Green Juice w/ Apple & Fresh Oregano

Why Use Oregano? Oregano helps with the common cold, coughs, asthmacroup, bronchitis (nobody got time for that), heartburn, bloating, menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders including urinary tract infections (UTIs), headaches, heart conditions, muscle pain, acne, dandruff, toothache, bloating, intestinal parasites, earache, fatigue, and even repelling insects. You can also take oregano oil to prevent and cure these ailments. Drink up!

Ingredients: 1/4 cup water 1 apple, cut into about 8 pieces 1 clementine 1 lemon, skin cut off, deseeded 3 oregano sprigs, picked from the branch 1 piece of ginger, about a 1/2 inch piece, peeled and chopped 2 pieces of celery, chopped in 3rds 1/2 cucumber, sliced into about 8 pieces lengthwise

Instructions: Throw all into a Vitamix and set to the smoothie setting and it will turn off when it's finished. In a normal blender it's important to read the instructions to see what can be put in there as you don't want to ruin the blades. Pour in a glass and enjoy!

Green Juice: Pear

I just got a Vitamix and I am so excited to finally be able to make my own juices. I can't stand spending 10 dollars on a juice from Organic Avenue or Juice Press when I can make the same thing at home for 1/3 of the price. And Organic Avenue opens at 8am, which is waaaayyy too late in the morning for someone who gets up before 6am.

I made this juice with pear because I have them, but you can really prepare a green juice any way you like. I'm into a mix of both fruit and veggies combined with a little lemon to make it tangy, but if you don't like lemon, just skip it! This is the beginning of many smoothie ideas, so stay tuned!

Ingredients: 1/4 cup water 1 pear, cut into about 8 pieces 1 clementine 1 carrot, chopped into 1/2 pieces 1 lemon, skin cut off, deseeded 1 piece of ginger, about a 1/2 inch piece, peeled and chopped 2 pieces of celery, chopped in 3rds 1/2 cucumber, sliced into about 8 pieces lengthwise

Instructions: Throw all into a Vitamix and set to the smoothie setting and it will turn off when it's finished. In a normal blender, you may want to chop everything a little smaller and I'm not sure if you can put carrots and such in there, so read the instructions.

Salmon & Arugula Salad w/ Walnuts, Onion & Heart of Palm

I was unsure what I wanted for lunch today, so I went with an easy option...and pretty much the only thing I could make with what I had in my fridge. This salad is really easy and while the salmon cooks, you can prep your veggies and clean up, so when all's said and done, only 15 minutes will have passed. And, it was so good!

Prep Time: 5 minutes Cooking Time: 15 minutes Serves: 1, but just double the ingredients for 2, and so on

Ingredients: 5oz piece of non-farmed salmon 1 T olive oil (salmon) 1/2 t sea salt 1/2 t ground black pepper 1/2 lemon wedge, cut into three sections 1/3 box of arugula 4 stalks heart of palm, sliced 1 1/2 T sliced or chopped red onion 1 T olive oil (dressing) Himalayan sea salt, to taste Ground black pepper, to taste

Prepping & Cooking: Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Prep a cookie sheet with foil and spray some olive oil on top. Rinse the salmon and pat dry. Place the salmon on the foil and top with juice of one section of the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper. When the oven is ready, place the fish inside and set the timer for 15 minutes (oven temps vary).

While the salmon is cooking, put the arugula on the plate and drizzle with olive oil and second slice of fresh lemon. Gently toss the greens to absorb the dressing. Chop the onion and heart of palm. Add to the plate. After the salmon has spent about 15 minutes in the oven, place it on top of the salad and squeeze final section of lemon on top and add salt and pepper to taste. All done!

Homemade Almond Milk

I have come to love making almond milk; it's quick (under 15 minutes with cleaning), healthy and delicious. ...And now that I have a Nespresso coffee maker, I've been making fancy coffee drinks with my fancy homemade almond milk—so fancy. ;-) In addition to coffee, you can use your almond milk for smoothies, oatmeal or even just to drink—it's nice to know that I made it myself and it's all natural ingredients! Drink up! Also, get yourself a nut milk bag (OneLuckyDuck for $8.95) which will make straining the almond meal a breeze.

Ingredients:

1 cup organic, raw almonds soaked in filtered water, overnight (8 hours) 4 cups filtered water 1 T agave, maple syrup or another organic sweetener (optional)

Directions: Drain liquid from the nuts and rinse a few times with filtered water. Drain again. Then I peel the almond skin off the almonds (takes about 5 minutes and a task to be done while watching the news or something) Place in blender with 4 cups of water and blend for about 2 minutes.

