Thursday, May 28, 2009

EASY Mango Salsa

I love unique salsa...but who has time to make it from scratch? That's why this recipe is so easy. With very little effort, you can create a salsa that no one will know started with your favorite prepared tomato salsa. Enjoy this summer twist on the most popular topping or dip.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

You will need:

3/4 cup prepared tomato salsa
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a small bowl, combine salsa, mango, lime juice and cilantro.

8 calories; 0 g fat
2 g carbohydrate
29 mg sodium
29 mg potassium.

Don't stop limit yourself to chips and dip with this recipe. Try it with veggies, mix it in scrambled eggs, or serve it on top of grilled chicken or white fish. Yum!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Plank

"The Plank" — it sounds scary, and it's probably just as uncomfortable as "walking the plank" with a gang of sword-waving pirates behind you...but it's also one of the best core exercises you can do.

Notice I said core exercise - not just an exercise to work your abs. The plank will help you build your coveted six pack abs, but it also works your entire core: abs, obliques, hips, and the transverse abdominis (the deepest of the abdominal muscles that wraps around your spine for protection and stability).

There is good news! The plank can be done anywhere, requires no equipment and involves no movement or crunching motions at all. Bad news? It's still quite difficult and should only be attempted after you've mastered the traditional crunch and sit-up exercises.

How to Do the Plank

1. Get into a pushup position, but place your elbows on the ground instead of your hands.

2. Keep your body as straight as possible from your head to your toes (Imagine a table laying across your back).

3. Pull your abs in towards your spine as if you were bracing for a punch to the stomach.

4. Be sure to breathe normally and hold this position for as long as you can.

Additional tip... Don't let your back sink down, and if it does, stop immediately.

Depending on your current core strength, you may only be able to hold perfect form for about 10-15 seconds at a time. Try to increase the time by 5-10 seconds with each workout. As your core gets stronger, you will be able to last for longer and longer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Recipe of the Week: Poppyseed Dressing

In the summer, I look forward to mixing baby spinach, grilled chicken, fresh fruit (especially blueberries and strawberries) and chopped nuts to make a fresh salad. It has a ton of flavor on its own, so I used to not even add dressing. However, when I discovered this recipe for homemade healthy poppyseed dressing, I was hooked.

You will need:

1/2 cup fat-free Miracle Whips
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup Splenda
1/8 cup distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon poppyseeds

Place all ingredients in a skinny bottle. Stir for one minute with a spoon. Remove the spoon, cover the bottle with a lid, and shake bottle for 1-2 minutes. Refrigerate immediately, and always shake the bottle before using. Enjoy!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Speed Skaters

Plyometric exercises are specialized, high intensity training techniques used to develop athletic power (strength and speed). Plyometric training involves high-intensity, explosive muscular contractions that invoke the stretch reflex (stretching the muscle before it contracts so that it contracts with greater force). The most common plyometric exercises include hops, jumps and bounding movements. These exercises typically increase speed and strength and build power.

Plyometrics (and any impact exercise) can increase the risk of injury if you don't follow certain safety precautions. The tremendous force generated during these moves requires that athletes use them sparingly and with proper training.

The most important aspect of a safe and effective plyometric program is developing a safe landing technique. This means the athlete lands softly on the toes and rolls to the heels. By using the whole foot (and a larger surface area) for landing it helps dissipate the impact forces on the joints. The other key to proper landing is to avoid any twisting or sideways motion at the knee.

Plyometrics Safety Tips

Plyometrics are recommended only for well-conditioned athletes.
You should have high levels of leg strength prior to performing plyometrics.
Warm up thoroughly before starting plyometrics.
Start slowly with small jumps and gradually build up.
Land softly (see above) to absorb shock.
Allow plenty of rest between plyometric workouts.
Stop immediately if you feel any pain in your joints.
Use footwear with plenty of cushioning.
Perform plyometrics on soft or cushioned surfaces only.

Here is my favorite plyometric exericse: the speed skater. The Speed Skater exercise will develop the muscles in the hip, groin, ankles and quadriceps. It will help to improve lateral quickness and agility.


Stand with your feet shoulder width apart, bend your knees to lower your body 8-10 inches and lean forward until your shoulders are positioned above your knees. Even though you are leaning over, you should do so by bending at the waist while maintaining good posture in your upper back. Begin by lightly hopping sideways about 2 feet and landing on your right foot, then hop sideways back onto your left foot and repeat for 10-20 repetitions.

