Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Salad Series -- Tuna Salad

I will be posting a series of main dish salads that are healthy, easy, make-ahead meals using seasonal ingredients. Keep checking back for more!

This is a simple, go-to recipe for me. I like it because it is filling and packed with healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. I've eaten it by itself, on a bed of greens, or mixed with quinoa. It all depends on how hungry I am and what else I have in the fridge ;) 

4 cans (5 oz) of tuna (I use pole caught albacore ~ higher in Omega-3s and more environmentally friendly)

1 + 3/4 cup of chopped celery
1 + 1/2 cup of dill relish
1 cup finely chopped green onions
6 Tbs Reduced Fat Veganaise (you can use any mayo or plain yogurt)
Pickle juice to taste (I use a lot!)
Pepper to taste

Makes 5 cups
1 cup = 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus value

Calories = 302
Carbohydrates = 3
Fat = 18
Protein = 32
Sodium = 1490
Sugar = 1


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Spiced-Up Green Tea Smoothie


I was experimenting today (like I usually do when it comes to making smoothies) and concocted this gem of a drink. It is packed with healthy fruits, veggies, and spices. I don't know that you could create a drink with more antioxidants than this one! Green tea, berries, leafy greens, cinnamon and ginger are all high on the list of antioxidant powerhouses.

Warning: while there is fruit in this smoothie, it is NOT sweet! Prepare yourself for something more like a V8 kind of drink than a Jamba Juice style smoothie. But it is yummy and so, so healthy!

8 oz of unsweetened Green Tea (I used Lipton Superfruit today)
3/4 cup of fresh blueberries
3/4 cup of frozen raspberries
1 fresh peach
1/2 cup of fresh mint
1/2 of a fresh orange
4 cups of fresh greens (I used parsley, spinach, dandelion greens, purple kale, and fordhook chard)
2 small thumbs of ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

I put all of the ingredients in my Vitamix in the order listed. I also added quite a bit of ice toward the end since I like my smoothies cold. This filled the entire blender so it's plenty for a whole family or a couple of very hungry friends! You could take out the peach and it would probably taste the same; I happened to have one that was on the far end of ripe and didn't want to throw it away. Taking it out would cut the sugar/calories. Keep in mind that if you are following Weight Watchers, they don't count the fruit and veggies in a smoothie as zero Points Plus. I calculated 6 Points Plus for the ENTIRE recipe (which, as I said before, filled the whole blender). This is an incredibly nutritious and filling 6 points! If you had less and added a little protein either into the smoothie or on the side you'd have a snack or meal replacement that could make you happy for at least a couple of hours.

On a side note, I bought these cups at Sprouts and I love them for smoothies.They have the little wire ball inside so that you can shake up a powder smoothie without using a blender. If you don't guzzle down your green smoothies pretty quickly they can start to separate and then you have a thick frothy part that I don't find very appealing. A quick little shake in one of these bad boys and it's good as new!

I hope you enjoy the recipe! Let me know what you think!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

!!!!!Richard Simmons!!!!!

I'm always talking about making exercise fun and finding healthy ways to celebrate life's accomplishments. I recently practiced what I preach by celebrating my birthday with Richard Simmons at his Slimmons Studio in Beverly Hills, CA.

I have always loved Richard Simmons. He just makes me smile. I believe that he genuinely cares about people and loves helping them get healthier and happier. I love that he is so authentically and unapolagetically him. Taking a class with him was definitely a "bucket-list" item and I thought it would be a meaningful way to celebrate my birthday and the fact that I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

A group of my students and friends drove up early Saturday morning (we wanted to make sure we had spots since his classes can fill up quickly). We were all a little shocked when Richard walked in as he was looking a little less "Richard Simmons" and a little more "drag queen". It turns out he was doing a Korean pop music theme for class that day and came costumed for the occasion.

The class was fun; Richard was playful and engaging. I was happy that there were a few front row divas to watch since Richard moved around the room a lot and was usually hard to see. I happened to be towards the front next to a gorgeous guy who really knew how to dance so I "followed" him ;) Richard was a little raunchier than I expected and really loves dropping the F-bomb. I tend to use that expletive quite a bit myself so I responded well to that! At one point he yelled, "Keep your tits up ladies!". I thought that would be a fun alignment reminder to yell out in my classes but I'm not sure how it would go over at the Senior Center. I guess that's one of the perks of being a fitness icon and owning your own studio :)

We all agreed that it was worth the drive and that we'll be heading out to his class again soon. Wanna' join us?

Here are some more photos from our day.
In the interest of full disclosure, I followed this up with a night of indulgent food and wine with good friends. Hey, it's all about balance, right?

Friday, June 7, 2013

My Favorite Green Smoothie Recipe

I splurged and bought myself a Vitamix recently and I'm soooooo happy I did. I've been experimenting with different combinations and so far, this recipe is my favorite. I made some the other morning for the kids and they not only drank it, they said it was "delicious"! Granted, I prepped them by reminding them that it wasn't going to taste like the smoothies I make them with yogurt and berries. I wanted to manage their expectations so they wouldn't immediately say they didn't like it just because it was different. I also told them (for the gazillionth time) that our bodies need a lot of different nutrients and that this smoothie provided many, many good things for them without them having to eat things like a kale salad.

