Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Minestrone Soup

There was a chill in the air today, and the first thing that comes to mind...soup! I love soup because it is filling and if you stick to the water-based soups you can get a low calorie meal full of veggies and lean protein. I found this recipe online for Minestrone soup that reminds me a lot of a recipe that my mom used to make. Give it a try :)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can vegetable broth (you could also use chicken broth here)
  • 1 1/2 quarts water
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni (or any other small shaped pasta you may have)
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, onion and garlic into pot. Mix in tomato paste, beans, broth and water. Season with basil, oregano and salt. Cook and stir 30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Mix macaroni into pot. Continue cooking 10 minutes, or until macaroni is tender.
*note* you really can add any vegetables you want to this to up your veggie servings for the day. Also, to save yourself time pre-cook the pasta while the rest of the soup is cooking and then stir it in at the end.

Nutrition Information: 1 cup of soup
216 calories. 2.9 grams of fat. 6.9 grams of fiber. 6.9 grams of protein.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Biggest Loser Returns

I love this show. If you haven't watched it before, I give you permission to park it right in front of the TV. The Biggest Loser is on Tuesday nights on NBC, and it started last week. If you didn't catch the premier click on this link THE BIGGEST LOSER to check it out. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get some great heath and exercise tips, and you'll be motivated! I highly recommend it :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Farmers Market

It's harvest time! Although we all don't have our own garden to pick from there are plenty of people who do, and want to share. Click on this link localharvest.org and type in your zip code to find a farmers market near you. Take advantage of all the delicious, fresh, fruits and veggies while you can. They are less expensive and SO good for you!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Exercise of the week: Killer Leg Combo

If you're looking to tone up your leg's this will INDEED do the trick. It's a great way to get in a few good sets of leg's while you're working out. This is a walking combination so go down a hallway, or somewhere you've got some space. Grab a med ball, or a 5 or 10 lb dumbbell and hold it out directly in front of you while you do this whole sequence. Yep we're getting the shoulders at the same time as the legs. I told you this one was a killer!
Do one walking lunge forward on the right leg. Do one walking lunge forward with the left leg. (While doing this make sure your knee's aren't going over your toes. You want 90 degree angles.) Bring your right leg back to regular standing position with your feet about hip width apart and do one squat in place. Repeat this sequence again, but this time up the stakes by one. Do one walking lunge forward with the right leg, come up leaving your legs in that lunge position and go back down again. So you are doing two lunges in place. Step forward with the left leg and do two lunges in place with the left leg forward. Step your right foot back to standing and do two squats in place. Repeat again doing three in each position...etc. all the way until you get to 10 reps in every position. Yes, still holding that dumbbell out in front of you. Do this three times, and you'll be feeling it...I promise.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

first you take the peanuts and you smash em...

I LOVE peanut butter. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Because of my love for peanut butter I feel it necessary to clarify some of the flack that PB has taken in the past few years. Most people think peanut butter and they immediately think; A) fattening B) stay away C)loaded with calories D)healthy? no, too good to be true. If you are a peanut butter lover, like myself. I urge to you read on. I think you'll be pleased. Let's clear some things up. A) Fattening? Yes, peanut butter does have fat in it. BUT before you drop the Skippy and run you have to realize there are different kinds of fat; Saturated, Monounsaturated, Polyunsaturated, and Transfat. Saturated and Transfats are the ones you should stay away from. You shouldn't have more than 10 grams of saturated fat in your diet in one day. These fats are solid at room temp, and are found mostly in animal products (think animal fat, butter, shortening, etc.) These fats raise blood cholesterol and will increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Monounsaturated & Polyunsaturated fats are liquid at room temp, and are actually oils. They have just the opposite effect. They decrease blood cholesterol. This means they are actually good for you. Peanut butter is comprised mostly of mono and polyunsaturated fats. B) Stay away? No! you really don't have to. Knowing that peanut butter is full of good fats, and protien, you can start to see that it is actually good for you. Studies have shown that eating 1-3 servings of nuts per day can decrease your risk for heart disease. FYI: Heart diesease is the #1 killer in women today. However, PB is high in calories. Which leads me to C) Loaded with Calories? I would have to say yes to this one. PB is higher in calories, so i'd make sure you are eating it in moderation. BUT as long as you have room for it in your diet, it will be a benefit to you. NOT a detriment like many people believe. Remember, I'm not talking about Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. D) Not Healthy; too good to be true. I hope I've shown you that this isn't the case. Peanut Butter IS good for you, and SOOO tasty. I am not lying when I say I enjoy myself a PB and honey sandwhich on whole wheat bread quite often. Look for brands of PB that are natural, and they tend to be lower in sugar. Some health food stores even have stations where you can smash your own peanuts into fresh delicious PB. However you smash it, don't feel guilty! Remember, it's good for you. Now if that isn't finger lickin' good news I don't know what is!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Protein: Quick and Delicious

Sometimes it can be hard to get enough protein in your diet due to the fact that it takes a lot of prep time. For that reason I'm always looking for easier ways to get lean protein in . One way that I have found to be quick and tasty is store bought rotisserie chicken. It's usually about $7 dollars for a chicken and depending on how many people you are feeding it can stretch to work for a few meals. I like to take the chicken as soon as i get home, take off all the skin, and shred it. I put it into a tupperware until i'm ready to use it. It will stay fresh for a few days. This can be used with salads, put into quesadilla's or wraps, put on sandwiches, or any other way you can dream up to eat it. It takes out the cooking/cleanup process and it has a great flavor.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Zucchini Overloaded??

