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!

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

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!

 

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!

For my Nourish Your Body Tumblr updates, Follow me on Twitter! 

Kale Chips

This is my yummy kale chip recipe - great for kale lovers and also those who say they don’t even like kale. These are better than any chip you can buy in a store…I promise! Once you eat one, you will eat the entire plate - make a lot of you plan on sharing! Preparation: Preheat oven to 350 degrees, cook for 10-15 minutes

  • Rinse kale, remove stems and dry completely in a salad spinner or dry off with paper towels; rip into 1-2 inch pieces
  • Put kale in a bowl and massage with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) - make sure it’s coated completely, but not drenched
  • Spread kale on a cookie sheet covered in foil (if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to wash the sheet) and make sure the pieces aren’t on top of each other
  • Top with your favorite seasonings! For me this includes sea salt, sesame seeds, garlic powder and brewers yeast, but play around with your favorites or just keep it simple with salt and pepper!
  • Pop it in the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven - the first time you make these may be trial and error (the kale chips do burn, so watch them!)
  • Place on a plate on top of a paper towel to absorb some of the oil and enjoy right away! (if you plan to store them, wait an hour or two for them to cool off completely, and place into storage bins)
  • YUM!

When life gives you lemons, sip away!

Thanks to my friend, and successful holistic health counselor, Alexi, I have learned a lot about lemons. In the past, I've used them to begin my morning when doing a juice cleanse or detox, but more recently I've been incorporating warm lemon water into my everyday routine! From stomach problems to weight loss, these little guys are amazing for you and easy on the wallet. So, next time you reach for OTC remedies, think twice, and pick up a juicy lemon. For more nutritional tips and homeopathic remedies, contact Alexi.

  1. Good for stomach Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems when mixed with hot water. These include nausea, heartburn and parasites. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon juice, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon juice regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleansing agent. The intake of lemon juice can cure constipation. It is even known to help relieve hiccups when consumed as a juice. Lemon juice acts as a liver tonic and helps you digest your food by helping your liver produce more bile. It decreases the amount of phlegm produced by your body. It is also thought to help dissolve gallstones.
  2. Excellent for Skin Care Lemon, being a natural antiseptic medicine, can participate to cure problems related to skin. Lemon is a vitamin C rich citrus fruit that enhances your beauty, by rejuvenating skin from within and thus bringing a glow on your face. Daily consumption of lemon water can make a huge difference in the appearance of your skin. It acts as an anti-aging remedy and can remove wrinkles and blackheads. Lemon water if applied on the areas of burns can fade the scars. As lemon is a cooling agent, it reduces the burning sensation on the skin.
  3. Aids in Dental Care Lemon water is used in dental care also. If fresh lemon juice is applied on the areas of toothache, it can assist in getting rid of the pain. The massages of lemon juice on gums can stop gum bleeding. It gives relief from bad smell and other problems related to gums.
  4. Cures Throat Infections Lemon is an excellent fruit that aids in fighting problems related to throat infections, sore throat and tonsillitis as it has an antibacterial property. For sore throat, dilute one-half lemon juice with one-half water and gargle frequently.
  5. Good for Weight Loss One of the major health benefits of drinking lemon water is that it paves way for losing weight faster, thus acting as a great weight loss remedy. If a person takes lemon juice mixed with lukewarm water and honey, it can reduce the body weight as well.
  6. Controls High Blood Pressure Lemon water works wonders for people having heart problem, owing to its high potassium content. It controls high blood pressure, dizziness, nausea as well as provides relaxation to mind and body. It also reduces mental stress and depression.
  7. Assist in curing Respiratory Disorders Lemon water assists in curing respiratory problems, along with breathing problems and revives a person suffering from asthma.
  8. Good for treating Rheumatism Lemon is also a diuretic and hence lemon water can treat rheumatism and arthritis. It helps to flush out bacteria and toxins out of the body.
  9. Reduces Fever Lemon water can treat a person who is suffering from cold, flu or fever. It helps to break fever by increasing perspiration.
  10. Acts as a blood purifier The diseases like cholera or malaria can be treated with lemon water as it can act as a blood purifier.

I'm a Personal Trainer at Equinox!

My fitness goals are all coming together! Professionally, that is. I moved to NYC in January (yes, I seriously have failed at keeping up this blog) and six days later, I got a job at Equinox (The old Printing House on Leroy and Hudson) as a Personal Trainer. Yay! The only company I wanted to work for hired me, which means that I didn't have to job hunt and the best part is my commute to work is 8 minutes! I am a lucky girl.

Funny part about getting a job at this Equinox location is that, two years ago, when I was a member of Printing House, I was actually kicked out of the gym for training someone. Of course I wasn't actually training someone, I was just working out with a friend...but, I was asked to leave the gym. Luckily, it all worked out for the best.

