Tag Archives: nutrition

Top 11 Ways to Live Forever!

I recently saw this list posted on social media and thought it would be worth sharing with you this month. The list was generated by a medical doctor who maintains a website about natural health information. I do not exactly know what is meant by the term “natural” within this context; nevertheless, I believe the list is pretty accurate! Of course, you may not live forever by following these 11 healthy lifestyle tenets, but hopefully you will live a long, healthy life.

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Photo source. http://www.mercola.com

After reading the list, what do you need to improve upon?
Is there anything you would add? 

Notice how the first six items all relate to nutrition? Hmm… I think we’re on to something!

Eat right AND move more!

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Eating Healthy & Exercising Despite Crazy Busy Business Travel

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photo credit: Alex Wong

One of our newsletter subscribers travels a lot for work and asked us for advice about eating healthy and maintaining some sort of fitness regimen when on the road.

Here are a few tips I shared with her.

  • Stay away from fast and fried foods as much as possible!
  • ALWAYS order a salad with dressing on the side.
  • ALWAYS request a microwave and fridge in your hotel room and USE THEM for quick, healthy meals and snacks (e.g., oatmeal, Greek yogurt, bottled water, fruit, egg whites, hardboiled eggs – boil them in coffee machine)
  • Find a local grocery store and purchase a few things to keep in room and purse
  • Identify healthy “go-to” meals at healthier restaurants such as Panera,
  • ALWAYS schedule time to use the hotel gym AND use it!
  • Pack workout gear
  • Walk to destinations when you can
  • BEWARE of high sodium foods when eating out. Most meals when dining out are BIG sodium traps!
  • Eat frequently and in smaller amounts.
  • Pack healthy snacks.
  • ALWAYS bring a reusable water bottle and keep it filled! (TIP: refill it for free at the hotel’s fitness center)

Check out some of our other posts about maintaining a healthy lifestyle when traveling.

Sweet Potato Hack: Ditch the Butter & Sugar!

Do you like your sweet potatoes doused with a ridiculous amount of butter and brown sugar

spotaters

AND

trying to eat healthier?

Try this healthy sweet potato hack and let me know if it satisfies that ever so present sweet tooth.

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  1. Microwave, bake, or boil your sweet potato.
  2. Slice open or mash to your liking.
  3. Instead of butter, add some ORGANIC COCONUT OIL. (healthy fats)
  4. Instead of brown sugar, add 1/3 of mashed ripe BANANA. (natural source of sugar, good source for potassium, fiber, & vitamin C)
  5. Top off with some cinnamon and nutmeg.

Enjoy! This is super easy to prepare in less than 5 minutes.

Let me know how you like it!

 

photo #1 credit: thecottagemama.com
photo #2: Candice Elaine brooks (c) 2015

No Time? No Problem! – A Quick Healthy Meal On-The-Go!

2015-08-16 17.45.15Who says you can’t eat healthy at a live professional sports game? I suppose having media credentials and treating all facility staff with the utmost kindness and respect allows me to bring my snack bag into each game, but hey, I’ll take it!

This is something I threw together in less than 7 minutes! I honestly didn’t know what I was going to take to the game, I just knew I had to pack SOMETHING–or else! I opened the refrigerator and made this up on the fly. Here are the ingredients.

1/2 c. Brown rice

1/2 c. Organic baby spinach

1/3 c. English cucumber (with peel)

1/2 can Albacore tuna fish (canned in water)

1/4 c. Chopped carrots

1 Tbsp. Italian dressing

Layer the ingredients in your to-go dish, pop the top on, throw it on an ice pack, and GO! Oh, don’t forget your fork.

Basic Nutrition Facts: 294 cal, 33g carb, 6g fat, 28g protein, 475 sodium, 4g sugars

SODIUM ALERT! SODIUM ALERT!
Yikes! This meal has more sodium than I thought. Low sodium alternative: ditch the dressing and use a little extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon or lime juice. Also, see if you can find some low sodium or no salt added albacore tuna.

Quick & Easy Protein Rich Smoothie

In the name of saving time and eating healthy, here’s a quick and simple smoothie just for you! Scroll down and you’ll see the recipe and a few tips!

smoothie

1 c. Unsweetened Almond Milk

1/2 frozen banana

1 scoop of your favorite vanilla or chocolate protein powder (I used Nutrology Grass Fed Whey)

1 Tbsp organic creamy peanut butter

4 large frozen strawberries

Directions: Toss everything into your handy dandy blender. Enjoy!