Land with your feet in a strong, full-foot position. Don't just land on your toes! You can increase the lateral distance of your hopping from 2 feet to 6 feet as you become more powerful. You can also perform this exercise in a stationary fashion or in a linear fashion by moving forward slightly with each lateral jump. Your legs will look like a speed skater powerfully pushing from side to side.

After you get used to this, add some intensity by placing a thigh toner around your ankles!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Healthy Chicken Nuggets Recipe

In a way, it's easier for adults to eat healthy. First of all, most kids don't cook for themselves. Second, most "kid-friendly" foods are not healthy by popular recipe: pizza, french fries, cheeseburgers, etc.

Here's a recipe for a kid favorite, chicken nuggets, that will not only satisfy your kids' cravings, but you will enjoy too. Take a trip back into childhood - without compromising your new standards.

You will need:
8 oz. raw boneless skinless lean chicken breast tenders
1/2 cup Clifford Crunch cereal - made by Cascadian Farms
1/4 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original)
3 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original or All Whites)
2 tbsp. Mayonaise made with Olive Oil
2 tbsp. honey mustard (actual mustard, not dressing)
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
dash salt
dash black pepper

Place Fiber One in a blender or food processor, and grind to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Set aside.

Put Clifford Crunch in a sealable plastic bag and seal. Using a rolling pin or a can, coarsely crush cereal through the bag. In a wide bowl, combine Fiber One crumbs, crushed Clifford Crunch, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.

Place chicken tenders in a separate medium bowl. Pour egg substitute over the chicken, and flip chicken to coat. Shake off any excess egg substitute, and then coat chicken in the cereal mixture.

Bring a large pan sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove. Place coated chicken pieces gently into the pan, spacing them out as much as possible. Cook for 5 minutes, and then carefully flip pieces over. Cook for about 4 additional minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Combine the Dijonnaise and honey mustard in a small dish, and mix well for a tasty dipping sauce. Enjoy!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Incline Curls

It's tough finding different ways to work the biceps. After all, a curl is a curl... right? However, here is a sure way to change things up and add some intensity to your bicep work:

Add an incline.

By being in an incline position, your arms are in a stretched position, thus making it a little harder to work against gravity. You can do this on an incline bench, step or at an incline on the ball as shown in the picture above. (See? This can even be done from home!)

Do it right:

If you're using a ball, sit on the ball with the weights resting on the upper thighs. Slowly walk the feet forward, rolling down on the ball until you're at an incline position. Take the weights down so that the palms face out. Bend the elbows and bring the weights towards the shoulders without swinging the arms. Lower the weights, keeping a slight bend in the elbows at the bottom of the movement. Repeat for 3 sets of 12-15 reps.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Five Fitness Fallacies

In today's world, everyone's an expert. You know that guy who insists on telling you exactly what you need to do to fix your personal situation that he actually knows little to nothing about? Yes - we all do...because he's everywhere! You probably have one at work, in your neighborhood, a friend, etc. What "that guy" does is stir up a lot of false information.

Here are some of the top things that people believe about fitness that are just simply NOT TRUE. (And no, I'm not trying to be the expert. I promise not to give you advice on taxes or anything involving Lowe's/Home Depot...but fitness is what I do!

Fallacy #1 - Calories are the only thing that counts when trying to lose body fat or gain lean muscle.

Ratios of protein, carbohydrates and fats are also important. The key in losing body fat and getting lean is controlling and manipulating insulin levels. In simple terms, when we consume excessive calories or excessive amounts of high glycemic carbohydrates at one meal, the body’s blood sugar rises. When this happens, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin to lower the blood sugar levels.

One of the many drawbacks of this happening excessively is, along with putting you at risk for diabetes, the body also holds onto stored body fat! A balance of protein, carbohydrates and fats works most efficiently in losing fat and gaining lean tissue. However, this too becomes tricky, because each of us tends to respond best to certain dietary programs. Listen to your body, try different combinations, and see what works best for you. Once you find it, stick to it!

Fallacy #2 - Muscle weighs more than fat.

If I place one pound of muscle on a scale and one pound of fat on a scale, they will both weigh one pound. The difference is in total volume! One pound of muscle may appear to be the size of a baseball; one pound of fat will be three times the size and look like a squiggly bowl JELL-O.

Fallacy #3 - There is one perfect workout routine.

