Is Dried Fruit Healthy?

Is dried fruit healthy? I like to think about it this way.. It's easy to eat a mini box of 50 raisins however would you eat 50 grapes in a sitting? It's easy to eat 5 dried apricots however would you eat 5 actual apricots at once? Dried fruit is super concentrated (hello sugar!) since you're removing all of the water from the fruit. Saying that dried fruit isn't healthy doesn't feel right so I'd rather say that fresh fruit with all of it's water intact is a much better decision ūüôā Fresh fruit is nutrient dense and more filling than the dried version which makes it so much easier to keep portions in check. Dried fruit can also have added sugar and preservatives, just another reason to choose fresh and to be label savvy if choosing dry. Dried fruit can have it's place, it's quick digesting sugars make it a good pre-workout or pre-race energy snack. Have you ever wondered if dried fruit is a good choice?                 ...

Can You Eat Healthy on A Budget?

I often hear 'eating healthfully is so expensive' so I went on a mission to see if this was truly the case.  We absolutely prioritize great quality whole food in our household so although I often compare the prices of organics vs non organic produce I don't typically consider the cost of processed food vs whole foods.  I really didn't know how this would turn out! I set out to compare a days worth of  macronutrient (protein, carbohydrate, and fat) balanced whole foods meals vs some typical processed food meals.  I compared the same volumes; i.e. 1 lb of deli meat vs 1 lb of ground turkey etc to the best of my ability. You can pay the farmer now or pay the doctor later   In case you don't want to scroll through the numbers, the moral of this story is that it is NOT more expensive to eat healthier, more nutrient dense whole foods.  In fact, I showed a savings of $9.32 for one days worth of meals for a family of 4.   It will take some extra time to prepare healthier meals which I feel like we truly need to take in order to get away from 'convenience' type foods which are not doing us any favors.  The energy that it takes to grocery shop, prepare, and to cook helps to keep us fit and engaged in our health.  Getting our families involved in the process allows us to instill healthy values around food to our children.   Some other ways in which we can lower our healthy food costs are: Think quality over quantity - the majority do not need MORE food and processed, quick digesting carbs and sugar will leave you hungry and eating more of the same.  Balanced nutrition will help to keep you energized, satiated, and fit! Use frozen veggies and fruits - there are some great organic brands which offer frozen vegetables and fruit (berries!) at a lower cost than fresh and the bonus is that they won't go off! Choose what is local and/or in season - local produce doesn't have to travel so is lower cost.  Know your farmer and be informed as to whether or not they use toxic pesticides.  Produce that is in season is typically a lower price because it is more abundant and therefore fresh and full of nutrients!     Here is how the calculations worked out... *Please note that we live on the beautiful island of Bermuda where a lot of our food is shipped in so it may all be more costly than what you are used to.  The price of living in paradise!  Breakfast: Processed, higher sugar, higher carb breakfast Box of cereal (average cost of a few most common) - $6.50  Milk (1/4 gallon) - $2.63 Orange juice (1/4 gallon - average of a few most common) - $3.00 Total $12.13 Pros - easy to prepare Cons - high sugar, high carb, lacking protein, and healthy fats.  Will cause a blood sugar spike and dip leaving you feeling hungry and craving more in no time.   Whole food, high protein balanced breakfast  Eggs (1 carton - 2 each leaving 4 to boil for snacks!) - $5.50 Avocado (1/2 - a few slices each to top eggs) - $1.50 Grapefruit (2 - or 4 halves) - $4.58 *apples or oranges were even less Total $11.58 Savings of $.55 Pros - slow digesting protein and healthy fat, satiating to take you through the morning without being hungry, full of nutrients, will keep blood sugars stable Cons - will take a few extra minutes to prepare.   Lunch: Processed sandwich & chips White bread (1/2 loaf) - $2.60 Cheese (1 package slices) - $5.00 1 lb deli meat (avg of turkey or ham) - $7.00 Chips (4 small bags) - $7.56 *didn't include condiments like mustard, butter, mayo etc (note that mayo and margarine/some processed butters would add saturated or even trans fats that we don't want) Total $22.16 Pros - fast to throw together Cons - high carb, no vegetables or fruit (nutrient void!), no healthy fats, factory farmed deli meats (high in sodium & preservatives, possibly growth hormone/antibiotic fed non humanely raised meats).  This lunch will leave you hungry for more and lacking in energy due to lack of nutrients.    Whole food salad with grilled chicken for lunch 1 package organic greens - $6.99 Avocado (1/2 - a few slices in each) - $1.50 Tomatoes (1 pint organic ) - $6 Cabbage (1/2 organic) - $3.35 Chicken breasts (1/2 Package Bell & Evans hormone & antibiotic free ~ 1lb) - $8 *didn't include dressing however would choose a little extra virgin olive oil with apple cider or balsamic vinegar Total $25.84 Premium of $3.68 Pros - slow digesting protein and healthy fat, satiating to take you through the afternoon without being hungry, full of nutrients, will keep blood sugars stable Cons - will take a few extra minutes to prepare   Supper: Processed, packaged lasagna, garlic bread, and caesar salad 1 frozen lasagna - $23 1 frozen garlic bread - $6.03 Packaged caesar salad - $5.99 Total $35.02 Pros - easy to just stick in the oven Cons - high carb, minimal vegetables (the caesar salad is literally romaine or iceberg lettuce and croutons - no deep greens), no healthy fats, likely factory farmed meat (high in sodium & preservatives, possibly growth hormone/antibiotic fed non humanely raised meat).  Lots of cheese and high in saturated fat (the lasagna & salad dressing). This dinner will leave you hungry for more, way over your calorie budget and lacking in energy & health due to lack of nutrients.    Spaghetti squash with ground turkey meat sauce & steamed broccoli 2 small spaghetti squash - $5.99 Ground turkey (Bell & Evans - hormone & antibiotic free) - $7.50 Broccoli (1 lb) - $4.19 Muir Glen Organic Pasta Sauce (1 jar) - $4.89 *would also add a little olive oil on the broccoli to help the fat soluble vitamins to be absorbed Total $22.57 Savings of $12.45 Pros - slow digesting protein and healthy fat, satiating (fiber!) to take you through the evening without being hungry, nutrient dense, will keep blood sugars stable Cons - will take a little more time to prepare Overall savings of $9.32!!  I love that this turned out as a cost savings. Don't you agree that even if it would have been a cost premium that your health is worth the investment?  I sure do!  The fact that we can save money while building our health and happiness while protecting the planet is a win win in my mind.  I'd love to hear your healthy eating cost savings tips in the comments below!     ...

Next Level Lean

When you are already fairly lean, you have to REALLY want to lose that last 5lbs!  We all see the images of those people with the coveted 6-pack and what look to be shrink wrapped muscles, so how can we achieve that look? First off, remember that what you see in pictures are what people WANT you to see and those images can easily be enhanced or photoshopped.  The folks that do get super lean may do it for a competition but other than a month or so around that competition they typically are not that lean.  Getting chiseled not only takes some serious commitment but it also isn't healthy for  the long term.  In order to get cut you make some serious sacrifices.  Your social life will definitely suffer, you may be tired and not a lot of fun to be around, your libido drops,  and you  can send your hormones out of whack.  In order for female hormones to be balanced and to have a healthy menstrual cycle we women do need some body fat like it or not. The level of body fat needed to keep your body happy is specific to you. Heeding this warning, if you do want to push yourself without going overboard, here are my get lean tips:   1) Dial in your nutrition plan. In order to lose fat you need to be in a calorie deficit.  Understanding how many calories you need as well as how much of each macronutrient (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) is integral to fat loss and to optimizing body composition. Generally speaking you want to prioritize balanced meals consisting of lean protein, non starchy veggies and healthy fats (portion sizes are individual depending on goals and other variables). Choosing starchy veggie carbs over processed carbs which are timed primarily around your workout (pre & post) and preferably in the morning will also improve performance, recovery and physical results. You want to be focusing on nutrient dense foods, taking in veggies that are high in C and B vitamins as well as iron to help with energy, recovery and immunity. 2) Add HIIT (high intensity intervals) into your training. High intensity intervals can actually increase the size of the mitochondria in your cells. Those little furnaces increase fat metabolism. How to add HIIT? Here are some ideas; do a 20 minute interval cardio session (30 seconds all out with 30-60 seconds of recovery), or increase your intensity a level each minute for 5mins and repeat the sequence 4-6 times. Add 30-60 seconds of jump squats, mountain climbers, kettlebell swings, skipping or another high intensity activity in between your sets in the gym. With HIIT, if you can go longer than 20-30 mins then you aren't working hard enough as you should be busted. You should try to incorporate HIIT 2-3x a week. 3) Be more disciplined. That little glass of wine, square of chocolate, your kids toast crusts (whatever it is for you) all add up. Getting to that next level of lean takes serious discipline on the nutrition front.  Abs are truly 'uncovered' in the kitchen.   4) Push yourself in the gym!  Have a training program to follow where you are consistently weight training 3-5 days a week.  Utilize compound movements that incorporate many different muscle groups giving you the biggest bang for your time!  Examples are: squat & press, lunge & biceps curl, deadlift, plank, pushup, etc.  The last few reps of every set should take some serious mental fortitude to get through. It should feel like a challenge and should get your heart rate up. 5) Get enough rest. When you are working hard and calories are limited your body needs rest to recover even more than normal.  If you are well rested you are more likely to stay focused on whole foods that nourish your health and your goals.  Aim to get 8 or more hours of rest per night. Having a sleep routine is so important....turning off electronics early, keeping the room dark, maybe sipping some sleepy time tea (chamomile, peppermint, and/or lavender), wind down with some quiet reading, meditate (acknowledge your thoughts and let them drift away) before you doze off to dreamland.  6) Supplement. Use correct doses of good quality brand of vitamins C, D, E, zinc, and B vitamins to recover.  A good quality multi can cover all of these bases.  CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) has been touted to help with fat metabolism. I like a good quality fish oil, powdered greens, maca root, chia, and bee pollen for helping increase immunity, recovery, to reduce inflammation. Maca helps with hormone health and libido as well.   ...

