Thursday, April 17, 2014

I signed up for my next themed run!

If you need a new goal to get you back into fitness or just want to have fun, there’s nothing better than a themed run! Whether you're into hot chocolate, ice cream, cupid undie run, zombies,  mud, tutus, color dust, glow in the dark, there's something out there for you! I can tell you from first hand experience that doing these themed runs is a fun time! And training for one gives new purpose to your workouts because you know you actually want to train to do well at your race.

I was never into doing a marathon, but these new crops of fun races are taking over, I see new ones every year. The 5Ks are only 3.1 miles which is very doable for a newbie runner. And you never know you might just run into Jesus at your next run, seriously! So what are you waiting for? Sign up for a themed run! Make sure your friends show up with awesome signs to support you!

I've always wanted to run a race with a tutu and I finally found the perfect company to order one from, Glam Runners supports the charity Girls on the Run which sponsors exercise and confidence-building programs for young girls.

Saturday is my race, sowish me luck! To prepare for it this week I started running outside during my lunch break at work with a co-worker which has been nice during this lovely spring weather! However my thigh muscles and abs have been so sore! My body is not used to running! Here's some great stretches you should be doing after your runs.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Healthy Saag Paneer recipe

I'm sure you've seen on Indian restaurant menus either Palak Paneer or Saag Paneer. It's actually never been my favorite, but then I found a recipe made with Kale and chickpeas and gave it a try and really enjoyed it! It made enough to be my lunch for the week at work.


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger root, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala 
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 10 oz of kale
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • ¼ cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 can of chickpeas

  • Directions

    1. Saute onion on a large skillet for 5 minutes, adding water by the tablespoon if needed to prevent sticking. 
    2. Add the garlic, ginger, and cumin seeds and cook for 1 minute. 
    3. Add the remaining spices and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Reduce heat to medium. 
    4. Stir in the kale and vegetable broth. Cover and cook until the kale is bright green and tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
    5. While the kale is cooking, put the milk, cashews, nutritional yeast, and tomato paste in the blender and puree until smooth. 
    6. When the kale is done, add it to the blender and blend until smooth. 
    7. Transfer blended mixture back to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  
    8. Stir in chickpeas and continue simmering about 10 minutes. 
    9. Add salt to taste and serve over rice.

    Nutritional Analysis
    5 servings
    173 cal, 9g protein, 7g fiber

    I served this one serving of wild rice and a 2 TB of Fage 2% Greek Yogurt. So the total calorie count came to 334 cal, 18g of protein, 9g of fiber

    One serving of wild rice has 6g of protein! While white jasmine rice only has half that amount. Likewise wild rice has double the amount of fiber, is high in b-vitamins and manganese.

    Recipe Source: Fat Free Vegan

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    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    California Dreamin'

    I booked my plane ticket for Los Angles this summer! Looking forward to spending the day in Santa Monica. Over the weekend I wanted to make a meal that reminded me of sunny summer weather. So I made some tempeh tacos served with bell pepper, sweet onion, greek yogurt, cilantro, plantains and sweet creamy Mexican Ataulfo mangoes. I grew up eating a lot of plantains. They're high in Vitamins A, C, B6, Fiber and Potassium. But they're also high in calories and carbs and fried in oil.

    The tacos are in a sprouted corn tortilla because I only consume organic corn, which I talked about in this post and I talked about the manufacturer of the tortilla in this post.

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    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Spring Essentials

    Spring Essentials

    Now that spring is officially here I've been enjoying all the lovely flowers blooming! Trader Joe's keeps my home full of tulips and daffodils. I'm planning all my fun spring weather outings including picnics and bike rides. I was in walmart a couple weeks ago and was surprised to see they sold a ton of adult bikes in pretty colors for affordable prices! I ordered these dresses from Old Navy along with this dress I showed you last month. Old Navy was having a sale on dresses, with free shipping, my order for 4 dresses came out to be about $60, score! Then I went to the LOFT and bought one dress for more than that! lol Do you have your Easter dress ready?

    I used this weekend to spring clean my wardrobe. Since my closet is already full, I figured I should try to purge some things to make room for my new warm weather dresses. I asked myself have I worn this clothing item in the past year? If no, then it goes.

    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Easy Stovetop Truffled Popcorn

    Let me start off by saying I LOVE LOVE popcorn! I remember my dad taking me to the movies in middle school, oddly enough I always had to sit in the front row and had to have the largest tub of popcorn that I finished all by myself! Today even if I wanted to, I know my stomach won’t hold that much popcorn. Since I stopped eating popcorn at theaters awhile ago, I try to consume a healthy version of it at home.

    Remember the Jiffy Pop popcorn you’d make on the stove? That’s how I made popcorn as a kid. Then at some point switched to microwave popcorn in this orange microwave my family had.