I got these ingredients from Sprouts and Trader Joe's. I try to get the greens from the farmer's market, but when I can't make it, I find Sprouts has a good selection, especially in the organic section. Trader Joe's has great prices on frozen fruit.

Pineapple-Mango Green Smoothie:

1 cup of water (to start)
1/2 cup of light coconut milk (unsweetened)
3/4 cup of frozen pineapple
1 & 1/2 cup of frozen mango
1" x 3/4" thumb of fresh ginger, peeled 
1 & 1/2 cup of spinach
1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup of dandelion greens
1 cup of purple kale

I like my green smoothies very liquid-y so I usually end up adding some water at the end. I also like them very cold so I usually add a little ice. This recipe made enough for me to have a HUGE cup, my husband to have a normal-sized cup, and my kids each to have a small cup. That is all I had for breakfast at about 7 a.m. and it kept me satisfied through teaching a Zumba class and a Strength and Stretch class. I didn't eat again until 11:00 a.m. and I didn't feel like I was ready to pass out or commit a homicide!

I hope you enjoy the recipe. Let me know what you think and if you tweak it at all, please share the results!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Moderation Makes Me Fat ~ Part 2

I was going to post a different picture but it included some cake and I didn't want to trigger a binge for anyone ;)

In Moderation Makes Me Fat ~ Part 1, I discussed recent research and theories regarding why some of us binge-eat. Here I will share some of the strategies other people have used to stop bingeing as well as my own plan to try to get my behavior under control (and to fit back into my clothes comfortably!).

1. Retrain My Brain: Kathryn Hansen battled bulimia and has an interesting take on how to stop bingeing behaviors which she shares in her book Brain Over Binge. I have not read the book (yet) but I did spend some time on her website and her basic theory is that binge-eating trains your brain to binge-eat. Therefore, the key to stop binge-eating is to prevent the binge in the first place. There are many behavioral techniques to do so, most of which are intended to distract you from the food. You can go for a walk, call a friend, knit, clean, drink a glass of water, etc. Or you can be sure that you are eating "consciously": sit down, plate your food beautifully, avoid distractions. To me, though, this all seems overwhelming and exhausting since my urges to binge are almost constant. I already feel like I'm in perpetual motion and tired all of the time. The thing that resonated with me about what Kathryn Hansen proposed is that the battle can be won. It might not be a matter of resisting the urge to binge all day, every day, for the rest of my life. Maybe each time I avoid a binge, I'm making a little change in my brain. And maybe each of these little alterations will eventually change my brain enough that the urge to binge will subside or even retreat entirely. To me, this idea holds the possibility of liberation.

So my first step is to retrain my brain and body regarding what is "normal" eating. I'm sure you've all heard that it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the messages from your body that you've eaten and are satisfied. Well, I've been doing my own personal research on this and have realized that for me, it takes more like 40 minutes to an hour for those messages to reach my brain. So part of my plan is to plate a reasonable amount of food (like, maybe even the actual portion guidelines) and to then wait 40 minutes to an hour before I allow myself to eat anything else. This is going to be very difficult for me. When I eat and don't feel stuffed, I think I'm still hungry. I'm not a fun person to be around when I'm hungry. So if you hear me yelling at my kids or I don't smile when you say "hello", please cut me some slack. Hopefully it will be because my brain is too busy retraining itself and dealing with pseudo-hunger to engage in social niceties.

2. Go Cold-Turkey on my Trigger Foods:

I've realized that the times in my life when I've been successful at anything, it has been when I get a little extreme. So I've decided to get extreme with my eating. I've had to cut a lot of foods out of my diet due to allergies and I've realized it's not as big a deal as it seems. It certainly makes life a little more complicated and it's hard to watch people eat things like pizza, but for the most part, my life is not significantly diminished because I can't eat certain foods. I have binged on all sorts of food, but there are certain foods that are major triggers for me; chocolate, peanut butter and refined sugary treats are the worst culprits. With these foods, nothing satisfies my cravings. I eat some which makes me want more which ends in me either eating until I feel sick or until the food is gone (usually the latter). So I really do need to have forbidden foods. I've hidden the peanut butter in the back of the fridge so that it's there if the kids want it but I don't have to look at it every time I open the doors. Most of my other triggers can be kept out of the house entirely. I've also decided that if and when there is an occasion where I end up with these foods in my house, I will throw them away. This is another difficult action for me as I hate the idea of wasting food and money, but I think for now, it's the lesser of the two evils. My Weight Watchers leader has said, "You're paying for the food either way so you need to decide which is really more expensive." The negative feelings I have after a binge and the havoc it wreaks on my body is definitely more "expensive" to me than the few bucks I'm throwing in the trash.

Hopefully these concepts and strategies will work for me and might give you a starting point as well. I have already found that with each day that I am able to refrain from eating my trigger foods, I think about them less and less. Please let me know what strategies you are planning to try or what has worked for you in the past. 

Thanks for reading and sharing!