Basic Nutrition Facts: 298 cal, 20g carb, 12g fat, 30g protein, 267 sodium, 9g sugars

The majority of the sugar is from the fruit. Be careful with your protein powder! It may be loaded with sugar. Mine wasn’t because I used Nutrology Grass Fed Whey. [Receive a 20% discount and free shipping for online purchases. Enter CEBFIT upon checkout.] You can also use fresh unfrozen fruit and add a few ice cubes to beef up the frozen smoothie texture. 

TIP: For all of the folks out there looking to lose weight, I recommend getting most of your natural added sugars in your diet earlier on in the day. It gives you more time to burn those calories off throughout the course of your day.

[WNBA 1:1 INTERVIEW] JANTEL LAVENDER TALKS ABOUT FITNESS, NUTRITION, AND SELF-CARE

Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender goes up against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter of Survivor By Design Media

With a last name the same as a medicinal herb known for its calming and healing qualities, Los Angeles Sparks starting center Jantel Lavender has calmed any anxiety about the void of several Sparks’ players Candace Parker, Kristi Tolliver, Nneka Ogwumike) out of commission early this season. Jantel’s stats are the best of her career in average points (15.1), rebounds (9.6), assists (1.8), and minutes (36) played per game. She has already touted five double-doubles this season. Although her additional playing time may be a result of teammate Parker’s absence from the roster, Jantel has shown the WNBA and its fans what she is fully capable of day in and day out.

As a college athlete at The Ohio State University (OSU), Jantel was the only player, male or female, to be selected Big Ten Conference Player of the Year four straight seasons (2007-08 through 2010-11). She is the all-time career scoring leader (2,818 points) at OSU and she holds the rebounding record (1,422) in the NCAA Big Ten Conference.

Originally selected by the Los Angeles Sparks as the number five pick in the first round of the 2011 WNBA Draft, Jantel Lavender currently holds the third best rebounding average per game in the WNBA at 9.6 rebounds per game—closely trailing Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne (9.9 rpg) and Tulsa Shock’s Courtney Paris (10.3 rpg). She also holds the number nine slot for average points per game (15.1 ppg) this season.

On June 23, 2015, I sat down with the six foot four inch starting Sparks center after her team suffered their sixth regular season loss (Washington Mystics 84, Sparks 80). Lavender finished one rebound shy of a double-double with 18 points, nine rebounds, and three blocked shots.

We chatted a little bit about her fitness, wellness, and nutrition.


What are some of the things you do (on and off season) to take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually?

That’s crazy because I actually meditate before games and…yoga helps me a lot just to be calm [and] to stay focused for the game. My regimen is usually just to meditate for 30 minutes before a game—have a quiet, calm area and just kind of reflect on what I want the outcome to be.

What is your prospective on the Los Angeles Sparks’ pre-game warm-up and collective team preparation before games?

We get a really good workout. We sweat a lot—it’s just a lot of movement trying to get your body into game motions. We stretch, but we also do movements that [mimic] some of the stuff that we’re going to see in the game and how we’re going to be defended. It’s great. It’s a good warm-up. We all get a nice sweat going so that we can be ready for the game.

For your position, what type of exercises have proven to be the most beneficial to you on-the-court? And why?

Definitely [the] weight room for sure. I’m always in the weight room. Squats—keeping my legs strong because it’s a lot of bodying and getting low to box out for rebounds. The weight room is my best friend. I love to do upper body because there’s a lot of banging in the post and to get those rebounds you’ve got to be strong. So definitely, hitting the weights hard.

What are your “go-to” healthy snacks and meals?

I love seaweed snacks from Trader Joe’s. I eat those. I shop a lot at Trader Joe’s. I eat a lot of cashews, nuts, and salads and stuff. I try to stay away from red meat. I eat chicken and fish and vegetables. I love salads and spinach. They have a place in L.A. (Los Angeles) called Lemonade. They have a series of like 20 different salads and I go there usually almost all the time for lunch. [I’m] just trying to eat healthy—sometimes I have a donut or something, but most of the time I eat healthy [and] try to stay fueled for the game.

What advice would you give high school girls basketball players who have dreams of playing professionally one day?