    A whole year ago I went to girls night in party at a friends apt and she made stovetop popcorn with truffled salt. I thought wow you made popcorn on the stove?! Growing up in a microwave generation I didn’t even think that was possible. lol I think the popcorn industry convinced me that popcorn was too complicated and messy to make the old-fashioned way. The idea to make stovetop popcorn has been logged in the back of my head for awhile now as something I wanted to try but was scared to, how crazy! lol

    As you know I’m pretty much against all things artificial, especially when it comes to what I am putting in my body. So I wanted to get away from microwave popcorn because it comes with chemically altered oils, artificial preservatives and flavors, plus some weird chemical coating on the inside of the bag. That’s the quick explanation; the long scientific one is this:

    Popcorn is one of the top ten foods most contaminated with  pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers, and that means that it’s best eaten as organic. The amount of chemicals that are added to popcorn will blow your mind. First the bags are lined with perfluorinated chemicals to prevent sticking and grease leakage. A study published in January 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nonstick chemicals in popcorn bags significantly damage the immune system. Workers in microwave popcorn factories have actually developed an extremely rare form of lung cancer from inhaling fumes. And an ingredient used in artificial butter flavoring for popcorn may worsen the effects of an abnormal brain protein that's been linked to Alzheimer's disease.

    Studies have shown that organic popcorn can help prevent cancer because they have large levels of polyphenols, the antioxidant compounds that help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Just to be clear, that does not mean movie theater popcorn is a healthy choice! lol Organic, air-popped, in coconut oil is the way to go. Why coconut oil? Read this old post by me.

    So I finally bite the bullet and bought organic popcorn from the bulk foods bin at Whole Foods and boy was it cheap for the volume of popcorn it makes! I couldn’t believe I had been buying this overpriced pre-packaged snack for so long!  You should know that not all popcorn kernels are created the same, so be sure to buy corn products that are GMO-free and organic.  

    I should say that I love mushrooms and love truffle oil even more, that I put it in my scrambled tofu. I bought this amazing good quality Italian Truffled Sea Salt by Casina Rossa. Would be a nice housewarming gift for someone I bet! The truffle salt just makes it insanely delicious! Between the coconut oil and the truffled salt the popcorn has so much flavor I don't even need butter, honestly!
    Here’s how I make my favorite tasty, easy-to-make snack that you can whip up yourself for cheap for your next movie night.

    2 TBS. virgin coconut oil
    1/4 cup organic popcorn kernels
    Truffle salt

    Take a large pot with lid (I use a 3 quart pot) and place over medium heat on stovetop. Add oil and kernels. Place lid on. As popcorn starts popping, shake pot. When popping slows to a couple of seconds in between, turn heat off and pour popcorn into large serving bowl. Salt to taste. This recipe makes enough popcorn to fill a large bowl.

    You can sprinkle on some fresh shredded parmesan on top, it will melt on the hot popcorn.

    So now when I’m craving a crispy and salty snack, I don’t have to reach for something that’s unhealthy with toxins and overpriced. This is the most delicious popcorn I've ever tasted!

    If you don't want to make this on the stove you have two options that don't require the use of oil a microwavable container or a stand alone unit. 


    On a somewhat related not, because I watched this recently, if you want a small glimpse into what's it's like to grow GMO corn, watch the movie At Any Price staring Zac Efron,Heather Graham, and Dennis Quaid, released in 2012.

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    Thursday, April 10, 2014

    Science of Skinny part 2

    This is a continuation of yesterday's post on the book the Science of Skinny. I wanted to share what food products/supplements the author recommends.

    In yesterday's post I talked about the benefits of Omega-3s. If you're a vegetarian like me but want the benefits of Fish Oil, try Ovega‑3's Omega 3 DHA EPA Vegetarian vitamin.  I did find it makes me drowsy so I can't take it in the morning with my other vitamins, instead I take it at dinnertime. I researched to find out why and it's because it increases the brain's secretion of melatonin which is the hormone which helps regulate sleep. Additionally EPA and DHA lower your stress hormone levels.

    Salad dressing often contains sugar and that you should carefully read the label to avoid those or make your own. The same company (Bragg) that makes raw apple cider vinegar makes a healthy salad dressing that she recommends which I found at Whole Foods.

    Raw honey contains vitamins, antioxidants and antibacterial properties. However McCaffrey says that "most honey found in supermarkets is not healthy because they are basically the refined sugar version of honey which is bad for us." Once honey is heated (pasteurized) and processed, its antioxidants, natural enzymes and nutrients are destroyed. She credits bee pollen as the the best way to tame sugar cravings. So to get the best of both worlds, I got a combo of bee pollen and raw honey. Bee pollen are granules and a bit difficult to eat so I thought this would be good. You can find plain raw honey on the bottom shelf at Trader Joe's.

