5 Reasons Everyone Should Try Pilates…

2014-09-16 05.53.30If you didn’t catch my original post to Mind Body Green you can check it out on their site. It’s gotten almost 7,500 likes! I was so excited to have this article accepted and to see if it travel around the world. I got lots of feedback and some great response so I thought I would share it will all of you guys! Here is the link if you want to also check out their great site of health and wellness! 

Have an injury? Does chronic pain or illness make it hard for you to exercise? Feel like you don’t have a lot of time with your busy schedule? Want to build core strength and long lean muscles? Ready to see your body transform right before your eyes? Pilates is your golden ticket!

Originally invented for men and athletes in the early 1920’s, people around the globe are experiencing the lifelong benefits of Joseph Pilates’ vision and how it can change your body and life forever. Here are five reasons you should try it, even if you’re not sure it’s for you.

1. Prevent injuries.

Injuries can leave us incapacitated for weeks, months … even years. But what if we could use exercise as a way to prevent injuries rather than cause them?

Pilates focuses on your core, strengthening your abdominals and back muscles. Take a second to think about how much you use your core every day without even realizing: to stand up, walk, bend over, even to sit in a chair. If you suffer from back pain, it’s probably because these muscles are weak. If you strengthen them, it’ll got a long way to alleviate current woes and help prevent future pain.

2. Build core strength and long, lean muscles.

For most of us, the core is the weakest part of our bodies, but it’s our center, where all our strength originates from. When it’s weak, the entire body is weak.

Pilates focuses on exercises that constantly engage the core, leading to flat abs and a strong back. Unlike weight lifting that can cause muscles to shorten and bulk, Pilates focuses on resistance and assistance training to work both sides of muscles simultaneously. This allows the muscles to elongate to get that long, lengthened, toned muscle.

3. Increase flexibility, coordination and balance.

Not surprisingly, your balance and coordination come from your core as well. When Pilates strengthens your core, those muscles that control balance and coordination are also strengthened, helping to prevent falls and injuries. Increased flexibility also allows muscles to lengthen and be more pliable so they can bend and stretch further to alleviate the possibility of injury.

4. Pilates is for everyone.

Women, men, children, the elderly, anyone with chronic illness and pain, athletes, dancers, and even pregnant mothers can benefit from Pilates. It builds a stronger core, betters balance, increases flexibility and promotes stability. Pilates improves posture, body awareness, builds optimal health and helps you to move more efficiently. It’s gentle while also challenging. It’s proven to aid with treating and managing pain because low-impact exercises take the stress off joints and bones. There are no excuses NOT to give it a try.

5. You can do it anywhere.

Pilates is so versatile that you can do it almost anywhere: at home, in the gym or studio, in a hotel room, even on the beach! Even if all you’ve got to spare are 15 minutes, you can reap the benefits just from doing warm up exercises. All you need is your own body weight to use as the resistance. Want to up your practice? Add balls, bands and other small equipment to increase the intensity and resistance.

Still wondering if Pilates is right for you? Joseph Pilates once said, in “10 sessions you’ll feel the difference, in 20 sessions you’ll see the difference, and in 30 sessions you’ll have a whole new body.” Doesn’t that seem like something worthwhile?

Guinness Blackberry Dipping Sauce

guinessSundays are my day to play in the kitchen. I tend to have Food Network on in the background. The little ones running around having pretend tea parties, hiding Easter eggs, or watching “Narnia” for the 100th time! ;)

I use this time as “my time” which I don’t get much of these days with a busy business and two crazies taking over the house. :) I know most people would watch their favorite show, take a nap, or read a book for down time. But I don’t sit still well so I’m happiest in the kitchen and this cold snowy winter has been a good one to experiment and create new recipes. Last weekend, the 6-pack  of Guinness continued to stare at me from the refrigerator and all I could think of was, “great we’re having boring chicken for dinner again!” So hence the new dipping sauce that my kids are now eating with a spoon! Hope you enjoy this one as much as we are!

