Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Granola Bars meets Protien

After playing with the chocolate peanut butter crunch recipe, I found a recipe for chewy granola bars.   SCORE!  Then suddenly I wasn't satisfied with my previous creation.  Yes it tasted yummy, but could I amp up the protein and turn it into a granola bar style.  So my kitchen has been transformed into a test kitchen yet again.  (Why is good never good enough?!?  I really ought to think about it, but today I am cooking...)

Homemade low calorie granola (check) (I wouldn't eat it for breakfast but it is good for this purpose!)
Protein Powder (Check)
Peanut Butter (Check)
Apron (check)

Let the play time Begin!  I feel like I am back developing recipes for my cooking classes-- ingredients scattered, apron smeared, sticky fingers, children neglected, no they are at school, dog neglected.  I.E. all around crazy fun in the kitchen.
My kitchen gets trashed

I started with the idea from back to the cutting board using granola and rice crispies for the bulk of the bar.  I added some peanut butter and protein powder, but it was way too dry.  Added some milk.  Ooops too much.  New batch.  On batch #3, I figured out the ratios.  (Good thing I buy protein in bulk)

Here is the finished product

Peanut Butter Protein Granola Bar
 2 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
1/4 cup rice crispy cereal
1/3 cup plain granola
10 chocolate chips
Melt peanut butter in a small bowl.  Stir in milk and protein powder.  Add granola and rice cereal.  Form into a granola bar shape.  Dot with chocolate chips.  Enjoy responsibly.

Nutrition facts: 375 Calories, 11 grams of fat, 15g carbohydrates, 27 grams protein

Plain Jane Granola (good for making granola bars, but not breakfast worthy)
5 cups quick oats
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp oil
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.  Spread onto a cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until it is a deep golden brown color.  Allow to cool.  Use it to make granola bars.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protien Crunch Bar

Special K's Bar
I love my post workout recovery shake.  But for days when I am on the run (literally post workout running or errands)  I need something quick, easy,  very portable and tastes good at room (car) temperature (few things are worse than a room (car) temperature smoothie.  YUCK!)  But I hate paying $1.25 or more for protein bars.  Solution?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Crunch Bar.  The goodness of oats and peanut butter combined with chocolate and crispy cereal make this good enough to eat!  This recipe was DEVOURED by my kids before I could even take a picture of it.  Lesson learned:  Hide these from the kids!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Crunch Bar
1/2 cup milk
1 cup crunchy peanut butter (can substitute with almond butter)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup vanilla whey protein powder
1 cup quick oats
1 - 1 1/2 cup rice crispies cereal

Combine peanut butter, milk, honey and cocoa powder in a medium sauce pan.  Heat over low to melt peanut butter.  Stir in whey protein powder and oats.  Remove from heat.
Grease up (spray with non-stick cooking spray) 2 loaf pans.  Grease hands.  Knead in as much rice cereal as you can.  Divide dough into the 2 loaf pans and push down  and spread evenly.   Let cool. Cut into bars.  Wrap in plastic wrap.  Room stable.  Makes 16 bars.
160 calories, 8 g fat, 0g cholesterol, 10g carbohydrates, 13.5 g protein

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ch-Ch-Ch Chia

Do you remember the classic Chia Pets?  Those funky sculptures you douse in seeds and water, then neglect and it still grows into furry green coolness.  Gotta love it!  Well, chia isn't just for  house plants anymore.  Those seeds that grow groovy greenness are packed full of great things for our bodies too. (Did you like the alliteration?)

Chia Nutritionally
Chia Seeds
Every one ounce serving of chia seeds (a little less than 1/4 cup dry) packs a whopping 4,915mg Omega -3's, 1,620mg Omega-6's, and is a complete protein with all 11 of the essential amino acids coming to the party.  Chia seeds also boasts 11 grams of dietary fiber per serving!

