Tuesday, February 26, 2013

More Recipes: Pork Chops and Green Beans

So today I had to work from home due to the snow storm and needed to come up with something easy and healthy for dinner. I hastily threw some pork chops in the sink to thaw out but thought, what the heck am I going to do with these and what I am going to make to go with it?

Well, I did some quick searching on google with the ingredients I have in the kitchen and found two recipes that were AH-MAH-ZING! So I thought, I have got to share these.

Honey Garlic Pork Chops courtesy of Taste of Home.
How I "Mandi-tized" it: I used small, boneless pork chops. But that's it. Everything else was the same. I was a bit confused on why you don't just cook the pork chops in the honey sauce, but actually makes sense to do it according to the recipe then drizzle on the pork chops right before serving.

Green Beans and Red Onions with Warm Mustard Vinaigrette  courtesy of MyRecipes.com
And how I "Mandi-tized" this: I used honey mustard instead of dijon only because my mother-in-law bought us some from Hawaii and hadn't tried it yet, but I loved this recipe! And am sure it is great with dijon mustard as well. It makes a great side side dish and I am thinking will be great in the summer cold!

I also made the balsamic roasted red potatoes that are on my recipe page to complete the meal.

The three of these made a wonderful, relatively healthy dinner that I am going to put down as one of my favorites. I hope you will try this because not only are they scrumptious and good for you, It did not take long to make. Quick and easy, that's what I like.

I have a busy rest of the week coming up moonlighting at a wine boutique Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but I do have a new subject to post on this weekend. I hope you are enjoying to snow! I myself am enjoying it from the inside :)

Stay Active!

Ok...i know the picture is a bit racey, but seriously, this is why i love squats!!!

Couldn't NOT re-pin this...

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday's Recipe: Pot Roast Stew and Surving the Winter Blues

I hope you have had a great weekend. I am continuing on with some comfort food since we have been dealing with brutal winter lately. I wanted to do a beef stew, so i found a great version that scales back on some calories and fat and uses fresh veggies.

Pot Roast Stew by Bobby Deen
This is a healthier spin on Paula Deen's version. I made this a bit easier by buying already diced up Angus stew meat. But otherwise followed the same steps. You could make this in a crockpot as well. *If you don't want to use parsnips, use potatoes instead*

I thought it would be good to quickly talk about ways to survive the winter blues. I tend to find myself a little down in these cold winter months. But there are a few things to do that can help.

  •  Most importantly be sure to exercise and eat right. For me, with it being dark so much, I do find it a struggle to motivate myself to exercise, but creating a consistent routine will help make this a habit. Find a work out buddy for support.
  • When it is cold, it is soooooo easy to eat heavy, comforting foods that are loaded with fat and calories. Again, put a little extra effort into eating clean and making it a habit.
  •  Stay social. Don't lock yourself up and hibernate. Don't shut your friends and family out. Surround yourself with people you can trust and enjoy being around.
  • Plan something to look forward to. A weekend getaway, your summer vacation, a spa day. Anything fun and enjoyable that is written down in the books. This will keep your motivation up and lift your mood.
  • Take Vitamin D. See my blog post on that. Since we aren't getting sun, this is going to help some.
  • Don't over commit yourself. Don't sign up for extra work and responsibilities. Only do what you can and make sure you have a work/life balance. Over stressing yourself, will only make things difficult for you. 
There are a lot more things, but these are just to name a few. Try to stay up and happy!

And Stay Active Too,

Keep Moving Forward!!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bye Bye Belly Fat

I think one thing that many people struggle with in their weight loss is losing the jiggle in the abdomen. The reasons for this is multifactoral. But belly fat is the worst to have for this fat sits at the top of your abdomen and wraps around your organs. And this specific, Visceral Fat, produces bad chemicals and hormones that can put you at risk for a lot of health problems.  A lot of us are just predisposed genetically to collect more fat around our midsection. I for instance have the genetic make up to have more junk in the trunk than my midsection. So fighting your genetics is not really very easy. But as for some other reasons, if you work hard, you can fight against them.

