Simple Power Snacks – Avocado and Sunflower Seeds

This super simple snack packs a punch and lots of energy for the rest of your busy day.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Avacado
  • Roasted and salted sunflower seeds without the shell

The Cooking Part …

  • Cut the avacado
  • Remove the Seed
  • Sprinkle the sunflower seeds on top – about a handful or so
  • Spoon it out of the avocado shell and eat it
  • You can add salt, pepper, garlic salt, chili powder, etc for some extra flavor and spice.

What to serve with …

This goes well with all sorts of stuff: tuna fish, tomatoes, salads of all sorts, crackers, celery

Easy and Impressive Egg Fritta

Want a breakfast that looks great, tastes good, and is easy to prepare? It can feed just one or two people or a whole bunch of you. If you don’t want to share save the leftovers for lunches or future breakfast meals.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Ingredients:

  • Butter or other cooking oil – olive or avocado oil works well here – enough to cover the bottom of your pan
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Scrambled Eggs – 6 to 12 depending on the number of people eating and how big your pan is.
    • optional: Milk or half and half for scrambling
  • Broccoli – 1-2 crowns
  • Shredded Carrots – 3-4 large

Garnish Items – if you want:

  • Shredded cheddar cheese – enough to cover the top of the fritta.
    • Amount will depend on personal preference and size of the pan.
  • Sliced grapes tomatoes, pico de Gallo, or salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Avocado

The Cooking Part …

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In an oven safe pan, melt the butter in the pan over the stovetop.
  • While it melts dice the onions and garlic.
  • Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter.
  • Chop the broccoli into small pieces, eliminating the hard parts of the stems, and shred the carrots.
    • Amount of carrots and broccoli will depend on your preference and how many eggs / people you are feeding.
    • You want enough to have the fritta feel hearty but not so much that it drowns out the egg.
  • Add broccoli and carrots to the butter, onion, and garlic.
  • Cook on medium to low heat until the onion is transparent and the broccoli and carrots are soft, but not withered looking. About 5-10 minutes.
  • Scramble the eggs and pour over the mixture and cook until the egg sets up.
  • Transfer pan to the oven until the egg is cooked through. The top begins to set.
  • Add cheese if you want and return to the oven. Place on high broil for 5 minutes to melt the cheese
  • Top with the tomatoes, cilantro, and avocado

What to serve with …

All sorts of breakfast foods – toast & jam, fried potatoes or hash browns, fruit, breakfast salad, juice, coffee, tea.

This meal will keep in the fridge, it is also great as a left over for lunch the next day or you can freeze and reheat as needed for future breakfast meals.

Cilantro Lime Butter Chicken

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

Heat oven to 350 degrees if you are going to bake. You can also do this on the stove top with a frying pan.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts – thawed, trimmed if you want, and enough for each person in your party to have 1 servings (3-4oz).
  • Limes – 1/2 sliced and 1/2 for squeezing
  • Cilantro – leaves chopped, stems removed
  • Butter or coconut oil – enough to cover the bottom of the pan, extra if you want it melted on top of chicken for serving
  • Melt the butter in the pan of your choice.
  • Arrange the chicken breasts in the pan
  • Squeeze 1/2 the lime over the chicken
  • Sprinkle with 1/2-3/4 of the clinantro
  • A little salt and more pepper than salt for cooking

The Cooking Part …

  • Cook until Chicken is done. I usually bake for 30 min or cook stove top for 10-15 min on med each side. I use a meat thermometer because it is easier for me to make sure it is done. I also set a timer to remember to flip or check.
  • Once done I cover and let rest about 5min while I finish prepping the sides, salad, and get the service ware ready.
  • Serve hot with extra slices of lime on top of each piece and a sprinkle of cilantro. Sometimes I add a dollop of butter too.

What to serve with …

I usually serve with any of these: roasted/baked potatoes, rice, asparagus, cauliflower, salad, and/or black beans. Enjoy!