Pour the contents of the blender into your nut milk bag over a medium-sized mixing bowl and squeeze the liquid out. I discard the almond meal, but you can save it for baking if you're creative like that (I'm clearly not). Poor the almond milk into a container and you’re all set! I usually do about half this amount of nuts because I don’t drink it every day, so make it for yourself or share with friends; they will be impressed with your skills!

Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

I never was a huge fan of Reese's peanut butter cups, but I do like dark chocolate and peanut butter so I consulted my friend, Google, and found this delicious recipe from the Goodness Green blog. I changed the cocoa to cacao, but really it's probably all the same. I made these three times and I definitely feel they came out differently each time, so remember that if you try to make these treats. Surprisingly enough, these are actually somewhat healthy, if you eat only one or two in a serving, so this would make a nice and easy dessert for a party, minus the calories you might find in a regular sugary treat.

Ingredients: 1/4 cup organic coconut oil 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract 4 tablespoons raw agave 1/3 cup raw and organic cacao powder 1/4 cup organic peanut butter 1/2 teaspoon salt (I didn't use any, so you can make the call) 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast

Cooking Instructions: 1. Melt the coconut oil in a small pan over a low heat. Once melted stir through the remaining ingredients until a smooth in consistency. 2. Spoon a tablespoon of the chocolate into 8-10 tiny cupcake holders and freeze for 20 minutes. 3. Meanwhile combine the peanut butter filling ingredients and set aside. 4. Remove the chocolate cups from the freezer. With a teaspoon of the peanut butter mix form a small flat disc and place on top of the set chocolate. Spoon over remaining dark chocolate and freeze until set. 5. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep in the freezer for a much longer shelf life.

Cauliflower & Lentil Porridge

'Tis the season to eat lentils! I mean, they are so much tastier than a cookie or egg nog, right? Exactly. ;-) With the onions and carrots in this dish, you will be eating sweet vegetables, which actually helps with sweet cravings and regulating blood sugar - I like to call this a win. Embrace our cruciferous friend the cauliflower to help add nutrients and flavor to a hearty lentil dish, add some other veggies, like carrots, and get excited for a nourishing winter meal. I usually make my lentils with an Indian/Moroccan flavor, but you can add any spices you like - lentils are so diverse, you really can't go wrong.

Ingredients: 1 T olive or coconut oil (coconut gives it a sweeter taste) 3 cloves of garlic, chopped 1/2 red or yellow onion, chopped 1 bag of baby carrots or about 2 large carrots, chopped lengthwise into pieces to your liking 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into 1-inch pieces (doesn't need to be precise) 15oz organic kidney beans (buy the bagged, rather than canned if possible) 2 cups lentils 4 cups organic vegetable broth (organic chicken broth is also fine) 2 cups water 1 T curry seasoning 1/2 T ginger 1/2 T paprika 1 T cumin 1 t salt 1 t pepper

Cooking Heat the oil in a large pot and add the garlic and onion. Cook for about 2 minutes, then add carrots and cauliflower. Saute, stirring somewhat frequently for about 10 minutes. Add the beans, lentils and broth, and bring to a boil. Add all seasonings. Cook for about 40 minutest to an hour, until the broth has evaporated for the most part and the lentils are soft (varies based on type of lentil you buy). I sometimes cook my lentils for 4 hours, but today I only did 40 minutes, so it's up to you!

Arugula, Scallop & Brussels Sprout Salad

Scallops are great on their own, but if you want to change it up or if you've never made them at all, they make a lovely salad topper. I normally make my salads with chicken or some kind of fish, but I ordered a ton of scallops and needed to use them up. In addition, the arugula, Brussels sprouts, heart of palm and onions tie it all together nicely. Not only is this salad delicious and packed with clean protein, it's easy to make.

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cooking Time: 10 minutes Serves: 1, but just double the ingredients for 2, and so on

Ingredients: 5 large scallops sliced in half 1 T olive oil 1/2 t sea salt 5 Brussels sprouts 1/3 box of arugula 2 stalks heart of palm, sliced 1 1/2 T chopped red onion 1 T olive oil 1 T balsamic vinegar Himalayan sea salt, to taste Ground black pepper, to taste

Prepping & Cooking: Rinse the scallops with water and dry with a paper towel. Slice in half. Heat a pan on medium and add olive oil. After the oil is heated, sauté the scallops (sprinkle the sea salt) for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Steam the Brussels sprouts until they are slightly undercooked.

While the sprouts are cooking, put the arugula on the plate, and top with the heart of palm, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil. After 10 minutes, put the scallops on the plate with the salad. When the sprouts are done, chop each sprout in fours and add to the plate. Top with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and enjoy!

