Friday, October 30, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Find: Veggie Pirate’s Booty

The Facts: Pirate’s Booty snacks are like a cross between popcorn, puffed rice and Cheetos with added vegetables like spinach, broccoli, kale, carrots and cabbage and other goodness. Pirate’s Booty is a great healthy substitute for chips and other salty crunchy snacks…AND it’s called “Pirate’s Booty” which is just another great plus!

You can eat ¼ of the bag of this tasty snack for just 130 calories and 5 grams of good fat (no trans fats here!). Pick your own bag up at Whole Foods or the healthy food section at your local grocery store.

Spice it up! Get an extra veggie kick by eating this crunchy snack with a handful of baby carrots or some zucchini slices.

Pirate’s Booty Veggie Puffs ARRRRRRR a fantastic food find! (Sorry…couldn’t resist it).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Bent Over Row

Strengthening the back is important for balance, posture and strength. A movement like the bent over row is also very effective because it mimics picking something up while bent over and bringing it towards the body. I think I do that particular movement in my life several times a day.

Muscles Worked: Back (specifically Latissimus Dorsi)

How to:

  1. Start holding a bar with overhand grip
  2. Bend your knees slightly lean over with a flat back and abs pulled in tight (this protects and supports the lower back)
  3. Slowly pull the bar up towards your bellybutton with elbows staying in close to the ribs
  4. Squeeze the shoulder blades together and then lower the bar back into starting position

Trainer Tips:

  • While doing this move, picture squeezing a pencil in between your shoulder blades the entire set…this will help your shoulders to stay back and not hunched over
  • If your lower back starts to hurt, focus on pulling the abs in tight to take the pressure off

Make ‘em Harder: You can do this move on a BOSU ball or with dumbbells. Also, the heavier the weight, the harder they will be.

Have fun rowing!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

Food Find Recipe Edition: Ginger Snaps

So it’s getting cold and the holidays are just around the corner…lots of baked goods are coming, right? Lots of them. I’m a lover of all things sweet and when I bake I end up eating half the batch of whatever comes out of the oven, so I really try to make healthy alterations to most recipes.

One of my favorite holiday foods is ginger bread, ginger snaps, ginger cookies…okay, you get it…I love ginger baked goods. I found a recipe (and then made a few of my own alterations) that takes almost all the fat out of ginger snaps and the cookies are fantastic. This recipe makes close to a million little cookies so feel free to half it J.


  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 4 tablespoons molasses (I use sorghum molasses from my husband’s family farm!)


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  • Sift together the flour, ginger, allspice and baking soda, set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the margarine and 1 1/2 cups of sugar. Stir in the applesauce and molasses. Add dry ingredients to the molasses mixture and mix until just blended.
  • Roll teaspoons of dough into balls. Place the balls on the parchment paper.
  • Grease a spatula and smash down balls of dough so they are flat.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 for crisp cookies.
  • Cool on wire racks.

These bad boys are only about 55 calories for THREE COOKIES and have just a trace amount of fat.

Spice it up! These crispy snack cookies with a hot cup of tea are fantastic on a cold fall afternoon or evening.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Box Jumps

Explosive movements (plyometrics) like box jumps increase muscle strength, agility, stamina, balance and bone density. Box jumps are also great for burning calories and getting the heart rate up. Plus, if you are an athlete or running and are trying to improve your speed or vertical jump height, box jumps are a fantastic move to add to your routine.

Muscles Worked: Glutes, Hamstrings, Quadriceps, Calves, Core

How to:

  1. Start facing a step or sturdy box or bench.
  2. Bend your knees slightly and jump with both feet up to the “box” landing with both feet at once.
  3. Find your balance before jumping or stepping back to the starting position.
  4. Repeat

Trainer Tips:

  • You should always land softly…knees should be slightly bent and never locked
  • This is a fairly advanced move, therefore, stepping up and down from the “box” is a great way to work up to this move

Make ‘em Harder: Jumping on to a higher “box” will definitely make this move more challenging. Also, standing back further from the box or jumping onto the box from the side (laterally) will increase the difficulty of the move.