From day one at the gym, it has been insane; for two months at three times a week, I was taking classes at EFTI (Equinox Fitness Training Institute), doing Equifits (the two free sessions given to members upon joining the Club), working floor shifts (putting away weights and flapping my gums with the members) and managing my clients. For many days straight, I was working over 11 hours. My sleeping patterns weren't so good and it was hard to make time to eat...and if I don't eat, I get extremely grumpy (many of you know this).

As a trainer, my lifestyle is a bit different from my leisurely year in San Diego. My days consist of waking up at 5:30 or 6:30am, training my clients, going to EFTI and somehow finding time to workout, which has been a challenge with the weather. I miss being able to run around Miramar Lake in San Diego and doing my six-mile hikes at Torrey Pines, but I can't complain because I have the Westside Highway and Central Park. Somehow these options aren't as appealing, especially when I jog past the helipad and get a free rock facial.

One of the major hurdles in getting clients is that the gym currently has no showers because the top two floors are being renovated. Thankfully, I have only lost two clients from this inconvenience and they will return once the upstairs opens. After Equinox purchased Printing House (in December of 2010), they did a complete remodel—the ground floor is now open and the top two floors, which include a rooftop pool and outdoor space, will reopen in September once they are up to Equinox standards.

That's my update for now. I will do my best to post some new workouts and some new eats! And remember, it's not fitness, it's life. :)

Resolutions for Life!

It's that time of year again when you're supposed to make New Year's resolutions and set goals that will make your life better for next year. My problem with this concept is that each day presents a possibility to make tomorrow better, so we do we always wait until January 1st to make these life changes? If we make gradual adjustments to our day-to-day life, instead of at the beginning of each year, we be toasting to a great year past! Now doesn't that make the champagne go down easier?

Do you remember when you were growing up (not to say that I'm a grown up now) and your parents, family and friends used to ask you what do you wanted to be? Do you remember that question like it was yesterday? I do. I think I wanted to be a dancer or an interior designer or a teacher and I'm sure it changed every time I found some new interest. Why is it that now, at age 29 (almost 30!), I still feel vexed by that same question?

The New Year is a perfect example of this age-old question. With the overabundance of career paths available these days, it has become harder to know how to channel your interests into a meaningful and successful career. In addition, with the economy the way it is, people are more apt to jump into a disappointing position just to pay the bills. This is fine, but use this job as a stepping-stone while you really explore your true interests. I'm not ignoring those people who love their jobs, but many of my friends are perplexed when it comes to "what they want to be" and how to get there.

I was in the "I don't know what to do" category. I was in the marketing and publishing industries for five years and realized that I was not happy, but for some reason, I couldn't change my situation. So, how did I change? I put my mind to the test and set goals for myself, both proximal and long term. For starters, I made a list of my interests and activities that describe who I am, and my friends helped me fill in the blanks. I already had this blog about health and fitness and I was bored with my job—I needed to make some changes to get out of the rut.

If you feel like you're not 100 percent satisfied with your current situation, try making a list or asking your close friends/family their thoughts on what you would be good—it sounds silly, but sometimes we need someone to tell us what to do. It was clear to me that I was destined begin a career in fitness and health and multiple people confirmed my decision. I constantly have friends and family telling me I made the correct decision and it feels good to hear!

I started taking the steps to fulfill my passion and I am a Certified Personal Trainer through NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine). I started with the proximal goal of passing the test, and the long-term goal of getting a job as a trainer. I studied my butt off, loved everything I was reading and I passed the test; the most important factor in my success was a positive attitude and motivation. Your mind is a powerful tool, my friends.

Remember, you are accountable for your tomorrow. Put your brain to the test and make each day a better day for you and only you. I wish you all a happy and prosperous end of 2010 and cheers to 2011—make each day your best day ever!

Las Vegas: Red Rock Canyon

When you hear the word Vegas, it typically invokes images of all night parties, strippers, bachelor parties, massive buffets, pool parties, and all that "fun" stuff, but when I go to Vegas, I'm usually seeing my family. Yes, I have 8 family members who reside in Sin City and they seem to lead pretty normal lives however close they are to all the action of The Strip. I even have adorable, twin baby brothers who I get to see! Don't be jealous. :)

I still enjoy a crazy 5am night, a good hangover and a sun burn once in a while, but there really are other things to do in this town of hedonism (trust me). For example, there is a huge National Park that you may have heard of called Red Rock. Sounding familiar? With 19 hiking trails, bighorn sheep, gila monsters, agave roasting pits, natural springs and geological wonders encompassing 197,000 acres of the Mojave Desert, Red Rock is definitely worth the 15-minute (or less) drive from The Strip.