Delicious and Simple Baked Salmon

In this easy to make main dish, I often stick it in the oven – make sure the timer is set loud enough – and then I work out while it cooks. Helps balance my life – good food and healthy body.

I am not a great cook, I’m good when I want to be, but honestly my mind is usually somewhere else and following recipes is really, really hard for me. Any distraction – 3 kids, the dog, a friend, a flower – and boom, we are having “blackened” food again … usually without the Cajan part. So I started making my food simple. Really simple. I wanted healthy and easy.

This one is super easy and allows you to go do something else while it cooks … Like Workout!

Ingredients Needed: Salmon filets, butter or coconut oil, rosemary in whatever form you have, I like ground for this dish, black pepper – I like the kind I can grind

  • Get some salmon – make sure it is thawed out (I often forget this step and end up with frozen items :). Enough for everybody to have a portion (3-4oz piece, size of a deck of cards).
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  • Line a baking dish with foil (if you want easy clean up)
  • Melt some butter or coconut oil – enough to cover the bottom with a little layer of liquid. I just put the oil in the baking dish and throw it in the oven while I get the salmon ready.
  • Arrange the salmon in the baking dish skin side down
  • Cut a lemon in half. Squeeze one half over the filets.
  • Sprinkle Rosemary over the tops of each piece
  • Grind fresh pepper over them
  • Cover with a piece of foil and bake for about 30 min depending on the thickness of the fish. Should be flaky and light pink inside.
  • Garnish with fresh lemon slices from the 2nd lemon half cut earlier

Pair with salad, roasted vegetables, rice pilaf, or baked potatoes to make a full meal.

Note: if it is to dry melt some butter over the top and note for next time cooking. Shorten the time.

Eat Well, Feel Well

Over the last few years I have been diving deep into the connections between mental health and physical health. As I have been working with mental health clients using physical exercise some surprising interventions have made the most impact. One that continues to be a solid help is eating a balanced diet at regular intervals.  Here are some reasons to care and tips to track your own moods as they relate to your food choices.


Easy Budget Meals Your Family Will Love

When we look at the links between blood sugar and mood we see some themes. When one doesn’t eat for long periods of time irritability, depression, sadness, a general feeling of malaise are common. My clients articulate this as “blah” and it makes sense given that feeling low energy often gets tagged as depression in our culture or “what’s wrong with me because I can’t get things done”. Things just aren’t as vibrant, colorful, interesting, or exciting when you aren’t feeling well. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, you don’t feel well.

In the body the brain registers this as dangerous and a slew of chemicals is pumped from the endocrine system to accommodate this threat. Some describe feeling a “little high” or “being detached” from the world and people around them. They report using food to help them achieve these states helps them “numb out” from painful emotions. The problem becomes this behavior feeds its own cycle and often the thoughts around these somatic sensations are distorted. As noted above people label their low energy as depression, the shaky nauseous feeling as anxiety, and the lack of focus as ADHD. However, what’s really going on doesn’t need a psychotropic med it needs a balanced meal.

To begin your own exploration of how food impacts your moods tracking can be helpful. Note what time you eat, what you ate, what emotions you were feeling before and after the meal, and any physical (or lack of) sensations you had. Track for 1-2 weeks without changing anything.  This can help you see patterns in your behaviors, moods, and physical sensation. It is important to begin this process without judgment. There is no need to judge, you are doing what you are doing, just allow yourself to objectively see what it is you are doing. From this place of observation it becomes easier to determine what you would like to change and how you’ll be most successful changing it.
Here’s to happy eating and contented feelings!
Food Diary Log Example:
Date
Meal (can include calories or nutrition info if wanted)
Time eaten
Emotions Before
Emotions After

Physical Sensations

 Photo Credit: www.naimamohamed.com

Are You Self-Sabotaging Your Workout?

Many of us feel the well deserved twang when eating something indulgent after a workout. WAIT!!! Are you self-sabotaging all the hard work? Some of us tend to overindulge and negate the calories we just burned. The result is no weight loss and EVEN WEIGHT GAIN!!!!