If you are exercising like crazy but still feel you are not noticing much visual change, it could be your diet. Double check what you are eating. If you still have a high about of carbs, processed foods, eating out, large portions etc., you are not going to get that loss you are looking for. (check out my previous blogs on tips for a clean diet) So you may need to revamp your eating habits.

Put your stress in check. When we live with high levels of stress, our bodies tend to produce high levels of a hormone called Cortisol. This is our "stress hormone". While it normally helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure, our immune system and inflammation, too much of it can cause negative effects on our body. Cortisol is one of the hormones that is produced during fight or flight to help with survival instincts. Your body needs to return to a state of relaxation following high stress situations in order to keep Cortisol levels regulated. If you are in a state of chronic stress, which a lot of us are, this won't happen and therefore you will suffer from the negative effects of high Cortisol over time such as decreased thyroid function, lower immune system, mental fuzziness and increased belly fat. So this could be a big factor for you. Try some yoga or meditation when you get home from work to help decompress from your daily stress.

Make sure you are eating a consistent, healthy breakfast high in protein and fiber. This helps set the tone for eating habits throughout the day and is important for your insulin levels.

Rev up your cardio and calorie burn. And what I mean is start doing shorter, higher intensity cardio sessions rather than long, slow workouts. This is proven to burn more calories at a higher rate and help to shed fat all over. And do one's that involve your lower body too for these muscles produce the highest calorie burn and will in turn help burn your belly fat. You can't really spot burn any section, so doing crunches may help build your muscle, but won't burn all that fat on top so that could actually increase your waist line. Check out some HITT or Tabata training. Trust me, those will do the trick. As I have said before I have lost about 12 pounds and gone down at least 1 pant size in about 1.5 years doing just this type of exercise.  And my muscle tone is more than it has been over any other exercise I have done.

I read in an article, "you didn't gain your belly overnight, so you won't lose it overnight" but be patient and continue to work hard. Make this a way of life. You will see results in no time.

A few of my work out routines from this week:

Hope you have a great weekend. I will be back Sunday with a new recipe. 
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Fitness Friday!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Health Benefits of Raspberries

I came across an idea from Pinterest on a fun way to eat raspberries....to put dark chocolate chips inside the crater in the berry. I thought what an excellent "dessert" to my lunch rather than sugar free 60 calorie chocolate jello. I am really trying hard to focus on fruits and veggies throughout the day. So I had it today and it was amazing! Therefore, I got to thinking about how raspberries are not only pleasing to the pallet, but they are packed with lots of great health benefits. More things than I realized.

For one, it is loaded with antioxidants. Raspberries have about 50% of your daily Vitamin C intake in 1 cup. This helps prevent free radicals in your body and boost your immune system. They are high in what is called ellagic acid, which can act as a natural anti inflammatory. Due to these properties, they can have an anti cancer element as well. They have phytonutrients which have been shown to change and slow the reproduction of cancer cells. Raspberries can also help some with weight loss. The raspberry ketone has recently become popular for this use. It is thought to increase metabolism with our fat cells and it decreases the fat digesting enzyme produced by our pancreas therefore causing us to digest less fat. This way we don't absorb as much. Also the natural sugar in raspberries is digested slowly allowing a more regulated, steady glucose level. One cup of raspberries has about 65 calories and 8 grams of fiber and zero fat! Raspberries have quite a bit of Vitamin B as well which are also important for energy metabolism.

Obviously, eating raspberries is not the answer to all our problems (if only it were that easy), but they are beneficial to add to our healthy habits.