Have fun jumping!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Find: Stellar Organics Cabernet Sauvignon (No Added Sulfites)

The Facts: There has been a lot of buzz in the last few years about the healthy benefits of red wine. A recent study published last month’s issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found significant health affects of the compound resveratrol which is found in red wine. The benefits include protecting against heart disease and some cancers as well as aiding in prevention of age-related disorders, inflammation and diabetes.

Organic wine is the best for health because it does not contain pesticides and most do not add sulfites (which is the main cause for headaches after a glass of wine).

I have fallen in love with Stellar Organics Cabernet Sauvignon for a few reasons:

1. I love cabs

2. It does not give me a headache after a glass like most wines

3. It’s about $10…AND a twist off cap…don’t judge me…I like them

So cheers to red wine! Please note that downing a bottle of wine is not healthy…wine in moderation is healthy (that’s one glass a day people).

Spice it up! Pair this wine with a small piece of dark chocolate for the ultimate treat!


Monday, October 12, 2009

In defense of oatmeal...

Really!? What is wrong with advertisers?? My initial reaction to this ad (that I unfortunately had to stare at for 3 minutes while filling up my gas tank) is that “Your life WILL be shorter if you eat those cinnamon rolls instead of oatmeal.”

Not only am I so up in arms because it’s tempting people to make poor food decisions, but it’s dissing oatmeal which is one the best grain decisions you can make.

Let’s review oatmeal’s awesomeness*, shall we?

  • Oatmeal contains a special fiber that reduces cholesterol
  • The dietary fiber in oatmeal reduces heart disease and heart failure
  • Can reduce high blood pressure and the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Oatmeal can also aid in weight loss

I’m pretty sure that cinnamon roles do not do any of those important things…not to say that we shouldn’t indulge those sweet tooth cravings every once in a while, but we should not replace our healthy foods because “life’s too short” to take care of our bodies…

*Study findings by Mark Andon, PhD, and James W. Anderson, MD, January/February edition of the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Spinning (indoor group cycle)

It’s officially cold outside now, too cold for some of us to workout outside (it’s okay…you can call me wimpy). If you’re like me and are starting to miss the great workouts that you had when it was nice outside, don’t fear, I have the perfect option for you: spinning (indoor group cycling).

Spinning a fantastic cardio conditioning class that combines hill climbs (strength) with racing (endurance). It’s low impact so even folks with bad knees and ankles can participate without a problem. Spinning is a great class for both beginners and avid cyclists because you control your pace and resistance and it doesn’t require any coordination like step or kickboxing classes. Plus, you can burn up to 800 calories in one 50 minute class…wowzer…I know, right!? It’s awesome!

You can find a spinning or group cycle class at your gym or go to one and try a class for free (many gyms allow at least a free week pass). I teach spinning on Monday, Wednesdays and Friday’s at 6 a.m. at the YMCA in the Brookside area, so contact me if you would like a free pass!

Trainer Tips:

  • If you are taking a spinning class for the first time, go easy on yourself. Keep your petals moving the entire class but go at your own pace. The goal for the first class is just to finish.
  • Bring lots of water and a small towel…yep for sweat…you’ll be doing a lot of that.
  • Your rear end might be sore after your first class or two from the bike seat…don’t let this deter you from coming back…it goes away quickly.

Have fun spinning!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Find: SoBe Zero Calorie Lifewater

The Facts: Sometimes, drinking water day in and day out can get a bit…well…dull. I used to love drinking Zero calorie drinks such as Poweraid ZERO and Crystal Light, but most of these types of drinks are made with artificial sweeteners which totally gave me headaches and are just plain bad for the body.

