, I don't buy absolutely 100% of my foods without labels (even eggs have a label), but I try to eat foods that don't have them such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and quality/grass fed/hormone free meats from local butcher shops. Most food with labels are processed packages, and replace real ingredients like fat and sugar with carbs and man-made sugar substitutes (which are causing the problems they're claiming will help people avoid). 

If you want a cookie, make it! Not from a factory and pre-packaged for you, but a real and tasty cookie that won't last 2 years on a shelf. One that will digest properly in your body because the ingredients aren't foreign invaders. Yes, it's a cookie and I had one, but I can tell you the ingredients and pronounce them! :)

What about those of you reading this who do buy food with labels? I won't leave you hanging. Like I said, I don't buy everything without labels, I'm not making my own yogurt and raising cattle. I'm a house wife and have kids who like pretzels and tortilla chips, so we're real. It's still pretty simple to read labels and I want to show you how. 

Green beans from a friend's garden...

#1 Look at the Ingredients List first. Don't waste your time looking at the fat content first. It starts and can end with what the food is made of. 

#2 How many ingredients are listed? It's pretty easy to glance and see 30 ingredients on the back of a label, if so, put that sucker down because there's no use. Fat-free ice cream sandwiches drenched in no calorie chocolate?! That's the heart attack waiting to happen cause it isn't real people! Your body will self-destruct over time. Give me cream and cocoa instead. Seriously. I want ice cream from the cow, not the lab. 

Green beans, bacon, onions, peppers...thanks sister.  

#3 Choose foods that have real and recognizable ingredients. If you pick up a package of tortillas and it has mon-whatever and di-you name it, then put it down (that's where it ends), look up my tortilla recipe, and spend 20 minutes making the best tortillas you've ever had. But if it says, flour, butter/oil, water, salt, then buy them. 

Stuffed tomato...cook in the oven. Wow! Yum. 

#4 Watch for sneaky ingredients (remember being able to recognize foods...#3). Hydrogenated anything? Stay away. Trans fat is never good for the body. N-e-v-e-r. Even if it says, "No trans fat" on the label, there's loop holes. If partially or fully hydrogenated is listed, it's trans fat. You mean the USDA isn't always truthful and doesn't have our best health in mind? Shocking I know. Also, those commercials are LYING when they say High Fructose Corn Syrup isn't bad for you. So if it's in the food, put it down. Yes, real sugar is better for you than HFCS. 

#5 Once you have determined the food you are holding is real and acceptable, you may look above the ingredients list. But don't be afraid of fat. The low-fat era still lingers and the more real foods we eat actually contain a decent amount of fat. But guess what? It's not the enemy. All the processed junk is. So full fat cheese, yogurt, ice cream, nuts, eggs, etc are not bad for you. You don't have to limit your fat to almost nothing. Our bodies need fat. Our hormones are regulated by it, our brains, organs, skin, hair, and nails need it. 

The easiest way to read labels is to barely read them because you're buying fresh, whole foods. The more you buy those foods, the more time you save, empty calories avoided, cravings dissipated, pounds lost, blood sugar stabilized, and the more life you bring to your body. It's really pretty incredible and life-giving.