A HEALTHY START TO THE NEW YEAR

The start of a new year often gets us thinking about what we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. Many of us set goals that are health related, vowing to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthy and to be better people. New Year’s resolutions can be a great way to figure out what is important to you. Here are a few tips for making your resolutions stick this year:

  • Change your health outlook. Looking to change everything at once can be very overwhelming.  Set a plan to make small realistic changes that are achievable. Walking for an extra 15 minutes a day or drinking more water can be a great place to start!
  • Exercise. It’s easier to make room for exercise if you find ways to incorporate it into
    your daily routine. Start taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator, park further away, walk more, and do something more for at least 15 extra minutes everyday.
  • Don’t fall for false fixes. Losing weight or attaining goals very quickly is tempting, however, the gains tend to be short-lived. Keep your aim on being healthy. Steer clear of empty calories and load up on whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, healthy proteins and fats. 
  • Unplug daily. Try to take technology breaks. Being tuned in to technology too long can lead to stress. Research finds that media overload can increase your risk for social anxiety, job burnout, and poor sleep hygiene.
  • Get rid of clutter. Another way to reduce stress levels and to create more space in your life is to clear out clutter from your home. Keep the things that matter and get rid of those that don’t.
  • Embrace generosity and give. One of the best ways to feel good about yourself is to be of service and give. Consider volunteering, giving back, donating to a good cause or helping the people around you that you love. 

Even setting one small positive resolution is a great start. If you’re looking for help getting started, feel free to get in touch with me! Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!

TIME SAVING TIPS FOR MEAL PLANNING

A common thing I hear from people is that they would like to cook healthy meals but don’t have the time it takes to prepare them. It’s often easier to eat out and have pre-cooked and processed meals. Eating healthy and nutritious meals is possible. Here are some tips you can follow:

  • Eating produce that is local and in season can help maximize the nutritional content of your fruit and veggies. However, if you’re lacking time, you may not be able to do this. Purchasing pre-cut, pre-washed, and even frozen produce that are in season can help you save time. They’re still nutritionally high and you’re more likely to eat them if they are convenient to incorporate into your day.
  • Have a meal plan. Going to the grocery store without having a plan of what you want to eat or the ingredients needed to prepare a meal can be frustrating. Research a couple of healthy recipes that look appetizing and easy to prepare and create a list of the ingredients you need. Having a grocery list handy can help you stay prepared and focused.
  • Find a weekly prep time. Choosing one day a week to go grocery shopping and prepping for your meals is essential. Every Monday, I go grocery shopping and leave my evening open to prep my meals for the week. It is a wholesome act that you can do to take care of yourself. Take this time to wash your produce, cut up fruits and vegetables, portion out snacks in containers for work the next day, and prepare meals that can last a while like soup or stews.
  • Cook extra. If you’re open to eating leftovers, this can be the biggest time saver of them all. Cooking extra can help take away the thinking and stress involved in preparing fresh meals on a daily basis. This can help minimize eating out and keep you nutritionally fit.

With a little more focus and dedication, you’ll be preparing healthy meals in no time! 

CHIA OAT ALMOND PUDDING

I decided to experiment with my morning breakfast and change it up a bit. I normally have plan old fashioned oats with flaxseed and blueberries but since it's getting warmer outside, I decided to try something cooler. I've always been a fan of almond milk and chia seeds and decided to try something with that. This recipe requires that you prep the night before since it is a no cook recipe. It's also super healthy filled with fiber, protein, omega 3, potassium, and love. 

Ingredients:

  • 3- tbsp of old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 -3/4 cup of almond milk 
  • 4 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 pinch of pumpkin spice

Methods: In a container, first add chia seeds and then pour the vanilla almond milk over the chia seeds. Mix the chia seeds around so they become well dispersed. Add 3-4 tbsp of old fashioned oats, sliced banana, walnuts, and pumpkin spice. Mix the entire contents well and leave in the refridgerator overnight. In the morning, the mixture will have changed to a more pudding-like consistency. The chia seeds will have swollen a little and the oats will be naturally cooked. It's just delicious and you have to try it!