So if you want a low calorie, no fat, high in vitamins and minerals, just plain good for you sweet snack? Try a handful of raspberries. Do your body some good. :)

Today's workout:
From www.fitnessblender.com17 minute Cardio HIIT
and from www.fitsugar.com10 minute core and cool down stretch

Take care and have a great night

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday's Recipe: Carnitas plus a Smoothie Recipe

Good Sunday evening,

I hope you had a great weekend. Tomorrow is back to the grind. Major dislike on that one. Today's recipe I came across on the internet the other day so I wanted to share it with you. It's from www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com which is a really cool blog I follow. You should check this site out as well. It has a lot of neat tips for recipes, homemade products, etc.

Twice Baked Crock Pot Carnitas
I absolutely love Carnitas. And this is a super simple way to make it in the crock pot. Click on the recipe name to follow the link to the recipe. A few changes I made was instead of the 1/2 cup of orange juice, I sliced a clementine and placed the slices along the sides of the crock pot. Also use Diet Dr.Pepper, rather than regular. I think this soda has great flavor for meat, but make it diet. Who needs those extra calories? And Brian and I like to add a little Chipotle in Adobe sauce to add some spice.

I also wanted to share a smoothie recipe that I found and it is very good:

Strawberry Avocado Smoothie:
¼ Cup milk
¾ Cup plain greek yogurt
1 Whole banana
¼ large avocado or half of a small one

1 ½ Cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
¼ tsp Vanilla extract

Add in blender in this order. It makes about 16-20 oz. I drink only half at a time, but it is very filling. 

Sorry for the short and sweet, but I will be back with some topics this week.

Have a great night!
Stay Active

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Eating Clean and Healthy

Hello everybody.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. It has been a busy week with Valentine's Day and starting my moonlighting job at a wine boutique. But I am still around!

I wanted to talk about simply eating healthy and the best way to go about it. I hate the word "diet". To me, it gives negative vibes and relates to something temporary. I always tell people, being healthy starts with simply eating healthy foods, not dieting. It's changing your lifestyle and daily habits. I try to keep the rules to being healthy very very easy.

So to answer the question of what should you eat? Keep it simple, stupid ;) Lol, ok I am really not calling you stupid, but it's what I had to say to myself and still do. Eat Clean. Well, what is eating clean? It is following a regimen of eliminating processed, packaged and pre-prepared foods and eating fresh whole foods. Fruits, vegetables and lean protein. I know that sounds boring and no fun, but think of how much better you will feel if you are fueling your body with natural whole foods that it is supposed to have rather than forcing your body to digest and eliminate unnatural, unhealthy, fattening  foods. And if you are looking to follow a health food plan and loose weight this is the best way.

Start by throwing out anything that comes in a box or package. Meaning, cookies, chips, crackers, mac and cheese, pasta sides, snack cakes, etc. You get the point. Cut back on saturated fats. These are fats found in butter, milk, cheese, meat (especially red meat).Now I am not saying stop drinking milk, but drink skim milk. and eat lean chicken and turkey rather than steak. Add unsaturated fats such as olive oil, tree nuts and avocados. Eliminate anything white or that contains anything white. (You may need to start reading labels.) This being white flour, white bread, white rice, sugar. Get rid of all that junk food. Sugary foods are basically empty calories and can pack on the pounds. When you stick to whole foods, you will stay full and satisfied and will not be as tempted to load up on junk. Eat smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day rather than 3 huge meals each day. This helps to prevent you from becoming extremely hungry and overeating. Oh and STOP EATING OUT! Ok sorry for yelling, but eat out only as an exception, not as the rule. This is a big reason why a lot of people gain weight or can't lose weight. Start cooking your own meals at home. Brian and I love cooking. We put on some Frank Sinatra music and have fun with it. But this way you can use whole, fresh ingredients and eat something healthy. And you know what is in your food. My best tip is to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store where all the fresh foods are. You really shouldn't need anything from the middle isles, which are mostly boxed and packaged foods. And just keep it simple. For example, this is my meal regimen:

  • Breakfast: I drink the The Glowing Green Smoothie, however you could have an apple and 2 tablespoons of natural peanut butter or fat free plain greek yogurt with fresh blueberries.
  • Lunch: I eat a few slices of a tomato and half an avocado drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with black pepper and a small handful of low sodium turkey breast from the deli.
  • Snacks in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner: handful of unsalted roasted almonds, fat free string cheese, fresh veggies and hummus, handful of grapes.
  • Dinner: If we are staying simple we will have either chicken breasts, pork chops, shrimp, etc with some seasoning (not salt) baked or cooked on the stove with olive oil, a small salad and green beans or broccoli for example. But we do often cook more in depth meals, but stay with the clean guidelines using fresh ingredients (and we stay as gluten free as possible due to my belly troubles). We do utilize the crock pot. (see my recipes tab for a few recipes)
Eating healthy does not have to be difficult and you will find you feel better, will loose weight if needed and it can easily become a part of life. Dieting will only set you up for failure and disappointment. It is good to have a "cheat day" once a week or so, but keep it at that. 

I hope this helps if you are trying to figure out how to change your eating habits. If you want healthy recipe ideas check out my recipe tab.

Today's Workout:
Lower Body Tabata Workout: from www.fitnessblender.com, giving the upper body a break due to some shoulder strain

Have a great weekend!
Stay Active,

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stretch Your Muscles plus Recipe of the Week

I sit at a desk 8 hours 5 days a week. My biggest complaint is the stiffness and pain I have in my shoulders and neck from poor posture when I am sitting. Sitting at a desk, we tend to roll our shoulders forward, lean our heads forward and slouch. What happens over time is that our muscles tend to get overused, fatigued and tight due to the same poor posture day in and day out. Our muscle fibers stick together due to these repetitive positions and create trigger points causing pain. These manifest as actual nodules you can feel under your skin. The muscles also shorten decreasing flexibility.

Stretching is important whether you exercise or not, but many times we tend to focus our time and energy on the exercising to get our results and don't leave time for stretching. Stretching can increase your range of motion, increase blood flow to your muscles and elongate your muscles to prevent risk of injury from tearing.  the increase of blood flow can actually help your energy levels as well. It improves posture, helps with mental relaxation and increases endurance so you can exercise for longer periods of time.It is also thought stretching can help improve your sleep, so stretching right before bed can be beneficial. I

When you stretch, it is best thought to not stretch cold muscles for risk of injury. But as long as you take your time, stretch with a fluid, soft motion rather than bouncing you should be okay. Try to do each stretch for 20-30 seconds before moving to the next stretch. Focus on your major muscle groups and where you notice tension.

It is so good for your body to stretch almost daily if you can, even if it is for only 5 minutes. Your muscles need this tension release so you can feel better over all. You can find a ton of free stretching and/or yoga videos online. But I found a few that are particularly good for your neck and shoulders after sitting at a desk all day.

Both of these are really good for releasing the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles. I am going to try to incorporate some of these into my daily routine.

And this article I found a long time ago with a few pictures and descriptions of neck/shoulder stretches. These are really great. I have done these a lot:
Sore Neck Stretches

This weeks recipe is simple but good and I think perfect for Mardi Gras for it is cajun. From Allrecipes.com:
Cajun Shrimp:
Quick, easy and a little spicy. We paired this with a nice Cesar salad and and some gluten free french bread.

Have a great rest of your Sunday. I am having my parents over for dinner then watching The Walking Dead tonight. Oh and today I have had 2,000 page views of my blog! :)

Stay Active!

true, true.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vitamin D

Good Evening.

Today I wanted to talk about my favorite vitamin to take. I don't take many, but this is a must in my cabinet. Vitamin D. Not only is this helpful for bone health, but there are many other great benefits to taking Vitamin D.