If you are eating more calories following a workout than you burned – you are what we’d call a compensator. You eat to compensate for your workout, but may be falling into a psychological trap of rewards rather than refueling. Here are some tips to stop compensating.

First plan your meals, at least for a little while. See where your daily slumps are. Do you need a nutritional snack at 10am? 2pm? to make it to your workout after work? Do you eat every 2-4hours? Small snacks? Get enough protein and fat throughout the day? Are you eating nutrient dense foods so you’ll have the energy to finish your day without feeling deprived?

Next check your beverages. Do you drink enough water throughout the day? How much caffeine are you drinking? Caffeine will set you up for those slumps and create a cycle to feed itself. You’ll need more and more and then not sleep and then need more. See how it works?

Find non-food rewards to give yourself. You may be bingeing because you feel like you deserve something special…and you do, however if food was used as a reward in your life, especially those sweet treats, it may be time to stop that cycle. Find other ways to give yourself a special treat.

It helps to make sure you eat a good pre and post workout snack. AND consider if you burned off 250 calories in a workout, that really only a granola bar. So eating a heaping portion is more than you burned. Often people will be more hungry because what’s called post exercise energy consumption – however if you have planned pre and post snacks and have a solid eating schedule throughout the day usually exercise isn’t a binge creator – that’s the psychological piece of I deserve it.

Healthy Weight Loss Goals

So you’ve been working hard and know you’re no the right track, but now it’s time to morph your new year’s resolutions into your life. It’s getting hard to maintain the motivation to keep up the new year pace. That sounds great! AND that’s how it happens day by day and new behavior by new behavior. Here is a guideline for losing weight to help you plan for the next few months and bring this lifestyle into your week.

10-12lbs in 12 wks is doable. On average you want to aim for 1-2lbs per week. So you might be better off giving yourself 14wks to allow for set backs. There will be some weeks you lose more and some less. We all cycle so that usually isn’t something to worry about unless you aren’t seeing loss. I find most of my clients (men and women) lose about 3wks a month and gain .5 or so 1 wk a month on average.

Sometimes the last 10 lbs can stick. If this is the case look at diet and see if there is anywhere you might be getting hidden calories or extra salt. Alcohol is another big place to cut down or out when looking to lose the last few pounds toward your goal. Use this as a guideline to help you determine healthy weight loss to keep it off.

Planning for Fitness Success

This week’s idea for healthy living = PLANNING

It’s Fall, back to school, and illness season. So planning will be key. If you haven’t paid things forward it will matter that you determine your strategy to get through the season and how to maintain workouts if you get ill. How will you adjust your schedule for busy days or days/weeks you feel like crap. Falling completely off the wagon doesn’t seem to be the best option because most have trouble getting back on – Damn horse ran fast after I fell off – SO … here are some tips for planning balance in your life.

1)      Determine what you can do – maybe you usually workout an hour but the first week of school or during a big project it might be 30min a day or 2 15min segments. Maybe find activities that you can include for calorie burn like parking and walking or picking events with friends that include activities to participate in.

2)      Pay attention to food – if you aren’t working out as much or hard you may need to cut back on calories – often easier when sick than during a busy time. So just notice and maybe choose the salad and lean chicken, smaller portions, or eating less snacks throughout the day – don’t go too long between meals or you’ll tank your blood surgar.

3)      Know this is how healthy living works – life happens, we get sick, go on vacation, have a whole town party for a week where we dress up. Give yourself a break and keep postive. This is the stuff that makes life worth living and if you can strike the balance between healthy eating, working-out, and living you are doing it. Your horse won’t take off with your wagon – you’ll have no trouble living the fitness lifesytle if you have put some effort into planning for life.

Quick Reminder on Benefits of Exercise

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that starting exercise doesn’t have to be overwhelming AND there is good reason to consider adding it to your life if you haven’t already. Here’s a quick reminder on some benefits and how to get started with short bouts of movement.