Baked Asian Chicken Salad w/ Heart of Palm

I used to hate cooking chicken. I mean, I think we can all agree that a piece of uncooked chicken is not that attractive, or any raw meat or fish, for that matter. But, alas, we need our protein, and if cook and eat animal protein, we should get accustomed to handling the meat, right? Well, maybe just slightly shut your eyes or have your significant other do it. ;-) After all that, I have to admit that the main event of this salad is really not the chicken. It's the heart of palm! So nutty, yet sweet, and oh so delish! I could eat an entire can, but I somehow managed to make this last through four salads. :) Also, I love mache. If you haven't tried this lovely baby lettuce, you are in for a treat! This salad is simple, but elegant (mache is mainly produced in France) and would also bode well as a starter salad by eliminating the chicken.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes Cooking Temperature: 350 degrees Serves: 1 (there will be enough chicken for 2, so just double the other  ingredients below)

Chicken Ingredients: 4 chicken breasts that weigh about 4-8 ounces (I use the extra pieces of chicken for lunch or dinner the next day with a side of veggies) 1 T olive oil 1/2 T sesame oil 1/2 T tamari (gluten free) or soy sauce 1 T gomasio seasoning (get this at your health food store, Whole Foods; or just use  a mix of sea salt, sesame seeds, and garlic powder) 1/2 T pepper

Salad Ingredients: 1 T olive oil 1/3 box of mache lettuce 2 stalks of heart of palm 1 T olive oil Fresh squeezed lemon, to taste Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste 2 T finely diced scallions or red onions 1 T balsamic vinegar

Prepping & Cooking: Clean and cut off extra fat from chicken (those weird white parts) and place into a shallow dish or bowl. In a bowl, place olive oil, sesame oil, tamari or soy sauce, Gomasio, and black pepper. Give it a stir and pour over chicken. Flip the chicken a few times to make sure all sides are coated with the marinade and set a timer for 15 minutes.

When there's about 5 minutes left on the timer, pre-heat oven to 350. Place tin foil on baking sheet and when chicken is finished marinating, evenly place on the foil so the pieces aren't touching. When oven is ready, put the chicken in and set the timer for 30 minutes. I usually check it around 20 minutes and cut the thicker pieces to see if they are still pink. Cook the chicken until you see no pink (depending on the thickness of the breasts, it could take 25-30 minutes).

While the chicken is cooking, place the mache on a plate and top with fresh squeezed lemon, sea salt and pepper. Cut the heart of palm into small pieces in any shape you like and put on the lettuce. Once the chicken is ready, cut into bite-sized pieces and place on the salad. Sprinkle the scallions on top and drizzle with the balsamic dressing. Enjoy!

 

Garlic and Olive Oil Mahi Mahi over Sautéed Kale

I have learned to love making mahi mahi. This fish is light in color and rich in nutrients and can be be pretty much topped with anything, making it similar to chicken (okay, maybe that's like saying you can cook a snake with some lemon and it tastes like chicken, or camel, but you get the idea). I will get back to the point: this mahi is topped with olive oil, gomasio seasoning (sea salt, garlic and sesame), and fresh ground pepper. That's all and it's fabulous - make this on your next Tinder date and everyone will be happy with your culinary skills.

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 15-20 minutes Cooking Temperature: 425 degrees Serves: 2

Ingredients: 2 wild mahi filets at about 8-10 ounces for the pair, (or, Whole Foods has wild mahi in the freezer section for about 10 bucks!) 1 T olive oil 1 T gomasio seasoning (get this at your health food store, Whole Foods; or just use sea salt, sesame seeds, and garlic powder) 1/2 T pepper 1/2 bunch green kale (cut off stems, rinse and dry) 1 T olive oil 3 cloves of garlic 1 T Gomasio

Cooking & Chopping: Pre-heat oven to 425. Place tin foil on baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Place fish on top and rub with olive oil, Gomasio and pepper. Place in heated oven and set your timer for 15 minutes. In the meantime, remove kale from stalks and break into 1-inch-sized pieces. Make sure kale is mostly dry by patting with paper towels or a clean dish towel.

While the fish is cooking, start on the kale. On medium heat, warm olive oil and add garlic. Sauté for about 1 minute until garlic is cooked. Add kale and mix frequently with a wooden spoon until the kale is wilted and add the gomasio. If you feel like a lot of smoke is coming from the pan, lower the heat a bit. The kale should only take about 5-7 minutes.

Once fish is cooked, remove from oven and set aside while you plate the kale. I take the sides of the foil and cover the fish until I'm ready to eat it - this let's it steam up a bit more and prevents it from cooling off. Put the kale on a plate and plop the fish on top. You now have a beautiful and nutritious meal! Nom nom!