The downer: Chia seeds are great, but all that Omega-6 and Omega-6 goodness comes at a high fat content, 9 grams per serving (less than 1 gram saturated)

Why do I Chia?
Chia Gel
I love Chia for hydration.  Yes, for helping me drink enough water and stay properly hydrated.   I have this problem.  Water goes right through me.  I drink, then I pee like crazy.  I tend to feel dehydrated no matter how much I drink (and subsequently pee).  Chia helps the water stay in my system longer, bypassing my hyperquick elimination process.
How does that work?  Remember how you can neglect the chia plant and it will still grow? Chia seeds absorb a ton of water (9 times their weight).  Little fiber on the outside of the chia grab onto water forming a gel like capsule around the seed.  Your body can't break this down immediately.  So the water stays in your system longer, helping you feel fuller longer, irrigate the colon and prevent problems like constipation.  Check out this cool illustration of chia in action.http://www.mychiaseeds.com/Articles/ChiaSeedHydration.html

How to Chia
Chia is tasteless so you can use chia in almost anything.  I mix 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds in 8 oz water and let it sit for 10 minutes.  I chug the chia and water before I exercise and instead of hitting a pit stop 1 mile into the run I am good to go!
Chia in a concentrated suspension will have the texture of tapioca pudding.  This recipe taps into that chia pudding idea, but with the added goodness of almond milk.
Banana-Almond Chia Breakfast Pudding
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp raw almonds
1 Tbsp Chia seeds
1/2 banana
The evening before, blend together water and almonds in a blender until the almonds are in small chunks.  Pour blended mixture into a seperate bowl.  Stir in chia seeds.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, cut up half a banana.  Stir the chopped banana into the chia almond mix.  Enjoy!

How do you use Chia Seeds?

Monday, September 17, 2012

10 Commandments for Loving My Body

Can you really apply the scriptures to all aspects of your life?  Do the scriptures have anything to say about helping your body be more healthy and fit?  The ancient prophet Nephi says to "liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning"(1Nephi 19:23).  I will be bold in my attempt to liken the scriptures to health and fitness in this instalment of:
Can Scripture Power Help Me Be Healthy?
You want the truth?  I struggle with my body image most days.  I have had to train myself to think positive thoughts about what I look like.  "I have lovely ankles."  "My legs are strong."  "My smile lights up a room."  "My eyes are windows to a beautiful soul."  All mantras I repeat to myself.  My saintly husband will tell me I am beautiful; sometimes I believe him but some days I don't.

Why do we allow ourselves to feel this way?  We are all BELOVED spirit children of God.  Yes.  But how do I (you, we) get over it?

I read in the scriptures the other day about Nephi.  I was looking for ways the Lord teaches us about taking care of our bodies, but the Lord took me on a journey that had more to do with learning to love my body FIRST.  I read, "if the children of men keep the commandments of God, He will nourish them and strengthen them." (1 Nephi 17:3)

Wow, I thought, could the God's commandments really help us with strength training?  I decided to test it out on the 10 Commandments.  I was surprised that when I thought about each commandment I immediately recognized how I needed to LOVE my body.

1. Thou Shalt Have No Other God Before Me.  Does God come first in my life?  He is the source of all I have and am.  Do I spend more time maintaining my body (read exercising and stressing about what I look like) or praising God.  To Do: Prioritize God first in my life.

2. Thou Shalt Have No Graven Images. Do I worship other people's bodies instead of God. Do I spend my time worrying about the tee-shirt wrinkles that look like fat roll in a photo? Ouch! Do I idolize the "ideal body" without realizing the beauty in my own body? To Do:  Let go of the "Ideal Body" and love the beauty God created in me.

3. Thou Shalt Not Take The Lord Thy God's Name in Vain.  I have been created in the image of God.  Do I take that for granted and utter slurs against God's own handiwork?  To Do:  Thank my body for the work it does for me on a daily basis.  Speak kindly about God's creation.