    Have you heard of Kombucha? It's fermented tea that has a healthy fungus in it. McCaffrey says that "it has alkalizing abilities similar to those of apple cider vinegar, plus it's loaded with probiotics and B vitamins." It's been used in Russia, China and Japan for over 2000 years. It aids in cancer prevention by detoxing your body, treats arthritis, boost your energy levels, improves your mood and is a metabolism booster.  It tastes a bit tart, that's why I like these two flavors below because they mix juice in with it. But these synergy bottles are a bit pricey, so you could instead go for a pill form of kombucha.

    While you're avoiding artificial sweeteners, she recommends an aspartame free gum by Pur. I've bought some at Whole Foods.

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    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    The Science of Skinny

    I just finished reading the book The Science of Skinny by Dee McCaffrey who is a chemist by profession but also lost 100 lbs. I borrowed this book from the library just because I enjoy learning new ideas on being healthy. Not much was new to me in this book, but seeing it all put together as a prescription plan just reminded me of how important each element is.

    McCaffrey says that the idea of just consuming less calories to lose weight is faulty because you need to look at the whole body. She says the "calories in calories out argument is tragically flawed" and that when you improve the quality of the foods you eat and eat them in the proper qualities, there is no need to count calories. She says to avoid artificial sweeteners, chemical food additives, pesticides, and hormones in animal foods. The idea is to eat food in its original form to get your body to a place where it functions best.

    I have to say that this idea I've never really got into. McCaffrey  says if you're not see results from your efforts, then cleansing and supporting the liver, along with alkalizing is the key. If your liver is healthy, your weight loss will be nearly effortless. The keeping your liver clean is called "liver-izing" by choosing the right foods, spices, herbs that specifically scrub, flush, and support the liver.  She says that when you body is acidic, you gain weight that is very difficult to lose. Frequent colds is one way the body works to expel acid. She suggests drinking warm lemon water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar every morning to alkalize your body. Now I already drink lemon water every morning for the Vitamin C boost, but I can try adding these two extra steps of warming the water and adding apple cider vinegar.

    McCaffrey says that the key to successful weight loss is to  eat an  unprocessed diet and eliminating white sugar and white flour from your diet. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and depletes calcium from your body. Sugar also creates acid in your body fluids and changes your body chemistry which goes back to her motto of it's not about staying within your calorie limits but making sure you are eating quality food that fuels your body. Additionally when you eat sugar, you are feeding cancer cells which help them grow. One place people don't think to check the sugar content in in their yogurt! She recommends initially abstaining from alcohol because it will be stored as a fat, just like sugar and cause more sugar cravings. However she says that the best way to tame sugar cravings is through bee pollen. The  sweeteners she recommends are stevia (which I use in my tea), raw honey, coconut sugar, Luo Han Guo (which is in Shakeology) and Erythritol (which I use for baking.

    You must eat fat to lose fat. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins because they can only be absorbed into the body through fat. If you body doesn't have enough Vitamin D, calcium cannot be absorbed. The hormones in your body don't work properly without adequate fat, neither does your immune system. To promote optimal brain function we need a steady supply of omega-3s which helps with  improving your mental clarity and mood. Most Americans are deficient in omega-3 fat, mainly because fish and leafy greens are no longer the staple foods they once were McCaffrey says. We no longer take cod liver oil like our grandmas used to. The Japanese however, who eat tons of fish and seaweed, have omega-3 levels about ten times higher than do most Americans. Omega-3s burn fat without a reduction in caloric intake by increasing the blood flow around your muscles and enabling fat to be better used for energy. Omega-3 acids also reduce your risk of heart disease and it has anti-inflammatory properties help lubricate the joints. 

    For the past year I've been incorporating more avocados into my diet as I grew up hating it. So if you've looked at my breakfasts here and here  my goal has been to eat one avocado a week,  ¼ per day. Avocados contain almost 20 vitamins and minerals (Vitamin A, B, magnesium and 60% more potassium than bananas), are high in fiber, and help reduce the amount of cholesterol absorbed from foods.

    I used to take a spoonful of flaxseed oil (in place of fish oil) daily for years because it made my skin look good but I've learned that it's inferior to fish oil because it doesn't give you enough of  DHA and EPA for proper brain function, for instance influencing behavior and mood. So I searched the internet far and wide until I found some vegetarian Omega-3 pills because I'm not taking fish oil. 

    Your skinny daily checklist should include:
    • dark leafy green vegetables
    • legumes
    • fruits
    • coconut oil
    • avocado and nuts
    • rainbow vegetables
    • whole grains (sprouted grains like Ezekiel bread)
    • high quality protein
    • Omega-3 (fish oil, flaxseed, chia seeds)
    • morning lemon water
    • vitality vinegar tonic
    • high-quality multiple vitamin
    • dandelion supplement
    • milk thistle supplement
    • pure water
    • alkalizing green powder (barley grass, wheat grass, sprouts, chlorella and spirulina - all of which are found in Shakeology)
    "The key to physical healing is having a positive mental attitude and a strong belief that you will be successful in achieving your health goals. A positive mental attitude results from a life dedicated to self-improvement. Strive for progress, not perfection."-  McCaffrey

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