Arugula Salad with Halibut, Pinto Beans & Veggies

I love salads. Especially when I just spent 14 days in Morocco eating bread with numerous meals (lots of healthy stuff happened, don't get me wrong, but bread is a staple over there). And yes, I ate the bread and yes, I liked it. And yes, I felt majorly bloated after the meal.

Anyway, here is a simple salad that will satisfy your tastebuds and also looks pretty nice on a plate. ;-) I used artichokes, avocado, pinto beans, olives, Persian cucumbers, but you can use whichever veggies you want - onions, tomatoes, carrots, or anything you fancy!

Cooking time: 25-30 minutes

Prep time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 (or 2 meals for the single diner)

Ingredients: 2 frozen halibut fillets or of course you can use fresh (I buy from Whole Foods - open packs and let defrost overnight in the fridge) 1 T Olive oil ½ of lemon, squeezed Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package or as much as you want!) 5 chopped artichoke hearts 1/4 chopped avocado 1/4 cup pinto beans (strained and rinsed) 1 Persian cucumber or 1/4 cup chopped regular cucumber 6 small black olives (I used black turkish olives) 1 1/2 T Olive oil (for dressing) 1/2 T Balsamic vinegar (for dressing) 1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing) Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper - topper

Cooking & Chopping: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put fish in a shallow dish and top with olive oil, white vinegar, and salt and pepper. Then place halibut on a cookie sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) Once the oven is preheated, place halibut into the oven. Set timer for 25 minutes and chop up your salad toppings. Check the fish in 25 minutes - it should flake with a fork.

Place arugula in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. Top with your veggies. When halibut is cooked, remove and separate halibut from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 5 ounces of halibut on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper. Put on a plate and eat up! Yum!

Greek(ish) Baked Mahi Mahi

Whenever I make mahi mahi I find it incredibly hard to find a recipe that I like and I'm not sure why this happens. With this recipe, I have solved my problem. This is my version of a Greek-style mahi mahi...if you add citrus fruit, olive oil and salt, you can make anything amazing. :) Cooking Time and Temp: 25 minutes at 425 degrees

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients: 2 wild mahi filets, (also, Whole Foods has a nice wild mahi in the freezer section) 1 t sea salt 1 t coarse ground pepper 10 chopped baby tomatoes 10 chopped black olives 1/4 chopped red onion lime juice of 1 lime 1/2 T olive oil 1/2 T white vinegar

Cooking & Chopping: Pre-heat oven to 425. Place tin foil on baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Place fish on top and rub with olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Place in heated oven. Chop tomato, olive and onion and top with olive oil and vinegar.  Mix and set aside.

Cook fish for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and top with tomato mixture and cover lightly with foil. Cook 5 to 10 minutes longer until opaque and flaky. Remove and put over your favorite veggie or grain (I like a combination of 1/8 cup brown rice and sauteed onion and bell pepper) - photo below. For the veggies, coarsely chop and sauté in olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy!! Or if you want to get fancy, you can say it in Greek: καλή όρεξη

Toast for Breakfast

I usually eat a larger breakfast because I need it to last for a few hours, but if you are in a rush or simply don't want to spend 30 minutes preparing food, here are two options that make life easier. Both options are high in protein and healthy fats, so don't stress about eating carbs! #1: Toast with peanut butter or almond butter & banana Prep time: 3 minutes Serves: 1

Ingredients: 2 slices of Men's Bread  (freezer section of the health food store) or other whole wheat bread of your choice 1/2 banana, sliced 1 T peanut butter or almond butter (make sure ingredients are just the nut, and in some, salt) 1 t honey or maple syrup (organic is best) dash of cinnamon

Directions: Toast bread in the toaster. Spread with butter and top with half banana, honey and if you like, cinnamon. Take to go our enjoy at home!

#2: Toast with avocado, sea salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lemon juice Prep time: 5 minutes Serves: 1

Ingredients: 2 slices of Men's Bread or other whole wheat bread of your choice (freezer section of the health food store) 1/2 avocado, sliced 1 t sea salt 1 t pepper 1/2 t red pepper flakes, optional 1/4 lemon, optional

Directions: Toast bread in the toaster. Slice avocado thinly or smash (however you like it) and sprinkle salt, pepper and red pepper on top. You can also squeeze a little bit of lemon on top, which gives it a nice tang.

Happy New Year (yes, I know it's February)

Happy 2013, everyone! I realize this post is a little past due, however, I needed some time to get my thoughts together…and a Puerto Rican vacation. For me, this year is going to signify focus – it’s a toughy, but I’ve got this. (For those of you who know me, my mind is all over the place.)