Definitely start lifting weights now. It’s separates you tremendously when you get to the collegiate level and professional [level]. I started lifting when I was in the eighth grade. It [provided] a tremendous difference in my speed [and] my strength when I got to those levels. People were shocked [at] how strong I was. And definitely [start] eating healthy. Just making sure you eat healthy and watch your diet. A lot of times girls think it’s not that important when they are that young, but it is. You don’t have to have a strict diet like we (WNBA athletes) do, but I think that making sure you get a salad, making sure you get a well-balanced breakfast—that type of stuff is very essential to their health. I would say the weight room is the number one thing that separated me when I was in high school.


 

Below are six key takeaways from Jantel’s personal fitness, nutrition, and self-care regimen.

Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender secures her position for a rebound against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter

Los Angeles Sparks center Jantel Lavender secures her position for a rebound against Washington Mystics center Stefanie Dolson on June 23, 2015 at the Verizon Center. | Photo courtesy of Lamar Carter of Survivor By Design Media

  1. Meditate.
  2. Set positive intentions and visualize.
  3. Eat healthy.
  4. Life weights.
  5. Stretch.
  6. Incorporate functional and game specific movements into a dynamic warm-up.

It was very clear just how important health, fitness, and nutrition are to Jantel as she passionately spoke about her daily practices and advice for others. She smiled the entire time we spoke.

A special thank you again to Jantel for dedicating her time to speak with me after the game.

Follow Jantel Lavender on Twitter @jlav42

Washington Mystics and WNBA media credential access via Unique Starz Sports & Entertainment
Twitter @UniqeStarz

 

Butternut Squash Soup w/ a Sweet Twist!

‘Tis the season for warm and delicious soups! This recipe was inspired by the roasted butternut squash soup I recently gobbled up at Heirloom, a restaurant located in Beaver, PA. I think my interpretation came out pretty good. I couldn’t resist adding sweet potatoes and carrots for some natural sweetness. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

1 medium large butternut squash
2 sweet potatoes
2-3 carrots
32 oz vegetable stock
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 cinnamon sticks
couple dashes of cinnamon
extra virgin olive oil
coconut oil
a dash or two of kosher salt
a dash or two of ground black pepper
2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
few sprigs of fresh sage

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Removing seeds and pulp from squash.

Coat an aluminum foil pan with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle some nutmeg, salt, and pepper into the ban. Toss in two small cinnamon sticks and a few sprigs of fresh sage. Cut squash in half or in fourths. Cut sweet potatoes in half. Cut carrots into large medallions. Lie squash seed side down into pan. Lie sweet potatoes flat side down and toss in carrots. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake (or grill in covered aluminum foil pan) squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots until done. You should be able to easily slide a toothpick or knife into squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

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Simmering in the crock pot!

Remove skin, seeds, and pulp from cooked squash. Remove skin from sweet potatoes. Blend squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, and vegetable stock until smooth and creamy. Poor into crock pot set on low heat. Add a dash or two of salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon. I also added about a teaspoon of brown sugar to add a little extra love and sweetness! Toss in the same cinnamon sticks you used to bake or grill the squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Stir. Let simmer for a few minutes. While this is simmering in the crock pot….

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Butternut Squash Sweet Potato Carrot Soup

Throw your pumpkin seeds into a skillet on medium heat. Add 1/4 tsp of olive oil and 1//4 tsp of coconut oil. Stir in pan to allow oil to coat seeds. Add 1 tsp of brown sugar. Occasionally stir and seeds to brown. Turn off heat. Pour seeds in heat proof container and allow to sit for a minute or two.

Back to the crock pot! Give your soup one last stir and wah-lah! It’s ready! Serve in your favorite soup bowl and add a few roasted pumpkin seeds on top. Grab a spoon and enjoy!

Let me know what you think about the recipe!

 

[REVIEW] MyFitnessPal App

myfitnesspalThis is Part Two of an ongoing series reviewing various fitness and nutrition phone applications. Last month I reviewed the Livestrong MyPlate app and this month I decided to try out MyFitnessPal, a free application offered by MyFitnessPal, Inc., a private company founded in 2005 based out of San Francisco, CA. Check out this recent article about a new MyFitnessPal company merger. Also, if interested, take a peek at the list of perks for all MyFitnessPal employees. I particularly like the monthly be healthy stipend, healthy snacks, weekly onsite yoga classes, and daily catered lunches. Amazing!

Back to the actual phone app. I use MyFitnessPal primarily on my cell phone and every once in a while on my lap top. The app was recently upgraded with new features (e.g., auto-listing commonly paired foods) and bug fixes.Without further ado, here is a rundown of MyFitnessPal.

