March 28, 2015

YMCA Weight Loss Challenge (Winter 2015)

I was asked to partner with the YMCA in their Weight Loss Challenge this winter. The program was a great blend of physical activity/scheduled workouts and educational sessions. Now that the program is over and the results have been analyzed, here are the results. 
*Kudos to Tiffany Roberts who coordinated this Challenge and Haley Burdick for orchestrating the workouts!

The YMCA Weight Loss Challenge (Winter 2015)

This weight loss challenge can be summarized as
a success! It is clear that information and knowledge was gained, participants either
kept their healthy behaviors or improved their unhealthy behaviors to health
behaviors. Also participants’ readiness improved and it also helped reduce the
stress in many of their lives. 
Of 24 Weight Loss Challenge participants, a total
weight loss of 323 lbs. was lost
by the end of the program!
This program was a joy. Naturally I am an extrovert and enjoy interacting with individuals, teaching and helping others learn information to advance their health. This community program was perfect and proved that this type of program WORKS! Kudos to the planning team and to the participants who worked hard EVERY WEEK! 
March 19, 2015

Happy Brains

We all want to be happy. All the time. But we are not always happy all the time, and that’s ok. But we strive to be happy most of the time… so that we can bounce back from negative episodes and emotions we experience. But our emotions, or our emotional wellness, can be influenced by various factors such as our family/childhood experience, our current situation (where we live, how much money we make, etc), and our intentional activities.

So I wanted to share this video from ABC because I think it’s good. I like it, and I wanted to share it. I find it encouraging. We have the power to change our emotional wellness!

March 4, 2015


Commitment is primary factor which is truly indicative of goal success. Full, 100% commitment. We have all tried to accomplish goals, and sometimes we accomplish them and sometimes we don’t. And it all come down to commitment. How bad do you want it?
Now don’t get me wrong, there will always be non-modifiable factors which influence goal success but why fret or be concerned with things we cannot control. Instead we give 100% commitment to the modifiable or controllable factors which influence goal success.
I am surrounded by commitment all the time. In my personal life, with my family members, and in my professional life.
Personally, I have specific goals for my own health and life. Over many years, some goals have been easier to accomplish than others and it’s all due to one thing- commitment. Sometimes there were times I thought I was committed, but I was just trying to force myself into changing behaviors when I really didn’t want to. Subconsciously I didn’t really want it that bad.
My husband epitomizes the word commitment. As an Olympic Athlete, he trains for four years to make an Olympic Team. He trains for four years regardless of whether, having a bad day, or a really busy work day. After three Olympic Games he has showcased the meaning of commitment.
Professionally I see students and clients select goals to advance their health, and depending on their commitment to the goal will determine their success. It all comes down to commitment. I see it all the time.
Lastly, this weekend I visited Boston to watch the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships where elite athletes compete for national titles. There were hundreds of elite athletes who were present at this national championship meet and the only way they all got there… Was though commitment. And it made the event all the more exciting.
We desire to change certain behaviors but changing behaviors is difficult. Nicely enough, commitment is a modifiable factor. WE decide our level of commitment. Nobody else gets to choose our level of commitment. We are in control and we decide if we will be successful. We must decide if we are willing to fully commit to the goal…
Be uncomfortable. To persevere and become comfortable amist the uncomfortable. Basically be comfortable in the uncomfortable.
Spearhead into unknown territory and challenge ourselves, because true greatness and success comes with challenges.
Commit to planning ahead for success. Failing to plan is planning to fail. We all know that. But we must do it.
We can control these factors. So identify what goal(s) are realistic and attainable for you… Plan ahead and give your full, 100% commitment. If there’s anyone how can do it, it’s you.

February 15, 2015

Quinoa Balls with Cauliflower and Cheese

I get the magazine, “Food & Wine.” I enjoy browsing through the pages and looking at gourmet dishes in large metro cities alongside fancy wines I’ve never heard of. However they have interesting articles and tips, and I like looking at the recipes. Well I was reading my Feb 2015 issue and the recipe was Quinoa Balls with Cauliflower and Cheese, and I thought “yum.” So I followed the recipe but I made tweaks along the way. My toddler made this with me too, so it’s also kid-friendly. 
2/3 cup quinoa, already cooked
1 large egg, beaten
8 oz (or around 1 1/2 cups) grated cauliflower florets 
6 oz (or around 1 1/2 cups) finely shredded mozzarella cheese
3 T. flour (I used white whole wheat)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1/2 t. baking soda
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
Makes 2 dozen
1. Cook quinoa. (I just prepare according to my box directions). Let it sit to cool. 
2. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. In a large bowl, mix quinoa, egg, cauliflower, cheese, flour, garlic, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. 
4. In a separate small bown, mix baking soda and lemon juice. 
5. Add lemon juice mixture to larger bowl. Mix well.
6. Scoop out 2 T. of mixture and form little balls. Arrange on baking sheet.   
7. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and firm. Serve hot. 
PS- These freeze really well too! They serve well heated up for snacks and lunches on the go! I really like these and will be making them again soon!
February 13, 2015