Oatmeal Pancakes

Pancakes are such a hit around here and this recipe is such a good way to sneak a balanced meal into the kids. I've even pureed spinach into this recipe to get veggies in too - green pancakes! You can also experiment and add pureed pumpkin or sweet potato. I hope that your family enjoys these as much as we do! ...

Breakfast Burrito

This is one of my hubby's breakfast favorites.  We can definitely fall victim to getting stuck into routine eating the same things day in and day out so this breakfast burrito is a nice change.  Black beans, eggs, spinach, and the whole grain wrap are all good sources of protein and iron making this an energizing breakfast. The salsa adds some spice and the avocado adds a welcome creaminess. This is an easy recipe to make up for a group and is a great option for lunch or a casual dinner too.  You can prep the eggs and bean/spinach mixture and leave the toppings in small bowls so that people can create their own healthy Burritos.  Serve these up with a some vegetable credit and a beautiful bowl of fresh fruit to add even more nutrient density to this meal. Our daughters are always anxious to get their hands into the creation process and like putting together their own.  Getting the kids involved definitely helps to get their buy into eating the meal too!         ...

Savory Farro Stuffing

Stuffing lovers, rejoice... a healthier spin on stuffing just for you! PS - I don't like mushrooms however they definitely add some flavor in this recipe so feel free to leave them out if you are a fellow non-mushroom lover - it's a texture thing ūüėČ ...

Hearty Roast Veggies

I am happy to report that there is finally a breeze and chill in the air here in Bermuda. I can't say that I miss the bitter cold winters in Canada however I do welcome the cooler weather of the fall/winter here in Bermuda.   Seasons bring such a nice change in temps and also in cuisine! As the weather cools we always feel the need to warm ourselves up and chili, soups, and stews always sound more appealing.  As you know I'm all about the veggies and one of my favorite ways to prepare them in the fall and winter is to roast them.  Roast veggies are so so good on the side of a nice grilled sirloin steak, baked chicken, or chicken thighs.  If you choose to do baked chicken thighs you can make them up with the veggies for a super quick and easy meal. I hope that this recipe inspires you to roast up some veggie goodness!   ...

Avocado Salsa & Guacamole – When Life Gives you (lots of!) Avocados…What to Do?!

First off, in case you didn't know...I love avocado SO much so that when my hubby brought a bunch of big, beautiful Bermuda avocados home from work (THANK YOU Damien!) I did a happy dance. Since they are almost all ripe, I don't want to waste any of their precious monounsaturated fats, potassium, or fiber! It's a good thing that we have my mother and father in-law visiting to help take some of the load ūüôā PS - I used to hate avocado so just goes to show that we need to keep trying new things as now my salads are just NEVER the same without them now! I feel like sometimes we take things too seriously in the kitchen. I definitely like to  experiment in the kitchen to create dishes with whatever I have a lot of on hand. Here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy Avocado! As always, I'd love to hear your ideas too.       ...

12 Habits of Healthy, Happy People

We live and breath on this incredible planet in this insanely miraculous journey called life so why can it be so difficult to be happy?  Although I tout that happiness as a choice, a perception, a mindset, is it really that simple?  I don't believe that anyone is just gifted with oodles of happiness.  Although some might have the propensity to have a more positive mindset, everyone has to work for it at least some of the time.  I'll never pretend that every day starts out a happy one for me however I am always doing my best to focus on the habits that I know can truly build happiness.  Life is truly too short to be unhappy.  One of the best compliments that I have ever received was from a man that I used to see in the morning at the gym.  His name was Gerry and every morning he'd say 'good morning sunshine'.  The fact that my energy could make him smile every morning was truly a gift.  Do I leap out of bed happy all of the time?  No!  There are mornings that I get up at 5am dragging my sorry butt out of bed while the rest of my family is still blissfully snoring away.  When I get my body in motion with my clients (who are all incredible people - bonus!) that tired, dragging feeling fades away and is replaced by energy, momentum and a smile ūüôā Here are 12 happy habits that some of the happiest (and healthiest!) people that I know practice: They are grateful - it's really tough to be unhappy when you think about all of the good things in life.  Even in the darkest of times we can always find a few things to be grateful for.  Even when my kids drive me to the brink of insanity I am so grateful that I have them in my life. They get outside - nature and fresh air have a way of bringing perspective and a smile to your face.  I spent the afternoon with our daughters at the beach yesterday.  No phone, just getting in the ocean, and relaxing on the beach chair watching the girls splash in the waves, BLISS!  Oh and it didn't cost a cent nor did it have anything to do with any type of 'thing'. They help others - nothing is more rewarding than feeling like you've lent a helping hand, that you've helped to lift someone else up.  When someone gives me the gift of the opportunity to help them with something I always feel better for it. They take care of themselves - they regularly participate in some type of exercise, generally eat well (real food ;-)), and have some type of spiritual practice.  When I'm getting in some exercise, eating well, and making time for meditation I am automatically happier and more confident.  Putting on some makeup, getting my hair done, just generally putting some effort into how I look can also make me feel better.   They connect with others - they put their phones down and connect in real life, in person (gasp!).  In this day and age it's tough, devices are addictive, I know...  Leaving the phone behind is very freeing! They laugh - whether something is funny or not they will find something to make them laugh.  Watching some good comedy, or just being silly and laughing for no reason will lighten the mood and brighten any day. They focus on learning and growth - reading, listening to audiobooks or podcasts, attending conferences and taking classes are all ways in which we can learn and stay inspired in our lives They get good sleep!  I don't know about you but when I'm operating in exhaustion sometimes all I can focus on is how much longer until I can get back into bed.  Getting good sleep, even when it means that we must get into bed a lot earlier is so key to a positive outlook. They fake it - even when they're really frustrated with someone or everything seems to going wrong they will try to smile through the process until it becomes authentic.  Try smiling when answering the phone even when you are in a hurry. They see challenges and failures as opportunities - we can choose to see the challenges and failures in our lives as opportunities to learn and grow. I remember one day our bike (scooter) broke down when I was on the way to meet my family at the beach.  I was frustrated that I wasn't going to get there and two guys in a truck stopped to help me. They were able to diagnose and fix the problem for me and I was gratefully on my way.  That breakdown likely saved my husband from a breakdown on the way to work the next day and I got the opportunity to meet two very kind people. They have fun.  If there's something that you think looks fun, don't wait, do it!  You are never too old...I watch longingly as my daughters do gymnastics and horseback ride (things that I used to do much more of in my youth) and am scheduling in time to do both in my own life..why not right? They allow themselves to feel their emotions.  They trust that even when they are feeling down that they have to power to get their happy back.  They allow themselves to feel unhappy for a while guilt free and then dust themselves off and get moving. What are your happiness practices?  I'd sure love to know!     ...

Freekeh Salad

Even though we are meat eaters around here it doesn't mean that we don't enjoy 'meatless Monday's'. Freekeh is high in protein, fiber, and iron as are chickpeas. I hope that you enjoy this concoction, we sure did! ...

Eggy Crepes

You race in the door for dinner and everyone is hungry and there are no groceries and nothing prepared. You could pick up the phone and get take out but you know that's not the healthiest option and it's still going to take 45 minutes. What do do? Break out the eggs and make these super easy and fast Eggy Crepes. ...