When looking back on 2012 and the intentions I set for myself, I said, “I want to explore some of my personal goals and really focus on being happy, while still maintaining my success at ‘the office.’” What does this mean for me in 2013? Focusing on the present: there is no reason to dwell on the past or let my mind take over my state of being—this can turn into an unhealthy emotional spiral. That’s just no fun. :)

One of the most important accomplishments for my career in 2012 is graduating from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN). I am proud to say that I am officially a Certified Holistic Health Counselor and accepting new clients! If you or anyone you know wants to learn more about their health, please reach out for a free consultation! Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting myself.

In the world of Equinox, I just finished a nutrition certification through Precision Nutrition and, upon passing the test at the end of January, was just promoted to Tier 3+ (the highest level at my gym). I can now offer my clients nutrition advice, in addition to kicking their butts into shape. Next up in the nutrition world, I will be taking a three-day course to become a Poliquin™ BioSignature Practitioner. This course will allow me to provide my clients a well-rounded approach to fat loss by utilizing nutrition and supplementation. I’m super excited!

In my personal life, I went through a pretty big breakup, but was a long time coming, but I came out as a better person. I learned a lot about myself, what I want in a partner and to follow my heart in all situations. A break-up is just a stepping stone to finding the person you will spend your life with, right? And for now, I will continue to enjoy myself as a single woman in Manhattan. :)

In terms of my career, I want to begin putting together a plan to start my own company, which will combine nutritional coaching and personal training. I hope to do this with a girlfriend of mine who is quitting her job. More to come on this new development!

Overall, in 2013, I want to explore, create, and of course, focus.

INTENTIONS FOR 2013

• Enjoy simple pleasures: short trips, books, yoga, meditation, cooking

• Spending time with and visiting friends and family

• Volunteer work - in the US or overseas

• Make every moment count and use my free time productively

• Continue advancing my studies of nutrition, kinesiology and anatomy

• Finally use the art supplies under my bed (I purchased last year) to paint

• Take weekend trips (lots of them!)

• Monthly massages

• Visiting sites in NYC that I’ve yet to see

• Updating this blog!

 

Back in time: Review of 2011

I realized that I never posted my review of 2011 to my blog, so here it is...2013 to come shortly! I can’t believe it’s already 2012; 2011 has been the fastest year of my life. Maybe that’s because I’m 30 now? I remember when I was a child and time would go by so slowly – it felt like decades before summer could arrive and I could play. Now, I celebrate Halloween, and all of a sudden there are Christmas decorations and then bam, it’s December 31st! A lot has happened this year, and instead of sending a holiday card of me doing a plank on a NYC park bench, I decided to make a lovely little blog post for you to read. So, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and Happy New Year!

In December of 2009, I moved out to San Diego to attain my EMBA in Global Entrepreneurship from SDSU, which would have led me to Hong Kong, India and Abu Dhabi. Close to the program’s start date, it was canceled, but I decided to live in San Diego for the year with my best friend, Jodi, rather than move back to NYC. I soon realized that a career in business and marketing was just not the best path for me (with some help from my friends and family). So instead of wallowing in sadness over lost opportunities, I got my personal training degree through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

After a year of having tons of fun with my friends in San Diego, visiting family, traveling (Hong Kong, Malaysia, Italy, Hawaii and Iceland), it was time to get back to the real world…all the way across the country. I moved back to NYC in January of 2011 and just four days after I moved back to my old apartment in Soho, I accepted a position as a personal trainer at Equinox in the West Village, a short walk from my apartment. I can’t say I knew what I was getting myself into, but I knew I was pursuing this career for me and nobody else, which felt awesome (and still does).

Professionally, I have accomplished a lot in a short period of time (I like to think). I built an amazing base of clients whom I love. I’ve gained an incredible educational experience and, I really do love my job. I went through an intense education program, which took me from a Tier 1 trainer to a Tier 3 Trainer in under 10 months. I followed the advice of my managers and all the hard work paid off; for the months of October, November and December, I was the number one trainer at my club.

In the midst of my studies, I gained numerous certifications including Pre- and Post-Natal, Power Plate, ViPR (Vitality, Performance, Reconditioning), FMS (The Functional Movement Screen) and TRX (Total Body Resistance Exercise). Also, in September, I started nutrition school at the Integrative Institute for Nutrition to become a holistic health counselor. The degree will finish in September of 2012, at which point I will be ready to take on nutrition clients (yes, you can refer your friends). J

In 2011, I worked a lot, sometimes not taking a day off for four weeks. Yes, I was successful, but this year, I want to explore some of my personal goals and really focus on being happy, while still maintaining my success at 'the office.'