Healthier Apple Spice Muffins

Recently I was brainstorming how I could make a healthier muffin that my toddler would eat and provide some substance. In the end I came up with this. I didn’t follow a recipe, I just created it on my own and I have to tell you- bravo to me! Now, unfortunately I did use a cake mix so in time I may alter this recipe to eliminate the mix but it was helpful because this recipe is quick and easy. My toddler loved them best right out of the oven, and ate about 7 from the mini muffin tin immediately. 
Spice cake mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
3 eggs
1/2 scoop of vanilla (whey) protein powder
1 1/2 T. Chia seeds
1 1/2 T. Flaxseeds 
Instant oats to garnish (optional)
Preheat over to 350 degrees. Prep muffin tins with either muffin cups or spray. 
Mix all ingredients together (except the oats). Pour into muffin tin(s) so they are 2/3 full. 
Optional: sprinkle muffins with instant oats on top. 
*I used a mixture of mini muffin tins and regular sized muffin tins. 
The regular muffins bake for 10-12 minutes, mini muffins bake for 5-7 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. 
Voila! For the mini muffins, I didn’t sprinkle any oats on top by toddler request. 
PS… Extra’s freeze well too!

February 9, 2015

23 1/2 hours

What’s the single best thing we can do for our health? This video answers that question. It’s easy to follow and appropriate for every learner. It’s 10 minutes long.
February 4, 2015

Top 5 Things To Do For Your Health

When it comes to our health, much comes from our lifestyle which is controllable and modifiable. However there is a piece which we have no control. Our family ancestry. The cholesterol, diabetes, heart health, chronic illnesses that our ancestors had/have which is a precursor for us.
So what can we do? Learn and recognize the health conditions, identify behaviors to counter or help reduce our risk, AND ACT.
Interestingly we often times think we know about our family health (the health of our parents, grandparents, great grandparents) and depending on the communication and closeness of family members, sometimes we really do know accurate information about our family ancestry’s health. Other times, we perceive ourselves to be knowledgeable about our family’s health when really we don’t know the important details.
There are many, MANY things we can do in our lifestyle to counter the family health history which we have no control over. I will tell you the TOP FIVE things we can do:
1. Avoid Tobacco. Using it, being around secondhand smoke, etc. It is the most preventable cause of death (but it may be replaced with overweight/obesity soon).
2. Eating Healthy. This includes eating fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fiber rich foods. It also includes portion sizes. And limited alcohol consumption.
3. Move More. Engaging in 30-40 minutes of exercise most days of the week, at least. Ideally a couple of these days should be strength training to build muscle since adults start losing muscle mass in their 30’s.
4. Get Regular Checkups and Health Screenings. Every year, check in with your Physician to stay on top of your health. Every two-five years, get a health screening to identify your cholesterol numbers (LDL, HDL, Triglycerides) and fasting blood sugars in regards to diabetes. Get mammograms and colonoscopies.
5. Manage Your Stress. This is perceived as “easy” but how do we deal with everyday stress. Are we constantly on alert? Can’t go to sleep? Mind is racing? Stress directly influences our health. Identify strategies that work for you.
So call some family members soon and ask how they are doing. Ask about their health, or of the health of past family members. Learn and refresh your memory… for your health.
February 2, 2015

Females Should Fuel up with Flavonoids

The goal is to be healthy and strong as we age because this helps us in all walks of life. And nicely enough, we have much control over our lifestyle which can be modified however we choose. With improved strength, we are more likely to have the energy to engage in physical activities as we age, more easily perform basic life skills without fatigue, and it also encourages other healthy behaviors.
Therefore one method women can employ to encourage healthy aging is by eating more flavonoids in their diet. Despite continued research in regards to whether or not there are many benefits of consuming flavonoids towards reducing cancer or even if flavonoids alone are cardioprotective, there are many articles and studies that have encouraged the consumption of flavonoids for healthy aging, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and to improving mental health and physical functioning with a higher consumption of flavonoids.
For example, in THIS article the authors shares the importance of women consuming flavonoids after conducting a 15 year study with over 13,000 women. The author shares:
“Flavonoids are plant-based compounds with powerful antioxidant properties and are found in many fruits and vegetables (berries, grapes, oranges, onions, celery, to name just a few).”
Oregon State University presented information in a chart format to help showcase the various common dietary flavonoids.