Succulent Citrus Salmon

This salmon dish is so tangy and OH how I love salmon. It's so easy to throw together in just a few minutes and goes well with a side of rice, quinoa, or spaghetti squash (which I'd bake at the same time as the salmon) topped with a little tomato sauce. This is a hit in our house, I hope that it's one in yours! PS - I've been reading up on the state of farmed salmon and it is definitely worth your $ to buy the line caught/wild salmon. ...

Chickpea and Kale Stew

When I was in England last week, a friend and I headed out to a Pub in Sussex called the Black Cat pub.  We were prepared for typical pub grub and were pleasantly surprised to find a robust menu with lots of healthy options.  We started out sharing a bowl of green olives which were ahhhmazing, in fact, I'm dying to know what type they were because I've never had any like it.  They were pretty big and crunchy.  I've eaten a lot of green olives but none have compared to these.  If anyone knows what type they might be, please let me know! Onto the main course (did I mention that the Prosecco that they had was also amazing?). Ok, focus Tania ????. The main that I chose was a chickpea stew with kale and a piece of either steamed or baked cod on top.  It was delish and I knew thought that it would be fairly easy to re-create.   This was so fast (in typical Tania style!) and I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did! ...

Veggie Chili with A Sweet Twist

My folks are visiting and man is it nice to extra helping hands to get things done around here!  Of course this means more mouths to feed and I always feel a little more pressure to have proper meals when we have guests, I can't feed them my protein pancakes every night lol.  You know me, I like to make up some good, nutrient packed meals but also don't want to spend the little time that I have with them shopping, prepping, and planning for meals.  I've been getting better at planning out the meals before guests arrive in order to be more prepared ahead of time.  I've also started using the crockpot for meals when we have company.  There are so many great crockpot/slow-cooker recipes and once you take the time to gather the ingredients and spices then you really can just toss it all in and forget it.  My veggie chili is a fave around here and it's really easy to throw together and we always enjoy having extras so that we have something for the always hard to decide upon lunch dilemma!  We planned to have leftovers however I have to report that there wasn't much, triple batch next time! I hope that you enjoy this chili and the new twist on my favorite that added a delicious & unexpected sweetness.  Enjoy! ...

Perfectly Crunchy Pumpkin Seeds

I've been trying to get these pumpkin seeds right for the last few years and think that I've got it!  These turned out just right, crunchy, yet not overdone. Happy Halloween!     ...

Chocolate Yogurt

When I'm craving chocolate this chocolate yogurt always feels like an indulgence even though it's not a calorie laden one. ...

Overnight Muesli Oats

Let's start by saying that I love my oats ūüôā The thing that I love the most about them is that they are satisfying and keep me feeling full throughout the morning, no sugary cereal crash for this gal. I do however get tired of having my oats the same way all the time so I like to get creative and I love them with a Muesli texture without all of the added sugar of store-bought varieties. These are so easy to prep the night before and have ready in the morning. These overnight oats make an incredibly tasty, grab-and-go, well rounded breakfast. I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do around here, they're a family fave! ...

DON’T CLEAN YOUR PLATE!

As a kid I remember reluctantly sitting at the dinner table until bedtime because I HAD to eat my stew, good god I hated stew!  The only thing worse than everything I disliked combined into one dish was for the vegetables to be mushy and the meat to be stringy.  This show down at dinner created an unpleasant association for me around stew and dinner time in general.  The thing is that my parents wanted me to like it however I STILL don't like it and i'm not sure if it's for the same reasons as when I was a kid, because I've created such a negative association with it or a little of both.  As a parent, I get it, I do.  I mean we work our asses off in the kitchen creating new things for our kids to try so that they won't be destined to live off of peanut butter sandwiches, and they won't even taste our efforts.  It's frustrating as hell!! So here are a few things that I've learned along the way in regards to meal times and creating healthy eating habits.  These habits/tips are great for kids and adults alike! Make dinner time fun, a time that everyone looks forward to.  We involve the kiddos in meal prep when they are up for it (read - not when it's going to be a battle) and get them to help with setting the table when they are willing.  Interrupting one of their favorite games and making them do it is a recipe for disaster and all of us end up p'd off.  We try to make dinner time not just about food but about sitting together and speaking to one another (no technology or reading allowed!).  Telling jokes or having everyone tell two truths and one non-truth about their day and making everyone guess which isn't real is fun and opens everyone up to talking about how their day went.  Warning - sometimes the knock knock jokes get am little off the hook.  Have dress up dinners, Fancy Nancy style.  If there is time, have everyone get all gussied up for a fancy dinner, light candles and make it special.  Use different utensils  - eating with new tools makes things interesting.  Skewer foods, use chopsticks (there are kid-friendly versions of chopsticks which make it easier), or break out the toothpicks for stabbing certain foods.  Not only will this make you all take your time eating but it just makes it a different experience. Portion size it - nothing makes me cringe more than when someone puts enough food for two adults on a huge plate for our kids.  The thing is that if the kids are still hungry and ask for more, of course we're going to feed them but putting a massive portion in front of someone is daunting and is almost spurring them on to eat it all.  I'm sure that you've heard it before but use small plates so that you get the visual of a 'full plate' and use portion sizes that fit.  Serve veggies as the appetizer.  Everyone is much more likely to make eating their veggies a priority when they are hungry and there is no competition on the plate.  We try to serve veggies first around here as the 'appetizer'.   It isn't a competition - how would you feel if someone said 'well done!' or 'man, you have a great appetite!' to you after you've eaten ALL of your food?  Like you've won some type of eating race?  We try never to say anything relating to plate cleaning around here.  The goal shouldn't be to finish all of your food or finish it the fastest but rather to listen to your body and know when you've had enough. Don't make it a battle.  Even when we know that the kids don't like something we still serve it however they never have to FINISH it, they merely have to try it and we do our best to explain why.  I use examples of how I didn't use to like salmon or avocados and how now they are two of my favorites but that I'd have never known if I hadn't kept trying.  The bigger the battle, the less likely they are to ever try the food or to want to come to dinner. Fruit time - My good friend said that she polled some kids to see how many would consider fruit desert and that the findings were abysmal..  My kids declare - 'I'm ready for fruit' as it's always desert around here.  We all get used to routine so offering up the good stuff as 'desert' is definitely a good habit to get in to for everyone. Let it go - one of my favorite mantras...  If all else fails, realize that your kids aren't likely to eat only PB on toast their whole lives and you are doing your very best to build healthy associations for them to stick to for life. I'd love to hear your tips so that I can add to this list.  If you like this article, please share it ūüôā   ...

Chia’n Berry Bowl

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a looooong time and here it is - finally! If you are looking for a little breakfast variety or you're like me and have breakfast type food any time of day here is a nutritious and delicious idea! Not to mention that it's way cheaper than buying the chia pods in the store and so much better too!! ...

Navigating the Grocery Store

Tania's tips for grocery shopping: Always shop the perimeter of the grocery store, that is where you find foods in their most pure/whole state Buy organic where you can. I will always choose to buy organic fruits & veggies, especially those in which we eat the skin.¬†I'm likely to buy regular squash, bananas, avocados, pineapples, citrus fruit, etc but always choose organic berries, grapes, lettuces, broccoli etc even if I have to buy it frozen. Sometimes you can buy the organic for not much more than the regular so if it's a good value, buy the organic. Check your labels. If the ingredient list is long or the ingredients are unpronounceable it's probably not a good choice. When looking at nutritional information you need to notice the serving size as that is what the macronutrient percentages are based on, not the entire package Check for sugar. Look for food with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and watch that sugar isn't added into foods that it can absolutely be avoided like tomato sauce, yogurt etc. Check the fat. You want to avoid trans fats, and minimize saturated fats. ¬†Focus on¬†monounsaturated fats , and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids. ¬†Choose lean cuts of meat and choose hormone free/humanely raised if you can. Not only do I want to avoid hormones when feeding my family but I also want to choose humanely raised meat whenever possible. Lean cuts are chicken/turkey breast meat, for beef; choose sirloin or tenderloin, and wild caught or line caught fish. Load up on veggies, you can never have too many greens ūüôā If you find things that you use regularly at a sale price then stock up. As far as grains go, choose whole grain oats, brown rice, quinoa, kamut, barley, and other whole grains in their natural state. Skip the packaged, processed foods. Buy spices to make your meals more exciting! ...