  • Decreases your risk for certain types of cancers.
  • Decreases inflammation in your body.
  • It can increase mental clarity.
  • Decreases fatigue.
  • It can help to relieve body aches and pains.
  • It helps to increase serotonin (happy hormone).
  • It can help with weight loss. Your brain needs Vitamin D to decrease hunger cravings. D is also needed in each cell of your body. Including fat cells. There are certain receptors that Vitamin D attach to that lets your body know it needs to burn fat. Therefore increasing your metabolism. 
  • Vitamin D is also very important for your heart health. It can help lower your blood pressure and decrease your risk for heart disease
You need about 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 times weekly (without sunscreen) to absorb enough natural Vitamin D. However, if you live in the United States above the level of Atlanta, during the winter you will not get enough Vitamin D even from the sun. And since sunscreen is very important, it is recommended to take an over the counter supplement. So here is how I get my Vitamin D. I take 2,000 units daily during the spring and summer and 5,000 units during the fall and winter. You can get it over the counter, pretty much anywhere. I certainly am not a doctor, but this is what is recommended by the Cardiologists I work for. I do notice I feel a lot better when I am taking Vitamin D. I tend to have more energy and feel more alert. When I haven't taken it, I tend to feel sluggish. I am not big on taking too many supplements, but I do think Vitamin D is important. The majority of us have a very low Vitamin D level for it is very hard to get what we need from sunlight and foods. 

So if you need a little pep in your step, I encourage you to add Vitamin D to your regimen. You will feel more energized!

Today's Workout: 
20 minutes on the elliptical
http://goo.gl/8UJ1Y 10 minute upper body toning routine from fitsugar

Have a good rest of your evening...
Stay Active

keep going

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Get some ZZZZZZ's

One of my favorite things to do is sleep. I am definitely not one to stay up late and miss out on some good sleep time. But for good reason! Sleep is highly linked to our health, not only weight loss, but helps with stress and anxiety too. On average you really should get about 8 hours of sleep per night. Here is why:

We all  have hormones that are produced during sleep, and two of them are directly linked to our appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that stimulates appetite. Inadequate sleep causes your body to produce more of this hormone. Leptin is a hormone that is produced in your fat cells and it is responsible for sending signals to your brain to let it know you are full. Inadequate sleep decreases this hormone production. So the combination of too little sleep and  these two hormone imbalances causes overeating. I.E. weight gain. It is also as simple as if you get the proper amount of sleep per night you are more likely to be rested and not need the help of sugary snacks and beverages to give you an energy jolt during the day. Meaning less calorie intake. Also when you are sleep deprived, your metabolism is much slower, therefore making it harder to lose weight. When you are sleep deprived you also are more likely to experience increased stress and anxiety which produces the hormone Cortisol which can cause an increase in belly fat.

How can you improve your sleep? Take these few steps and you may find you are getting more quality sleep and it may help you to lose a little bit more weight.

  • No Caffeine after 2pm. You don't want to keep yourself buzzing up until bedtime and your body needs a few hours to get all the caffeine out of your system. Also caffeine acts as a diuretic, meaning it pulls water out of your system and makes you urinate more. You don't want to be up all night in the bathroom.
  • Do not eat a huge meal for dinner, especially one full of carbs. Eat lean protein, veggies and a small healthy snack before bed if you must. A small handful of lean turkey breast from the deli is a good choice. Turkey has a hormone in it that can make you sleepy and the lean protein takes a long time to digest, so you won't wake up in the middle of the night starving.
  • Clean your room! Seriously, it is thought that if you have a messy room your body and mind can't totally relax so make your bedroom organized, warm and inviting so you can easily wind down. 
  • Use aroma therapy. I like to take a warm bath with lavender bubble bath or use a pillow spray. Aroma therapy can help decrease stress and anxiety. 
  • Decrease light, try not watch TV in bed or read from an IPad. The neon light is thought to keep your mind stimulated. It is better to use a soft light lamp and read from a book. 
  • Fall asleep to natural sounds such as white noise or rainfall. You can buy gadgets that have sounds you can choose from, or I am sure you can find an app on your phone.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, they say around 67 degrees at night. Our body sleeps better when it is cool.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning. This way your body will get used to a routine.
  • If you must take something for sleep, try over the counter Melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in our body that regulates our natural sleep wake cycle. Try to stay away from sleep aides or benedryl.
  • Avoid alcohol before going to bed. This actually does not work as a sleep aide, rather keeps you stimulated with poor quality sleep.
  • Try stretching or yoga right before bed to help relax and slow your body down.
There are many other ways to help sleep so try a combination to see what works for you. It is important to let your body recharge like a battery. So sleep tight!