There is no “best and only way” to workout. I receive a multitude of questions concerning what is the best cardio machine, the best exercise tape, the best routine to work the butt and so on. In reality, it’s all good if it works for you, but you don’t want to stay with any of it for too long. The body will adapt to any exercise routine in 4-6 weeks and the mind will experience boredom if you stay with the same routine for too long of a time. Vary volume of sets, time between sets, reps, exercises, cardio, DVD's. Manipulate your routine every 3-4 weeks and view CHANGE as the key constant that will lead you to success.

Fallacy #4 - The best way to lose fat is to eat very few calories.

Always consider your body from the inside out. Your body’s main objective is to survive. It doesn’t care if you want to lose body fat. In fact, it would prefer to increase fat in case of famine. Internally, the body has no idea that it’s the year 2003. It could still be 10,000 years ago for all it cares. Survival is its number one objective.

If you eat very little (less than 1,200 calories), the body perceives an emergency and will accommodate you by holding onto stored body fat. As well it should, because it has no idea when it will be fed again. So PLEASE - I'm begging you - Eat healthy and see that fat loss happens quicker when you aren't starving yourself.

Fallacy #5 - The best way to reduce the hips, glutes or abs is to perform exercise to isolate the area. FALSE!

It is physiologically impossible to spot reduce. You can’t lose only in one area of the body because body fat comes off all over the body. Typically, the first place you tend to gain is the last place you lose. Doesn’t Mother Nature have a wonderful sense of humor? Again, the route to success for those stubborn hips is resistance exercise, cardio and supplemental nutrition.

Sensing a theme here? Its all about balance and consistency. Keep those questions coming and make sure you get active today!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mother's Day - Breakfast in Bed Recipe

Breakfast in bed is a great way to say thanks to your mom this mother's day. (By the way, it's Sunday!) This causes two problems. Number one - who wants to get up that early? Number two - how can you make something that tastes great that is not completely unhealthy?

Problem solved. This baked apple-cinnamon French toast can be prepared in advance and then simply popped in the oven for a leisurely and luxurious weekend morning. By using nonfat instead of whole milk and eliminating the egg yolks, the calories are cut by half and the fat is reduced by nearly 80 percent in this griddle-free version.

P.S. - To all the mom's out there - print this off and stategically place it in your house for someone to find!! :)

Makes 12 servings

ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes

TOTAL TIME: 9 1/2 hours (including 8 hours refrigeration time)



3 cups nonfat milk
2 cups pasteurized liquid egg whites, such as Egg Beaters
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1-pound loaf sliced whole-wheat bread
1 cup chopped dried apples (3 ounces)
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar


1. Whisk milk, egg whites, honey, vanilla and salt in a large bowl.

2. Trim crusts off 8 bread slices and set aside. Cut the crusts and the remaining bread into 1-inch pieces. Toss with dried apples, raisins, cinnamon and nutmeg in another large bowl.

3. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Transfer the bread mixture to the pan. Lay the reserved crustless slices evenly on top, trimming to fit. Whisk the milk mixture one more time, then pour evenly over the bread. Press the bread down with the back of a wooden spoon, making sure it’s evenly moist. Cover with parchment paper, then foil, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F.

5. Bake the casserole, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until puffed, set and lightly browned, about 20 minutes more. Let stand for 10 minutes; dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve.

183 calories
1 g fat (0 g sat, 1 g mono)
1 mg cholesterol
33 g carbohydrate
10 g protein
4 g fiber
344 mg sodium
312 mg potassium.

MAKE AHEAD TIP: Prepare through Step 3 and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Exercise of the Week: Walking with Incline

Over the years, I've noticed that a lot of people claim to hate running simply for the fact that it's hard. They prefer to walk. However, after I have a lot of my clients do this next exercise, they see that walking can be just as tough...

An incline offers a poorly conditioned person a safe way to challenge the cardiovascular system. You can get your heart pumping without requiring speed. Incline walking is also good for people who can't move fast for other reasons, such as injury or rehabbing some kind of problem. So if you prefer to walk, the incline will still allow you to be really challenged without having high impact pressure on your knees and hips.

Incline walking is far superior to the elliptical trainer, because incline walking is actual walking, something that you do in real life. Whereas, the elliptical trainer provides a motion that does not relate to real-life movements of the human body.

Other benefits include:

- It recruits lower back muscles to keep your body erect

- It provides a stretch to the calves and Achilles tendons

A very important note: You will not reap benefits of incline walking if you hold onto the treadmill. I can't say this enough. Do not place your hands on any part of the treadmill. To do so will cancel out the effect of the slope, even at faster speeds. Be sure to swing your arms naturally at your sides as you would if you were walking up a hill outside. If you cannot keep up with the tread without holding on, lower the incline or slow the speed.