INTENTIONS FOR 2012

•       Love

•       Take a long vacation

•       Go on a weekend yoga retreat

•       Get monthly massages

•       Sleep more

•       Spend more time with friends and family

•       Paint

•       Read

•       Save money

Homemade Granola Bars w/ Almond Butter & Banana

I was pondering what to make for my client gifts this year...I knew I wanted to make something and wanted it to be healthy—there are enough sweets and extra calories being consumed around this time of year. One of my girlfriends suggested granola...now, I don't really like granola, but it definitely does make for a nice gift. My first issue was that I have never made granola and my second issue with this choice was the packaging, so I figured I would go one step ahead in my culinary feat by doing granola bars...you know, to make it just a bit more complicated. :)

I began my search with vegan granola bars, gluten free granola bars and cacao granola bars. Lots of these recipes call for different natural sugars, which is fine and sometimes necessary for the binding of ingredients, but I finally stumbled upon a bar that had no added sugar! Score! In the meantime, I had emailed myself four different recipes and proceeded to spend over 100 dollars in ingredients that I might use. Ugh. I have enough nuts and seeds to feed myself through another Sandy blackout. I figured I would just mix and match the recipes (NOTE: not a good idea when you haven't already made the recipe). Once I got home, I realized that I was being crazy, and decided on the simple recipe I found with a base of banana and almond butter.

The bars were super easy to make and required very little culinary skills, so I recommend this for anyone who wants to make something new as a snack for you yourself, family or even as a gift. I've given out many bars so far and have heard good reviews, so I'm gonna give myself a 9/10 and say they were a success. Remember, when making your own, you can swap out the nuts, seeds and fruit and kind of play with the recipe as you see fit—I made them a bit differently the second time around and both batches turned out nicely.

RECIPE

Prep Time: 25-30 minutes

Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup almond butter

2 bananas, mashed

1/2 cup whole almonds

3/4 cup dried apricots or mixture of dried fruit of your choice

½ T of cacao powder

½ T ground flaxseed

½ T ground cinnamon

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or whatever you have on hand)

1 cup rolled oats

Cooking

Preheat oven to 350F. Line wide loaf tin or pyrex dish with parchment paper.

In a small pot, heat almond butter and mashed bananas on low. Stir gently until well combined. Set aside.

In a food processor, coarse chop the almonds and dried fruit (I found that with both nuts and fruit in the processor, that it didn't chop up properly, so I did them separately). Transfer to a bowl. Mix in cacao, flaxseed, cinnamon, seeds and oats. Fold in the almond butter mixture. Press the batter into prepared loaf tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Let cool for a couple hours before cutting into bars/squares. After about 30 minutes, I took the bars out and set on a cutting board to cool, then waited another hour or so.

PHOTOS

 

 

 

Chia Seed Pudding

The other night I was desperately searching for a dessert item in my kitchen, and unless I've purchased some raw dark chocolate from Organic Avenue, I typically don't have anything to find. I guess fruit is usually what I go for when craving sweets, but I was out of stock there, too. Then, I had an epiphany (ha ha) and remembered my chia seeds could be manipulated into something dessert-like, rather than their usual place in the smoothie. I searched online for a quick recipe and came across one that I liked, and then I changed it around a bit. Nutritional fun fact (taken from Andrew Weil's site): When added to water and allowed to sit for 30 minutes, chia forms a gel. Researchers suggest that this reaction also takes place in the stomach, slowing the process by which digestive enzymes break down carbohydrates and convert them into sugar (less sugar cravings and longer satiation). Yay!

Benefits of Chia Seeds:

  • rich in omega-3 fatty acids, even more so than flax seeds (chia is one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 in any food)
  • rich in antioxidants
  • rich in fiber and nutrients - (25 grams give you 6.9 grams of fiber), calcium (18% daily value), phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum, niacin, and zinc
  • high in omega-6
  • And...protein! :)

Ingredients

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 cups liquid of your choice - I used homemade cashew milk

1/2 T sweetener

Fruit, chopped (1/2 peach, 1/banana, 1 kiwi, or whatever you like)

2 t cinnamon

Directions:

Place chia seeds, water, and sweetener in a bowl that has an air-tight lid. Stir and cover. Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, then stir again. The chia seeds will have become a gel. Put chopped fruit, a tad more sweetener and cinnamon and eat up! You can keep the pudding in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but if you use a homemade nut milk, it will only last about 5 days (from when you made the milk).