56 Years Young and Getting Better and Better! Client Spotlight – Alan Murray

One of my goals is to take more time to feature my awesome clients. ¬†I¬†get busy doing (which is great!) although¬†need to step back more often and really appreciate all of the hard work that my clients put in. ¬†I have been fortunate to¬†have a consistent core group of clients whom¬†I am so grateful to watch evolve. ¬†They¬†consistently make it to and get through the workouts, giving all that they have to offer on any given day with rarely a complaint muttered. ¬†Instead of taking my program and then falling back into old ways, many continue to progress, taking on new challenges, being grateful for their bodies and what they can accomplish. Alan is one of those people. ¬†At almost 56 years young he gives his all in every workout. ¬†I look over at him and almost always see a sweat drop hanging on the end of his nose. ¬†Alan is always interested in increasing his mobility, balance, and strength which are all such important areas of focus as we age. Alan has participated in Tough Mudder Races, the Bermuda Triple Challenge and too many running races to mention. ¬†He and his equally active wife Cindy are mainstays in Bermuda's fitness culture and show no signs of slowing down. ¬†To say that their hard work and dedication inspires me is a serious understatement.                     I¬†hope that you enjoy my interview with Alan. Have you always been fit & healthy Alan? AM - I have always been doing something, over the years my eating habits got worse and my intensity of exercise wasn't what it used to be. I think that and the eating habits caused me to be about 25 pounds overweight with less and less energy. I know that you were/are really into running, what inspired you to get into resistance training? AM - I¬†enjoy the running but as above it was getting harder and I was having so much trouble losing weight and my joints were getting stiffer and more painful so I wanted to try something else instead of running. Have you noticed any improvements in your life since adding resistance training? AM - My life had improved for sure. I thought my running days were over as mentioned above but since training with you and losing 25 pounds I've been able to continue running and am having better times than ever. As well as being more flexible and a lot less joint pain. What about nutrition, have you always eaten well? AM - I have never eaten as well as I am now, My wife Cindy and I pretty much plan every meal to be healthy. When you are eating well, do you notice differences in how you feel and/or move? AM - Absolutely, my energy is higher, my attitude is better, I feel like being healthy. What keeps you motivated to keep getting better and better and not falling into old habits? AM - How good I feel, how healthy I am. What do you tell yourself on the days that you procrastinate about exercising or making a wise nutritional choice? AM - I say to myself "If you want to make some changes in your life you need to make some changes in your life". And I get it done. ...

Yumaliscious Pancakes (gluten/grain/dairy free)

I love pancakes for breakfast and love them even more when they're packed full of nutritional goodness. These pancakes are so easy that it's ridiculous and they were a big hit around our house this morning. Here's the recipe: I hope that you enjoy them! ...

My Top Tips for Warding off Cold & Flu

Everyone in my house has a sinus cold at the moment so I'm trying to keep my immune system very happy so that I don't end up with it too! ¬†Germs everywhere ūüėČ Here are the things that I do the minute that my family gets a bug or I feel run down. 1) Drink warm-hot water with grated ginger, lemon, and aloe juice added (real ginger, pure lemon, and aloe) 2) Add garlic to my meals (I apologize friends!) 3) Use zinc lozenges (ask at your health food store for lozenges that are pure zinc or as close to as possible) 4) Get extra rest 5) Take a probiotic or have a serving of kefir or greek yogurt that's high in active bacteria 6) Take vitamin C (I also switch my daily fruits for citrus so instead of having an apple I'll have an orange) So far I've managed to stay healthy. ¬†I hope that these tips keep you from getting any bugs! All the best, Tania ...

Getting Vegetables Into Your Meals and In Between

It sounds simple doesn't it? ¬†Do you get 7-10 servings of veggies in a day? ¬†It's not easy but it's so very worth it. ¬†Don't get me¬†started into all of the amazing reasons to make it happen;¬†nutrients (vitamins & minerals) to keeping the body operating at peak efficiency and¬†prevent disease (think anti-inflammatory!), ¬†fiber to keep digestion humming along,¬†keeping that lengthy gastrointestinal tract happy. ¬†Vegetables add color, taste, and texture to keep meals exciting, and very or most importantly, to keep you energized and happy! So how can we fit them all in? ¬†Here are some of my favorite ways: 1) 1-2 eggs (I do an egg + 1/2 cup of whites) + a handful of spinach + 1/4 avocado at breakfast 2) Cut vegetables plain or + hummus any time of the day 3) A handful of spinach or kale added to your post workout protein shake 4) A hearty salad with a base of spinach, mixed greens, baby or full sized Kale, or romaine¬†(or all of the above - forget the ice berg lettuce! ūüôā ) with chopped¬†cabbage, broccoli slaw, red onion, peppers, carrots, cucumber, peppers, beets, squash, or cubed sweet potato, and¬†cherry tomatoes at lunch or dinner 5) A warm soup or stew (pull out that crock pot!) made from as many veggies that you can fit in the pot along with chicken or veggie stock as a base for when you feel a chill. 6) Steamed, saut√©ed, or grilled vegetables with any meal 7) If you have picky eaters at home,¬†puree some leafy greens to add into tomato sauce¬†or¬†into almost any main¬†dish My last word of advice on preparing vegetables is to appreciate them almost naked. ¬†What I mean is not to dredge them in sauce or butter but rather to appreciate their flavor without a lot of addition. ¬†A little olive oil can help you absorb the fat soluble vitamins so a 1/2 tbsp of olive oil ¬†mixed with some balsamic or apple cider vinegar is a great salad dressing, and a little olive oil goes a long way to saut√© or brush those grilled vegetables. ...

Curried Lentils & Cauliflower

I love this dish.  Every time I make it I'll eat it (and maybe more veggies ;-)) for dinner for an entire week.  Lentils are high in iron, fiber and protein.  Mix them with some veggies and they make a fabulous meal. ...

We Must Put In The Work

The hard truth is that we do not grow or reach our goals without putting in the work and showing up for ourselves consistently.  You can sign up for all kinds of growth programs these days however the truth of the matter is that no matter how much money you invest or how awesome the teacher is, if you don't commit, show up, and put in the work you will not reap the results. As a health & success coach of course I want to see my clients get incredible results.  Results come and can easily go unless we learn to tap in to our thoughts, patterns, and emotions and rewire our responses.  Catching ourselves in self sabotage and reprograming how we respond is crucial.  Being self intuitive is a practice and just like growing those rounded shoulder muscles or building those shapely glute muscles, the more we push through the resistance, the more we practice and train our thoughts the more strength and control we build to manage our emotions, and to change our patterns.  I always strive to teach realistic, sustainable habits.  Through repetition we create habitual responses that become automatic go to's for life, not just for 20 days or 12 weeks.  When we get off track as we ALL do it is so important that we don't give up, that we get back at it.  That said, if we're more off track than we're on it's really hard to see and feel our results, to build the confidence that it takes to keep us motivated and moving ahead.  There will always be a million reasons not to commit to our goals; a trip, a holiday, an event, not enough time, a family emergency, you name it.  Making the firm decision to put in whatever effort required for YOU to achieve your dreams, to stay focussed and to keep getting back up when you fall is not easy but it is oh so worthwhile.  Are you committed?  What are you waiting for?  This is your main act, NO excuses.       ...

Navigating the Holidays With Your Waistline in Mind

How can you socialize and still manage to stay on track with your health & fat loss goals? ¬†The holidays really aren't that much different than any other time other than that there may be more socializing than normal going on. ¬†Socializing is an integral part of life. ¬†What is life without friends and family? ¬†You can enjoy the people closest to you without going overboard on the food & drink. ¬†Shift your focus to the people around you rather than what goes in your mouth ūüôā Here are my top party/dinner going tips: 1) Never go hungry - don't assume that there will be healthy choices. ¬†Have some raw veggies & hummus (something that will fill your tummy) prior to going out. 2) Plan before you go - set your limits and stick to them. Decide how many drinks and/or appetizers you are going to have prior to the event. 3) Take something along - make a low cal appetizer that you like so that you have something that you know is made with healthy ingredients to have. ¬†Your host will thank you and I bet that there will be others glad to have a healthy option. 4) Enjoy what you do choose. ¬†Whether it's a nice glass of wine or a holiday cookie, enjoy it, savor it...never wolf it down. ¬†Don't waste calories on something that you don't LOVE 5) Make smart choices - veggie tray (steer clear of creamy dip unless it's hummus), chicken skewers , sushi, smoked salmon, olives, etc. 6) Choose your cocktails wisely. ¬†Each glass of champagne has between 78-110 cals, wine ranges 115-150 cals per 5oz glass (most glasses are poured much more than this!), regular beer ranges from 100-150 cals, spirits (mixed with soda - not tonic or other soft drinks) can range from 60-120 calories per oz and most fancy cocktails and liqueurs are very calorie dense (can be easily 300 calories or more). ¬†Of course as soon as you add any kind of mix to a spirit it can double or triple the calories. ¬†A wine spritzer will cut the calories in half and allow you to sip longer. 7) Drink up - water that is!! ¬†- Drink 2-3 glasses of water to each drink. ¬†If you are drinking alcohol your body will thank you the next day and you'll get more exercise walking to the bathroom ūüôā When it comes to holiday dinners stick to the turkey and veggies. ¬†If all of the veggie dishes are candied or dredged in sauce or butter offer to bring a veggie dish or ask to help make a healthy veggie dish. ¬†Choose and have what you love keeping in mind that the goal is not to stuff yourself but to taste the things that you really love and enjoy the people closest to you. I'd love to have you add any tips of your own under this post¬†or on my FB Health Fanatic Page. Cheers and Happy Holidays! ...