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle of Guinness Draught
  • 1 1/4 cup fresh blackberries
  • 4 oz organic tomato paste
  • 2 Tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 dried Bay leaf
  • Honey (optional-if you want it to be sweeter. I left it out)

Directions:

Pulse blackberries, balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, and salt in a food processor until pureed. Make sure to scrap down the sides. Heat Guinness in pan over medium to high heat for about 25 minutes. Don’t forget to whisk it now and again, otherwise it will stick to the bottom.  It should reduce down by 2/3. Add in blackberry puree. Whisk together and add bay leave. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt, discard bay leaf. Spoon into a jar and refrigerate.

 

Apple Fennel Salad with Prosecco-Lemon Dressing

apple saladChange up lunch a little with this salad recipe! Great for a mid-day “snack” if you’re planning to eat dinner on the later side. I know what you’re thinking Prosecco in the middle of the day or at work? But it’s only a little, I promise you won’t be stumbling to the office meeting or not able to drive home a few hours later.

This salad is incredible even for dinner also. It’s light and flavorful. I love mixing fresh fruits and vegetables with a citrus for a homemade salad dressing. Making your own dressings can cut a lot of fat and calories from your diet. They’re so easy you can make a large batch or just a bit for you salad. The Prosecco adds a little zing to the palette for this special salad. Make sure to comment below and tell me whatcha think!

Salad: 2-3 Servings

  • 2 Apples-cored and sliced thinly
  • 1 bulb fennel- sliced thinly
  • 2-3 slices of red onion
  • ¼ cup pine nuts-toasted
  • Fresh thyme leaves

In a dry sauté pan on medium heat, toast pine nuts for 3-5 minutes.

Prosecco-Lemon Dressing:

  • 2 tablespoons of good cold-pressed olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of Italian Prosecco- (champagne can be used also)
  • 1 Tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp of minced garlic
  • 1/2 shallot- chopped finely
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Fleur De Sel salt

Add all ingredients to a Mason jar or empty container. Shake well. Shake again when ready to use. Store in cool place for 4-5 days.

Add sliced fennel, apples and onion into a bowl. Pour on salad dressing and mix until coated. On a plate stack fennel, apples, and onion. Top with toasted pine nuts and fresh thyme leaves.

Enjoy!!!

 

 

 

 

 

Homemade Muesli

muesliNeed a little pick me up in the middle of the day, something nutritious to kick off the day, or healthy dessert. Spring is upon us and we can start to move on from all that heavy winter food and start eating lighter again! Fresh berries, nuts, and seeds help with digestion, keep your snack attacks healthier and more under control, keep you feeling fuller longer, and won’t leave you feeling guilty for having dessert tonight!

 

Simple, healthy, and delicious, this recipe is a must! Make a large                                   batch store it in a mason jar and keep it in the cabinet to use                                           throughout the week. Serve it with your favorite nut milk or                                               yogurt, or add fresh fruit to change it up every day!

Make your own  almond milk using our recipe-you won’t regret it!!!

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup almonds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup fire raisins
  • ½ cup Goji berries
  • ½ cup dried cranberries, cherries, or apricots
  • ¼ cup cacao nibs
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons nutmeg

In an air tight container, Mason jar, zip lock bag, or plastic container. Mix all ingredients and store in a cool, dark place.

 

 

 

Berry Chia Seed Jam! Yum!

chia seed jamJams and Jellies can be loaded with tons of refined sugar and aspartame sugar substitutes. Ewww! And making your own jam or jelly can be a huge process that takes hours. Believe me I’ve done them all from peach to fig and I’ve spent hours and hours in the kitchen sterilizing, washing, cooking down the berries, filling up the jars, and sealing them for yummy spreads. But it takes way too long! Like way too long!

Now there is a super fast way, add a little honey to sweeten up the berries or leave it out, it’s totally your call! It takes maybe 15 minutes and you can store it in your refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. If it will last that long! Use it for kid’s sandwiches, spread for crackers, add it to your gourmet cheese plates, use it for topping on yogurt or ice cream!!! Did I say yum!!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound blackberries (fresh if in season-other wise use frozen)
  • 1/2 pound raspberries (same as above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or for a citrusy zing use lemon juice!
  • 2 teaspoon local honey (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoon chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Wash any fresh berries. If you using frozen add to a pot and cook on low to bring to a soft boil. Make sure to continue to stir so it won’t burn the bottom or stick.
  2. Then reduce heat and simmer, continue to stir. Make sure to mash the berries or leave a little chunky, if you’d rather have a “chutney” consistency.
  3. Add honey and chia seeds and stir well.
  4. Pull from heat and let jam cool.
  5. Add vanilla extract or lemon juice once cooled and mix well again.
  6. Spoon into a clean jar and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks!