I remember it was always about this time of year that our family's garden would begin to produce more zucchini than anyone could possibly want to eat. One begins to wonder if a garden was really a good idea when the 10 lb zucchini's are coming at you like crazy, BUT if you've got some extra zucchini on hand, (or even if you don't), here are some great ways to use your excess!
1. Bake it. Of course, MY number one would be to make my favorite healthy treat; Zucchini Cookies. These are SO easy and SO good. Double the batch and freeze them. You won't regret it, I promise. You can also make some pretty delicious breads and muffins with zucchini. **if anyone has a good healthy recipe I'd LOVE it!
2. Steam it. Slice one up and put it in a Glad Steam Bag. These are AWESOME. You don't even have to add water. You veggies will come out steamed to perfection! There are 15 calories in a 1/2 cup of zucchini. That is pretty amazing.
3. Stir Fry it. Use some lean chicken and veggies and you've got yourself a delicious meal. Throw it on top of some brown rice and you're hitting three food groups in one dish. Bon Apetit!
4. Freeze it. Regardless of the dish you are making you can puree, shred, or slice up your extra zucchini and freeze it away to use later. Pureed Zucchini can be added to a LOT of dishes to add nutrients and chances are you won't even taste it. If you haven't looked at Jessica Seinfelds book Deceptively Delicious, give it a glance. She puree's fruits and veggies to add to her favorite dishes. It's awesome!
5. Shred it. Shredded zucchini can be put into a pasta sauce, a lasagna, a meatloaf, or even a burrito to add nutrition and bulk. Don't let it scare you. Be daring!
6. Grill it. Let's be honest...anything tastes great on the grill. Add some Lawry's or seasonings of your choice.
7. Boil It. In a soup that is. This Potato, Zucchini, & Tomato Soup recipe I found on Rachael Ray's website looks soooo good, and is super healthy!
8. Substitute it. Zucchini sliced thinly lengthwise can take place of pasta. If you're watching your carbohydrate intake this is a great low-cal way to go.
9. Give it. If you have more zucchini than you know what to do with i'm sure a garden-less neighbor would love to take some of it off your hands!

It doesn't matter how you slice it, but don't let that zucchini go to waste!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Faceoff: Treadmill Vs. Elliptical

I have received a few questions about treadmills vs. elliptical trainers and so I thought I'd touch briefly on the subject. With the treadmill and the elliptical machine being probably two of the most popular pieces of exercise equipment I can see where some concern would come in to play as far as which is more effective. First and foremost I'd have to say it depends on the person. If you've had any joint problems, (knee's especially), I'd go for the elliptical. It is designed to put a lot less impact on your joints. With this said, I don't want you to think that the elliptical is the "easier option." With exercise you have to remember that it is or can be as hard as you make it.

Elliptical machines with handles can give you a full body workout, getting that upper body into motion which is great. It has the option of a forward pedal which targets the glutes and hamstrings more, and a backward motion which targets the quads more. In the past Elliptical machines have lacked variety, making them less desirable than a treadmill, but updated models have proved this wrong adding incline and resistance settings. The key here is using these different settings, and not keeping it on a stagnant pace.

Treadmills are great. They always have been and they always will be. From the walker to the marathon runner you really can vary your workout to fit YOU. You can change the incline and speed making your workout more cardiovascular or more fat burning, depending on your desired goals. I have always felt like running gives me a good workout!

With my clients I've seen that they've generally burned more calories on the elliptical machine vs. the treadmill due to the fact that it is easier to push yourself when on an elliptical machine. Running burns more calories than walking, and if you're comparing walking to using an elliptical, I'd pick the elliptical. You'll burn more calories overall.

If you're looking to purchase one or the other they are both great options, but I'd pick whatever it is you think you'll use. Running 5 miles a day on your treadmill is a great goal, but if you don't think you'll do it, don't buy an expensive piece of equipment just to let it collect dust.

If you're wondering what is the better option for your gym workouts I'd mix it up. Variety is the best thing for your body. Just make sure you're pushing yourself. Break a sweat. For the most part people underestimate their capabilities when it comes to exercise. Push yourself! THAT is when you'll see results.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kashi: a name everyone needs to know

If you've never had any Kashi products before there is no time like the present. Their products are all natural, contain no additives, highly refined sugars, or preservatives. Everything is made from whole grains, full of fiber, and protein. From cereal, to crackers, to frozen meals; their product line has a wide variety to choose from. Some of my favorites are...the Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal, (If you liked the flavor of Golden Crisp as a kid you'll LOVE this cereal!I like to eat it dry as a snack. It has 9 grams of protien per serving.) I really like thier Kashi Rolls, they are comparable to a protien bar, but have no funky textures. They are SO delicious! Thier crackers and granola bars are really good too.
Not only does Kashi have a great line of products they have a great website as well. You can look at great info on eating healthy, exercise, recipes, goal setting, and more. Check out the link here.

Fitness @ Lunch: take 2

I wrote another article for the Fitness @ Lunch website.
To brush up on your knowledge about good vs. bad carbohydrates, (and to make me feel good ;)...) give it a read!

Carbohydrates: The good the bad and the downright ugly.

Enjoy :)