Is that a Rat in your Ratatouille?

I had a ton of leftover tomatoes so decided to try to make ratatouille.  I didn't have eggplant or some of the other ingredients that you find in some versions so I improvised (which happens a lot around here) and used what I had.  My husband LOVED it but the kids were not big fans.  It may have been the texture that got them or the fact that I told them that I put a rat in it ūüôā   Not only is this recipe easy and delicious but it's brimming with lycopene.  Tomatoes are full of antioxidants and have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits, as well as supporting bone & heart health. Anywhooo...here is the recipe, I hope that you enjoy it as much as we did! Bon App√©tit! ...

Eat your veggies!

I'm quite sure that I've astounded every member of my family with the sheer amount of vegetables that I can put away.  Here's a quick list of reasons why I love them so much!! ...

Fiesta Chicken

This recipe is so super easy as you just throw everything in the crockpot and leave it to cook.  Words of caution 1) use fresh chicken, not frozen 2) check to see if the chicken is done using the probe/thermometer and don't leave on warm for too long as it will dry out the chicken 3) do not open the lid to the crockpot while cooking. The chicken literally falls apart, I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did! ...

Flex Your Mental Muscle

I often hear "I can't have that in the house" or ¬†"I just can't control myself when I go out drinking and then it leads to poor eating".. ¬†Our willpower can be strengthened just like our muscles can. We CAN decide what we are going to put in our mouths, we DO have the power. ¬†It takes commitment and effort as does everything worth achieving. I was reading one of my favorite fitness mags during my morning sweat session today and they had some great tips on how to truly commit to goals. ¬†I am going to summarize my favorites for you (thanks Oxygen!) and add my 2 cents ūüôā 1) ¬†Don't make your goals too lofty. ¬†If you feel completely overwhelmed and know that you can't fit your plans of grandeur into your day then set your sights on something more realistic that you can achieve. ¬†"DITCH THE ALL OR NOTHING MENTALITY" - life and shit happen. There will always be unexpected circumstances that come up along the way. ¬†Do your best, don't go into a downward spiral if you fall off plan. ¬†KEEP GOING. ¬†Every small achievement builds confidence that keeps you motivated. 2) Build healthy habits. ¬†It takes at least 3 weeks to create a habit. ¬†If it takes eating the same thing every day all week then do it!. ¬†We create habits through repetition so keep it simple. ¬†The more habitually we do something, the more automatic it will become and it will require less and less willpower the more times it's repeated. 3) Reward yourself¬†when you achieve a goal. ¬†Try not to reward yourself with food. ¬†It's amazing how much damage people can do in just one 'cheat meal'. ¬†Reward yourself with a much needed massage, a new outfit, or a date with your significant other or a good friend. 4) Do the hard stuff first (they said put the fun stuff first - I changed this one :)). ¬†My leg workouts are the best when I get them done early in the week and when I still have lots of energy. ¬†I always try to tackle what I like the least first (that's usually what improves me the most!). ¬†This way I get it done and there's not chance of "running out of time". 5) Be accountable! ¬†Train with a friend, track your progress and/or get a coach. ¬†We all need accountability. 6) Keep your goals in sight (literally!) Write down your goals (vision board anyone?) and post them where you can see them. ¬†The inside of your cupboard door that gets opened a lot works ūüėČ 7) Do what you enjoy and try something new. ¬†Always incorporate what you love into your routine. ¬†You are most likely to stay consistent in doing the things that you love. ¬†Try a new class or get outside and move - so good for the mind and spirit. 8) Plan ahead - even before you've achieved your goals, start setting your sights on your next challenge. 9) Reward yourself - look back on all that you have accomplished and be proud! A few other motivational tips: *Use music! ¬†Listening to your favorite tunes is always enjoyable and motivational. *Distract yourself. ¬†If you dread cardio then meet a friend and work up a sweat while having a good chat. *Give it 15 mins - the first part of your workout is always the toughest. ¬†Promise yourself that you'll put in at least 15 mins and I'll bet that you'll keep going. *My final words.... *Learn to make the foods that you love with whole food ingredients. ¬†Cooking healthfully is so key to achieving your best health and to making it an enjoyable process. *Surround yourself with like-minded people that believe in you and your goals. Wishing you all the best in achieving your 2014 goals - FLEX that mental muscle!! ...

Eggnog Anyone?

Who doesn't love eggnog?  Too bad it's so high in sugar...let's clean it up ūüôā    ...

Creamy Caesar Dressing

We were having guests for dinner and although I typically shy away from caesar dressing (high in fat & calories) this time I was going to find a way to make it - the Health Fanatic way ūüôā I hope that you enjoy this lower-fat/calorie version as much as we did.  Please let me know what you think!   As far as ingredients for the salad, we used organic romaine and some chopped scallions.  I think that this salad would also be nice with Kale.  You could also add some applegate farms or other high quality bacon for real bacon bits.  This dressing covered a very large salad. ...

Estimating Your Calorie Needs

There are quite a few equations tho choose from when calculating your calorie needs.  You have to calculate your basal metabolic rate (level of energy required to sustain the body's vital functions while awake) and your resting metabolic rate (level of energy required to sustain the body's vital functions while at rest) while taking into account your activity level.  Beyond these calculations, everyone has a different base metabolic rate so as you can see there will always be variance in the numbers from person to person. I am not a fan of calorie counting as I think that it can become pretty obsessive and calories can vary so much with serving size that unless you weigh and measure absolutely everything (who has time to do that!?) there will always be variance.  Food labels can also be way off when it comes to calorie counts as can exercise machines in telling you how many you burn.  I prefer to reccomend measuring/weighing until identifying portion sizes becomes second nature. All of that said, if you are interested in knowing about how many calories you should consume daily, here goes.  I have simplified the calculation by giving you a common multiplier.  I find that these numbers are the mid-range of all of the calculations that I've seen: These numbers are a good place to start and you can change them accordingly based on how you respond.  If you are not losing/gaining at a healthy rate ( losing - 0.5-1% body fat every 2- 4 weeks or gaining 1lb of mass every 2-4 weeks) adjust the number slightly down or up based on your goal.  I like to recommend lowering carb & fat portions slightly and keeping protein at about 1.5 grams or more per pound of bodyweight.  Ensure that you are getting enough healthy fats to keep those hormones happy (at least 20% of overall calories). Your body shape plays into the fat loss equation as well.  If you are naturally slim (ectomorph) then you likely have a higher carbohydrate tolerance and can therefore get away with eating carbs at more meals.  If you are naturally muscular (mesomorphic) then you likely have a moderate tolerance to carbohydrates, and if you are naturally thick/broad (endomorphic) then you may have a low tolerance to carbohydrates so reducing your carbohydrates and keeping them strictly post workout will help you in your weight loss efforts. I hope that this will help you to figure out what your energy requirements are to keep you fueled and well on your way to reaching your body composition goals. ...

Crispy Coconut Chicken

In an effort to once again make chicken more exciting I came up with this recipe. I hope that you like it!   ...

Motivation Monday

We all go through phases when we feel less motivated than other times.  Here are some ideas to get that drive back in order to continue to work towards your fitness & nutrition goals. 1) Write it down!  Did you know that people that journal their meals and exercise lose double the weight of those that don't? 2) Set a goal and make it public information.  Write down your specific goal and share it with those that will support you to reach it.  If you write it and commit to it by telling others, you are more accountable.  Make your goals detailed too.  For example, 'I want to lose weight' is vague.  Try writing your scheduled workouts into your calendar and have a friend to meet you at those times to increase accountability. 3) Get outside.  Getting your sweat on outside not only connects you with nature but also increases positive vibes. 4) Build a rockin playlist - I don't know about you but nothing gets me moving like great tunes. 5) Buddy up - Whether a friend or significant other, we're less likely to bail on our workouts if we are accountable to someone else. 6) Lower the bar (in your mind)  If you scare yourself out of your workouts because you feel like you can't do it, tell yourself that you'll go and do your best.  You'll likely be surprised that you'll have a better workout than you would have imagined. 7) Be a morning person.  I am not sure that anyone is naturally a 'morning person' but making myself a morning person was the best decision that I ever made.  A quiet hour to myself before most of the world is up to get my sweat on and start the day on the right foot is crucial to me.  Days get busy and something can always get in the way of your workout so get it out of the way first thing. 8) Do something - a little is always better than nothing so don't talk yourself out of a workout because you don't have time. 9) Be mindful of what you put in your mouth.  Don't undo all of your hard workouts by slacking on the nutrition front.  Nutrition is key to making progress with your performance and body composition. 10) Be kind to yourself.  Speak to yourself how you'd speak to a friend.  Love yourself. Focus on your attributes. ...