Charred Tomato and Chicken Tacos

This recipe comes via my dear friend Karen with a couple of my own twists (bell peppers & blackened chicken)  Worth the effort every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

A little nervous about blackening chicken?  Here is a great tutorial: http://www.thecookingdish.com/0312/how-to-blacken-chicken-or-fish/

Charred Tomato and Chicken Tacos
4 plum tomatoes, cored
Chicken Tacos with Charred Tomatoes Recipe
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed of fat
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 clove garlic, minced
½ red bell pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 scallions, chopped
6 small corn tortillas, heated
Heat a medium skillet (cast iron if you are blackening your chicken) over high heat until very hot. Add tomatoes and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until charred on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise; squeeze to discard seeds. Remove cores and chop the remaining pulp and skin.
Cut chicken into 1/2 inch fillet; dredge the chicken in butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Heat pan over high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook3 -5  minutes per side and until it is not pink in the middle (it will smoke). Transfer to a plate; squeeze 1/2 lime over the top. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes.  Carefully cut chicken into 1/2 inch pieces.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil. Add onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeño and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add 2 teaspoons lime juice, the chicken and tomatoes. Cook, stirring, until heated through, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cilantro and scallions. Divide the chicken mixture among tortillas. Serve with lime wedges and a generous helping of Cucumber Mango Salsa.
Serves 6

Cucumber Mango Salsa
1 mango, chopped
cucumber, seeded and chopped
Juice of ½ lime
¼ cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tbsp cilantro
½ tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

High Plank Side Kicks & Sitting Eagle Crunches

I've been looking back at my Wednesday posts; am I a glutton for abdominal punishment?  Yeah, I guess.  What is better than challenging yourself and succeeding at something CRAZY HARD?  Not much in my book.

This week is no exception.  Do you know the Insanity workouts?  Crazy intense high impact followed by hardcore toning leaving you a shredded body.  Adrienne (my exercise buddy) has been feeling inspired by Insanity lately.  Here is how to do Adrienne's
High Plank

High Plank Side Kicks:

Begin in high plank (forward leaning rest). Don't forget to tuck that rear under and squeeze those abs and shoulder blades together. 

While resting here bring one knee up to the side. 

Dang my legs look good!

While holding this position kick your leg out to the side.  Keep that bum down.  Think speed kick while in plank position.

 Eagle Crunches?
Crunchy Frogs (We do them sitting up.)
Our friend Carol inspired this move.  We were doing a hellishly awesome set of crunchy frogs and Carol rested her feet on the ground for a second then opened them up into a seated front stretch and I thought, "we could turn that into a killer crazy frog."  Incorporating leg, glut and ab work in one exercise Bring IT!
No I am not leaning on the fireplace!

Begin by sitting up with knees tucked into your chest.  Engage your core and lean back... a little further now.

Engage that core! Balance!!!

Balancing on your glutie,(yes I made up that word.  Glut and bootee mix) extend your legs out to the front without letting them touch the floor. 

Now spread eagle.  Control, Control, Control.  Now bring your legs back to the center and pull them into your chest.  Build up to 25 consecutive Eagle Crunches for rocking inner thighs and abs!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Garden Fresh Dinner

I'm a little nervous.  I've been meaning to make this soup for a few weeks but keep chickening out.  Why?  ZUCCHINI!  Why do I have such a hang up about zucchini?  Bill says it's the texture that bugs me.  Yes, that and usually zucchini doesn't taste like anything.  So as we speak, (not literally)  I am beginning this recipe.  I will comment and post a pic later.

Savor the Moment

This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks (thanks Annette Robino!)  She gave it to me on a business trip to Miami and I have treasured it since.  I have loved every recipe I have tried in this book.  So, DEEP BREATH, here we go...

Zucchini Basil Soup
2 cups chopped onions
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil (2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp unsalted butter
8 cups chicken broth
14 small zucchini (8 cups chopped)-- one large from your neighbour’s garden
3 tbsp uncooked rice
1/3 cup cream cheese

Saute the onions, garlic, basil and thyme in butte in a large sauce pan over medium-low heat until the onions are tender.  Add the chicken broth and the zucchini.
Bring to a boil and stir in the rice.  Simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the cream cheese until melted.