To the rescue: SoBe Zero Calorie Lifewater…it’s sweetened with a natural sweetener called Stevia (TruVia brand). Stevia is an herb grown in South America and China. This sweet plant is calorie free plus it doesn’t affect your blood sugar in the slightest. Anyway, back to this great food find. It comes in three great flavors (personal favorite is Yumberry and Pomegranate). I’m not suggesting that you replace your water with bottles upon bottles of Lifewater, but if you’re craving a sugary snack…this no-guilt treat should do the trick!

Spice it up! I like to make my zero-cal Lifewater last longer by pouring half the bottle in a glass with ice and adding regular water. Then I stick a straw in it and sip it slowly…so good!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Sour Truth About Sweeteners

We have all heard that sugar in one way or another is bad for us. Sugar can cause tooth decay, diabetes, weight gain, irritability, problems with the endocrine system and the sweet stuff is totally addictive. So what’s a girl or boy to do when the sweet tooth demands to be fed? Well in the last few years, many of us have turned to artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet ‘n’ Low, etc. But now, studies are showing that these artificial sweeteners, though low in calories, have actually been causing weight gain, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and elevated blood pressure (Circulation, July 2007 and Behavioral Neuroscience, Vol.122, No.1) .

So now what? Give up on cookies or just sacrifice our heath? NO WAY! There are fantastic natural sweeteners that are becoming more available and less expensive. Here are a few to try without guilt or fear that your body will react negatively towards them…

Evaporated Cane Juice: This is the closest sweetener to normal table sugar (Kashi uses it in all their products and you seriously can not taste the difference). The great thing about Evaporated Cane Juice is that it isn’t processed as much as regular sugar and so retains the nutrients of sugar such as B2 or riboflavin.

Stevia: This sweet alternative to “bad” sugar is derived from plants found in China and South America. Stevia doesn’t contain calories nor does it effect blood sugar levels plus it helps regulate the digestive tract. Stevia is sweeter than sugar so you don’t have to use as much…hurray!

Maple Syrup: Nope…not the Mrs. Butterworth kind, but pure maple syrup has fewer calories and more minerals such as manganese and zinc than honey. This sticky sweet alternative to sugar is good for the heart, immune system and for the guys, male reproductive health.

So give in to your sweet side with sweet stuff that won’t weigh you down and your body will thank you for it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday's Move of the Week

The Move: Bridge with leg lift

I love exercises that work multiple areas of the body (what can I say, I’m a multi-tasker). The bridge with leg lift is a perfect example of this. It works the core and lower body.

Muscles Worked: Gluts (butt), core (abs and lower back), hamstrings (back of thighs)

How to:

  1. Lay face up on a mat with legs bent
  2. With abs in tight, slowly press through the heels and raise the hips off the ground until your body makes a straight line from the shoulders to the knees
  3. Extend the right leg until straight and lift and lower slowly while all the weight is on the left leg. Place the right foot back on the ground.
  4. Repeat with left leg

Trainer Tips:

  • The bridge itself might be challenging enough in itself, therefore, listen to your body and work up to the leg lifts when necessary
  • When you lift one leg up, the tendency will be to lean to one side to support the body…resist this inclination and focus on keeping the core tight and the planted leg strong
  • Don’t let the hips fall at all during this exercise. The point is to have a strong backside and core….work it!

Make ‘em harder: My favorite way to make these even more challenging is to place a small medicine ball under one leg and balance on it while doing the leg lifts…this is very hard, so work up to it!


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fantastic Food Find Friday

The Find: Dark Chocolate Sundrops (in bulk at health food stores)

The Facts: I love chocolate and even more than plain chocolate, I love candy coated chocolate (oh yes…I’m talking about M&Ms). BUT the sad truth: M&Ms are pretty much void of any nutritional content. I found the perfect replacement. Think dark chocolate (full of antioxidants), no artificial coloring, and unrefined cane juice vs. white sugar (this means you have to use less and there are nutrients for your body). A totally tasty treat! You can eat 43 pieces for 180 calories, 8 grams of fat, 2 grams of fiber.

Spice it up! Put a small amount with low fat popcorn and almonds and it’s the perfect treat!

Enjoy (in moderation, of course J)!