Table 1: Common Dietary Flavonoids
(Select the highlighted text to see chemical structures.)
Flavonoid Subclass
Dietary Flavonoids Some Common Food Sources
Anthocyanidins Cyanidin, Delphinidin, Malvidin, Pelargonidin, Peonidin, Petunidin Red, blue, and purple berries; red and purple grapes; red wine
Monomers (Catechins):
Catechin, Epicatechin, Epigallocatechin Epicatechin gallate, Epigallocatechin gallateDimers and Polymers:
Theaflavins, Thearubigins,Proanthocyanidins
Catechins: Teas (particularly green and white), chocolate, grapes, berries, apples
Theaflavins, Thearubigins: Teas (particularly black and oolong)
Proanthocyanidins: Chocolate, apples, berries, red grapes, red wine
Flavanones Hesperetin, Naringenin, Eriodictyol Citrus fruits and juices, e.g., oranges, grapefruits, lemons
Flavonols Quercetin, Kaempferol, Myricetin, Isorhamnetin Widely distributed: yellow onions, scallions, kale, broccoli, apples, berries, teas
Flavones Apigenin, Luteolin Parsley, thyme, celery, hot peppers,
Isoflavones Daidzein, Genistein, Glycitein Soybeans, soy foods, legumes
So ladies, go ahead and eat your berries, oranges, broccoli and kale! Do it for your health!

January 30, 2015

How to Make HEALTHY Smoothies

Smoothies are all the trend. Smoothies to replace meals, to consume after work outs, to cleanse, as a dessert, and everything in between.
Here’s the deal. Smoothies are great… Depending on what is in them and the purpose of the smoothie. Sometimes smoothies can be so calorie packed that they can put a dent in our daily calorie consumption. Other times, we have no substance in them. For example, sometimes we need to be aware of how much produce we put in our smoothies because it’s likely that we wouldn’t normally consume.
So here is what I do to ensure that I get a healthy smoothie with plenty of nutrients and I’m not drowning in calories:
1. Pick one fruit. I typically use blueberries, strawberries, apples, pineapple, or a banana because it’s what I usually have on hand.
2. Pick at least one vegetable. I typically use spinach or kale just because it’s what I have on hand and because we all need more vegetables in our diet. Other times I have used celery or carrots.
3. Add fiber and/or protein. I typically use a scoop of vanilla whey protein powder because I like it and I get a lot of bang for my buck (meaning- lots of protein and “substance” to my otherwise “liquid” smoothie). I also like adding 1-2 T. of chia seeds for fiber (another “bang for my buck” item). Other items I have used include almond butter, almond milk, etc.
4. Add ice and water. This is to help mix everything together. Plus every little bit of water is good for us.
Other options- depending on how much of the items above you added, you may or may not choose to add yogurt (if so, try Greek yogurt for protein!), or a 100% fruit juice (just be careful because this adds lots of additional calories FAST), or a splash of milk.
Again the more you add to your smoothie, the more calorie packed your smoothie where it could easily turn into a 500 calorie drink.
Personally I made smoothies often and my toddlers even request to make and eat them too! We make it fun. If you want to follow me on Instagram, you will find some of my smoothie pictures. I will post some of my favorite smoothie recipes soon.
January 26, 2015

Quinoa Black Bean Burgers

I was on the search for a Quinoa Black Bean Burger recipe and I found one that I really liked. However I made some adjustments to that recipe, which are detailed below.
This recipe is perfect for a meatless dinner, lunch or snack… Even toddlers as finger foods… Etc. I tried this recipe with my family and I will be making it again.
15 oz of black beans (Note: I used dry black beans from a bag… Once I soaked them and cooked them. Then I am able to control the salt and “freshness” of the beans. Plus they are cheaper! But you could certainly use a can of black beans)
3/4 cup of Quinoa (Note: I used a Garden Vegetable flavor of boxed quinoa I had on hand. I prepared the quinoa as directed on the box, then added 3/4 cup to the recipe)
1/2 cup of instant oats
1 1/2 t. of cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/3 cup of chopped tomatoes (Note: I had a container of mild tomato pico de gallo in my refrigerator and I used that… It had some onions in it. It was a perfect replacement! …therefore I didn’t add additional onions)
3 T chopped onions
2-3 t. Red hot sauce (like Franks Red Hot sauce, and I included 3 t.)
1 egg
2 T. Olive oil
1. In a large bowl, mash up most of your beans with a fork. Some beans can be left whole.
2. Add all remaining ingredients (except the olive oil). Mix together (it’s helpful to use your hands to mix)
3. Form small patties. Place on a plate and chill in refrigerator for 1 hour.
4. In a skillet, add olive oil to heat and cook burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side.
To serve, I added a little shredded cheese on top of my toddlers burger. You could also add tomatoes and onions on top too. We didn’t use buns, but you could always add whole wheat burger buns too.
Note: I had extras, so I packaged them up for the freezer to use at a later date for lunches, a mid afternoon snack, etc.

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