As I said, there are 19 hikes to choose from, ranging in difficulty; I picked the White Rock / La Madra Springs trail, which is the longest (6 miles).  According to the trail map, this hike should take approximately 3.5 hours with moderate difficulty. We started out at around 4pm, so I was hoping we would finish a little sooner, as to not be hiking in the dark (the sun starts to set around 7pm).

The hike starts out relatively steep and gradually rises to an elevation of 5,440 feet. We didn't really know what to expect, but I wanted to go fast, even though it was about 90 degrees and the sun was beating down. It was a steady incline until the 2-mile point, when the major decline started and was intermixed with some flats. When there was a downhill or small uphill, we ran, but maintained a steady pace overall; it was beautiful out and the rock formations were amazing (I still remember geology from way back when)!

There was one crossroad where we though the hike was complete, but after reading a map and looking around at where our car might be parked, realized that we still had 2 miles to go! Being 2 of about 6 other hikers and watching the sun begin to set, we started wishing that we brought a trail map because the signs were slightly confusing. This was about the time we envisioned mountain lions and looters attacking us and my dad was pretty sure he could take the mountain lion. I was pretty sure there was no place to hide and I was going to be dinner.

For most of the hike, the view is of rugged sandstone and tiny lizards all over the place, but near the end, the rocky ground became red, moist sand and we began going uphill again and around our last mountain before the home stretch (we hoped). Once we rounded the curve, we began to see cars and civilization (a couple of people) and I felt extreme hunger. All I wanted to do was get in the car and go eat, (yes, the hike was awesome and I did feel a sense of accomplishment)! This is the longest hike in Red Rock, but Turtlehead Peak, which is 5 miles, is termed strenuous and I want to try that next!

I guess I'm a fool for not visiting Red Rock sooner, because it's truly a wondrous place. It only took me about 50 visits to make it here and now I'm determined to conquer every hike (hopefully with the help and support of my family!). I suggest doing a hike during the fall, or if you must go in the summer, do it early in the morning or toward the evening, because otherwise, you will be toasted like the agave fruit.

Happy trails!

My First 5K

The wind in my hair, the soft patter of my little feet, the adrenaline moving through my bloodstream, the slow in and out of my breath—I’m running. But, friends, I’m not a runner. Not only do I have a foot injury that never healed from college, in general it’s a bit too rough on my joints. Even though I don’t think running will ever be MY thing, I signed up for a 5K to support my roomie, Jodi, who recently ran two races this year (5K and half marathon).

About a month after we signed up, Jodi injured her knee, which left her depressed and incapable of partaking in this particular event. I mean, I signed up to run with her (not next to her or anything), but as a fun moment to share together. Having an injury is devastating and especially when running is your lifeblood, which it is for her, this was bad news bears.

Now that I was running the race solo, I really didn’t have the drive to train intensely or even talk about it with her (to not aid in her depression). I did a couple runs a week and decided on the goal of finishing in 31 minutes—I thought that would be a good target since I normally run about a 10-minute mile. I figured I could speed it up here and there if I used a watch to monitor my pace.

Race day approached quickly and I was feeling a little out of running shape—I had been running about 6-12 miles a week (and only about 4 during my last week). My college buddy, Christin, came down from Newport Beach and used Jodi’s ticket, so I had a partner in crime, which left Jodi in charge of the photos (I got a really great photo of part of her leg during her half marathon, so it was her turn to be the photographer and try and do better than me, which wouldn’t be hard to accomplish). ;-)

I made two huge mistakes the day before: drinking alcohol and not getting a good night’s rest. I think I had about three or four hours of snoozing when the alarm went off on Sunday morning at 5am. I pulled myself together with some coffee and wheat toast with peanut butter, and Jodi took us to the start line of the race: Balboa Park. At least I started off the morning right with a light snack and some caffeine. YAY! I was ready to rock and roll.

I had one minor glitch: I was without an iPod. A couple months back, I left it in NYC, so I’ve gotten pretty used to the sound of my own breath and really taking the quite time to think and reflect (or focusing on not dying mid-run). I guess I could have gone out to purchase a new one, but that would be the easy route, right? I was also planning on borrowing a watch from Jodi to monitor my stride, but I forgot to do that, so it was just me, myself and I (and the annoying sound of people breathing and dragging their feet along the pavement).

During the race, I figured I was running about a 10-minute mile, but I had NO CLUE because I had no way of knowing. It was a pretty nice run with no hills and no major obstacles, but I was definitely feeling tired around mile two. I knew it was just one more mile and some change—I could do this. As I rounded the corner to the finish line, I heard Jodi cheering for me and took off sprinting. Success! I made it!

My final time was just under 28 minutes, which is my quickest pace yet (that’s under 9-minute miles). However ill prepared I was, I pulled through for Jodi, my motivation for this 5K. The feeling of coming through the finish line was amazing! I accomplished something and it felt great. I just might do another 5K after all.