Protein Pancakes

Instead of eating eggs and oats every day these protein pancakes make for a nice change.  As with everything I make, they're super quick & easy.  ...

Crispy Chicken!

This chicken was a huge hit.  It was super crispy and so much better for you than fried.  You can use any type of chicken or turkey (or firm white) with this recipe.  It's so easy! I needed to move the racks in my oven around to accommodate the cookie sheet with the rack and chicken on top, just FYI. I'd love to hear how you like this recipe!! ...

Beware the Yogurt Cooler!

Stepping up to the yogurt cooler is a daunting task...so many options, so much going on! ¬†What should you consider when choosing a yogurt for you and your family? The Good - Think active bacterial cultures to aid in gut health, calcium to strengthen bones, and protein for muscle growth and satiety. ¬†Yogurt has also been known to aid in overall digestion, to boost immunity and to help keep yeast infections away. ¬†Even those with mild lactose intolerance can typically tolerate yogurt. The Not-So-Good - Although yogurt has many positive attributes it can also be full of all kinds of not-so-good for you ingredients. ¬†Yogurt often has sugar (and can have LOTS of it), artificial sweeteners, food coloring etc. ¬†Yogurt really isn't a good source of fruit unless you add your own. ¬†Milk sugars should account for¬†¬†about 12 g of natural milk sugar per six ounces of plain yogurt. Every 4 g on top of that is a teaspoon of added sugar. What I choose and recommend to my clients -¬†Choose a plain greek yogurt as greek yogurt is higher in protein which will keep you full longer. ¬†Make it organic if you can and avoid those added hormones!. ¬†For those of you that prefer a creamer texture choose 2% ¬†and eat a bit less, and for those who want a bit more volume and/or don't like the more creamy consistency choose 0% or non-fat. ¬†You want to choose the plain and sweeten/flavor it yourself because as soon as you buy a flavored yogurt it typically has added sugars or artificial sweeteners. ¬†To flavor/sweeten your greek yogurt use fresh fruit, pure vanilla, stevia, or a good quality protein powder (just 1/4 scoop will flavor it!). My good friend Sophie loves Greek yogurt so much that she created her own company to offer naturally flavored, stevia sweetened yogurt. ¬†If you are in New York check out Sophie yogurt ūüôā ...

Protein Rich Energy Balls

These yummy treats are so easy to whip up. I blend all of the ingredients together in my nutri-bullet and the dough is ready to roll into balls in seconds. Naturally sweetened with no added sugar, what's not to like? ...

Scrumptious Garlic Green Beans

It's important to me to have vegetables at every meal so that means finding ways to make lots of vegetable dishes and sides.  Crisp green beans are so delish and adding the olive oil helps the fat soluble vitamins to be absorbed, the garlic and onion increase immunity and add flavor   This dish is a hit and is quick as always. Such a quick & easy side dish! ...

Sweeeeet & Sour Ribs :)

In the constant pursuit of being a better wife I ventured to make ribs for my hubby ūüôā  I found an Amish brand of pork here in Bermuda which is hormone free and happened upon ribs so I set to work cleaning up my mom's favorite rib recipe.  Let's suffice it to say that they were a hit. Here's the recipe, enjoy! ...

Slimmer Guacamole

Avocados are potassium rich, full of fiber, and heart healthy monounsaturated fats.  I added a twist - peas which increase the protein and fiber.  Try this delicious, nutrient dense recipe as an appetizer or snack! Skinnier Guac Tortilla Chips   ...

Pre-packaged Snacks on the Go

With summer coming and more picnics, boat trips, and social get togethers people are looking for suggestions on really easy on the go foods.  Don't let being on the go derail your healthy eating efforts.  The best and easiest is of course to pre-order veggie trays with hummus and fruit trays (plain greek yogurt blended with some berries makes a great dip!) from your local grocer.  If you ask your grocer they may even use local/organic produce upon your request.  Here are some quick on the go snacks. Fresh fruit - whole fruit or fruit tray (try plain greek yogurt blended with some berries or peaches for a protein rich dip) Fresh Veggies or Veggie Tray (hummus as a dip) Sandwiches: Layer sliced avocado on sprouted grain bread, real sliced turkey or chicken breast, mustard or hummus, lettuce and tomato Sprouted grain bread with almond butter and/or unsweetened apple butter Sprouted grain bread with almond or peanut butter and sliced banana Try my healthfanatified tuna or egg salad sandwiches  Skim mozzarella cheese sticks Mary's gone crackers/twigs Prunes/dates/raisins/dried mango Plain or plain toasted nuts (peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pistachios etc) Shredded unsweetened coconut   *you can use the above three to make a healthy trail mix Hard boiled or oven cooked eggs Unsweetened applesauce Rice cakes (top the plain ones with almond butter, hummus or salsa) Protein powder     ...

White Bean Cupcakes

I was skeptical about making these but they turned out great! My husband declared that he actually prefers these to regular cupcakes. I made two batches and tried to cut the honey down in the second batch and they definitely weren't sweet enough. I used a honey/stevia combo to sweeten my favorite batch. Let me know how they turn out for you! Cupcakes: ( *Makes a dozen cupcakes ) Top these with coconut whip cream! Coconut Whip Cream: Thanks to Princess Know It All for the inspiration ūüôā ...

Late Afternoon Slump – Step Away from the Candy!

It's 3:30 and you are on your way to the candy machine....STOP!!!!!!! ¬†If you succumb to sugar cravings in the late afternoon before you know it you'll be headed back for more, sugar is seriously addictive in case you haven't noticed ūüôā ¬†Choose to nourish yourself with a balanced snack and ditch the sugary candy. ¬†The candy does not nourish you in any way (think sugar, dye...?) and it just won't satisfy you. The late afternoon snack/mini-meal is one of the most commonly skipped and is literally the worst to skip as it can set you up for a never ending meal in the evening. Be prepared ahead of time for this time of day. ¬†Here are some of my favorite late afternoon snacks to keep you energized for the rest of the day. 1) ¬†6-8 oz of greek yogurt with 1/2 tbsp of almond butter and 1/2 scoop of chocolate whey protein powder mixed in 2) 1/2 cup of lowfat cottage cheese with 1/4 banana, 1/2 scoop of chocolate or vanilla protein powder, and 1/2 tbsp of almond butter mixed in 3) Chopped veggies with 1/4 cup hummus and 3-4 oz of real (not processed) turkey or chicken breast. 4) Quinoa pudding (watch for the recipe) 5) Avocado mousse (watch for the recipe) 6) An apple with a small handful of almonds     ...

What is 'Clean Eating'??

Some have asked what 'clean eating' means. Here is my favorite definition right from Clean Eating magazine. "The soul of clean eating is consuming food in it's most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it is a lifestyle approach to food and it's preparation, leading to an improved life - one meal at a time" Eat 5-6times a day - three meals and two to three small snacks. Include a lean protein, plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, and a complex carb with each meal. This keeps your body energized all day long. Drink at least two litres of water a day - preferably from a reusable canteen, not plastic, we're friends of the environment here! Limit your alcohol intake to one glass of antioxidant red wine per day. Get label savvy - Clean foods contain just one or two ingredients. Any product with a long ingredient list is human -made and not considered clean. Avoid processed & refined foods - such as white flour, sugar, bread and pasta. Enjoy complex carbs such as whole grains instead. Know thy enemies - steer clear of anything high in saturated and trans fat, anything fried or high in sugar. Shop with a conscience - Consume humanely raised and local meats Choose organic whenever possible - If your budget limits you, make meat, eggs, dairy, and the dirty dozen your organic priorities. Consume healthy fats - essential fatty acids every day. Learn about portion sizes - work toward eating within them Reduce your carbon footprint - Eat produce that is seasonal and local. It is less taxing on your wallet and our environment. Slow down and savor - Never rush through a meal. Food tastes better when savored. Enjoy every bite. Take it go to - Pack a cooler for work or outings so that you always have clean eats on the go. Make it a family affair - food is a social glue that should be shared with loves ones. Improve the quality of your family's life along with your own. These are all great rules to live by. Good for us and the planet ūüôā Arguably coconut and red meat have saturated fats which the body deals with differently than the man-made or processed food kind. That said, I don't believe that all saturated fats are to be avoided. ...