Yesterday's workouts:
http://goo.gl/hQCx5 from fitnessblender, a 20 minute Cardio routine
http://goo.gl/V7ZmV from fitnessblender, a quick Arm and Shoulder routine

Today's workout:
20 minutes on the elliptical
http://goo.gl/reGyL from fitsugar, a 10 minute Crossfit routine

Stay Active and Get some sleep!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Super Bowl Snacks

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

I hope your weekend has gone well. Since It's Sunday, I wanted to share a few recipes (although I know it seems like that is all I have been doing lately). I do have some health subjects coming up this week to discuss such as the importance of sleep.

Since it is the super bowl I wanted to share a few healthy snacks to make.

Maple Fruit Dip, From "Taste of Home"

1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup light or fat free cool whip
4 Teaspoons of sugar free or light maple syrup
Dash of Cinnamon, to your taste.

Mix all together and serve with strawberries, bananas and apples. It is delicious!

Easy Baked Mozzarella Sticks:
8 light or fat free string cheese sticks
2 TBS flour
2 large egg whites, whisked together
1 cup of either breadcrumbs, cracker crumbs, cornflake crumbs, panko. Whichever you choose.
Seasoning to taste, I chose Italian Seasoning
Marinara Sauce for dipping.

Freeze Cheese for one hour prior to baking to prevent oozing. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place Flour and seasoning in one dish, egg whites in one dish and crumbs in one dish. Cut the string cheese in half width wise. Dip in flour, egg whites then crumbs. Dip in the egg and then crumbs again. Squeeze crumbs to cheese to adhere to cover the cheese well. This will be messy! Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper or sprayed with cooking oil. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with marinara sauce.

I hope you enjoy these snacks and have fun watching the game.
Stay Active!

Make today good!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Heart Healthy

Today is the kickoff for the National Heart Month. And with today being the National Wear Red Friday day, I thought it would be nice to give some simple tips on how to keep your heart healthy. Being that I am a Cardiology Nurse and I see a lot very sick people who could have prevented a lot of their diseases by taking care of themselves, I encourage you to make it a priority to keep your heart healthy. And these are easy things to do, you just have to put your mind to it!!!

1. Don't smoke. Or be around smoke. I could go into the what's and why's but no one wants to hear all that (especially if you are a smoker) just know that smoke is very harmful to your arteries and heart and bloodstream.
2. Eat about 25 grams of fiber per day. Eating a lot of fruits and veggies will help with this, but whole grains and fiber supplements are helpful too. I actually put a few spoonfulls of Benefiber in my coffee every morning.
3. Avoid Salt. See my Low Sodium Diet post for more info as to why.
4. Exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week. That's right, get off your butt and get active! Get that blood pumping and heart rate up. Make your heart strong!
5. Decrease your waist line. Men need to have less than 40 inches and women less than 35 to not be considered overweight.
6. Limit stress. Click on this link,  http://goo.gl/2c35M, for a great site for stress management. It has a ton of helpful information related to stress and anxiety.
7. Follow a heart healthy diet. Follow this link, http://goo.gl/Xo8Oo, to the American Heart Association nutrition center for ideas on a heart healthy diet.

Your heart is your most important organ, so make it a priority to keep it healthy!!

I have been doing the same Zuzka workout all week, but yesterday I needed a switch up so I did:
http://goo.gl/kZvTm: a 13 minute cardio and Abs routine from fitnessblender.com

No workout today as we are going to dinner with friends so I don't want to get all sweaty!

Have a great friday night!
Stay Active,

Everything is possible!