SPICED ZUCCHINI COUSCOUS WITH PRUNES

Looking for a healthy yet tasty recipe that will heat you up during the cold winter? You'll have to try this new recipe that I created the other night. Zucchini is a vegetable that I have grown to love and I try to cook with often because of it's health benefits. Zucchini squash belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family or gourd family. It is rich in folate, potassium, phytochemicals, and antioxidants.

Ingredients:

  • 1 zucchini squash diced
  • 4 prunes chopped
  • 1 cup of Israeli couscous
  • 1 small shallot or 1 small white onion chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp of red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 lime squeezed
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 cups of water

Time: 15 minutes

Methods:

Heat up a large skillet pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Once the oil has had a chance to heat up slightly, add garlic, shallots or white onion, coriander spice, red chili powder, cumin seeds and allow the flavor to combine. After the garlic and shallots turn golden brown, add the zucchini and sauté until it absorbs all the other flavors. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes while stirring and then add dry couscous and sauté until it is well mixed. Keep stirring the couscous until it turns golden brown and then add 1.5 cups of water or until it the water covers the dry mixture. Add 1 tsp of salt and squeeze 1/2 lime over the wet mixture and allow to cook on medium heat for 15 minutes. Once the couscous and zucchini have been fully cooked, garnish the dish with chopped prunes to add sweetness and tanginess.

This is a spicy, sweet, tangy, hearty and healthy dish! Enjoy!

THE GREEN SMOOTHIE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS

I've always been a fan of eating fruits and vegetables and have recently been experimenting with making healthy fruit and veggie smoothies. There are many ways to add fruits and vegetables to your diet in a healthy way, juicing and blending is one of them. I make healthy smoothies in the morning for breakfast now and it helps me feel more energetic and clean. Here is one of my breakfast smoothie recipes that I created after coming back from my trip to Costa Rica. Pineapple in Costa Rica is so fresh and delicious... and it tastes great in a smoothie! This smoothie is high in iron, beta-carotene, folate, vitamin C, omega 3s, and fiber.

juice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of organic spinach
  • 1 organic orange bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of cucumber
  • 1/2 cup of fresh or frozen pineapple
  • 4 oz water
  • 2 tbsp of ground flaxseed
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger

Method:

Add everything in a blender and blend until texture is smooth and consistent. Pour in a cup and enjoy!

JUICING

Juicing. It’s a word that we’ve become very familiar with in our society today. My clients often ask me whether they need to juice to be healthy. Drinking your fruits and vegetables through methods like juicing and blending can be easy ways to get your nutrients in. Unfortunately, both these liquefying methods come with their own nutritional ups and downs. On the upside, certain vitamins and minerals like carotenoids found in your brightly colored fruits and vegetables seem to be better absorbed in the juice form. On the downside, juice will carry a higher amount of natural concentrated sugar. Concentrated sugars are rapidly digested by your body, leading to quick spikes and drops to your blood sugar levels that can lead to decreased satiety. This can be a potential problem if you’re someone who has high blood sugar levels or diabetes. Blended fruits and vegetables do not contain the same amount of fiber that would be consumed if you were eating whole fruits or vegetables. Fiber is the key nutrient that slows down the release of sugar in your blood system. If you’re leaving the pulp behind in your juicer, you’re probably not getting that much fiber. Here are some tips on how you can make juicing healthier for you:

  • Use whole juice instead of extracted juice. Whole juicers are designed to liquefy entire fruits and vegetables and include the fiber. Compared to eating whole fruits and vegetables, whole juice will still cause a more rapid rise in blood sugar, but not as much as drinking extracted juices which leave the fiber behind.
  • Try to juice fresh and seasonal produce. The antioxidants and phytonutrients in juiced vegetables and fruits start to break down as soon as they are exposed to light and air. If you are looking for peak nutritional value, it’s best to drink juice fresh and as soon as it has been prepared. If you don’t want to juice every day, freezing fresh juice and drinking it within a couple of days is the best way to preserve the nutrient content in the juice.
  • Try adding healthy fat and protein to your smoothie. This will slow down the release of sugar in your body. Sources like nuts, avocado, yogurt, flaxseed and healthy protein powders are good choices.
  • If you’re determined on eliminating the pulp from your juice, try transferring the pulp to other recipes. Using pulp in sauces, pastas, stews and in baking can make your dish healthy and delicious.
  • Clean your fruits and vegetables to remove any soil, bacteria, or pesticides.