Moist & Delicious Black Bean Cake (Yes, I said black bean :))

At long last I'm posting my recipe for gluten free black bean cake.  I made this for my daughter's 6th birthday party and all of the kids devoured it.  It is rich since it's full of fibre instead of sugar which is good as they don't keep eating it until they spin like tops ūüôā It's gluten free, sugar free, low carb and it's delicious...seriously, what else could one ask for?  I kept tasting this cake over and over again to be sure that it tasted as good as I thought that it was ūüôā and then had my husband confirm it (he's always a tough critic) and it was a complete hit! Here's the recipe, enjoy! *Makes 2 x 9" rounds I iced this cake with organic valley neufachel cheese mixed with organic coconut milk (the canned thicker kind :)) and stevia to taste.  I mixed this mixture with cocoa powder for chocolate and with pureed raspberries for pink.  I did let the icing set in the fridge overnight before icing the cake. I hope that you all enjoy this cake as much as we did! ...

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free/Egg Free Bread

I had a really hard time finding any decent gluten free/egg free bread for my daughter in the grocery store. ¬†The ingredient list on most of these breads is definitely not Health Fanatic approved :). ¬†I picked up a package of Bob's Red Mill gluten free bread and experimented. ¬†So here's what I did.. I warmed 1 3/4 cups of unsweetened almond milk and let the yeast 'bubble' (although it didn't really 'bubble') for 5 mins Soaked 6tbsp of chia soaking in 3/4 cup of water (during the time the yeast was 'bubbling') Put the dry mix into a large mixing bowl Add chia mixture, 1 tsp cider vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, and yeast-milk mix to the dry mix Mix on low speed until all ingredients are blended and smooth and then turn mixer to medium for about 15 seconds until mixture thickens (it got really sticky and was all stuck up in my beaters!) Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray (I also put a piece of parchment paper in the pan and up two of the sides) and scrape the mix out of the beaters and into the pan. Cover the pan with foil and put in your oven on the lowest possible temp (preferably 75-100 degrees) and let rise for 40-45 mins or until the mixture rises to the top of the pan. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Bake uncovered 60-65 mins and cover with foil again after it starts to brown. ¬†Allow the bread to cool in the pan for 5 mins and then remove it from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.   I hope that it works for you as well as it did for us, the kids and hubby all liked it. ¬†I realize that there are two types of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free bread mixes out there and the one pictured here is not the one that I used the first time but I'll be trying this one now as I couldn't find the other one in the grocery store again. ...

Veggie Rich Greek Salad

I love greek salad!  I make it without feta and can't say that I even miss it.  You can make this salad any size so can add more or less veggies than I have here and just make more dressing.   Here's the recipe: ...

Gluten Free for Health??

Is going gluten free healthy??¬† If your definition of gluten free is replacing wheat based products with vegetables or other grains like brown rice or quinoa then YES! ¬†If going gluten free means loading up on packaged gluten free foods and breads then NO! ¬†A lot of the gluten free breads and products have pretty crap ingredients. ¬†If you want to have bread products it's always the best decision to make them yourself ūüôā Just another reminder to read labels and that whole foods are just always the best choice. ...

How do I get my kids to eat their veggies????

People always ask me how I get my kids to eat their veggies & fruit. Well to be honest it's not really negotiable! I definitely take the time to explain 'why' we need the nutrients from veggies & fruit. There are very few sweets in our house to begin with and they only ever come after a balanced meal in which the kids eat their veggies and fruit. I posted the Mary's cookies the other day so they might have one of those or some coconut or almond 'ice cream' (that we make..) I get the kids to help me choose the groceries in the store so that they have already bought into what we are having and it allows them to have a say and be part of the process. They also help with peeling and cutting to help prepare for meals. If we are having a veggie that they really don't like then all I ask is that they try it and I never make them finish their meals as I want them to learn to cue into knowing when they are full but they are asked to always try a bit of everything. A friend of mine shared her secret of giving the kids a veggie plate with hummus while they watch their show as she prepares dinner and almost always the entire plate of veggies gets devoured and it's easy as there is no cooking involved. After publishing this I had to come back and add. ¬†Thanks to my friend Dana for reminding me that we as parents need to model the behavior so that our kids will follow in our footsteps. ¬†They really do see everything ūüôā ¬†On that note, eat your veg & fruit folks! ...

Want Fat Loss????

One big key to fat loss is to keep blood sugar & insulin levels low and stable. Insulin is known as the fat storage hormone for good reason. It works to lower blood sugar by storing it in the fat cells for future energy. Familiarizing yourself with the glycemic index of foods can help you achieve more stable blood sugars. The glycemic index measures how much and how quickly certain foods raise blood glucose levels. Simply put, high levels of insulin = high levels of storage and low levels of insulin = ability for fat loss. Simple carbohydrates (white flour products, cereals, etc), and the various forms of sugar are the highest when it comes to GI ratings so eating your veggies, lean meat, and good fats really are the recipe to success when it comes to fat loss. Some of the higher GI veggies are carrots, corn, white potatoes, etc so these are ones that you should choose less often or enjoy post workout when higher GI carbs are better to replenish muscle glycogen quickly. The way that you cook your food can also affect the glycemic index of the food. For example, pasta cooked for less time (ie crunchier pasta) has a lower GI rating than pasta cooked for longer. Rice cakes and puffed wheat have much higher GI ratings than rice or wheat berries. It is always a good idea to think about what the food that you are eating does to nourish your body. Unprocessed, whole foods in as close to their natural state as possible is always the best decision! ...

Healthfanatified Tuna & Egg Salad!!

Restaurants and deli's want us to love the taste of their food so much that we can't resist coming back.  More often that not, they will use the richest ingredients which we all know are not low cal or figure friendly.  A couple of the worst offenders at lunch time are tuna and egg salad.  The tuna sandwiches are likely made using oil packed tuna, loads of artery clogging mayo, and the egg salad probably contains enough egg yolks (not to mention the mayo again) to last a regular person a week. Tuna and egg salad can be good for you!  Here are my delicious, (you won't know they're not the super unhealthy versions!) and easy healthfanatified versions. Tuna salad: Egg salad:   ...

Make your Own Stevia

Given that the stevia is becoming more and more popular, you need to research the brand that you buy. Increasing popularity usually means that companies that produce it will want to do it faster & cheaper which (like any other product) can affect it's quality. I use Sweetleaf and have found it a reputable company. Always be sure to do your own research so that you feel comfortable with what you choose to put in your body. It bothers me that foods that start out natural & healthy can become tainted/mass produced and make it hard for consumers to choose. It always seems that making your own is best ūüôā Here is a great recipe from Whole Lifestyle Nutrition on How To Make Your Own Pure Stevia & Liquid Stevia (http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/videos/how-to-make-your-own-pure-stevia-liquid-stevia-part-2/)   ...

Managing 'Macros' aka Macronutrients

I wanted to provide a quick summary of macronutrients and their role in different nutrition scenarios. Macronutrients are protein,carbohydrates and fat. ¬†So if someone is eating a 40/40/20 macronutrient split that means that they are eating 40% of their calories from protein, 40% carbs, and 20% fat. ¬†Protein and carbs both have 4 calories per gram and fat has 9 calories per gram. ¬†So if you eat a 2000 calorie diet then you are eating 800 calories from both protein & carbs (=1600), and 400 calories from fat, totaling 2000. ¬†In this scenario you are eating 200 grams of protein and carbs and roughly 44.5 grams of fat. I have people ask me what their optimal macronutrient ratio should be and I reply in the same way as I would to those who question the ideal diet for them...It depends! ¬†Nutrition plans are very individual depending on your goals and where you are starting from. ¬†If your goal is to increase muscle or strength then you will need a higher ratio of carbohydrates & protein, if it's to lean out then it may be higher protein and fat and lower carbohydrate. ¬†If your goal is to tone up, lose a few pounds, or maintain where you are at then it might be an entirely different split. A good figure to know is what your maintenance calorie level is. ¬†That is, how many calories you take in to maintain your current weight. ¬†From there you will know if you need to lower that number to be in line with the calories required for the weight that you would like to maintain. ¬†As you can see, calorie and macronutrient levels really do depend on your start point, goals, and activity level. I hope that this helps you to understand the basics if you didn't already ūüôā ...

Vitamins & Supplements… Where to Start!