Cashew Nut Milk

I've been really into almond milk, but recently had a latte with cashew nut milk, so I thought I would switch things up a bit. The almond milk has a somewhat acidic and bitter taste (I don't sweeten it) and the cashew has a more nutty, creamy consistency, which is a nice change. Ingredients:

1 cup organic, raw cashews soaked in filtered water, overnight (8 hours) 4 cups filtered water 1 T agave or another organic sweetener (optional)

Directions: Drain liquid from the nuts and rinse a few times with filtered water. Drain again. Place in blender with 4 cups of water and blend until smooth, maybe 2 minutes. Pour into a container and you're all set! I usually do about half this amount of nuts because I don't drink it every day, so make it for yourself or share with friends; they will be impressed with your skills!

Salmon & Mixed Veggie Salad

Salads are usually part of my daily routine, but there is always a way to make each one different - try changing up the greens (spinach, arugula or mixed greens) and always mix and match the veggies. Sometimes I put beans for protein instead of seafood, but my favorite version includes salmon. Just an FYI: I would normally put avocado in this salad, but unfortunately I ran out at breakfast and the ones in my kitchen aren't ripe yet. :( Also, I like to make two servings of fish, so that I can make dinner with the leftovers; tonight I will pair the extra salmon with some quinoa and sautéed spinach with garlic.  If you're cooking for two, just double the salad ingredients and split the salmon in half. Easy!

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Ingredients:

Wild salmon fillet (I usually do about 10 ounces so that I get two portions)

1 T Olive oil

½ of lemon, squeezed

½ T white wine vinegar

Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

2-3oz prepared package of arugula (about half a package)

3 cremini mushrooms, chunked

½ large carrot, chopped

5 black olives, chopped

1 scallion, diced

¼ cup organic cheddar cheese (optional)

3/4 T Olive oil (for dressing)

1/2 lemon, squeezed (for dressing)

Himalayan sea salt and ground black pepper - topper

Cooking & Chopping:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place salmon on a cooking sheet with piece of foil (to save cleaning time) and top with olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, and salt and pepper. Once the oven is preheated, place salmon into the oven. Set timer for 20 minutes and chop up your veggies. Place arugula and veggies in a bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper; place on plate. When salmon is cooked, remove and separate salmon from skin carefully with a spatula (unless you like the skin). Place about 4 ounces of salmon on top of your salad and top with a little fresh squeezed lemon and ground pepper.

Eat and enjoy!

Upstate New York: Turquoise Barn

Just a three-hour drive north of New York City, in Bloomville, New York, is Turquoise Barn, a vegan bed and breakfast. Now, as most of you know, I’m not a vegan, but I wanted to find a bed and breakfast that had organic food and great breakfasts (sometimes even the nicest B&Bs break out the packaged pastries from Costco and coffee from a machine). From the amazing breakfasts and beautiful surroundings to the completely relaxing atmosphere, I found exactly what I wanted!

I left NYC late Friday night of Memorial Day weekend, so I sat in some hefty traffic making my arrival time much later than it should have been (it took me 5 hours!), but once I was out of the city, the greenery around me made it all worth the hassle. Also, the rental company gave me a brand new SUV, so I wasn’t roughing it on the drive. ;-) Upstate NY is so close, I don’t know why I hadn’t made the trip out until now…eight years later!

From the moment I arrived until the day I left, Michelle and Michael, the owners of the barn, welcomed me and treated me like a member of their family. I was thier only guest for the weekend (things don’t get started up in that area until after Memorial Day typically), and so I was set up for a relaxing and quiet weekend. Breakfast was served at 8am and each day was something different—my favorite was the chia seed parfait, but I also was served a tofu scramble and a dish that I think was version of oatmeal. And, there was always a green juice with nettles (see health benefits of nettles)and tea or coffee! Yum!

Each day I took the opportunity to visit a different city—I saw Oneonta, Delhi, Stamford, Andes, Woodstock—and each place I went was about a 30-60 minute drive, which was somewhat far, but each drive was beautiful. The only downfall of staying in the middle of nowhere is the restaurant quality, so other than the superb breakfasts I had in the mornings, every restaurant I tried was just "okay." If you are a vegan or vegetarian, there are definitely some options, and Michelle was really helpful in sending me in the right direction.

If you're up for exercising on vacation, which I for sure am, there are lots of hikes to do around town. Also, TB does have bikes if you want to take a ride to the neighboring towns or just near the B&B. I was nursing a foot injury so I opted for a short hike up a farm road for about 3 miles—other than being on the lookout for bears (yes, seriously), it was serene and actually a fair workout with the incline.

Turquoise Barn was truly a glorious find—it's a beautiful place to stay with great hosts and the food was awesome! I loved waking up to roosters crowing, sun shining in my room and just loved the overall relaxed atmosphere. If you're looking for a weekend retreat, I would definitely suggest taking a trip to Turquoise Barn.  In the future, I would also like to try Hills Country Inn, Brookton Hollow Farm, and The Golden Guernsey, which are vegetarian.