Using a hand-held food blender (or a regular blender-- do a few batches) blend until smooth.  Season with salt.  Garnish with a basil leaf and a dollop of cream cheese.

The cook book recommends serving Zucchini Basil Soup with Tuscan Bread Salad.  This is AMAZING SALAD!!!!  A great way to use your garden tomatoes when you are tired of making salsa.

Tuscan Bread Salad
4 large tomatoes, chopped (or 8 if you have a ton to use)
2 bell peppers (yellow or red), chopped
6 oz mozarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil (1 heaping Tbsp dried)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
8 oz Italian or French Bread*

Combine tomatoes, bell pepper, cheese and basil in a bowl.  Whisk the olive oil, vinegar and garlic in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add to the tomato mixture and mix well.

Cut bread into 1-inch cubes.  Spread on a baking sheet.  Broil for 1 minute or until the cubes just begin to brown, stirring once.*  Add to the salad and mix gently.  Serve immediately.

Serves 4+
*Really?!?  Erica's short cut. Break out your favourite croutons (2-4 cups depending on taste) and mix in.

Happy Healthy Eating

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Recipe for Finding Balance

Can you really apply the scriptures to all aspects of your life?  Do the scriptures have anything to say about helping your body be more healthy and fit?  The ancient prophet Nephi says to "liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning"(1Nephi 19:23).  I will be bold in my attempt to liken the scriptures to health and fitness in this instalment of:
Can Scripture Power Help Me Be Healthy?

Have you ever stood in the middle of a teeter-toter and tried to balance one foot on either side of the fulcrum?  It can be hard to find the sweet spot where there is even weight distribution.  It takes a ton of muscle coordination to find balance in uneven terrain.

Years ago I sprained my ankle.  OK, really I have sprained my ankle no less than 6 times, but a few years ago I was training for a marathon and wanted my ankle to heal properly, so I visited my trusty physical therapist Kirk.  (Have you seen a pattern here?  Is Erica injury prone or what?!?)  What did Kirk say I need to improve?
1. Range of motion
2. Stability

I was floored at how many exercises were designed to teach my muscles how to react to and compensate for imbalances and instability in my surroundings.

I learned to stand on one foot and balance for 1 minute.  Then I graduated to standing on a trampoline and balancing on one foot for one minute.  For post-graduate work, Kirk pulled out a bosu ball.  (think half-sphere)  While I immediately thought of all the wonderful push ups and crunches you could do on this contraption, Kirk had me practice simply standing on the ball.

I started out like this cute lady just trying to keep one foot off the ground while still staying on the ball.  Luckily there was a wall nearby to support me.  It seemed like weeks before this became easy.  All the muscles in my feet and body had to constantly react to the feed back my feet were sending them.

Bosu Balanced Squat
I got strong and the muscles in my feet, legs, and core learned how to compensate for stretched out tendons.

Soon I was balancing like a pro.

Finding balance and compensating for life's ups and downs and ever changing terrain can seem down right impossible.  I learned in Physical Therapy that balance was never isolated to one muscle group and could never be achieved with little thought or effort.

I was surprised to find mention of balance in the scriptures.  While this Proverb might have reference to buisness transactions and weights and measures, it can be applicable to us too.

"A false balance is an abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.....The righteousness of the perfect shall direct his ways, but the wicked shall fall by his own wickedness."  (Proverbs 11:1,6, emphasis added)

(I giggled when I read this.  Really Lord?  Just a few verses after talking about being balanced you say that the wicked (morally unbalanced) will fall.  Who says God doesn't have a sense of humour.)

So what is the recipe for balance?