Bar code scan: Instead of manually entering nutritional information, this app gives you the option of scanning the bar code of foods. The bar code automatically uploads nutritional information. I’ve noticed that the bar codes of bulk items purchased at large food warehouse stores or specialty international foods stores tend to not work and I need to manually enter basic nutritional information (i.e., carbs, fat, protein, and calories).

PC and Phone Access: You can download the FREE MyFitnessPal app and log-in online with the same username and password to upload various information about food intake and exercise. All entered on either device information automatically syncs.

Track water intake: This is pretty handy and helpful to keep you on track with daily water intake. The unit of measure for water intake tracking is cups (or 8 ounces). I prefer to use the Waterlogged app to track my daily water intake because it provides a lot more  customization and tracking features.

photoSummary and analysis charts: The phone application provides a simple pie chart that breaks your daily nutrient intake into carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It also provides a more detailed version of daily nutrient intake into various nutrient categories (see photo). The web version has additional summary reports that show your body measurements, nutrition intake, and fitness numbers (i.e., calories burned, duration of exercise).

Sync with other Exercise Trackers: MyFitnessPal allows you to sync your workouts from Endomondo, Fitbit, C25K-5K Trainer, MapMyFitness, RunKeeper, and many other phone applications. This is helpful because it automatically uploads your specific exercise and burned calories.

Tracking Measurements: You can track body measurements under the “check-in” tab on the MyFitnessPal web version. If it’s not already listed, you can create your own category. A few I added were blood pressure, body fat percentage, and resting heart rate. You can edit entries and look at multiple entries over a span of time.

Other notable features include:

  • Food/diet/fitness blog (you can set it to self, friends, MyFitness pals, everyone). You can even customize the colors and name of your blog.
  • Comprehensive exercise library that automatically calculates burned calories based on body measurements
  • Customize your exercises to add to the exercise library. I added a few Insanity and yoga DVD workouts. Keep in mind that calories burned are dependent on individual body type.
  • There’s a little notepad feature that allows you to write any exercise and nutrition notes. For example, I wrote down my any supplements in this section so I could see what my nutrition intake looked like without supplements.
  • Message boards and direct messaging for the MyFitnessPal online community.

The only thing I think this app is missing is…

Time of day: There is no time of day entry option when you eat or exercise. I think this would be a very interesting factor to analyze in a custom report and would be very insightful for a personal trainer. For example, some of us may eat our daily recommended caloric intake, but go long periods of time without eating and cramming in a super high calorie meal at the end of the day.

One last tip for this and every food tracking app: Owning a food scale would make the data entered in this application a lot more accurate. Admittedly, I’ve been guessing a lot of my food portions especially when food measurements are listed in terms of weight (ounces).

As a reminder, I do not officially endorse any nutrition or fitness applications. My goal is to share some of the pros and cons of these applications to help others determine what may best suit their needs. Also, I want to figure out which ones I may recommend to future personal training clients to help them achieve their fitness and nutrition goals.

I’m not sure which app I will review next. I’m definitely open to suggestions!

First time making Pho!

“Pho is life, love and all things that matter.” (Pham, M., 1997)

One of my favorite foods to eat is a classic VIetnamese dish called, pho–pronounced “FUH.” Admittedly, I never knew pho existed until I moved to the West Coast and my culinary pallet was expanded and exposed to so many “new” foods. Well, foods new to me. What can I say? I missed out on a lot of tasty grub growing up. I fell victim to eating what was familiar, readily accessible, and affordable in my environment. Anyways, I digress. Back to pho.

Conceptually, pho is rather simple: broth, rice noodles, and meat. However, the preparation of pho is rather laborious–well, at least for a novice pho-maker like myself. I’ve been meaning to find a recipe AND purchase ingredients AND make pho for quite some time. Finally, I did it. I found a couple of recipes, consulted with my brother, roamed around the global food market looking for specialty ingredients, and blocked off half a day to make my first batch.

phopicI credit my pho-making success to author and teacher, Andrea Nguyen, of Vietworldkitchen.com. I searched the internet and reviewed several pho recipes and hers seemed to be the most comprehensive, authentic, and detailed. I slightly deviated from her recipe, but overall remained true to her pho expertise. I specifically referenced her Chicken Pho Noodle Soup Recipe (yields 8 servings).

Below is what I did a little bit differently, but it still turned out EXCELLENT!