In my hunt for a place to stay, the two websites I looked at were Happy Cow and Vegetarian USA: http://www.happycow.net/travel/bb_united_states.html, http://www.vegetarianusa.com/vegetarianbedbreakfast.html

10 Tips for Health in 2012

2012 is here and with it brings us a clean slate. Ah. I’m sure there are a number of changes we want to make in our life this year, but sometimes it’s better to make gradual changes. Here’s a list of 10 things to try this year! Happy New Year! 1. Put Yourself First! I know we always talk about putting other people first, but sometimes it’s all about you! Your boss, your kids and your significant other can wait. Put your mobile device in a place you can’t see it and give yourself some TLC. Take a yoga class, read a book, see a movie, walk through the park, go to the gym, cook a meal; whatever it is, do it for you. Sometimes we all need a little break to restart our engines. You deserve it.

2. Build and Maintain Healthy Relationships! A healthy lifestyle starts first with loving and respecting yourself and second, by loving those around you. Studies have shown that people who have close relationships and are involved in social gatherings (temple, church, book club) lead happier lives, so whether it’s a coworker, a significant other or a family member, enhance those relationships! For example, if you haven’t spoken to an older relative in a while, call them (yes, I know…the dreaded phone) – they love hearing about your life and you will mutually benefit from this experience.

3. Take in Fresh Air! Fresh air provides you with a steady supply of oxygen, which is needed by your brain and every single cell of your body. If you stay in a closed in area for a long period of time, you will end up breathing in the same air over and over again. The oxygen content of the air will go down continually as you (and whoever else happens to be in the room with you) breathe out carbon dioxide and other wastes. I know it’s cold for us east coasters, but a little fresh air will do your body good, so next time you finish work, think about walking home; if you don’t have time, just open a door or window at least once a day.

4. Create Positive Thoughts! We all have bad days, rough situations and annoyances in our lives, and of course we’ve all had “bad childhoods,” but we don’t need to bring these experiences into our social situations. You know why? It’s no fun to spend time with someone who is always complaining and brings a negative energy to the room. So, the next time you feel that urge to burst out with something negative, try channeling your energy toward something you healthy, e.g., taking a yoga class, reading a book or listening to your favorite song.

5. Try Something New! Whether it’s a class at the gym or rock climbing, with the plethora of fitness facilities, yoga studios and everything in between, it’s the perfect time to try something new! And you never know, you may even make a new friend. In December, I tried Strengthen, Lengthen and Tone (SLT), a Megaformer class where you do just that, in only 50 minutes. It’s only $20 for your first class and you’ll be hooked.

6. Find a Workout Buddy! I remember back in 2004 when I had just moved to NYC by myself and didn’t know anyone, I had to make friends the way little kids do; at the sandbox. ;-) I took coreSati™ and intenSati™ at Equinox every Tuesday night and on occasion, I would take willPower & grace© on Saturdays. I started to see a girl every week and eventually we introduced ourselves and finally, we became ‘gym’ friends; we then made plans to take these classes together and it was so motivating! And we are still friends (outside of the gym, 7 years later).

7. Make a Mitzvah! Do something nice for someone else this year. This can be as small as holding a door for a mother with a giant stroller, or as large as donating your time to an organization which helps people. Sometimes giving money is the easy way out, so use the skills you have to make a difference. For New Yorkers, NYCares offers a variety of events to help others, from planting gardens to building houses to packing backpacks for children starting school.

8. See a Personal Trainer! They’re expensive, I know, but when you just aren’t able to make changes to your body, sometimes insight from a professional will give you that extra kick in the pants. It’s always nice to have something holding you accountable for that slice of pizza you had yesterday or that cardio session that you skipped. Yes, it’s like having a second mother / therapist….and it just feels better to have someone tell you what to do, right?

9. Get some Greens! We could all use a little more green in our lives. Take a look at what you’re eating for one day and see if you have greens as part of your diet, and I hate to break it to you, but a French fry isn’t a green. Sad, I know. What I’m talking about is spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, chards, etc. If you’re lazy, you can grab a green juice from a number of different places in Manhattan (Organic Avenue, Whole Foods (BluePrint), Juice Generation, to name a few), and you’re all set!

10. Drink Water! Your muscles that move your body are 75 percent water; your blood that transport nutrients is 82 percent water; your lungs that provide your oxygen are 90 percent water; your brain that is the control center of your body is 76 percent water; even your bones are 25 percent water. Lack of water can lead to dehydration, a condition that occurs when you don’t have enough water in your body to carry out normal functions. Even mild dehydration can drain your energy and make you tired. Drink up!

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