ENJOY!!

Minty Banana Ice Cream for St. Patty’s Day!

minty bananaHappy St. Patty’s Day!!! I love this holiday! I think I may like it better than Christmas! Must be the Irish blood that runs through my veins, or maybe it’s my small addiction to Guinness? Either way I always count down the days till St. Patty’s!

This holiday tends to be the day of eating heavy; cabbage, potatoes, soda bread, beef or lamb, and lots and lots of whiskey and beer! So for dessert, I decided to make something minty and a little lighter to help cleanse the palette and not leave the belly feeling so heavy so that there’s no more room for Guinness!! :)

So here’s to a happy St. Patty’s day and to finishing off the day with Minty Banana Ice Cream and another Guinness of course! ;)

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 frozen bananas (I always store over ripe bananas in a baggie after I’ve peeled them and save them for smoothies and desserts. If you don’t have any frozen. Peel, slice and store in freezer for a couple of hours before at least, or over night is best)
  • 1-2 drops of organic peppermint extract, 1 drop of doTERRA peppermint oil (seriously 1 drop is almost too much peppermint- watch how much you put in using essential oils because they are so strong and potent.) or a handful of your favorite kind of mint.
  • 1-2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (use to soften up the bananas)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp hazelnuts or pistachios chopped
  • 1 tsp cacao powder to sprinkle on top
  • 1 tsp cacao nibs
  • spring of mint for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a food processor or blender add bananas and peppermint and mix well.
  2. Add coconut milk to soften the bananas and to help make it smoother. Be careful how much you add, too much will make it soupy.
  3. Pour into separate bowls. Top with coconut, nuts, cacao nibs, and cacao powder
  4. Garnish with mint spring and you’re ready to dive in.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy!

So easy and fast!

 

Fun Goodies for Kids in honor of National Nutrition Month

DSC_5858March is National Nutrition Month and obesity has become an epidemic with adults and especially our children. If we don’t start teaching our kids how to eat well and start focusing on exercise and nutrition at an early age, we’re taking away their opportunity for a long, healthy, and successful life. Who wants a life rigored by trips to the doctors, illness, and disease? As parents and caring adults it’s our responsibility to be our own advocate and more importantly for our children, grandchildren, Godchildren, nieces and nephews, etc.

Spring is right around the corner and that opens more opportunities to eat better with vegetables and fruits coming into season. Sometimes healthy food can be kind of boring and bland especially to children who have been used to a lot of salt (chips, pretzels, processed foods) and sugar (cookies, candy, ice cream, processed foods). Find ways to up your flavor profiles, make eating healthy an adventure or field trip, start a small garden, and have them learn to grow and take care of it.

I teach elementary kids how to start seeds, care for the seedlings, transplant them to our edible school yard, weed and care for their growing plants, harvest, and then we learn how to make something nutritious with their harvest. To watch them get so excited to get their hands dirty and run out and pick a tomato or pea pod to eat right off the vine is an incredible thing to see!

Need some help? Here are a few ideas to celebrate National Nutrition Month!

Start a snack garden- It doesn’t have to be a farmette or gigantic overwhelming garden. You can actually grow most veggies in  pots. Sit down with your little ones and see what they would like to try to eat and grow. The easy ones are tomatoes, peas, peppers, cucumbers, and herbs. You can actually start your pot with a tomato plant and grow the basil around the base of the tomato plant if you really want to save space! Use a large pot, add some soil, drop in a couple of seeds or to make it even easier buy an established plant at a hardware store. Place in full sun, make sure to give it a little water when the soil gets dry and watch it grow together. Once you plant starts to fruit. At snack time send the kids out picking. Come in and dip into some humus, sunflower butter, Greek yogurt mixed with herbs and a little lemon juice.