Blended fruits and vegetables can increase the nutrient quality of your diet. But, you’ll get the most nutritional benefit if you chew your whole fruits and vegetables. Check out my favorite healthy smoothie recipe that I created after my trip to Costa Rica where the pineapple is fresh and delicious! 

MANGO SHRIMP TACO'S

I love Mexican food and always try making healthier variations. I get excited to come home and prepare this dish because it’s just that good. It’s flavorful, succulent, satisfying and healthy. This dish is high in monounsaturated fatfibervitamin C and vitamin E. See recipe below.

mango shrimp taco

Makes 6 tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 mango
  • 1 cup of cooked shrimp
  • 4 tbsp. of diced red onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tsp. jalapeño or to taste
  • ½ squeezed lime
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro
  • 6 corn tortillas

Prep: Dice up mango, avocado, red onion and place in a medium size bowl. I get precooked frozen shrimp and thaw it in a bowl of cold water for 15-20 minutes. Once thawed, add shrimp and diced jalapeño. Squeeze half of a lime over the salsa mix. Garnish with cilantro and mix. Allow the flavors to marry for about 10 minutes. Heat the tortilla up on a dry skillet on medium heat. Add 3 tbsp. of shrimp mango salsa mixture on top of 1 heated tortilla. If desired, add more lime to taste.

Voila!

OATMEAL BANANA DARK CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Looking for a yummy healthy snack to fulfill your sweet craving? Try this recipe, it's one of my favorite healthy cookie recipes. It's mildly sweet filled with flavor. Hints of dark chocolate complete the experience.

cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of plan rolled oats
  • 2 overly ripe or ripe banana
  • 4 small dark chocolate squares
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit / raisins and nuts
  • 2 tsp. of honey
  • 1 tsp. vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin spice or cinnamon

Methods:

In a container, blend the banana and oatmeal together and add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Create little oatmeal banana dark chocolate balls and place on parchment paper. Put in the oven at 400 for 12-15 mins. Tastes best the next day!

SPICED CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOM SOUP

The test of a good soup is that you just can't get enough of it. That's how I feel about this spiced cauliflower mushroom soup. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable and contains a high amount of nutrients like B vitamins and folic acid. It also contains a number of antioxidants and beta-carotene. One head of cauliflower has about 12 grams of fiber in it! Sounds like a tasty nutritional jackpot to me. Here is the recipe:

Cauliflower soup

Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of sliced mushrooms
  • 3 tbsps. of light sour cream
  • 2 tbsps. of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. of chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of turmeric powder
  • 2 tsps. of salt
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 lime, squeezed
  • 3 tbsps. of chives
  • 1 tsp. of pumpkin spice

Prep: Wash and de-stem cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into quarters and separate the cauliflower florets into smaller pieces. Wash the mushrooms.

Methods:

Place a large pan on the stove top and turn the heat on medium. Add EVVO and allow the oil to heat up a little. Add garlic and allow to heat until golden brown and aromatic. Add turmeric, chili powder and mushrooms. Stir the mushrooms until all the flavors are well dispersed and absorbed. Add cauliflower florets and mix until flavors well absorb. Add salt, lime juice, pumpkin spice and mix. Cover the pan and allow to cook for 7 minutes stirring occasionally. Add 2 glasses of water and cook for an additional 10 minutes on medium heat until the florets are mushy / soft.

Once the florets are soft and cooked, pour the mixture into a blender and blend until the consistency is soup-like. Pour the soup-like consistency back into the pan and turn to low heat. Add 3 tbsps. of light sour cream and stir into the soup. Add salt and pumpkin spice to taste. Garnish soup with chopped chives.

Optional, serve with sesame melba toast. Delicious!