After posting about B vitamins & energy I have had a lot of people ask what my opinion is on vitamins & supplements so here are my 2 cts.. Keep in mind it's Friday night and I'm sitting with a glass of wine so disregard any grammatical errors ūüôā As with diet there is no real 'one size fits all' approach for vitamins & supplements.  You have to take a long hard look at your diet to see what you might be lacking.  When you see gaps in your nutrition (have a professional help you out if you can't identify them on your own) make an effort to fill the gaps with real food.  In a perfect world we'd all love to get all of our vitamins & oils naturally without supplementation but in reality it doesn't always happen. The two supplements that I would recommend to anyone, even the healthiest of people would be a good quality pharmaceutical grade fish oil and Vitamin D3. Fish Oil It is hard to eat enough fish (the primary food source of the omega-3s EPA and DHA) to get enough omega-3's.  Essential fatty acids help maintain proper blood pressure and cholesteral levels as well as regulate pain and inflammation.  Even people who do eat enough fish aren't getting enough because most of the fish consumed today is farmed and lacks enough EPA & DHA.  There is also justified concern over the environmental toxins in today's fish (mercury, PCB's, dioxins)  Omega 3 and Omega 6's need to be consumed in a balanced ratio.  In today's diet Omega 6's have become over-abundant and Omega 3's absent.  Some symptoms of Omega 3 deficiency might be: fatigue, memory loss, decreased immunity, dry skin, hair loss, reproductive problems, as well mood imbalances. Vitamin D3 Given concerns about skin cancer people just do not spend enough time in the sun (or they slather themselves in sunscreen) to get adequate amounts of vitamin D.  The list of the benefits of vitamin D goes on forever but here are a few; calcium & phosphorus metabolism (therefore preventing osteoporosis and maintaining bone density), regulating insulin & blood sugar balance, regulating immune system responses, regulating muscle composition and function, lowering inflammation, supporting cognitive function (a lot of research is currently being done on vitamin D deficiency and how it may relate to Alzheimer's and dementia), supporting mood, and helping to prevent many kinds of cancer. You want to do your research and buy good quality products but these are two that I would not miss.  I might mention here that wild salmon is an excellent source of both fish oil and vitamin D, hence why it's such a superfood. As for B vitamins & energy go I would say that those deficient in any of the B vitamins may see increases in energy from supplementation.  The B vitamins help your body make the most of your food so if you aren't dealing with a deficiency it's not likely that you'll see any difference in energy.  Eat your meat, fish & eggs and your body will thank you ūüôā Have a healthy weekend everyone! ...

Travel Doesn’t Have to Derail Your Health Goals

  Who doesn't love the excitement of travel?  Being able to immerse yourself in a new culture is such an incredible opportunity.  Being flexible, seeing new places, and trying new foods is all part of the experience.  If we worry about our lack of routine we can stress our bodies more than if we just relax and enjoy the ride.  That said, before you travel it's important to identify what your health goals are for your trip.  Is this regular business travel or a holiday?  If you are a person that travels regularly for business then in order to stay on track you can't let every trip be a free for all if you want to stay focused on your health.  Everyone needs an unscheduled break so if the trip is truly an opportunity to explore, rest, relax and to indulge a little then you won't be looking for routine so just do your best to stay active and to keep portion sizes in check.     If this is regular business and you are looking for routine then be sure to plan what type of workouts you are going to do ahead of time.  I always suggest morning workouts as with business meetings and dinners you can never be sure what the day will throw at you so better to get it out of the way first thing.  You can use your hotel gym, get outside for a run, use the hotel stairs to do some intervals, or do a hotel room workout.  My Online Fit & Fabulous Program consists of really quick workouts that can be done anywhere and are so great for travel. You can get a really good sweat on with just your bodyweight and resistance bands are super easy to travel with.  Do your best to walk to where you are going, to take the stairs and to generally stay active which will help keep you awake through meetings and keep you adding in bits of exercise throughout your day.   Most hotels have healthy breakfast options however you can stop at a nearby grocery or convenience store and pick up some plain greek yogurt, boiled eggs, fresh fruit, cut veggies & hummus, oatmeal, raw nuts etc so that you have more affordable healthy options in your hotel room.  I like to pack my protein powder with me as then I can make up some oats in my room and add a scoop of protein powder and a few raw walnuts to have a well balanced breakfast.  I would also say to pack a few low sugar Kind bars or some raw nuts for when meetings do run long.  When you are prepared with healthy snacks, you'll never get ravenous and  it will keep you so much more alert and focused.  My personal rule for lunches & dinners out when traveling are that 1) I try to get as many veggies as I can into my meal and 2) I skip the sauces or ask for them on the side..  Lunch will typically be a big salad with some lean protein and the dressing or olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side.  A lot of restaurants really douse their salads with dressing which can negate the objective of keeping a salad light.  At dinners I do much the same, ordering a lean protein with a big side of steamed veggies, holding the sauce.  Alcohol is tough because often times business dinners include nice wine and I know how tough it is not to partake.  If you know that you want to have a drink, make a deal with yourself before you go as to how many drinks you will have and commit to it.  Alcohol really is just empty calories that add up fast..  I typically commit to having one or maybe two glasses of wine (or a wine spritzer which cuts it in half!) and I sip on and really savor while drinking a lot of water too.  If you stick to your goal you'll not only have a better sleep, you'll also able to get up and get your workout in - win win!   Getting There.... Flying can be time consuming...the commute to the airport, checking in, waiting, waiting, and more waiting, and finally getting on the plane and keeping fingers crossed that there are no delays.  There is nothing worse than being hungry at the airport or in the air and being faced with crummy food choices.  High sodium, high fat foods can make you retain water and feel sluggish which is the last thing that you need when you're already subject to the dehydrating, dry air of the plane.  Speaking of dehydration, I always pack along a reusable water bottle.  More and more airports have bottle filling stations which gives you easy access to water without the cost and saves the planet from the disposal of more crappy plastic bottles! My hubby likes to poke fun at me for packing a big bag of snacks but honestly with the uncertainty of travel with me and two kids who are used to regular healthy snacks I'd rather be too prepared than underprepared!  The funny thing is that it's usually all gone when we we arrive.  Fruit and veggies can be tricky to travel with depending on where you are going and the rules about agriculture.  If you travel a certain route regularly then you will likely know which fruit(s) and veggies are ok (if you don't know, ask) as these are obviously easy choices that will fill you with good nutrition.    Here are some of my favorite things to pack: Raw nuts (almonds, walnuts & pistachios) A good quality whey or vegan protein powder pre-measured in a shaker cup. Healthy trail mix - raw nuts (again!), low sugar cereal, organic raisins, flaked unsweetened coconut, pumpkin & sunflower seeds and a few dark chocolate chips. Low sugar Kind bars (look for the bars that indicate that they are under 5 grams of sugar) Puffins or other low sugar cereal (the kids love this!) Rice cakes (I like the Suzie's kamut or spelt cakes) and sometimes bring the little squeeze packs of almond butter to spread on them. Mary's Gone Crackers or Twigs Natural nut butter sandwiches with banana (I'll use up all of my sprouted grain bread and bananas) Tuna or turkey sandwiches with a few slices of avocado (again using up what's left at home and will go bad) A few packets of Eco- Planet instant hot cereal (check that they have no added sugar).  Just ask for 1/2 cup of hot water and pour the oats in.  I usually have packets of Sweetleaf stevia so will add a little stevia to sweeten.  The Good Bean (roasted garbanzo bean snacks) or roasted edamame are great as they are high in fiber and protein. I'm not a huge fan of protein bars in general however have been know to take a Jay Robb or Quest Bar along as a 'treat' Planning ahead & packing healthy food choices will have your body and your wallet thanking you. What are some of your favorite healthy travel tips? I'd love to know!   ...

You can find news to support any theory… My Top 10 Food Rules!

Regardless of which nutrition theory you subscribe to you will be able to find literature that supports it's effectiveness or negates it.  The best advice that I can offer is to listen to your body.  Once you are in tune with your body you will know which things sit well with you and which don't. It seems to me that everyone seems to have a sensitivity to something these days...  lactose/dairy, gluten, wheat, soy...to name a few.  We all have food sensitivities and some worse than others.  Notice how you feel after you eat something and if something REALLY doesn't sit well with you I would eliminate it and see if you notice a change.   Remember that if you are 'stressed' about what you should or shouldn't eat that the cortisol from stressing out about it isn't helping you either.  If you are eating unprocessed wholesome foods don't feel like you need to follow a rule book.  Make your own rules. There will be certain foods that are important to you and some that you want to do without. My food rules: 1) If it doesn't spoil it's WAY too processed 2) Vegetables are never bad 3) Fruit is good in moderation 4) If it is a color that you couldn't make without mixing paint, don't eat it! 5) If you are running on empty don't drink caffeine - SLEEP!! 6) If it claims to be a fruit or vegetable product check the label to ensure that the said veggie or fruit is the first ingredient on the list.  If the label goes on to list things that you haven't heard of put it back on the shelf. 7) Healthy fat is good 8) We need protein so if you are vegetarian or vegan you need to find healthy protein sources and consume them regularly. 9) Watching what you eat shouldn't = hunger 10)  Learn to enjoy food that nourishes your body and experiment with preparing it in different ways ...