Get them in the kitchen with Kids Stir– I just found these guys and it’s so cool! I love it! It’s a monthly box that shows up in your mailbox each month. You can set your membership to your liking, but each month’s box is completely different. They contain different cooking exercises and everything you need for the activity in the box. So I’ve seen one called build a fish bowl. It has the directions, a poster of a fish bowl, and you get a cookie cutter shaped as a fish and the recipe to make the cookies, crackers, etc. You can always change recipes to be healthier too. It gets kids in the kitchen cooking and getting hands on with their foods. They love it! I can’t get my kids out of the kitchen, so much I can never get dinner cooked because they want to help so much! Check out their site, super cute! Or if you’re super creative make up your own ideas!

Skip the Fast Food Joints & Make your own at Home- The fast food joints are the worst, between the high caloric food, low-grade meats, all the hands touching and retouching your food, not to mention how awful and sluggish you feel after eating it! Have “fast food” at home! Dinner doesn’t have to take 2+ hours to make every night most meals can take 20 minutes from prep to table. Some times you just have to multitask! Have kid-friendly and fast food nights with a healthy twist. Make your own taco bar, put each ingredient in separate bowls and let everyone build their own tacos. You can get frozen pizza dough balls, let them thaw, knead them out a bit and let everyone make their own separate pizzas! Choose a good mozzarella cheese, make your own sauce with just tomato paste, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper, and then load up the veggies for everyone to pile high on their pizza. Make breakfast for dinner one night a week. I actually just started doing this and kids think it so fun and they get super excited. Waffles, omelets, pancakes, etc are all fast and healthier options then running to the closest burger joint,plus the kids can get involved and help in the kitchen with these too!

 

Here’s to a celebrating National Nutrition Month and to a healthier kids!

 

 

 

Smoothie Bowl for the Winter Blues

smoothie bowlOld man winter has been rough on most of us this year, are you ready to kick him to the curb? Sometimes we need just a little boost to change our day, mindset, mood, and inspiration.  Excess cold and dark days make it harder to be happy, exercise, and to even get out of bed.

If only we could escape to a tropical island or bask in the sun. Right? This smoothie bowl is the perfect getaway. It’s full of antioxidants, vitamins, and  anti-inflammatory benefits! So fight the winter blues and get your smoothie bowl on!

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raspberries frozen or fresh if in season
  • 2 Tbsp granola or raw oats
  • 1/2 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup mango
  • 1 star fruit
  • 1 passion fruit
  • 1 Tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1 Tbsp gogi berries
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened coconut
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds

Directions:

  1. In a blender add coconut milk and raspberries and blend well
  2. Pour into a bowl. Add granola in the middle. Sprinkle unsweetened coconut, gogi berries and blackberries around the granola.
  3. Add cocao nibs, passion fruit (tends to be a little runny),  and chia seeds in each place.
  4. Cut mango into chunks and slice star fruit. Place around outside of bowl.
  5. Serve and enjoy! It’s sooo good!

 

 

Buddha Bowls! Ommm!

buddahYum! Need something healthy, good for you, filling, quick, and have a bunch of hodge podge left in the refrigerator that you need to use up. This simple and fast recipe is your ticket for cleaning out the fridge, eating clean, and filling everyone’s bellies at the table.

Look through your cabinets and find different ingredients. Don’t have Kale but you have spinach go for it! No chic peas, but have edamame use it! Use all raw ingredients or roast or saute some veggies to make it warm and comforting. Eat this all year round, changing your ingredients with the season. Warm in the winter, cool for the summer. Remember you can make it your own and switch up your bowls. You can also make your own dressings to cut out the extra fats, sugar, and calories. This will also give you the freedom to change up your flavor profiles. Make your portions bigger and you can have multiple meals.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice or quinoa
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup portabella mushrooms
  • 1 cup Brussels sprouts- halved
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 3 large kale leaves- destemmed
  • 1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/4 cup carrots-matchstick (slice thinly or use a mandolin)
  • 1/2 cup garbanzo or chick peas (organic in a can or soaked)
  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 2 cauliflower flowers
  • 3 radish slices (watermelon radish-shown in picture)
  • 1 Tbsp Hemp seeds

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • pinch sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • water to thin if needed

Directions:

  1. In a pot add water (2 cups water to 1 cup of grain), add rice or quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cover with a top till all the water absorbs about 25 minutes
  2. In a saute pan, add olive oil and saute brussels, mushrooms, and cauliflower on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper if you wish. Should be about 10 minutes to saute.
  3. Chop, slice, or shred raw vegetables.
  4. For chic peas: if soaking they need to soak over night in water. drain off water and rinse. If you did canned. Make sure to rinse really well.
  5. In a bowl, spoon in rice or quinoa, add sauteed brussels, cauliflower, and mushrooms, arrange them if you wish :) Add raw veggies around the bowl, carrots, kale, cabbage, radish, avocado. Add chic peas and top with Hemp seeds.
  6. For Dressing: in a food processor or immersion blender add all ingredients and blend well. Need a little heat, add a pinch of cayenne. (Add water if you need to thin it out a bit.) Pour on top for desired amount and enjoy!
  7. Left over dressing place in an old jar, mason jars work great and use for the next time. Should last a couple days.

Make Your Own Kombucha!

kombucha1Kombucha! Who wants to learn how to make their own? Kombucha is fermented sweetened tea, it’s slightly tangy and a little sweet. It can be double fermented to make it into a fizzy soda by just adding fruit or fruit juice. Only thing is you have to be patient making it. It can take up to a week or even two sometimes, but it’s totally worth the wait! Especially when you’re looking for some thing different to drink or on a super hot summer day.

In health food stores and grocery stores they can cost anywhere between $3-$5. Kinda high price for a drink with no rum or vodka to go with it right? ;) It’s high in anti-oxidants, probiotics, and B-vitamins too! Kombucha is brewed with a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Yeast and Bacteria) that “eats” the sugars in the sweetened tea and creates an acidic, vitamin and probiotic rich beverage. So… you ready to learn how to make it??

First you’re going to need a SCOBY and you can’t get them just from the grocery store. Know anyone making their own kombucha? After every batch or two,a SCOBY will have a baby and they can be used to make kombucha or other fermented goodies. So ask a friend if you take one of theirs. Don’t know anyone making their own Kombucha yet, you can always order one online. (You can find some on Amazon.) Remember when you’re about to start making your kombucha, be sure that your hands are really clean and all containers have been cleaned very well also.

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon size glass or pottery jar
  • 1 gallon of brewed sweetened tea (ratio: 1 cup of sugar per gallon of tea)
  • a SCOBY and ½ cup of liquid from a previous batch of Kombucha
  • coffee filter, cheese cloth, or thin cloth (Walmart sells this for really cheap) and a rubber band

Directions:

  1. Prepare the sweet tea. Add 8-10 tea bags per gallon of water. Add 1 cup of regular sugar (organic is best).
  2. Let tea cool to room temperature and make sure it is really cool! If you don’t let it cool completely it will kill your SCOBY.
  3. Once tea is cool, pour into glass jar, Pour in ½ cup liquid from a previous batch of Kombucha or if starting from a dehydrated SCOBY, pour in ½ cup from a store-bought bottle of Kombucha.
  4. Make sure again your hands are clean. Place the SCOBY at the top of the jar of tea. It should float.
  5. Cover the jar with the coffee filter or cloth and rubber band tightly.
  6. Put jar in a warm corner of the kitchen. Make sure it’s not close to any other fermenting projects!
  7. Let it rest for about 7 days, After the 7 days you can taste it, make sure to try the tea under the SCOBY. It should be sweet and tarty.
  8. Remove the SCOBY and make sure to save at least 1/2 cup of this batch to start your next batch!
  9. It’s ready to drink! Pour into separate jars with a tight seal until ready to drink.

Want to do the second ferment and make it more like a soda? You can add juice or fresh fruit. Just keep an eye on the fruit it will ferment and break down quickly making it kinda slimy. Yuck!

You start with the same set up, just add your frozen or fresh fruit, or even fruit juice. I let my last batch of blackberries and raspberries sit in for about 2 days. Fruit juice can ferment longer. The more juice you add the sweeter it will be so just watch how much you use. Remember fresh fruit is going to break down quick. Kinda like making sangria, fruit will start to get mushy and slimy. Remove the fruit and SCOBY and pour into separate jars. Serve and Enjoy!!!