Exercise has so much potential to make your life better – less stress, sickness, and disease, not to mention, endorphins (body’s morphine), endocannabinoids (body’s pot), and it just feels good to have completed something that makes you sweat. Life gets a little easier when you take the time for you each day even if it’s just minutes. Fitness goals can be accomplished in intermittent bouts of exercise, you know so take some time to do just a little here and there until you’ve reached your daily goal. You can do this and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming to start.

IF you are still struggling – See me. Let’s look at your obstacles and maybe pare down your goal.

IF you are feeling pretty good about your current health place – EXCELLENT!!! You’ve put in the hard work to make the change and now it’s becoming habit. Work on continuing to solidify and look at timing to add another layer of healthy change on – for example: it’s often easier to focus on diet or exercise to start with, once your fav becomes easier to stick with you add the other component. This helps you stay focused and challenged. Loss of motivation happens just as easily from boredom as difficult tasks.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As we move closer to the official date of summer I thought it would be good to discuss gardens. Not the gardens in our yards, on our balconies, and growing in pots, but the garden that is your body.  Just like planting a garden good health takes tending. We have to work to get it to elicit the juicy fruit of health. Here are a few ways to make sure you have planted the right seeds in your fitness-garden. What fertilizer did you give it? Quality fuel goes a long way. It is important to choose clean, whole foods – things as close to their original composition as possible. This doesn’t have to be burdensome. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store and look for items with the least amount of ingredients.

I have been learning about how our nutrition impacts our physical and mental health. One tip to eating more healthy and emotional health is cutting out added sugar. According the Wall Street Journal “Most women should limit sugar intake to 100 calories or six teaspoons, a day. Men should limit their consumption to 150 calories. … A 12-ounce can of cola has 130 calories or eight teaspoons” These recommendations come from the American Heart Association. This recommendation is about the extra sugar added to our foods, like added sugar in dried cranberries (and other fruits), juices, crackers, chips, and cereals. Naturally occurring sugars aren’t on our list however it can be tough to pick them apart from added sugar. The best way to help figure it out is look on the label. Any food with added sugar comes out of your cart.

Then there is fat. There is research to support that our bodies need fat. It is known that many processes and vitamin absorption requires fat, however it can be confusing to determine what fat is a “good fat”. Typically, we want the fat in our diets to come from polyunsaturated fats (avocados, olive oil, nuts) and only about 10% of our daily intake to come from saturated fat (animal products). The omegas – 3, 6, & 9s – are also important to healthy function in our bodies. Things like wild salmon and nuts provide some of these luscious fats. So pay attention to the type of fat you are consuming, it’s a big part of good health and helps you feel more satisfied after a meal.

Food is an important component to good health – in fact without a good diet great exercise won’t take you far. You need good nutrition to get the great exercise. However exercise is the other half of the equation. So now that you have considered your food intake and have “planted seeds” of good nutrition it is time for adding exercise in.

Exercise allows our body to move through joint range of motion, build strength, bone density, and heart health. It helps our metabolism stay elevated and helps us create efficient metabolic pathways through our energy systems. All of this translates into feeling better while we do fun things in our lives. Some of us enjoy hiking, shopping, biking, kayaking, playing with the kids or grandkids or neighborhood kids, gardening, walking our dog, chasing our cats, exercise is the piece that makes all of these activities more enjoyable. You can begin by walking daily, adding in strength 2-3 times a week, increasing your current intensities or speed. The key is you just need to start. I have some links below to help you customize your needs.

See some of my older posts to get started on a new workout (here’s a quick search I did). I have some specific workouts up as well. Just search www.superiorworkout.com to find them in old blog posts. I also have a number of exercises with safety tips and equipment buying tips available on my video blog. If you have a specific question about a workout, let me know and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.

So as we come upon summer solstice how have you planted your garden of health? Are you feeding yourself well? Are you exercising hard enough, often enough, enjoyably? Now is the time to re-evaluate where you are and where you want to be … you’ll be amazed at the harvest you’ll reap with a little planning.

We’ll check on your garden in August (8wks) and see if it needs some weeding and then in September (13wks from now) to see what kind of harvest you’ve pulled in over the long days of summer sunshine.