Broth

Instead of using a chunk of rock sugar, I substituted a tablespoon of regular white granulated sugar.
Instead of 4 whole cloves, I used 6 whole cloves.
I added Star Anise (a total of 40 star tips) to the broth spices.
Instead of boiling the chicken whole (on top of chicken parts), I pre-cut chicken into thigh/leg and breast quarters.
I added 1 additional tablespoon of fish sauce.

Bowls
I didn’t use yellow onion or cilantro. Instead, I used fresh bean sprouts, Thai basil, freshly squeezed lime juice, and jalepeños. I also added a little bit of Sriracha sauce and Hoisin sauce.

I encourage you to play around with optional garnishes. Have fun with it and enjoy!

Estimated (and Basic) Nutrition Facts: 8 total servings / 1 serving
(I only accounted for the chicken, noodles, and fish sauce)

Calories: 2750 / 343
Protein: 213 / 27
Carbohydrates: 360 / 45
Fat: 41 / 6
Sodium: 4275 / 535
Sugar: 0

After looking at the nutrition facts, I want to experiment with not using fish sauce, using significantly less, or finding a substitution that is not as high in sodium. Either that or drink 2 gallons of water after eating pho! Keep in mind I didn’t include the Sriracha and hoisin sauces (high in sodium) in this mini-nutritional breakdown. I also want to significantly reduce or eliminate sugar in the broth, especially if I use hoisin sauce in the bowls.

Still curious about pho? Here are a few websites dedicated to expanding the world’s knowledge about this tasty savory Vietnamese comfort food.

History of Pho Noodle Soup (The Viet World Kitchen)
The Origins of Pho (Pho Ever) <—I love the name of this website.
A Bowl of Pho: Vietnam’s Treasured Beef Noodle Soup That Brings Families Together (San Francisco Gate)
Pho! Vietnam’s Beautiful Legendary Soup (Food Origins TV)

I’m DEFINITELY doubling the recipe the next time I make it.

Unhealthy Foods 101: Outsmarting Habits Disguised as Cravings

Today, let’s start with the end in mind.

You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.

Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my love for desserts–especially dark chocolate, sweet potato pie, apple pie, ice cream, soft chocolate chip cookies, birthday cake, well, you get the point. Once upon a time about five years ago I decided to give up desserts for the entire month leading up to my birthday. I was curious to see if I could actually do it. And what better way to celebrate than to have a big ol’ piece of birthday cake and ice cream 31 days later!?!? So yes, 31 days of no desserts for a person who regularly partakes in the deliciousness of sweet delectables.

The first few days weren’t so bad and admittedly it was very eye opening to experience the “alleged” cravings for sweets. Mind you, it didn’t help that certain people who shall remain nameless tried to tempt me with all types of sweets. My will power prevailed. I also noticed how much desserts are around me as a convenience to eat. Work. Dining halls. Restaurants. Grocery stores. Work meetings. Doctor’s offices. My purse. In the hands of friends and colleagues. Hair salon. Movie theater. And the list goes on and on. Let’s fast forward 31 days and chat about a few things that surfaced during my 31-day dessert fast.

discipline: Unsurprisingly, I have will power and discipline to push through any type of luxurious sacrifice. It was only dessert (my precious). It’s not like I was giving up water and food all month. Mind you, I remain thankful for the choice to even give up desserts, let alone the possibility of giving up water or food.

craving: At first, I could have sworn I was craving desserts. I didn’t have the shakes or some other noticeable physiological response, but I really did think I seriously craved desserts. And then it happened….

habit: I figured out that I don’t really love desserts, nor do I crave them. I have simply conditioned myself to eating desserts at a certain time of day and for certain occasions for the majority of my life. After dinner–dessert. Birthday–dessert (I still haven’t been able to shake this one). After lunch–dessert. After snack snack–dessert. After pulling desserts (high glycemic index and super sugary foods) out of my diet, my sensitivity to sweets increased and my desire to eat sweets decreased.

Moral of the story: You have to make it a habit to get rid of a bad habit to make space for better habits.

Here’s a cool video infographic I found on YouTube about the Science of Habit. It’s pretty basic and progresses into how habits become addictions, so you could stop watching at the 2:40 mark…or not. 😉


Video credit: Kenny Winn via YouTube

There’s also a book I’ve been meaning to read, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

QUESTION: What not-so-healthy foods do you crave? Are they truly food CRAVINGS or have these foods become part of your food intake routine (a.k.a., habit)?  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both…

In order for change to occur, change needs to happen.

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