Jesus Christ taught that if you are to embark on a life of serving him, serve with "all your heart, might, mind and strength." (D&C 4:2) If we are to begin any challenge-- even finding balance in life-- we must face it with a full determination, using all our resources, mental capacity, and muscle strength.  It is as simple, complicated, no SIMPLE as that--  Use all of your resources.  Engage all your mental and physical strength and just hold on as long as you can.  Maybe even a full minute.

Another Balance Exercise:
Need to recover from an ankle injury or just become more stable on your feet?  Here is a great exercise.  No Bosu Ball needed.  (you just might want one anyway-- I do at least)  Try this exercise when you can balance on one foot for 30 seconds at a time.

Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place a cup or another object 1 foot to the right of your right leg.  Raise the left foot off the ground.  While keeping your core engaged (abs tucked in and under, shoulder blades together and  down), squat down (bum goes back- Keep knees over your toes) and reach to your right and try to touch the cup with your left hand.  Don't fall over now!  Use all your resources to keep steady on that foot.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spider Climbers & Leap Frog Planks

Yes, I know I am crazy.  I lie awake at night thinking of "fun" new ways to torture, I mean strengthen, my body.  Last night was one of those nights.  Behold the work of a sleep deprived, overactive imagination:

Spider Climbers & Leap Frog Planks

Maybe you've done Mountain Climbers.  And maybe you've done your fair share of Spider Push Ups.  Spider Jacks are the demented off-spring of a Mountain Climber- Spider Push Up marriage.  Don't you feel excited just thinking about it!?!

And who wouldn't coo over the union of Leap Frogs and Planks.  What JOY!

Now friends (because I assume you are all my friends/admirers/wannabes/critics i.e. friends)  -- true love for you means I will show myself in not so flattering light. Here is my disclaimer:

These videos and pictures have not been photo-shopped to make us look like fitness models.  We are real people.  Our goal is to encourage and increase fitness not stress-out about thinness. (Easier said than done!) So,  DON'T TEASE THE CHUBBY LADY!!!)

That being said, Let the FUN begin.

Leap Frog Planks

Forward Leaning Rest
Assume a forward leaning rest position, i.e. push up position.  (If we think about it as resting it is not as hard right?)  Shoulder blades are squeezed together and pushed down the back; abs are tucked in; tuck the bum under and focus on pushing all your weight into your toes -- it takes the pressure off your arms.

While keeping your abs in tight and your bum tucked under, jump your legs up to your elbows like you are doing a leap frog.  Jump your legs back to the starting position.

For you CERTIFIABLY CRAZY people; try leaping your legs up without touching at the top.  Check out Adrienne doing the advanced version:

Spider Climbers
Lowered Forward Leaning Rest
What makes this exercise really challenging is maintaining a low push up position the whole time.

Begin with a forward leaning rest and lower down into a good push up position.  Head should be looking forward-- this allows you to go lower-- try to maintain a 90 degree angle.

While maintaining a lowered position, alternate pulling your knees to your elbows.  Keep those bums down, abs tucked and shoulder blades together.  Now go faster!!!!

Here is the video of Spider Climbers at full speed.

Have a fabulous Wednesday Workout!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip

By now you know of my food issues-- love of too much food.  Last spring my mom introduced me to another addicting food.  Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip from Costco.  YUMMY and Healthy?!?  No not really because this version is made with whole milk, so more than 50% of the calories come from fat.  (Just one piece of advice: if you love something, do yourself a favor and don't read the label.  Just enjoy!)

I decided I would have to make a recipe myself.  Here is the result, with a great bonus: No Jalapeño Chopping Necessary!  If you love to chop jalapeños, you knock yourself out!

AND with only 120 calories and 20 Grams of protein per 1 cup, it's pretty darn healthy!  Go ahead and eat it all!

Mock Jalapeño Greek Yogurt Dip
3/4 cup fat free Greek Yogurt
1/4 cup salsa (your favorite)
1/4 teaspoon McCormick Grill Mates Firy 5 Pepper Seasoning

Mix together.  Chill.  Enjoy with fresh veggies, pita chips or your favorite cracker/chip.  Makes 1 cup dip.